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House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I noted my colleague's comments about not taking Canadian standards to other countries. After the budget implementation bill that was just passed and the environmental standards in it, we have brought different environmental standards to this country, which are really not appropriate.

When the hon. member talks about the need to be magnanimous toward other countries in terms of their ability to move forward on the environment, and social and economic issues surrounding tax issues, he is really missing the boat. What is happening in this country with this budget implementation bill is driving down our standards, whereas we should be putting standards forward for other countries which are more appropriate.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the member opposite misunderstood the statement. The statement was that through free trade agreements, we are promoting Canadian values and standards. If we told countries that they have to be like Canada or we would not speak to them, as the NDP wants us to do, we would talk to no one and Canadian companies would suffer, Canadian jobs would not be created and innovation would not happen.

We are looking for partners to do business with. Part of that process is that we promote our values in terms of the environment, the workplace and human rights. It is through those agreements that we are able to express what Canada stands for in the world. We are number one. I take exception to the member saying that Canada does not have a high level of standards. We are promoting those standards through free trade agreements.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2012 / 1:25 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-24, which has to do with a Canada-Panama free trade agreement.

It is very important that we take a stand and take the time to read this free trade agreement, because Panama is an extremely important international partner. Panama is the largest economic power in Central America, partly because of the Panama Canal, which sees a large number of goods pass through. Right now, it is being expanded, which will allow for greater flow and traffic.

Maritime traffic is rather important to Panama. Panama also is specializes in financial services, commerce and tourism. So it is important for us to examine this agreement and decide what this agreement with Panama will contain. We need to do things the right way.

I have listened to my colleagues' comments today and will get back to them shortly. I think that the government is botching this job and is not taking the time to create a worthwhile agreement. The NDP is in favour of free trade agreements if they are responsible and sustainable. Right now, we have the momentum to show that Canada is a leader. Right now, Panama is an emerging country. Canada, as a proud economic partner and world leader, could show Panama the way in terms of proper environmental norms and a system of rights for workers and unions in Panama, and we could make this free trade agreement into an agreement that supports sustainable and viable long-term development.

This could be the time for Canada to move things forward internationally. Canada could be an excellent partner. Unfortunately, the Conservative government is completely ignoring this extremely interesting opportunity that is right in front of it.

The sad thing about this bill is that there has been a time allocation motion, which means that we will not be able to discuss it in greater detail. However, there are a number of interesting points I would like to make. When I read Bill C-24, I noticed a number of shortcomings. My NDP colleagues tried to make amendments to correct those defects, but unfortunately, all of the proposed amendments were rejected.

In my view, the most significant flaw is probably the fact that there is no tax information exchange agreement in this bill. I will say more about that later. There is also a glaring lack of vision with respect to sustainable development. The agreement lacks meaningful protection for the rights of Panamanian workers. We know what happens when jobs and workers are not protected. When that happens in Canada, factories close their doors and move jobs elsewhere. It is important to ensure that Panamanian workers are protected. Another problem is the fact that this is a bilateral agreement, not a multilateral one.

As for the tax information exchange agreement, it may sound very confusing to some, but actually, it is quite simple. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development gives a very good description of tax information exchange agreements on its website. Basically, any country can refer to that description in order to create its own tax information exchange agreement. All of the information is on the website. It was created in 2002, and since that time, many countries, including Canada and Panama, have used this model to clarify their tax information exchange agreements.

So what is a tax information exchange agreement? The following description is from the OECD document:

The purpose of this agreement is to promote international co-operation in tax matters through exchange of information...The agreement grew out of the work undertaken by the OECD to address harmful tax practices...The agreement represents the standard of effective exchange of information for the purposes of the OECD's initiative on harmful tax practices.

As I just mentioned, many countries have followed this model to create their tax information exchange agreements. Canada has entered into several such agreements, for instance with the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and Saint Lucia. In 2010, Panama signed a tax information exchange agreement with the United States, one of its biggest financial partners.

I just asked the hon. member for Burlington a question. I asked him why Bill C-24 does not contain this kind of tax information exchange agreement with Panama based on the same model as the one presented by the United States.

I was told that it was not ready in time. That is not a reason. In fact, it is proof that this bill was completely botched. We need to take the time to do things. This is important; it is a free trade agreement. I was honestly shocked when I heard this. If it was not ready in time, why not take the time to do things the way they should be done before presenting them to the House? Why did they not accept the amendments presented by the opposition to resolve the problems with this bill? I wonder.

It was not ready in time, and I find that very sad. This is clear evidence that we should go back, call a halt to this bill and secure an agreement. It is not as if things are pressing and we absolutely must have a free trade agreement with Panama by tomorrow. And it is not as if they are our most important partner. Panama is not Canada's largest trade partner. Bilateral trade in terms of goods between our two countries was worth only $149 million in 2008. We are not even talking about 1%. We have the time to do things right. I do not see why we are not, and it saddens me a little to hear this.

I know that Panama was recently removed from the OECD grey list because it has implemented information exchange standards, but we do not even have these information exchanges with Panama. If that were the case, this bill would already be much better. We do not have a tax information exchange agreement, but the Conservatives, on the other side of the House, are trumpeting the double taxation convention that Panama has agreed to sign. They think that will do.

Is it really enough? I do not think so. Double taxation tax treaties—the definition is on the Canada Revenue Agency website—are designed to avoid double taxation for people who would otherwise pay tax on the same income in two countries. That applies to legitimate income only. A tax information exchange agreement helps track down all income, legitimate or otherwise. It is a much sounder and more interesting way to protect ourselves in terms of taxation standards.

Again, I am extremely disappointed not to find this exchange agreement in the bill, especially since we have already signed such agreements and so has Panama. So why not sign one together? It is a mystery. My colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster proposed some extremely interesting amendments, including some on sustainable development and responsible investment. That is what we want to see. That is the direction we should be taking. We are all responsible. We all live on the same planet and everyone has the right to fairness.

We were also very disappointed that the benefits of sustainable development were not considered. I understand that it is a system of rules, but it has to be applied fairly and it is not included in this bill.

This bill touched on several issues all at once. I will not have time to talk about protection for workers or the environment, which has been clearly bungled in this bill, as it was in Bill C-38. I would like to talk about what we want to see in a Canada-Panama agreement.

We simply want a fair trade policy, one that gives a rightful place to social justice, and fair, sustainable, equitable trade. These are very simple things that should be the basis for a free trade agreement with another country. We should instead be negotiating multilateral agreements. However, if the decision is made to enter into a bilateral agreement such as this one, we have to do more and make a more responsible commitment with this kind of agreement.

We are reaffirming our vision of a fair trade policy that puts the pursuit of social justice, strong public-sector social programs and the elimination of poverty at the heart of an effective trade strategy.

Let us protect the environment, protect workers and, at the same time, ensure that the tax measures included in this type of bill are appropriate.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, no doubt it is difficult to pretend to be in favour of or open to a policy that one completely opposes.

The reality is that this NDP member, just like her NDP colleague who spoke before her and other NDP members, plays this game of saying that she believes in multilateral trade agreements. The problem is that when the previous Liberal government was in office, it put forward for negotiation the multilateral agreement on investment, a multilateral approach that brought in all countries, and the NDP was opposed to that. NAFTA is a multilateral approach to trade that brings three countries together for the best interests of the continental economic regime. The NDP is opposed to that.

It is the NDP and its members who are in the streets waving placards and chanting whenever there are meetings of the WTO or NAFTA or the G20 or the G8 in Canada or around the world.

Now the member and the NDP say in the House, “We are against Panama. We might be in favour of Jordan, but we are not quite so sure; maybe Brazil, but we are not quite so sure.” They cannot name any country in the world they actually want to trade with. Then they put out this red herring and say, “We are in favour of multilateral agreements when it comes to foreign investment and international trade and commerce”, except that every single time that has come forward, they have been against it as well and were in the streets chanting and waving placards like a completely non-serious political party would.

One has to wonder whether the NDP is in favour of bilateral trade agreements or of multilateral trade agreements. Could the hon. member please make up her mind?

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

I find it sad because I think that, unfortunately, he did not bother to listen carefully to what I took the time to explain in the 10 minutes that I had. We spoke about multilateral agreements, but it is not just that. This type of bill has plenty of shortcomings.

We are talking about environmental standards, labour standards and fiscal arrangements. I am surprised that the hon. member does not want to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Panama, since the members opposite are trying to make out that they are squeaky clean. There are many things that do not make any sense.

This goes much further than a bilateral or multilateral agreement. We are talking about the very essence of a bill. In this case, there has been a blatant lack of study. Earlier, his colleague, the hon. member for Burlington, said that they were caught off guard and that they did not have time to establish an agreement.

Therefore, I am not in favour of it.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has been fairly clear in terms of expressing concerns regarding labour, environmental conditions and coming up with freer trade agreements, but that does not prevent us from being able to acknowledge the benefits, both to Canada and to other countries with which we would enter into these agreements, and we would always like to see agreements improved upon.

The issue I have with the NDP members is that they do not seem necessarily to be consistent with their thoughts when it comes to international trade. For example, they will not sign any sort of free trade agreement with any country we know with which they might have some concerns with regard to human rights issues, for example.

Let us use the country of China, where there is a great deal of concern regarding human rights issues. Would that mean that the NDP would take some sort of trade sanctions or anything of that nature in order to take a stand on that particular issue, or would they be open to an agreement between Canada and China?

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member from the Liberal Party for his question.

What I find interesting in the preamble to his question is that the Liberal Party apparently also agrees that the bill has to be improved in terms of the environment, human rights and even sustainable development.

I would like to remind the hon. member that the member for Burnaby—New Westminster introduced amendments to improve this bill in terms of the environment, sustainable development and human rights. But both the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against those amendments. So he is in no position to lecture us about what should be improved because they did not support our proposals.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to stand and speak to this important piece of legislation.

I just came from chairing the international trade committee. It is a pleasure for me to serve in that capacity. When it comes to trade, it is absolutely imperative that I explain to Canadians just how important trade is to Canada.

One out of every five jobs is created because of trade. Sixty-three per cent of our GDP is represented by trade, and we have accomplished that because of trade agreements.

The trade file started with NAFTA. NAFTA has been in existence for almost 17 years. What has happened in that time period? Jobs have gone up by 23%, meaning there are 40 million net new jobs in North America because of NAFTA. Trade has tripled, and has quadrupled with one of our partners.

Opposition members argue against free trade agreements. It really puzzles me that they let the Jordan free trade agreement go through on a voice vote; it was as if their union people were not watching. It is absolutely amazing to me that they could agree with the Jordan free trade agreement and then stand in the House and give some of the arguments that I have heard recently against the Panama free trade agreement. I will talk about that in a few minutes.

I want to give one quick example about NAFTA. We heard arguments that when NAFTA came in, the wine industry in Canada would be absolutely destroyed. It would cease to exist. All those arguments were presented on the floor of the House, and they were argued vigorously.

Can members guess what happened? Canada's wine exports amounted to $1.8 billion. From all the various countries—Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, Spain—we imported $800 million in wine, so our exports doubled our imports. What a great success story, and all because of international trade. That is something my hon. colleagues should keep in mind.

What have we been doing as a country? We have signed nine different free trade agreements: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Peru, the European Free Trade Association members, and Panama, the one we are dealing with today.

What are we pursuing? We are pursuing an economic free trade agreement with Europe. We just heard testimony less than an hour ago in committee from our chief negotiator, who indicated how well that is going. We expect to have the final draft by the end of the year.

Why is that important? It is important because it is the most comprehensive free trade agreement between any two nations anywhere in the world. It will supposedly be at end of text by the end of the year. It is exciting to see how well that is going, and I compliment the negotiators on that free trade agreement.

What does that agreement mean to Canada? It means $1,000 per family per year. That is a fair amount. That is $12 billion coming into Canada every year because of the economic free trade agreement with Europe.

We are also working aggressively on another free trade agreement, in this case with Japan. The benefits to Canada would be $9 billion. As well, there is India, Brazil, Thailand.

Just a few minutes ago we heard that we are in the TPP, which, as of yesterday, is a group of 10 countries on the Pacific rim that will work on a comprehensive free trade agreement in that group.

What about China? Last year we imported $44.5 billion from China. It imported $13.2 billion from us. To equalize the trade benefit from China and to balance the trade would be a $30 billion benefit. It could be just an act of goodwill by China.

We are very excited about accelerating trade and about our opportunities with these growing countries that are in need of the products we produce and the resources, industries and intelligence we have here in Canada to offer them.

What are the elements of the Canada-Panama agreement? We trade cross-border services, telecommunications, investment, financial services, government procurement and so on.

It is important to sign this agreement and get on with it. The bill reached third reading in the last Parliament. It is important because the United States, Chile, Taiwan and Singapore already have an agreement with Panama.

What would bilateral trade with Panama mean? In 2011, trade was $235 million. We imported about $144 million in products such as metals, gold, fruit, machinery, fish and seafood products. We exported about $111 million in products such as machinery, meat, aerospace products, vegetables and so. Signing this kind of agreement would provide a great opportunity for our corporations and our country.

It is very important to understand the opportunities that lay themselves before us under this agreement on the procurement side. In Panama it is projected there will be $28.9 billion U.S. worth of infrastructure projects over the coming years. One of the largest is the Panama Canal, which is a $5.3 billion expansion and a great opportunity for Canadian corporations with regard to not only that but also ports, roads, bridges and airports, with respect to procurement.

It is important to understand that the tariffs on our agricultural products are rather intense. They go from 13.4% right up to 260% for some of our agricultural products. Imagine what the elimination of those could do with respect to exporting frozen potatoes, pulses, pork, malt barley and other products such as beef, hogs and so on. When it comes to the non-agricultural goods, the tariffs are anywhere from 6.2% right up to 81% on many of those, such as materials, equipment, industrial and electrical machinery, paper products, vehicles and so on. We can see that the potential for this is great.

The resistance I hear from the opposition members is rather interesting because they have talked about labour problems, human rights problems and environmental concerns. There is a corporate social responsibility that has been agreed to by Canadian corporations when we get into this piece of legislation. It very much encompasses environmental protection, human rights, labour relations, corporate governance, transparency, community relations, peace and security, and anti-corruption measures. Therefore, the opposition members are really blowing smoke when they say that the legislation does not include any of this. It is very important that it is there and that we sign this agreement so that Canadian companies would be able to capitalize on these kinds of opportunities.

The corporate social responsibility part of this agreement is very important. It is something that has not been talked about an awful lot here but is something that is very important. With respect to the side agreements on labour and the environment, I have heard opposition members ask why they are not encompassed within the body of the agreement. It is no different than with Jordan, for which they had no problem with standing in this House. Well, actually they did not stand; they just sat there on a voice vote and let it go unanimously at third reading. It is off to the Senate and will be passed very soon we hope. There is no difference here with respect to that, so I do not know how, in their own thinking, they can support one and not the other.

In testimony at committee we heard the most outrageous circumstances on human rights happening in some of the factories in Jordan. The members of the opposition who are on the committee heard the same testimony. There are two approaches that can be taken when we look at a free trade agreement. We can either say that unless that country comes up to Canadian standards we will disengage or just check out because there is no point, which will send a message that we would not do business with anyone who does not come up to our standards. The other approach is to engage that country as much as possible, improve its standard of living and give Canadian businesses as well as the corporations in those other countries opportunities that would help them along, so that we both win. That is the approach this government is using.

The most hypocritical position I have ever seen in this House on the trade file is the opposition members supporting Jordan but not supporting Panama, Colombia and others. It is really beyond anything I have seen. Clearly, it is something that has to be addressed when we challenge the opposition members to come on side and sign the agreement. If they say they are pro-trade then they should do it. The excuses I have heard are absolutely not excuses but rather blind ideology that hurts Canadian businesses and Canada as a country.

Canada is a wonderful country. It is the greatest country in the world, according to the IMF, the OECD and Forbes magazine. We have created 760,000 net new jobs since the bottom of the recession. We have done that by lowering taxes and giving Canadian corporations the opportunity to actually develop and move their goods and services into international trade opportunities around the world. As a government, we will continue to do that. Why? That is what Canadians expect us to do.

The NDP would like to raise taxes to get out of this recession. We believe we should grow our country. That is the way to win, and we will continue to do that.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments. One concept came up twice in the hon. member's speech: that simply engaging with those people and those emerging countries will suddenly and magically improve workers' fundamental rights, environmental conditions and so on.

If the hon. member is so convinced that that has to happen, how is it that the agreement includes parallel agreements that bring up environmental concepts that are not in the body of the text? How is it that there is no vigorous mechanism to resolve environmental disputes? If he thinks that this really is part of the main thrust of trading with emerging countries, why is that not clearly indicated in the body of the agreement?

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I addressed that question in my deliberations, but nonetheless I would like to repeat it.

It is absolutely no different from the agreement with Jordan that the opposition sat in this House and agreed with 100%. The most horrendous testimony we have heard in our committee came from the factories in Jordan, of the misuse of human rights, yet the side agreements on human rights and on the environment are the very same.

I am saying to my hon. colleague that it is ridiculous to say that the side agreements on human rights and environment say we are going to go soft on it. We are going to go as hard as we possibly can and make sure we do what we can, in this agreement and other agreements, to be able to respect human rights wherever we can. We understand very well that in Jordan and in Panama there may be problems.

I would say the opportunity to have more intense problems, when it comes to human rights, is in Jordan rather than in Panama.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has been fairly clear on the issue in regard to this particular bill. In principle, we support it. We do have concerns regarding the environment, as I alluded to earlier, and labour and so forth. At the end of the day, this is a bill we be supporting.

Having said that, I think Canadians need to be concerned about the growing trade deficit that the Conservative government has created. The government tends to focus on this particular agreement and the Jordan agreement.

What does this particular member believe the Government of Canada is going to have to do to try to turn things around and bring back the days, with Liberal administrations, when we had a trading surplus? At the end of the day, that is going to create the hundreds and thousands of jobs here in Canada. We have to achieve that surplus.

When does the member believe we are going to be able to address that particular issue?

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting comment. Maybe the member is rather new here, but when the Liberals were in power for 13 long years, they signed zero agreements.

We signed nine and are heading to ten free trade agreements. It is very important that we not allow other countries to eat our lunch when it comes to trade. That is exactly what I said: when it comes to Panama, we have the United States, Singapore and other countries ahead of us with free trade agreements. The first one in usually has an opportunity ahead of the others. That is why we are pursuing, aggressively, free trade agreements with Japan and others. There is an advantage to making sure we do that.

It is very interesting, coming from the Liberal Party that agrees with free trade, because they did absolutely nothing. We have seen that as a trend by the Liberal Party for many years, so we are not really surprised.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the hon. member that the NDP does not oppose free trade, but it does oppose time restrictions on debate. The NDP also opposes everything that is hidden in legislation and everything the Conservatives forget to mention. The NDP is in favour of a healthy economy and wants workers to be protected and to have their own rights. The NDP also wants to put an end to tax havens.

Can the hon. member confirm that there is nothing hidden in this bill?

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACTGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is not opposed to trade; she is opposed to time allocation. This bill got to third reading with the last government. How much more debate does the member want on this thing?

Now we have started from scratch. This government has brought it up through committee and into the House, into third reading. That is a fairly extensive look at it. If the opposition has not made up its mind by now, it is never going to.

When it comes to tax havens, this is something that has been brought up before. In 2002 Panama committed to implementing the OECD's standards when it comes to exchange of tax information. In 2011, the OECD took another look at it and formally listed Panama as having substantial implementation and as having achieved international standards on exchange of information.

I believe Panama has come a long way. This is the right thing to do, and I encourage all members to consider that and vote for this piece of legislation.

Correctional Service CanadaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, inmates in Correctional Service of Canada penitentiaries regularly use their blood, vomit, feces, urine, semen or saliva as a weapon against correctional officers. The rate of hepatitis C among inmates is 20 to 50 times higher than in the general population, and the HIV infection rate is 5 to 40 times higher.

Every incident that occurs leaves correctional officers and their families in limbo, since inmates can refuse to have their blood analyzed to determine their state of health. These men and women who serve the public deserve our respect and our protection. They are not asking that every prisoner be required to give a blood sample, only those who, by their actions, have threatened the most fundamental right of correctional officers—the right to life.

What is the Minister of Public Safety waiting for to respond to this appeal and pass appropriate legislation?

Queen's Diamond Jubilee MedalStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, every member of Parliament has been given the privilege of selecting 30 recipients for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. For several months I wondered how I would select just 30 people from the 120,000 in my riding. Obviously there are hundreds of worthy candidates. Upon further reflection, I began to think about the Queen herself and about what she values and stands for. Words such as duty, honour and service quickly came to mind.

I think all Canadians are aware of the high regard the Queen has for our armed forces and how often she pays them respect. That is why I decided to select Diamond Jubilee recipients by honouring those who serve members of our armed forces. For example, there are unsung heroes in Royal Canadian Legions across the country who serve our veterans on a daily basis. In recent years, many Canadians have paid respect to our troops in Afghanistan. In my riding, one woman has sent scores of packages in the mail to soldiers she has not even met. There are also many cadet commanders across Canada who give their time to prepare the future leaders of our armed forces.

It is these people who will receive Diamond Jubilee Medals in my riding. I think my choices are most appropriate and I believe the Queen herself would agree with my decisions.

Blood DonationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week was very important, because Canadians were encouraged to generously donate blood. I made my first donation when I was 18. But the cruel and discriminatory rules set by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec against gay and bisexual men prohibited me from continuing to donate.

In 2012, because of biomedical technological advances to detect HIV in blood, there is no need for this discrimination. In fact, a team of researchers with the Canadian Medical Association Journal recommended that gay couples who have been in a stable, monogamous relationship for one year be able to donate blood.

These researchers suggested that, with such a measure, the risk of receiving HIV-infected blood would be only 1 in 11,000,000. Since we do not have a stable supply of blood from year to year, we are not in a position to refuse the generous donations from these gay couples, whose sexual practices are just as safe as those of heterosexual couples.

I am calling on the Minister of Health today to put an end to this discrimination against gay men. It is an insult to assume that our blood is not clean enough for you.

Children's HealthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House this afternoon to highlight the need for a pan-Canadian network for child and youth nutrition.

Studies have shown that good nutrition for our children and youth has a direct impact on their educational success. These educational outcomes lead to their success in getting better jobs and better long-term health. This has a direct impact on our economy in reducing health care costs and in creating a more educated workforce to meet the needs of Canada's future workers.

I call on all members of the House to support the Motion No. 319 on children's health which will engage in a consultative process regarding the promotion and maintenance of healthy weights for children and youth.

Birthday CongratulationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a remarkable lady living in Stephenville Crossing in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's. On May 29, Mrs. Frances Peddle celebrated her 106th birthday.

On a recent visit with Mrs. Peddle, who lives with her daughter, Margaret, I had the pleasure of chatting with her and enjoyed her stories and sense of humour. At the age of 15, Mrs. Peddle moved from her childhood home in Green's Harbour, Trinity Bay to St. John's where she worked until age 17 when she moved to Montreal. This meant moving to a foreign country, as Newfoundland was not then a part of Canada.

At the age of 23, Mrs. Peddle returned to Newfoundland where she worked and raised her family of six children. After her husband passed away, Mrs. Peddle married again to a gentleman with six children. Today she has 57 grandchildren, 90 great-grandchildren, 30 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.

I ask all members to join me in recognizing Mrs. Frances Peddle and this tremendous milestone in her life.

Canada-Wide Science FairStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to recognize two constituents of mine who have the remarkable achievement of attending the Canada-Wide Science Fair and competing.

Tristen Sasakamoose and Mario Ahenakew of the Ahtahkakoop School, with their project on ancient laws and legends pertaining to buoyancy, attended the Canada-Wide Science Fair this year in Charlottetown. On behalf of our Conservative government, I congratulate them both on being the first first nations team to attend the Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Canada-Wide Science Fair is a national championship where finalists from different regional science fairs across the country meet and compete. It is the largest extracurricular youth activity related to science and technology in Canada.

It is an honour to rise today and recognize these two students who achieved such a remarkable feat. The Canada-Wide Science Fair accepts only the best students and projects and has a long history dating back to the 1960s.

I know the community of Ahtahkakoop and first nations across Canada are incredibly proud of what Tristen and Mario accomplished.

DemocracyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I often visit high school classes in my riding because I believe a healthy democracy needs all voices at the table, including youth. Students I have met recently at Victoria High are not apathetic. They are aware and engaged. In the civics class, every student is involved in a volunteer project. I promised I would bring some of their concerns to Ottawa.

The Vic High media and politics class wants to see a greater concern for truth and less spin by politicians. They deplore how some issues are depicted as black and white or good versus evil, but one overriding concern in several classes was that governments were not doing enough to protect our environment.

It is not apathy that stands in the way of youth engagement but an open and responsive government that respectfully listens to their concerns for a healthy environment is a goal that all youth would embrace.

Fiesta WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week, in my home riding of Oshawa, we are celebrating the 38th annual Fiesta Week.

Fiesta Week is one of the most popular summer events in Oshawa. The annual week-long multicultural festival is a wonderful celebration of the cultural diversity of Durham region, especially in the city of Oshawa, for which I am truly proud to represent in the House of Commons.

Over the last 38 years, Fiesta Week has provided an opportunity for residents of Oshawa and Durham region to experience European, Asian and Caribbean cultures and cuisines, all without having to leave their community. There are numerous fun and exciting events throughout the week for people of all ages. This past Sunday I was proud to be part of the kickoff to Fiesta Week and attended the parade and concert.

Fiesta Week truly has something for everyone. Fiesta Week continues to be an inspiring celebration of the cultural diversity of Oshawa. I encourage everyone to participate in the festivities. A special thanks goes out to all the volunteers in the Oshawa Folk Arts Council. These individuals deserve our utmost respect and appreciation for all they do.

The Prime MinisterStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a growing lack of respect for basic common decency by certain members of the House.

Last Thursday, two members gestured toward the Prime Minister in a questionable manner. I know I was not alone in my disgust in hearing of this action. Regrettably, it seems that this questionable action from the third party is not isolated to the House. Merely hours later, the member for Papineau tweeted that the Prime Minister does not believe in Tikkun Olam, a Jewish tenet that means healing the world.

On this side of the House, under the leadership of this Prime Minister, this government acts every day to uphold the Canadian values of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Furthermore, considering the many awards and accolades that the Prime Minister has received from the Jewish community and other humanitarian organizations, I find the statement outrageous.

Given the strong humanitarian record of the Prime Minister, I urge all members to stand in recognition of the great works that have been accomplished in the spirit of Tikkun Olam by our government under the leadership of our principled Prime Minister.

Diesel ExhaustStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, the World Health Organization moved diesel exhaust to a new ranking, making it a carcinogen as powerful as asbestos, arsenic or mustard gas. This means that exposure to diesel exhaust can kill people just as surely as smoking cigarettes can.

Residents of the west end of Toronto have been saying to this to governments for years. With federal help, Ontario plans to run 464 diesel commuter trains each day within a few feet of homes, schools, day care centres and hospitals. It will be the busiest diesel corridor on the planet and, given the new evidence, 300,000 local residents will be subjected to carcinogenic exhaust.

The federal and Ontario governments need to get their act together and begin electrifying this corridor, starting with the air rail link. Electric trains are clean, quiet, more economic to run and maintain, last longer and, best of all, do not cause cancer.

I urge the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to take immediate action to protect the residents of Toronto.

Christiane BlanchetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to salute the contribution of an extraordinary volunteer in my riding.

I am pleased to announce that, on June 12, Christiane Blanchet received the off-road vehicles volunteer recognition award of excellence from Quebec's transport minister, Norman MacMillan.

Now in its third year, this award honours people who have made a major contribution to their community through their involvement and activity.

As an intrepid, energetic and vital member of the Club motoneige des Plaines in Lotbinière, Ms. Blanchet has helped keep the club going for many years.

On behalf of all members of Lotbinière snowmobile clubs, I am very pleased to congratulate Christiane Blanchet on receiving this award of excellence.