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House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was general.

Topics

Safer Railways ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to answer that question.

Indeed, we have things turned a little on their head, because when we pass legislation in this House it goes to the Senate, which then kills those bills. That is wrong. We know it, Canadians know it and it is time the government knew it.

Passover and EasterStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend marks the beginning of Passover and Easter holidays, both of which represent seminal periods of time in their respective religions.

Easter, as our Prime Minister has said, is a triumph of life over death and the redeeming power of love over evil. This could just as easily be said about Passover, a story of freedom from tyranny and the perseverance of a people.

It is appropriate that these two holidays come at the beginning of spring, the season of rejuvenation. Just as spring represents the beginning of new life, these holidays represent the beginning of a new period of time for their people, a time to be hopeful of the future and learn from the past. It is now that we should look back and reflect on what we can do better, as well as look forward and try to determine what we can accomplish together.

I wish for all Canadians to take this time of rebirth to consider how they can act to improve themselves and the lives of those around them.

For all those celebrating, I wish them all a very happy Easter and Chag Sameach.

National Volunteer WeekStatements by Members

11 a.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to invite my colleagues in the House to participate in various events taking place during National Volunteer Week, from April 15 to 21. Many events will be organized across the country to celebrate and thank volunteers for their efforts to build a better world.

Across the country, organizations such as the Centre de bénévolat et Moisson Laval are hosting activities to pay tribute to the work of more than 13 million volunteers. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to thank Canadians who give more than 2 billion hours of unpaid work to support Canadian society.

Our Canadian volunteers are great leaders, people who are passionate and inspiring. We can count on them to take action.

I will again urge members of the House to take part in National Volunteer Week and to thank the volunteers in their ridings.

Battle of Vimy RidgeStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the solemn occasion of the 95th anniversary of the World War I Battle of Vimy Ridge, a battle that showcased the exemplary valour of our Canadian soldiers.

I want to particularly commemorate Captain Victor Gordon Tupper of the 16th Battalion. His father was an esteemed lawyer in Vancouver and his grandfather a former prime minister. Gordie's last letter home to his parents and five siblings reads, in part:

I am writing one of these “in case” letters for the third time...If you are reading it now you will know that your youngest son “went under” as proud as Punch on the most glorious day of his life. I am taking my company “over the top” for a mile in the biggest push that has ever been launched...and I trust that it is going to be the greatest factor towards peace....Think of it--one hundred and fifty officers and men who will follow you into hell, if need be....Good-bye, dear Father and Mother, and all of you. Again I say that I am proud to be where I am now.

Captain Tupper died April 9, 1917, at age 21, and is buried with his comrades in Pas-de-Calais, France.

PlastStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, Dr. Oleksander Tysovsky is the Lord Baden-Powell of Ukraine. Just five years after Baden-Powell founded the scouting movement in Great Britain, Tysovsky created its counterpart in Ukraine known as Plast. On April 12, Plast will mark its 100th anniversary.

Now an international organization of Ukrainian youth, Plast fosters personal development to help young people grow into conscientious, responsible, valuable citizens of their local, national and world communities, and always with an abiding love for Ukraine.

I remember how excited our former colleague, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, was that day in 2007 when several hundred Plast members from Canada and abroad gathered on Parliament Hill.

Today we pay tribute to the good work of the Ukrainian scouting movement, including Plast Canada. We salute 1.2 million Ukrainian Canadians and we express again our passion for a genuinely free and democratic Ukraine.

Rights and FreedomsStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, April 17 marks the 30th anniversary of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which entrenched in the Constitution of Canada the rights and freedoms necessary for a free and democratic society. For 30 years, the charter has regulated interactions between the state and its citizens.

For 30 years, the Charter has spurred change.

As a 10 year old, I remember watching the broadcast of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Parliament Hill, who proclaimed the Constitution Act 1982, which brought the charter into force.

The Charter has had a fundamental effect: it has made Canadian citizenship the cornerstone of our society.

It enforces the idea that all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or creed, share a common set of rights and responsibilities. The charter serves as a common thread in the fabric of Canada and is what makes us uniquely Canadian.

Rio Tinto Alcan WorkersStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, March 31, 2012, in the town of Alma in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, people marched in solidarity with the locked out Rio Tinto Alcan workers. Members of the public and unions from around the world came to participate in this tremendous show of solidarity.

Unions from Quebec and Canada—CSN, FTQ, CEP, CAW and the Steelworkers—as well as Australian, French and English unions and many other labour organizations came in support of the locked-out workers. I want to thank them for participating in the rally.

It is important to condemn the behaviour of Rio Tinto Alcan, which is getting rich by taking advantage of our natural resources and our hydroelectric dams. Rio Tinto Alcan has been holding the region hostage with its lockout since December 31, 2011. Rio Tinto Alcan must negotiate in good faith with the union and the employees and must ensure that the people of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean receive their fair share of the collective wealth. Rio Tinto Alcan must offer good jobs with good salaries and not create two classes of workers, thereby impoverishing the region.

Long live solidarity. Long live the workers.

Yorkton Film FestivalStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to give special tribute to the Yorkton Film Festival, which will be celebrating 65 years of film in May in my constituency of Yorkton—Melville, Saskatchewan.

The first of its kind in North America, the festival was established in the city of Yorkton back in 1947 by the Yorkton Film Council and local volunteers.

The Yorkton Film Festival has evolved over the years to showcase the best of Canadian short films and videos. The four day event includes workshops, showings and social events like street dances, ethnic food and live entertainment. Its grand prize, the Golden Sheaf award, is inspired by the wheat fields that surround this vibrant city and province.

I wish the organizers and participants of the 2012 Yorkton Film Festival, the longest running film festival in North America, the best of success as they celebrate the best of Canada's film industry.

National Volunteer WeekStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, from April 15 to 21, Canadians will come together to celebrate National Volunteer Week.

I would like to thank the more than 13.3 million Canadians who contribute to the 2.1 billion hours of volunteer work completed in Canada each year.

Our government recognizes the considerable impact that volunteers alone can make within communities across Canada, each and every day. All Canadians can volunteer, all Canadians can make a difference.

Everyone has a the right and responsibility to be engaged. Our government knows that Canadians do not want to sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to enact every change they want to see in their community.

I am pleased to have this opportunity today to thank volunteers across Canada for their selfless dedication and to encourage those who have not yet had the enriching experience of volunteer work to engage in this act, which is truly a reflection of our strong Canadian values.

Horeb Saint-JacquesStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to draw the attention of the House to the social and community-minded services that Horeb Saint-Jacques provides to the people of Montcalm and the Lanaudière region in general.

Horeb Saint-Jacques owes its exceptional influence to its many commitments within the community, as demonstrated by its wealth of programming focused on personal healing, personal growth and all forms of spirituality.

Its activities benefit people of all ages, including couples and families, rich and poor. Horeb Saint-Jacques is a welcoming place where anyone in need can meet others, find accommodation and get some support.

I invite all of my colleagues in the House to go and visit Horeb Saint-Jacques. It is a restful and very peaceful place where human beings come first, without any prejudices.

Battle of Vimy RidgeStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, next Monday Canadians will commemorate the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Together with students from St. Peter Catholic High School we will remember Canada's victory, which was the successful capture of Vimy Ridge in a struggle for peace, liberty and hope.

Today we remember the more than 650,000 brave Canadians who served during World War I and the more than 66,000 who lost their lives.

The Canadians who were about to capture the ridge at dawn on that Easter Monday simply had to face that challenge.

At 5:30 that morning, the first wave of Canadian soldiers, each shouldering up to 70 pounds of equipment, pushed up the ridge through snow and sleet.

These were young men who, until then, had their whole future stretching out ahead of them.

It is the responsibility of each of us to remember.

Be proud of our Canadian Forces because they continue to make Canada a great country and a trusted ally.

We will remember them.

National Volunteer WeekStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, April 15 to 21 is National Volunteer Week. This is a unique opportunity to celebrate the dedication of those who serve others.

During this difficult time, as the state distances itself from its social responsibilities, our volunteers are more precious than ever. Every year, over 13.3 million volunteers contribute close to 2.1 billion hours to building a better society in Canada and around the world.

Today, I would like to highlight the exceptional contribution of one of my Hull—Aylmer constituents, Robert Saucier, who is the president of Logement intégré de Hull inc. and the Regroupement des associations de personnes handicapées de l'Outaouais. Mr. Saucier has dedicated his life to helping people with disabilities.

On behalf of my party, I would like to tell Mr. Saucier and the millions of other Canadians who volunteer how grateful we are for their work.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Katyn Memorial DayStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, April 13 marks Katyn Memorial Day.

The Katyn massacre of 1940 was perpetrated by the murderous Soviet NKVD, on the orders of Stalin, with the intention of wiping out the best and brightest of the Polish nation.

Over 20,000 Polish officers who had been taken prisoner by the Red Army were brutally executed, most in the forests of Katyn. For decades, communist authorities denied this responsibility for their war crime until the Soviets finally admitted to it in 1990.

This memorial day was made even more painful two years ago, when, on April 10, the airplane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, and dozens of high-ranking Polish officials tragically crashed at Smolensk en route to the Katyn commemoration ceremonies.

Over the next week, Polish Canadians will gather to commemorate both tragedies. I ask all of my parliamentary colleagues to join with Polish Canadians in mourning these terrible events in history.

National Day of Reflection on the Prevention of GenocideStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, Parliament unanimously declared April 7 as the National Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide, where we remember and reflect on the 18th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide that in less than 100 days, beginning on April 7, 1994, one million Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were slaughtered, victims of a government-orchestrated campaign of incendiary incitement and unspeakable violence.

However, what makes this genocide so unspeakable is that it was preventable. No one can say that we did not know. We knew, but we did not act. As the Security Council and the international community dithered and delayed, Rwandans were murdered.

Indeed, the great tragedy is not so much how many Rwandans were murdered, but how so few intervened to save them.

And so, we promise: never again will we be indifferent to racism and hate; never again will we be silent in the face of evil; never again will we indulge mass atrocities. But we will speak and we will act to combat impunity, to promote international justice and to ensure that Canada does not become base and sanctuary for these great perpetrators of genocide. Never again.

We remember.

Firearms RegistryStatements by Members

April 5th, 2012 / 11:15 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to report that yesterday the Senate passed the ending of the long gun registry. For years now, the opposition has been fear-mongering and misrepresenting the long gun registry in order to maintain its vanity project intact. Right until the bitter end of this wasteful and ineffective 17-year debacle, the Liberals have ignored the will of Canadians to push their misguided agenda to treat law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters like criminals.

Rest assured, by this afternoon, the bill will become law and Canadians will no longer have to register their hunting rifles or shotguns.

Our government promised to end the long gun registry once and for all. That is exactly what we have done: promise made, promise kept.

Firearms RegistryStatements by Members

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, because of the Conservative government's uncompromising and uncooperative attitude, the Province of Quebec has gone to court to obtain an injunction to preserve firearms registry data pertaining to the Province of Quebec.

However, the minister of public peril is so obsessed with destroying the data in the registry that his obsession will end up costing Canadian taxpayers dearly.

This ideological government could not care less about what Quebec wants, what chiefs of police want or, most importantly, what victims want. The government has absolutely no respect for anyone who believes in this registry.

The provinces have the right to access the data in the registry to create their own registries. The Conservatives do not have the right to destroy the data. We will not let them off easily. The NDP will not hesitate to fight for the safety of Canadians, unlike the three Liberal senators who voted with the Conservatives and unlike all the senators from Quebec who were conspicuously absent during a vote of such importance to Quebec.

Member for SherbrookeStatements by Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, following the vote in the House on the excellent 2012 economic action plan, the hon. member for Sherbrooke announced that he was pleased to have voted against the budget, as he said, on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke.

By his logic, what he said last evening on Twitter is that on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke, he voted against a plan that has already helped create more than 690,000 jobs since June 2009.

On behalf of the people of Sherbrooke, he voted against the hiring credit for small business and against increased investment in research and innovation.

On behalf of the people of Sherbrooke, he even voted against eliminating wasteful spending within the government and against a sustainable old age security system.

On this side of the House, we will continue to get things done on behalf of all Quebeckers and all Canadians.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has identified a never-ending litany of problems with the F-35 program: Ministers failed to be accountable and key departments failed at their jobs.

This morning, the Auditor General said that the responsibility for the misleading information that came to this House about the cost laid directly in the cabinet of the Conservative government.

Will the Prime Minister stand today in this House and tell us whether in fact the cabinet knew what the true costs were going to be for the F-35s?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government has not actually purchased any airplanes. The government plans to do that some years hence, and we will set up an independent committee to supervise that process.

What the Auditor General in fact did say is that, in terms of his report, the government is taking steps in the right direction. Of course, he also confirms that no money has been spent on this acquisition.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, is that not typical, again no responsibility and no true information coming to this House.

The government is dumping it over to an F-35 office, and it has already been found by the Auditor General that those people did not do due diligence.

What the Canadian people want is value for money. They want a plane where the specifications have not been rigged in advance. They want a government that actually takes responsibility for its failure.

What is wrong with having a competition? Why will the government not hold a simple, open competition to replace the F-18s?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the course of action suggested is not what the Auditor General recommended. The government is following the Auditor General's recommendations and will ensure that this purchase, when it is eventually done, is done in accordance with taxpayers' needs and with the military's needs.

Because we follow these kinds of processes, that is why we have the kind of strong economic performance that is behind today's job numbers. I am surprised the member did not ask me about this but I note that the Canadian economy has now created almost 700,000 new jobs.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would be really nice if we just stayed on topic.

It would be nice to see the Conservatives take responsibility for this fiasco and to see the ministers show some regret or remorse. The F-35 debacle did not just happen on its own.

Will there be any consequences at all for those who deliberately gave inaccurate information to this Parliament and to Canadians?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Auditor General himself said that the government is taking steps in the right direction and that no money has been spent on this acquisition.

I must remind the hon. member that the topic for Canadians is jobs and the economy, which is why that remains our number one focus and why we are seeing some good results. Obviously there is still more to do be done, but I would encourage the opposition to stop its ideological opposition to the budget and allow job creation in this country to continue.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Conservatives accept the Auditor General's findings with respect to the F-35s, that means there was a big screw-up, and at least one minister is responsible for this fiasco.

Was it the Minister of National Defence, or was it the former Public Works and Government Services minister, or was it the Associate Minister of National Defence? According to the Prime Minister, none of them were responsible, but we believe that all of them were.

When will the Conservatives recognize the principle of ministerial accountability and take responsibility for their actions?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the member knows full well that the Auditor General made one recommendation and that is that the Department of National Defence refine its cost estimates for the F-35 and table those in Parliament.

However, we are going many steps further because we want accountability, transparency and value for tax dollars. We will ensure that this is managed through an independent process outside of the Department of National Defence through a secretariat set up to manage the replacement of the CF-18 going forward.

We have frozen the funding. I am glad to hear that the Auditor General said today that the government was moving in the right direction.