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House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was yea.

Topics

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, it is a very important asset for all government appointees. We will continue to take this approach in the future.

We will also keep working on our action plan for official languages, not just here on the Hill, but across Canada, to protect both official languages in all regions of the country.

Last week, I started a series of round tables in the regions to talk to people at the grassroots level. We want to know how to promote French and English in the regions.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

June 13th, 2012 / 3:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the First Nations Information Governance Centre has issued a report that paints a bleak picture of living conditions for first nations people. Almost one out of four first nations adults lives in overcrowded houses, half live in homes with mildew, and one out of five reduces the size of his or her meals simply because there is not enough food.

The worst thing is that these problems have gotten worse since the Conservatives came to power.

Will the government finally admit there is a problem and actually do something about first nations living conditions?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we continue to work to improve the quality of life and the economic prosperity of aboriginal peoples. We had a meeting with the first nations chiefs at the historic Crown-First Nations Gathering to discuss shared priorities and explore new ways of working together. We are building the foundations for economic and social success. Concrete actions are being taken on education, economic development, housing, child and family services, access to safe drinking water, and matrimonial real property.

Status of WomenOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a recent survey conducted by Thomas Reuters Foundation involving 63 global experts from five continents, Canada was ranked as the best place to be a woman among the G20 nations.

This was based on key indicators of health, education, justice, access to resources and freedom from violence, trafficking and slavery.

Could the Minister for Status of Women tell this House what the government is doing to make Canada an even better place for women and girls?

Status of WomenOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for all the great work she is doing on behalf of women across Canada.

These 63 global experts from five continents recognize that our efforts to promote gender equality, to safeguard women and girls against violence and exploitation, and to ensure their access to health care are what make Canada a great country for women.

Women in Canada can count on our government to continue our efforts in that respect. We have increased funding for women to its highest level ever, funding over 500 projects now to end violence against women across Canada.

We will continue to fight for women's economic opportunities, their safety, their political participation and equality.

Government SubsidiesOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-38, the Conservative government continues to muzzle anyone who has the misfortune of saying or thinking something that contradicts the Prime Minister's Office.

After attacking scientists, the Conservatives are now attacking civil society groups.

Environmental groups are not the only ones being put through the wringer. It is happening to other groups that are politically active, fighting to eliminate poverty or demand better housing, for example.

Why are the Conservatives so intent on going after all the groups that contradict them, instead of learning from their experience? Is this the Prime Minister's vision of democracy—starving anyone who says what he does not want to hear?

Government SubsidiesOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, but what he said is untrue.

We are calling on all of our colleagues across the floor to stand tonight and support a piece of legislation which, among other things, includes responsible resource development.

One way or the other, I can assure my colleague that the government will prevail, that the environment will be better protected, and that Canadians will be better served in terms of protecting jobs and the economy.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Bill C-38, by eliminating the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and putting strict limits on the number of environmental assessments, the Conservatives are playing along with the oil companies and looking to accelerate pipeline approvals and oil sands development.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, more than 100 environmental lawyers criticized this approach and cautioned that it could lead to many more legal battles.

Since it is not too late, does the government plan on withdrawing the provisions that are detrimental to the environment, as called for by the vast majority of Quebeckers and the Bloc Québécois?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the short answer to my colleague is no. Our responsible resource development legislation in fact strengthens the environmental assessment process at the same time as it strengthens Canada's position in a highly competitive global economy to attract investment and to create jobs.

Tonight as we sit through the long hours voting on a number of unnecessary amendments, my colleague should bear that in mind and think very carefully about balancing protection of the environment and the creation of jobs.

House of CommonsOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Board of Internal Economy on the administration of the House of Commons.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics AthletesOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all parties, and I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the House offer its support for a moment of silence to be held at the 2012 London Olympics in memory of those killed 40 years ago in the tragic terrorist events of the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics AthletesOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics AthletesOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics AthletesOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion, is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics AthletesOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics AthletesOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Firearms ActRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the proposed firearms information regulations regarding non-restricted firearms in accordance with section 118 of the Firearms Act.

I am proposing these regulations to ensure that there will not be a long gun registry by the back door and that Parliament will be respected, as well as to ensure that the leader of the NDP will not be able to use data collected by CFOs to attack the rights of law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters through recreating the long gun registry, as he has promised to do should he ever get the chance.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 47 petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association respecting its participation in the second round of the French presidential election, held in Paris, France, from May 3 to 6, 2012.

Terminator Seeds Ban ActRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-434, An Act to prohibit the planting, cultivation, release, sale and importation of seeds incorporating or altered by variety-genetic use restriction technologies (V-GURTs), also called “Terminator technologies”, and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce a bill I had reintroduced in previous Parliaments, an act to prohibit the planting, cultivation, release, sale and importation of seeds incorporating or altered by variety-genetic use restriction technologies, V-GURTs, also called “terminator technologies”.

As members probably know, in 2006 the UN upheld the moratorium on terminator seed technology. This technology allows genetically engineered plants to produce sterile seeds at harvest. Unfortunately Canada, along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, attempted to undermine this moratorium, but they were not successful.

Adoption of this legislation will ensure that Canada takes a firm stand against this devastating technology.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Government Operations and EstimatesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I move that the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, presented on November 23, 2011, be concurred in.

I would like to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

This refers to the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, and it involves government support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

I think we all know that small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial role in our economy. They account for something like 98% of all firms, 60% of all jobs, and 70% of all net new jobs, so anything government can do to support small and medium-sized enterprises is very positive and helpful.

We decided to examine two cases and we questioned witnesses to determine whether these programs were good or bad, whether they should be renewed and whether they should be changed in any way.

One of these items that we examined was the Canadian innovation commercialization program. This was a program designed for small and medium-sized enterprises, whereby they could put bids in for government support to help fund their innovation, and then their innovation would be examined and commented on by government departments.

We had a number of witnesses both from within the government and outside the government, and the general consensus was that this program was a success. It was helping Canadian small companies to innovate, be successful and improve productivity.

The program was to run for two years. In our committee report, we recommended that this program be made permanent. The government, in its answer, gave a somewhat ambiguous reply, but we then learned in the budget that the government had indeed cancelled the program.

It is ironic that the government should have cancelled the program, because just today a new OECD report came out on the Canadian economy, and the primary recommendation was that Canada had to do something and get its act together to deal with our very lacklustre performance in the areas of productivity and innovation.

This program that the government killed was precisely designed to help small businesses be more productive and innovative. All of the witnesses said that this program was having success, and yet the government chose to kill it.

As I have said before, often there have to be some reductions in government expenditures. We on the Liberal side do not object to that, but when the Conservatives focus their cuts on science, on Statistics Canada, on knowledge-generating, innovation-generating activities of government, then we certainly take exception to that.

Canada's productivity has lagged since 2002, I believe, which is a long period of time. It is actually lower today than it was 10 years ago.

All kinds of new programs and new activities should be considered to improve Canada's very dismal productivity and innovation performance. The fact that the government chose to eliminate one of the more successful programs in this area is certainly not good news for Canadian innovators and Canadian small businesses in general.

The second case that we examined was the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Government can be very difficult to understand for a small company without massive numbers of employees, particularly in the area of procurement. The idea of this agency is that it could help small and medium-sized businesses have access to government procurement. Government procurement, as we have heard in recent weeks, has been a total flop in certain areas, as in the case of the F-35s, but it involves billions of dollars.

It is important that small and medium-sized businesses have access to these programs since it is difficult for them to obtain all the required information. It is important that a government program help these businesses find the information and participate in government procurement.

I know from my time in government that often these procurements are very large. An effort is made to bundle the smaller components to make them into a bigger contract.

Again we heard from stakeholders that this program was a success. We heard that there were certain things that could be done to improve it, but that over time the agency had been increasing the number of companies benefiting from its activities and increasing the amount of procurement going to the smaller companies.

The committee report was unanimously concurred in. All political parties agreed. We are disappointed that the government cancelled the first program that I talked about because, in this day and age, Canada needs more innovation and productivity, as the OECD said today.

By cancelling this program, the government is negatively affecting the productivity and innovation of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

Government Operations and EstimatesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat aghast at what the hon. member for Markham—Unionville just said about the Canadian innovation and commercialization program being abolished.

I will read from the budget itself: “Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes...[an additional] $95 million over three years, starting in 2013–14, and $40 million per year thereafter to make the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program permanent and to add a military procurement component.”

Perhaps the member for Markham—Unionville did not read the budget. It states right there that it is to be made permanent. I was part of that committee and was delighted to work with that member to make that recommendation.

Did the member read the budget, and does he have any comments to make to correct his statement that the program has been abolished?

Government Operations and EstimatesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do remember doing the report, and I also enjoyed working with the hon. member on that report.

I would have to go back and consult with my colleagues. It seems I may have been misinformed on this issue, but I will check.

Government Operations and EstimatesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, there have been a litany of actions on the part of the government that have been difficult for small and medium-sized businesses and very few to benefit small and medium-sized businesses.

One of the recent initiatives that retailers tell us is harmful is that the doubling of duty-free shopping has not been accompanied by the removal of duty on those goods when they are purchased by retailers in Canada. As a result, they are now at a huge disadvantage, as a lot more people will be going across and spending their dollars in the United States instead of through retailers in Canada.

Can the member tell us if there is anything in this budget that is positive for small businesses?

Government Operations and EstimatesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Vancouver Quadra does a lot of work involving small business. She is our critic in that area. She raises a very good example in relation to this new measure that allows Canadians to buy more south of the border.

I know that many retailers, particularly those with operations relatively close to the border, are suffering immensely from this move and have the potential to suffer more, so I certainly would agree with her that this measure is not good for small business.