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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cuts.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of CanadiansBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please.

That is not a point of order. It is a point of debate.

The hon. member for Guelph.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of CanadiansBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, Walkerton was the jurisdiction, of course, of the provincial Conservative government at the time. That is the point I made. He well knows that.

What he is afraid to do is stand and admit that his ideology is now compelling them to make the very same mistakes now that they made then, which they continue to make, refusing to learn from history, refusing to learn from the listeriosis outbreak—

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of CanadiansBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Etobicoke North.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of CanadiansBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in May 2000, 2,300 people fell ill after E. coli bacteria contaminated the water supply of Walkerton, Ontario. Sweeping Conservative cutbacks to the Ontario Ministry of Environment contributed to the tragedy, the most serious case of water contamination in Canadian history.

For a first example of the impact of the cutbacks, the Conservative government discontinued laboratory testing services for municipalities in 1996 and failed to put in place a regulation making the reporting of contamination mandatory. Had the government done this, hundreds of illnesses would have been prevented.

For a second example, Conservative cuts to the Ministry of the Environment made the ministry less capable of identifying and dealing with problems at Walkerton's water utility. The ministry's inspections program should have detected the improper treatment and monitoring practices and ensured that those practices were corrected.

In January 2002, Premier Mike Harris accepted responsibility for the shortcomings of the Conservative government. He said:

I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering you have experienced.

I, as premier, must ultimately accept responsibility for any shortcomings of the Government of Ontario.

I deeply regret any factors leading to the events of May 2000 that were the responsibility of the Government of Ontario....

History teaches hard lessons, reminding us that prevention is the best line of defence and that worst-case scenarios do happen.

In examining past disasters such as when the Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound in 1989 and when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, we see that key decisions were frequently made without assessing the risks, and sufficient prevention measures were not always taken. When extreme cases did occur, responses were often delayed and opportunities to reduce damage were lost. Most recently, the lesson to prepare for worst-case scenarios was repeated with the double disaster of the east Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

It has been said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Unfortunately, economic action plan 2012, or the inaction plan for the environment, and Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, show a complete failure to learn from the past, namely that past cuts to the environment have resulted in dire consequences and that worst-case scenarios do occur.

Instead, the budget implementation bill continues the Conservative government's war on the environment. An astonishing 150 pages of the 400-plus-page budget are focused on streamlining or gutting environmental oversight. The government is absolutely trying to avoid public scrutiny by jamming such major changes into Bill C-38, thereby avoiding specific study of the changes at individual parliamentary committees. Critics have called it an affront to democracy. As a result, on Friday I called upon the government to hive off changes to environmental protection and then send them to the relevant committee for a thorough clause-by-clause study.

Bill C-38 is an attack on our best means of defence, namely environmental protection monitoring and emergency response. The budget severely cuts Environment Canada, reduces our number of scientists, eliminates the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the independent think tank with a direct mandate from Parliament, silences the government's critics and guts environmental legislation.

Environment Canada will lose 200 positions. Last summer, the government announced cuts of 700 positions and a 43% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Key research and monitoring initiatives, which sample air pollution, industrial emissions, water quality, waste water et cetera, and partnerships for a greener economy will be cut $7.5 million.

It is important that parliamentarians have the opportunity to do due diligence and to identify all areas of scientific research and partnerships to be cut and to see how each identified cut is projected to impact decision-making and the development of public policy.

Critics of the government are being silenced through changes to the Canada Revenue Agency and attempts to seize control of the university research agenda. Critics are also being silenced through exclusion of concerned groups and citizens from the environmental review process for pipelines.

Bill C-38 effectively dismantles Canada's environmental laws as we know them, by the repeal of the Kyoto Implementation Act and the wholesale repeal of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and its replacement with a new law that allows the federal government to avoid environmental reviews of many potentially harmful projects and to do less-comprehensive reviews where they still occur. What are the impacts of the repeal of CEAA on regulatory decision-making and the risk of project-specific and cumulative environmental impacts? What is the adequacy of the environmental assessment process in each province and territory and the impacts of industrial projects that cross provincial borders? The weakening of several environmental laws including species at risk in water and near elimination of fish habitat protection in the Fisheries Act puts species from coast to coast to coast at increased risk of habitat loss and population decline. The authority of the federal cabinet to approve new pipeline projects is now above the National Energy Board.

Astoundingly, as the government guts environmental legislation to fast-track development of major projects such as the Northern Gateway Pipeline and to allow oil tankers in northern British Columbia waters, it is cutting $3.8 million from emergency disaster response and consolidating the unit that responds to oil spill emergencies in central Canada, namely Gatineau and Montreal. Key questions regarding the government's preparation for and ability to respond to environmental emergencies should include how many positions in the unit will be slashed; how consolidating the unit in Quebec will impact operations and the predicted response time to travel from the new location to the oil spill; whether the unit will have the financial and technical resources necessary to respond to oil spill emergencies, including those emergencies involving diluted bitumen on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and along the proposed route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project; and what action the government has undertaken regarding risk assessment and worst-case scenarios related to the navigation of oil tankers and potential diluted bitumen oil spills.

With independent science squashed, environmental legislation gutted and critics silenced, what stands in the way of environmental disaster? The government must stop its war on the environment, science and indeed anyone who threatens to stand in its way of fast-tracking development. Canada needs robust environmental legislation to protect ecosystems, the health and safety of Canadians, the communities in which we live, the economy and our livelihoods.

I will finish by saying that I spent years of my career undertaking disaster prevention, response and recovery, helping organizations across North America prepare for extreme events resulting from climate change and preparing for pandemics, as well as designing the full disaster preparedness program for the university. The United Nations development program has recently asked me to be on the steering committee for international parliamentarians regarding disaster reduction.

Finally, in the wake of disasters, people often wonder whether there was a way to protect both people and property from such devastating losses. The answer is a resounding “yes, by taking action to prevent future damage before a problem occurs”. In order to prevent another tragedy, the government must ensure that Environment Canada's programs and scientists are fully funded to support scientific excellence in prevention, monitoring and emergency response and hive off the environmental protection sections from Bill C-38 and allow public scrutiny of the bill through clause-by-clause study at the appropriate committee.

Ted Rogers School of ManagementStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to inform the House that the Ted Rogers School of Management of Ryerson University in Toronto was recently presented with its Certificate of Accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The awarding of this accreditation is a tremendous accomplishment for the Ted Rogers School of Management, for Ryerson University and for Canada.

The attainment of this accreditation by the Ted Rogers School of Management is a very prestigious honour that attests to Canada's success in developing outstanding business schools and to the importance of the role that our business schools play in helping to create an economically vibrant and prosperous society from which all Canadians can benefit.

It must be noted that this will help Canada stay competitive in the global market, and that many students from Don Valley East attend Ryerson University.

I invite all members of the House to join me in warmly congratulating the Ted Rogers School of Management, in particular, its dean, Dr. Ken Jones, and the president, Sheldon Levy, on this outstanding accomplishment.

Rail ServiceStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, since 1876, people from northern New Brunswick have been taking the train to go on vacation, get to medical appointments and travel to university.

VIA Rail currently uses tracks operated by Canadian National. Now CN is planning to stop operating the section of track between Campbellton and Moncton because it is not profitable. If that happens, people from northern New Brunswick will become more isolated and our region's economic recovery will be hindered.

As an independent crown corporation established in 1977, VIA Rail Canada provides passenger rail services on behalf of the Government of Canada. I sincerely hope that the Government of Canada will not abandon the people of northern New Brunswick and that it will do whatever it takes to maintain rail service, which is essential to our communities.

Khalsa Day ParadeStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to share with the House the incredible celebrations that took place in Toronto this past weekend. The Khalsa Day parade showcased our country's rich diversity, cultural traditions and unity.

What is so special about this annual event is that it brings us all together, regardless of faith, to share in the Sikh religion's values of service to others, harmony and equality. These are principles that our nation holds dear. These are the same principles that Canadians build their families on and that our government defends at home and abroad.

The strength of the Sikh community emanates across Canada. The Khalsa Day parade is a time to celebrate and also a time that reminds us all about enriching Canada through participation, peace and togetherness.

I would like to thank all of the organizers and volunteers who made this celebration a wonderful experience for everyone.

VolunteerismStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a young woman from St. George's in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

In 2009, while a student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Laura Chubb was part of a group that travelled to Tanzania in Africa to teach men and women in the HIV and AIDS ravaged Pemba Island.

She was so affected by the suffering she witnessed, she later returned to Africa on her own, this time to Kenya, intent on documenting the suffering she witnessed, but also to show the world the beauty of East Africa and to share a message of hope. While in Kenya, Laura volunteered with Kwacha Africa, helping in some of the worst famine-affected areas of the country.

Although Laura is busy working on a Master's Degree in Kinesiology, she is also preparing for her next trip. In May she will leave for Peru and spend 50 days assisting residents with the new farming techniques and helping build a new community centre.

Laura Chubb sees the world as a place in which we are responsible for the well-being of each other. I ask all members of the House to join me in recognizing this compassionate young women who is doing her part to make a difference.

AgricultureStatements by Members

April 30th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, spring has firmly entrenched itself once again in Peterborough county and this spring, as has been the case for generations, local farm families are gearing up to once again sow the seeds that will lead to the fall harvest.

As a person fortunate to have been born and raised on the farm, I understand the hard work that goes into producing the food we eat and export to the world.

Just this past weekend, one could pretty much watch as the wheat planted last fall stretched from the ground, while farm equipment hastily went to work tilling the fertile soil of Peterborough county, making way for the planting of corn and bean crops that will support everything from livestock to five star restaurants.

As the federal representative, I could not be more proud of our agricultural producers and farm families, regardless of whether they are operating in the supply managed sectors such as poultry and dairy or producers of beef, pork, lamb or grain and oilseeds. All of them are doing their part and they are all contributing to the strength of our country and to our county.

I am proud that our government stands with our farmers. We are opening markets and we are growing forward together. I cannot predict the weather, but I can predict that our agricultural sector will continue to grow in Canada. One more thing I know, nothing runs like a Deere.

21st Québec Entrepreneurship Contest—South West DivisionStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 11, I attended the awards ceremony for the 21st edition of the south west division of the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest, which was held in my riding.

This year, nearly 70 applications were submitted to the contest. That is a record number of new entrepreneurs. The jury conferred 11 awards in seven categories, and I am very proud to announce that nine of the winners are from my riding.

I wish to congratulate Bluespace, Eau Matelo, Atrium 64, Centre la Tienda-d'ici à Compostelle, Logiciels Héritage, Opera VMana, Panoplie, So Food and Zandel Media on their projects.

I am also proud to celebrate the creation of new small and medium-sized businesses in my riding. They help to create stable, innovative, high quality jobs and contribute to the prosperity of our nation.

Red Road LodgeStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I recognize a constituent who makes a difference, not only where he lives but also in the inner city of Winnipeg.

Richard Walls is an individual who saw possibility when others only saw an old hotel building. He created Red Road Lodge, a 40-room transitional housing facility providing support services for at-risk individuals. Through the medium of art, the lodge is able to assist those who have no other way to express themselves and the artwork of these individuals is impressive.

I was honoured to announce for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development two important projects in Winnipeg: the North End Women's Centre and Red Road Lodge, which are receiving $128,000 in funding. By working together, we are helping these community projects and partnerships to improve and create services and facilities for homeless and at-risk individuals.

Once again, I commend the great work being done by my constituent, Richard Walls, and Red Road Lodge.

Queen's DayStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in the House today in celebration of the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands. Queen's Day is celebrated throughout the Netherlands and in many parts around the world.

In Ottawa a reception will be hosted by the Dutch Ambassador, Mr. Wim Geerts, at his residence for Canadian guests and members of the Dutch community. The Hon. Mr. Abdul Nasser El Hakim, Minister of Economic Development of Curacao, and members of his delegation will attend tonight and are in Ottawa with us today.

Today, one million people in Canada are of Dutch descent and they are celebrating this important birthday. On behalf of the Canada-Netherlands Parliamentary Friendship Group, I would like to extend best wishes to Her Majesty as she celebrates her birthday and welcome Minister El Hakim and his delegation to Ottawa.

Marie-Sol Saint-OngeStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 8, Marie-Sol Saint-Onge, a 34-year-old mother of two boys, aged 5 and 8, and an artist who lives in my riding, was hospitalized with the deadly flesh-eating disease.

Despite all the wonderful care she received, the disease spread. Last month, Marie-Sol's arms and legs were amputated. She will never again be able to care for her children in the same nurturing way. It is her children and her husband Alain who will have to wrap her in all their love.

Marie-Sol's family life and professional life will never be the same. To help the family, a number of fundraising activities are being organized. My team and I will be participating in a bowl-a-thon on Saturday, May 5.

Today, I am asking for everyone's support for Marie-Sol.

Marie-Sol, our thoughts are with you. We wish you well.

NairobiStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I was saddened to learn about the attack on a church yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya. One person died and fifteen people were wounded when a grenade was thrown among parishioners attending Sunday service at God's House of Miracles International Church

Canada stands with the people of Kenya, who wish to live in peace and have the freedom to choose and celebrate their religion according to their beliefs.

Although we do not yet know who is behind these attacks, we condemn all those who use violence in this place of worship. We hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice quickly.

On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the parishioner killed in this attack and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

Weston Collegiate InstituteStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my riding of York South—Weston has an amazing gem of a school in Weston Collegiate Institute. When principal Deborah Blair arrived three years ago, the school was plagued with non-stop bullying, especially among girls. She led students and staff through training in a remarkable program called “Restorative Practices”. It is a whole school approach based on the belief “not to penalize, but to restore. Victims are empowered to play a key role in addressing the harm that has been done”.

Victims and the accused are brought together in restorative conferences led by peers and attended by parents and staff.

The program has been so successful that these conferences are now rare. In three years, office referrals of students have gone from 80 each day to just 5. Suspensions are down from 151 to just 46. As a result of the declining suspensions, student achievement has gone up and the numbers of credits earned have increased.

Sometimes the most effective way to change behaviour is not to punish but to restore. There is a great lesson at Weston Collegiate Institute for all of us.

Rail Safety WeekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the few legitimate roles of government is the protection of the individual and the preservation of safety and security. That is why it is important for us to celebrate Rail Safety Week.

Since 2007, our government has increased rail safety inspectors, has increased investments in new security technology, provided a partnership with our industry partners, made 2,000 presentations to raise awareness about safety and security around the tracks. The results are clear: a 23% reduction in accidents and a 26% reduction in derailments since 2007.

Furthermore, the House, in the spirit of unanimity, has come together to pass Bill S-4, which would amend and improve the Railway Safety Act.

I congratulate all members, and in particular the Minister of Transportation, for moving forward with these strong improvements to continue to preserve the safety and security of our people around the tracks.

Not Myself Today CampaignStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, one in five Canadians are affected by mental health problems. Many of them will not be able to access the care they need because of the long-standing stigma and negative stereotyping that make them afraid to seek the help they need.

The “Not Myself Today” campaign by Partners for Mental Health aims to transform and improve mental health in Canada by raising awareness, encouraging better treatment, funding for research, for support and for better workplace policies.

Each one of us in this House has a friend or family member with a mental illness. Some of us will also have a mental illness in our lifetime. It is time to speak up and let those with mental illness know that they are not alone.

Let us agree today to stand up for Canadians with mental illness as they face these insurmountable barriers.

I encourage all members of the House to visit notmyselftoday.ca and sign the pledge to improve mental health in Canada

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the official opposition announced his shadow cabinet last week. These appointments show quite clearly what the NDP's plan is for the economy.

The appointment of the member for Parkdale—High Park as finance critic is particularly telling. The longtime union boss has voted against every tax cut for Canadians, including lowering the GST, income splitting and the creation of the tax-free savings account. She has even stated that the tax on employers is too low today and should be increased. A reversal of these tax cuts is estimated to cost Canadians over $45 billion in capital investment and a loss of 233,000 jobs.

Choosing the member for Parkdale—High Park as finance critic reveals where the NDP stand on taxes and the economy: higher taxes, higher debt, less growth.

Canadians cannot afford the NDP's dangerous economic experiments. Our government remains committed to our low tax plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Decorum in the HouseStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I am announcing our team's intention to discuss and work with you, as the Speaker of the House, and with the other parties on giving people the decorum they expect from their elected officials.

I will quote my friend Jack Layton who about a year said:

We will disagree passionately at times but passionate debate is essential in this place. We may disagree but we must show each other respect at all times because Canadians elected each and every one of us here. When we do not show respect for each other as individuals, then we are not showing respect for the Canadians who sent us here.

To honour Jack's belief in this place and to honour the role we have been given by Canadians, let us all work together to reform this place, to bring it to a higher level of discussion, to a more respectful discussion on behalf of all Canadians.

Public Sector UnionsStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, union bosses continue to ramp up their fiery rhetoric and have engaged in an unprecedented campaign of fear and smear as they dig in their heels to fight our government's responsible and moderate deficit fighting measures.

This week, the union of PSAC is proposing hiking dues on its members with a new levy. What would this new levy be used for? It would be used for partisan purposes, such as political action campaigns, a strike fund that already has over $29 million and a new million dollar fund to impose public sector union resolutions?

First, public servants are not given a choice on whether or not to join the union and now their self-interested bosses want to unanimously impose a partisan levy on the employees they are supposed to be protecting.

Our government will stand strong against public sector union bosses trying to pick the pockets of their own members to pay for their outlandish media campaigns and vote themselves hefty pension bonuses.

We are here for all Canadians, to ensure that —

Public Sector UnionsStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Oral questions.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer says that he agrees with the Auditor General that there were two sets of books for the F-35, one presented publicly, the other, with much higher figures, for Conservative eyes only. Kevin Page said, “you do get the sense there were different books.... It looked like (the government was) lowballing”.

Canadians are still waiting to know the real price tag for these jets.

When will the Conservatives stop lowballing, cancel this program and start from scratch with a transparent and open tender process? When will they start respecting taxpayer money?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government has clearly communicated in the budget that we have set out to replace Canada's fleet of aging CF-18s, and we will stay within that budget. Our numbers cover the acquisition costs for the F-35. However, other numbers cited include operating costs.

Canada has not signed a contract and has not spent any money acquiring the F-35. That is why we are proceeding with our seven point plan, led by the very capable and able Minister of Public Works.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have two sets of books for the F-35s: the private one with the real numbers and the public one they have used to mislead Parliament and the public.

They have already spent millions of dollars and are about to squander billions more on a plane that does not even work. At the same time, a two-billion-dollar plan to buy new combat vehicles that is two years behind schedule has to go back to the drawing board because it was poorly managed as well.

When will they get their military procurement house in order?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement with respect to the second acquisition shows just how clearly and how appropriately this government deals with the acquisition of equipment for our men and women in uniform.

We had a fairness advisor who played an active role working with the Department of National Defence and the Department of Public Works to ensure that taxpayers had a credible process and that the process was followed.

The reality is that those of us on this side of the House want to end the decade of darkness and actually do something that those on the opposition side do not want to do, which is actually give equipment to our men and women in uniform who do a heck of a good job standing up for Canadian values right around the world.