House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was scientists.

Topics

Access to Information, Privacy and EthicsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Privacy Commissioner on the application of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act for the year 2011.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Combating Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

EmploymentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. I am presenting the first as the leader of the official opposition.

I am pleased to rise today to submit a petition on behalf of concerned Canadians who worry that the sale of Zellers to the American retail giant, Target, will result in the loss of over 5,000 jobs.

The petitioners are dismayed that Target claims to have no obligation to recognize the seniority, wages and benefits of Zellers' workers. They also know that the loss of these jobs would have a devastating effect on thousands of families and on their communities.

Understanding that the government has repeatedly failed to protect the interest of Canadian jobs, as it is obliged to do under the Investment Canada Act, and seeing the disastrous impact that the foreign takeovers of Alcan, Inco, Falconbridge and Electro-Motive Diesel have had on Canadian jobs and communities all under the government's watch, the petitioners are asking the House to review the sale of Zellers to Target to ensure that jobs, seniority, wages and benefits of Zellers' workers are respected.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today, I am pleased to present a petition signed by Canadians who are opposed to the closure of the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, more commonly known as PEARL. Last year, in co-operation with other scientists, researchers from this laboratory discovered the largest hole in the ozone layer ever measured.

Unlike the Conservatives, who refuse to take action on this issue, these Canadians know that climate change is going to have a growing impact on them. They know that the effects of climate change are being felt more strongly in the far north and that PEARL is essential.

This petition demonstrates the Conservatives' contempt for atmospheric sciences. These Canadians are calling for action on climate change and are hoping that PEARL will be saved and that the Conservatives will stop sabotaging our environmental research programs.

The petitioners are asking the federal government to restore funding to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science so that PEARL can continue its essential work.

Human TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to present a petition signed by many great Canadians from across our great country requesting that the government develop and implement a comprehensive national action plan to combat human trafficking.

Airline IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table a petition today signed by Canadians in regard to Aveos and the ultimate bankruptcy.

There are thousands of employees who should be working with Air Canada but, unfortunately, the government has not seen the wisdom of fighting for those jobs and holding Air Canada accountable to legislation. Therefore, those jobs are now in jeopardy. This affects individuals living in Winnipeg, Mississauga, Montreal and the surrounding communities.

The petitioners are calling on the government to hold Air Canada accountable to the Air Canada Public Participation Act, thereby saving these most valuable jobs in our aerospace industry.

Wine IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege and honour to rise this morning to table a petition on behalf of numerous constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country. These wise folks realize it is time to free our grapes and to allow the archaic 1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to be amended. They are in support of Bill C-311 by my hard-working colleague from Okanagan—Coquihalla.

Tomorrow we hope to bring this archaic legislation to the 21st century.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present yet another petition from members of the Vancouver Quadra community and other communities in greater Vancouver.

The petitioners are concerned that the planned delay of retirement benefits, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, will create hardship for those in our society who have the least now and that it will increase income inequality. Single women will be disproportionately impacted. In fact, over 40% of old age security recipients earn less than $20,000 a year in retirement. They will be forced to work for two more years or to seek alternative benefits, which would load more costs onto the province.

AbortionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition from residents of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

The petitioners note that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws regarding abortion. They point out that the Supreme Court has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the House to speedily enact legislation that would restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.

Shark FinsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.

The first petition is signed by residents within my constituency, residents of Salt Spring Island, who have petitioned this House, as many, I think thousands by now, have before to take action to restrict the practice of shark finning by ending the consumption of shark fins within Canada.

The petitioners call upon the House assembled to ban the possession, distribution or sale of shark fins within Canada understanding that this sole practice is driving the species to extinction.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition I present today is relevant to today, which is World Environment Day, and it is on behalf of residents of Calgary, Guelph, Victoria, Saanichton, Ottawa and Montreal.

The petitioners plead that this House and the government remove all those sections of omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, that have nothing to do with the budget, remove all sections that relate to degrading the environment and bring forward a bill in the proper form.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 601 and 605.

Question No. 601Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

With regard to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP): (a) what were the total net assets of the CPP fund at the end of the three latest fiscal years; (b) for each fiscal year, what portion of these assets was in the form of cash; (c) for each fiscal year, what was the total amount paid out in CPP benefits; (d) when was the latest actuarial assessment of the CPP fund with respect to its capacity to meet anticipated demand for benefits carried out; and (e) when is the next such assessment planned?

Question No. 601Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), as reported in the annual reports of the Canada pension plan, CPP, the CPP’s assets available for benefit payments as at March 31, 2011, were valued at $151.6 billion; at March 31, 2010, they were valued at $131.4 billion; and at March 31, 2009, they were valued at $110.0 billion.

With regard to (b), the CPP’s consolidated financial statements are included in the public accounts and published in the annual reports of the CPP. The cash balances reported in the CPP’s consolidated financial statements consist of the total cash held by the CPP account and the CPP Investment Board, the CPPIB.

As at March 31, 2011, the deposit with the Receiver General for Canada in the CPP account was $23 million and CPPIB's cash was $11 million, for a total of $34 million in the consolidated statement of financial position and the consolidated statement of cash flow.

As at March 31, 2010, the deposit with the Receiver General for Canada in the CPP account was $175 million and CPPIB’s cash was $5 million, for a total of $180 million in the consolidated statement of net assets and the consolidated statement of cash flow.

As at March 31, 2009, the deposit with the Receiver General for Canada in the CPP account was $90 million and CPIB’s cash was $5 million, for a total of $95 million in the consolidated statement of net assets and the consolidated statement of cash flow.¸

With regard to (c), according to the annual reports of the CPP, for fiscal year 2010–11, approximately $31.6 billion were paid in benefits; for 2009–10, approximately $30.4 billion were paid in benefits; and for 2008–09, approximately $29 billion were paid in benefits.

With regard to (d), the 25th actuarial report on the Canada pension plan was tabled in the House of Commons on November 15, 2010. The report presents the financial status of the CPP as at December 31, 2009. According to the report, the CPP is expected to meet its obligations and remain financially sustainable over the long term under a contribution rate of 9.9%.

The Chief Actuary is required under the legislation to produce an actuarial report on the CPP every three years. The CPP legislation also requires that the Chief Actuary prepare an actuarial report any time a bill is introduced in Parliament that has, in the view of the Chief Actuary, a material impact on the estimates in the most recent triennial actuarial report. This reporting ensures that the long-term financial implications of proposed plan changes are given timely consideration by the Minister of Finance.

With regard to (e), the next actuarial report is expected be tabled before Parliament in the fall of 2013. It will present the financial status of the plan as at December 31, 2012.

Question No. 605Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

With regard to the government's expenditures related to travel arranged by Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries on March 30, 2012, to promote Budget 2012, what was the total amount spent, for each member of Cabinet and their staff, on (i) travel expenses, (ii) hospitality expenses, (iii) accommodation, (iv) alcohol, (v) beverages, (vi) food?

Question No. 605Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, these expenses will be made available according to proactive disclosure guidelines. When posted, they can be found at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pd-dp/gr-rg/index-eng.asp.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, if Questions Nos. 589, 590, 591, 594, 597, 598, 600, 602 and 604 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 589Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

For each year from 2000 up to and including 2011, and for each country from which Canada has received claims for refugee protection from 2000 up to and including 2011: (a) how many claims for refugee protection from each country were made each year indicated; (b) how many claims for refugee protection from each country received a final decision from the Refugee Protection Division for each year indicated; (c) for each country, what is the rate, expressed as a percentage, that is obtained by dividing the total number of claims made by nationals of the country in question that, in a final determination by the Division for each year indicated, were rejected, determined to be withdrawn or abandoned by the total number of claims made by nationals of the country in question; and (d) for each country, what is the rate, expressed as a percentage, that is obtained by dividing the total number of claims made by nationals of the country in question that, in a final determination by the Division, for each indicated year, are determined to be withdrawn or abandoned by the total number of claims made by nationals of the country in question?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 590Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

With respect to Federal Skilled Worker applicants who applied before February 27, 2008, and for whom an immigration officer has not made a decision based on selection criteria by March 29, 2012: (a) how many total such applicants are there; (b) how many such persons indicated (i) French as their first language, (ii) French as their language of preference for communications with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), (iii) English as their first language, (iv) English as their language of preference for communications with CIC; (c) how many such persons have completed a post-secondary education; (d) how many such persons reside in (i) the province of Quebec, (ii) the province of Ontario, (iii) the province of Nova Scotia, (iv) the province of New Brunswick, (v) the province of Prince Edward Island, (vi) the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, (vii) the province of Manitoba, (viii) the province of Alberta, (ix) the province of Saskatchewan, (x) the province of British Columbia, (xi) Nunavut, (xii) Yukon, (xiii) the Northwest Territories; (e) how many such persons indicated an intent to reside in (i) the province of Quebec, (ii) the province of Ontario, (iii) the province of Nova Scotia, (iv) the province of New Brunswick, (v) the province of Prince Edward Island, (vi) the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, (vii) the province of Manitoba, (viii) the province of Alberta, (ix) the province of Saskatchewan, (x) the province of British Columbia, (xi) Nunavut, (xii) Yukon, (xiii) the Northwest Territories; (f) how many such persons reside in Montreal; (g) how many such persons indicated an intent to reside in Montreal; (h) how many such persons reside in the riding of Mount Royal; (i) how many such persons indicated an intent to reside in the riding of Mount Royal; (j) with respect to the persons in (d)(i) and (e)(i), (i) how many indicated French as their first language or language of preference for communications with CIC, (ii) how many possess a post-secondary degree; (k) with respect to the persons in (h) and (i), (i) how many indicated French as their first language or language of preference for communications with CIC, (ii) how many possess a post-secondary degree; (l) with respect to the persons in (f) and (g), (i) how many indicated French as their first language or language of preference for communications with CIC, (ii) how many possess a post-secondary degree; (m) with respect to the persons in (h) and (i), what are the countries of origin of the applicants, broken down by the number of applicants per country; (n) with respect to the persons in (f) and (g), what are the countries of origin of the applicants, broken down by the number of applicants per country; (o) with respect to the persons in (f) and (g), what occupations were indicated by applicants, broken down by the number of applicants for each identified occupation; and (p) with respect to the persons in (h) and (i), what occupations were indicated by applicants, broken down by the number of applicants for each identified occupation?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 591Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

With regard to the current Canadian policy on providing information to foreign agencies and using information from foreign agencies for the combating of terrorism and the protection of public safety: (a) what is the current policy on providing information to foreign agencies when there is a substantial risk this may lead to acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (b) which departments contributed to the formation of the policy referred to in (a); (c) how long has the policy referred to in (a) been in place; (d) which external experts, including academics, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO), private sector representatives, were consulted in the formation of the policy referred to in (a); (e) what was the role of the Minister of Public Safety in the formation of the policy referred to in (a); (f) what was the role of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the formation of the policy referred to in (a); (g) which official is ultimately responsible for determining whether “substantial risk” exists, in reference to (a); (h) who is responsible for deciding to which foreign agencies Canada will provide information, and what are the substantive criteria behind such a decision; (i) when deliberating the decision referred to in (h), are the “concluding observations” of United Nations Committee Against Torture reports consulted; (j) what sources are used by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP or government officials in considering the human rights records of foreign agencies concerning domestic and international activities, including the treatment and interrogation of detainees; (k) what follow-up procedures are used to verify that information transferred from Canada to foreign agencies does not lead to the commission of acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (l) what is the current policy on the use of information obtained by CSIS from foreign agencies when there are suspicions such information was obtained using acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (m) which departments contributed to the formation of the current policy referred to in (l); (n) how long has the policy referred to in (l) been in place; (o) which external experts, including academics, NGO representatives, private sector representatives, were consulted in the formation of the policy referred to in (l); and (p) what was the role of the Minister of Public Safety in the formation of the policy referred to in (l)?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 594Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

With regard to Budget 2012: (a) what is the breakdown of each portfolio’s review base in Table 5.1 by department, agency and organization; (b) where the full budget of the department, agency, or organization is not included in the calculation of a portfolio’s review base in Table 5.1, (i) which components of that department, agency, or organization are included in that review base and which are not, (ii) for those components included in the review base, what is the breakdown of their funding by vote or statutory authority; (c) what is the breakdown of expected savings in Table 6.7 under Budget 2012 reductions in departmental spending, for each department, agency and organization in each of the fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and ongoing; and (d) how does the answer to (c) for each department, agency and organization reconcile with the annual breakdowns included in Annex 1 of Budget 2012?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 597Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With regard to Old Age Security: (a) has Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) or any other department undertaken new estimates since 2009 of the number of people over the age of 65 who are not receiving their OAS pension despite being eligible for it, and, if so, what are those estimates; (b) has HRSDC or any other department undertaken new estimates of the number of people aged 60-64 who are not receiving their OAS Spouse's Allowance despite being eligible for it, and, if so, what are those estimates; (c) Has HRSDC or any other department undertaken new estimates of the number of people aged 60-64 who are not receiving their OAS Survivor's Allowance despite being eligible for it, and, if so, what are those estimates; (d) how many of the people included in the estimates referred to in (a), (b) or (c) are currently in receipt of benefits under the Canada Pension Plan; (e) what outreach activities or initiatives has HRSDC, Service Canada or any other department undertaken to notify eligible seniors who are not currently in receipt of OAS pension, Spouse's Allowance or Survivor's Allowance; (f) has HRSDC, Service Canada or any other department undertaken any notifications by mail to eligible seniors who are not currently in receipt of OAS pension, Spouse's Allowance or Survivor's Allowance; and (g) if the answer to (f) is affirmative, (i) in what years were letters mailed, (ii) how many were sent in each of those years, (iii) what was the response rate in each of those years?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 598Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With respect to Treasury Board numbers for public sector employees as of March 31, 2012: (a) what is the number of public sector employees broken down by the following regions for the fiscal years ending March 31, 2009, March 31, 2010, March 31, 2011, and March 31, 2012, namely: (i) Newfoundland and Labrador, (ii) Prince Edward Island, (iii) Nova Scotia, (iv) New Brunswick, (v) Quebec, exclusive of the National Capital Region, (vi) National capital Region, Quebec portion, (vii) Natioanl Capital Region, Ontario portion, (viii) Ontario, exclusive of the National Capital Region, (ix) manitoba, (x) Saskatchewan, (xi) Alberta, (xii) British Columbia, (xiii) Yukon, (xiv) Northwest Territories, (xv) Nunavut, (xiv) outside Canada; and (b) for the answers in (a), what are the numbers in each region broken down by (i) indeterminate employees, (ii) specified term employees, (iii) casual employees, (iv) student employees?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 600Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With regard to government offices, how many offices have been newly opened or relocated since January 1, 2006, specifying: (a) the department or agency; (b) the division, unit, or other like descriptor; (c) in the case of relocated offices, the former location, including full address; (d) the location of the newly-opened or relocated office, including full address; and (e) in the case of leased space, the name of the firm or person leasing the space to the government?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 602Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

With regard to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP): (a) in the past five years, have officials at the CPP, Finance Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat or Human Resources and Skills Development Canada performed any assessment or estimate of the cost of making changes to the limitation on benefits paid retroactive from the date of application; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, (i) what were the resulting assessments or estimates, (ii) what are the file or reference numbers of these assessments; (c) has any assessment or estimate been made of the cost of matching the Quebec Pension Plan's policy of making retroactive payments for up to 60 months; (d) if the answer to (c) is affirmative, (i) what were the resulting assessments or estimates, (ii) what are the file or reference numbers of these assessments; (e) has any assessment or estimate been made of the cost of removing the limitation altogether, and allowing applicants to receive payment for all retroactive benefits; (f) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, (i) what were the resulting assessments or estimates, (ii) what are the file or reference numbers of these assessments; and (g) was any evaluation made about the impact of each option examined as per (a), (c), and (e) on the actuarial soundness of the CPP?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 604Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

With regard to the Canada Pension Plan: (a) Has Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) undertaken new estimates since 2005 of the number of people over the age of 70 who paid into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), who might still be alive, but who were not in receipt of their CPP retirement benefits; (b) how many people over the age of 70 years and believed still alive are estimated to be currently missing out on their CPP retirement benefits, (c) how many of the people in (b) are currently in receipt of (i) survivor benefits, (ii) Old Age Pension, (iii) the Guaranteed Income Supplement; (d) since February 2006, (i) what outreach activities or initiatives has HRSDC or Service Canada undertaken to notify eligible seniors over the age of 70 who are not currently in receipt of their CPP retirement benefits, (ii) what are the costs of those activities; (e) since February 2006, has HRSDC or Service Canada undertaken any notifications by mail to eligible seniors over the age of 70 who are not currently in receipt of their CPP retirement benefits; and (f) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, (i) in what years were letters mailed, (ii) how many were sent in each of those years, (iii) what was the response rate in each of those years?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canadian scientific and social science expertise is of great value and, therefore, the House calls on the Government to end its muzzling of scientists; to reverse the cuts to research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and to cancel the closures of the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the diligent and very hard-working official opposition industry critic from LaSalle—Émard.

I rise today to introduce our official opposition day motion. We in the NDP believe the scientific approach to knowledge is something we should cherish and rigorously defend. This opposition day motion stresses action to counteract the ways in which this approach is being actively undermined by the Conservatives.

While my colleagues will speak to the specifics and give real world examples throughout the day, in my short time I will speak to why we should value and defend the scientific approach to learning and acquiring knowledge.

Whether it is in the hard sciences, such as chemistry, physics or biology, or the social sciences, such as political science or economics, scholars around the world apply a universal approach to understanding humanity and its problems. This involves first asking important questions. These questions are sometimes driven by the needs of society but they are sometimes driven by dreaming. However, they are always driven by the researchers' own curiosity. Wanting to know what is within and what is beyond is what drives researchers.

Therefore, whether it is the force for change in society or the force of colliding atoms, scientists begin by first identifying the important “why” question, why something is occurring, identifying problems and asking why it is happening.

After asking the “why” question, researchers form theories and then gather data to test these theories. However, most important, they truthfully report test results and the methodology by which these results were obtained.

All those who believe in science and the scientific approach are driven to seek and report the truth and, if these truths are unpopular, it is imperative upon the researcher to speak truth to power. Where we get into real trouble is when those with power do not want to hear the truth and try to undermine or suppress these truths. Of course, the most famous example of this clash between truth and power occurred during the birth of modern science when Galileo was imprisoned for life for daring to suggest that the earth revolves around the sun.

Three and a half centuries later, we find ourselves facing the same underlying problem where those who believe in science are threatened by those following ideological doctrine. With their cuts and muzzling of scientists, the Conservatives attack our hard-won culture of scientific inquiry. Worse still, they are creating an atmosphere of fear among Canadian scientists. They give Canadian scientists a reason to fear. These scientists shake their heads in disbelief and think to themselves, “I never thought it would happen in this day and age and certainly not in this country”.

I have had the great pleasure of working in academic institutions for the greater part of the last two decades and I have recently been in touch with many of these scientists. I can tell members that there is an atmosphere of fear that is pervading Canada and it is spreading among Canadian academic institutions. I have been hearing from tenured professors who, for example, fear what is coming next. They have told me stories of colleagues who have been warned against speaking out and that their programs would be cut as retribution if they make their fears known, or if they move from science to become politically active and speak out against the massive change in culture that the Conservatives are bringing with their recent legislation.

However, many scientists are taking the risk and making public their concerns. For example, yesterday I received a letter from 12 prominent members of the scientific community, and I mean prominent. Deans, chairs, program directors and many senior scientists were of these 12 who stated that they were “...deeply concerned by the erosion of funding for fundamental scientific research in Canada”.

In this letter, the scientists list three major programs for which they are particularly concerned. The first is the cancellation of the major resources support program, the MRS program; the second is the research tools and instruments program, the RTI program; and the third, very troubling, is that these 12 prominent members of the scientific community state that there is a 50% reduction in the number of NSERC graduate and post-doctoral scholarships. This cuts at the heart of our approach to learning and discovery in this country, and they are deeply concerned.

These scientists see these cuts as undermining Canada's long-standing commitment to basic science and fundamental scientific learning. These eminent scientists argue that the Conservatives are creating “a 'perfect storm' that will jeopardize Canada's international reputation and competitive edge...”.

The letter concludes that the scientists “welcome the opportunity to work with NSERC to find alternative measures”. However, as is the case with so many other measures taken by the government, there is little or no opportunity for the public to provide input in the decision-making process and, of course, there is no difference here.

I also have a similar letter from 47 other top-grade scientists describing their pride in what they and their colleagues have accomplished and hope to accomplish in the coming years. I have made an effort to personally speak with these 47 scientists, and in these private conversations they have described to me how they and their lives are filled with an intense sense of purpose, how they wade through the setbacks and failures of experiments with resilience and spend long hours in Arctic labs or even in howling winds day after day because their desire for truth and knowledge keeps them there.

They also expressed to me their sheer joy of passing their knowledge to younger generations. Training the next wave of great scientists will employ this scientific approach to knowledge, and key to this training is bringing students into Canadian labs and research centres in order to provide hands-on training and first-hand experience.

However, instead of being secure in the knowledge that robust and reliable funding programs are in place to support the freedom to innovate and advance knowledge in its variety of forms, they now have to wonder whether they are being unfairly targeted because their life work no longer constitutes what the government deems is worth supporting. Across the country, they are asking why and beginning to mobilize. As someone who has spent almost 20 years undertaking academic study and working in universities, I have never before encountered this kind of mobilization of scientists. To see letters signed by so many prominent biologists, physicists and chemists makes me think there is something very wrong in the government's approach to funding and learning in this country.

This opposition day motion is meant to express the NDP's intent to stand with scientists and social scientists and show that we on this side of the House are their allies. We pledge to listen to the fears and fight for academic freedom, because when scientists succeed, they show Canadians and the world what is possible.

Here in the House we hear the attacks every day. Members of the government on the front bench sneer when I say the word “academic”. They refuse to acknowledge the value of Statistics Canada research. They openly chastise the environment commissioner's citing of scientific evidence and refuse to let government scientists speak at conferences, but scientists should not have to subject the product of their work to political tests of faith from the regime of the day. The evaluation and examination of the true value of their work must remain with the review of their peers.

I am a strong adherent of the Haldane principle, which simply states that research funding decisions should be made by researchers, not politicians. Conservatives have tried to bury their attacks within this Trojan Horse budget. They have sought to suppress some of the brightest voices in this country here at home and on the world stage. In fact, I can say that they have declared a war on knowledge, and Canadians are caught in the crossfire.

I call on my colleagues opposite to join New Democrats and support the scientists, researchers and others who will be adversely affected by these cuts in their own constituencies, and to support our motion.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member's speech. I know he was not here for the previous budgets this government brought forward, but I can tell him that we have increased our investments in science and technology all across the board, from basic, pure fundamental research—like the Perimeter Institute, like the Institute for Quantum Computing and many others—all the way through to applyied research, yet at every opportunity that we have increased investments, the NDP has voted against those initiatives.

It is one thing for the member to stand and say that the NDP supports scientists, but the actions of the NDP seem to indicate that it does not. I know New Democrats think natural resources are a disease. Perhaps they also think that science and students are also a disease, because they vote no. Would he care to respond to that truth?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, of course this is a disingenuous question.

The government buries its cuts in these giant omnibus bills and then blames us for not voting for them, but how could we support such a budget in which so many cuts to science and attacks on fundamental knowledge are buried within?

I would challenge this member to break apart those pieces of legislation from the omnibus bill and allow us to discuss them separately, and of course then the scientists' voices would really be heard.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for introducing the motion today. I would like to ask him a question about his question, which is why scientists like to ask the question “Why?”. It is on the issue of drug shortages.

In the United States, the Senate passed Bill S.3187, in which they decided to study the correlations between drug shortages and factors such as the number of manufacturers, the pricing structure and the contracting practices, while here in Canada we seem to be content to simply set up a website where people can track what drugs are in shortage and we do not seem to be interested in thinking about and investigating the root cause.

I would ask my hon. colleague to comment on the government's performance on this issue with regard to asking the question of why.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, of course I recognize the member's great training at Princeton University. My colleague's point outlines what is happening in general here in Canada, which is that in other countries where scientists are allowed to pursue their craft with state sponsorship, they again respect the Haldane principle whereby scientists are the ones who decide which projects are funded.

The Conservatives are moving away from that principle. They are deciding the questions, and when they get answers they do not like, they either cut the funding or muzzle scientists so that the truth does not come out.

I thank the member for his question. I respect his judgments and opinions.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. He spoke specifically about the muzzling of scientists that is going on. I would like to remind the House that, since this Parliament began, this government has shut down debate many times, and its gag orders have extended beyond these walls.

I am extremely concerned because men and women, and more specifically our democracy, are being silenced.

My colleague met with agencies and scientists who told him about the direct impact of this muzzling on competitiveness. What are the direct consequences of muzzling these experts for Canada's competitiveness?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, there is a direct and indirect effect of this muzzling, first of all, where we have kind of government flak sitting beside scientists at conferences telling them what they can and cannot say, we have a direct muzzling. Of course, we have an indirect muzzling where the colleagues who I have spoken to and members of the scientific community are now fearful of what they can and cannot say because they are worried about cuts to their own funding and the impacts that will have on Canadians in the future.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, the decisions of legislators must be based on thorough and objective data.

Parliament Hill is a special place. Since I became an MP, and as the science and technology critic for the first year of my mandate, then as the industry critic, I have had the opportunity to meet with stakeholders in academia, government, industry and science. I have also attended conferences and participated in symposia and panels. In the past year, I have learned a great deal, and that has been very rewarding. As parliamentarians, we have access to a multitude of voices and points of view, as well as invaluable knowledge. It would be of no help to Canadians to close our eyes and ears.

It is my responsibility and my duty, as a parliamentarian, to take into account the point of view of researchers and scientists in order to make informed decisions. Canada and the Canadian government are full of these people who are passionate about research. For years, with patience, perseverance and know-how, they have helped us better understand the demographic evolution and the state of our environment and economy; they help us grasp what is going on. And then it is up to us, as parliamentarians, to propose evidence-based legislation and policy, with full knowledge of the facts.

I do not understand why a government would want to silence these voices. I do not understand why this government continues to censor scientists and undermine the work of Statistics Canada. Ottawa has to stop muzzling scientists, start basing its decisions on scientific evidence and get to work on repairing Canada's reputation as an open and enlightened society.

In Davos, the Prime Minister promised that innovation would be the cornerstone of Canada's future. How can he talk about innovation when he is not open to debating ideas? Ideas are the genesis of innovation.

Since coming to power, this government has been on a veritable crusade against any policy based on scientific evidence. The government tends to cast aspersions on any research or any agency that contradicts its ideological agenda.

We have here a government that has made censoring researchers central to its science policy. Everyone is now aware of the controversy surrounding internationally renowned scientists and researchers, such as David Tarasick, whom this government muzzled because he knew that its inaction on climate change would be disastrous to our environment. Mr. Tarasick had published the results of his research in the British journal Nature. The government also banned researcher Kristi Miller from talking to the media about her research on the diseases threatening Pacific salmon.

The prize definitely goes to the censorship of Scott Dallimore, a scientist at Natural Resources Canada. The research that Dr. Dallimore had published in Nature was on the impact of climate change on our country's north. These findings would have been quite disconcerting to the government, which was probably already planning to withdraw Canada from the Kyoto protocol. However, there was no need to be concerned, because Dr. Dallimore was talking about the climate change that occurred 13,000 years ago.

Censorship is at the heart of the science policy of the government. Last February I attended the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science with more than 6,000 scientists and specialists from 50 different countries. One of the conferences was titled “Unmuzzle Government Scientists” to denounce the muzzling of government researchers. I had the honour of representing the NDP at the conference. I met scientists, experts, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and science journalists.

Our scientific community is worried and it is fully aware of the climate change caused by human activities. It proposed innovative solutions to address the biggest challenge faced by humanity at this time.

Once the ribbon cutting to officially open the conference was done, none of the members of Parliament were present, not even the Minister of State for Science and Technology.

Nature magazine took note of the crusade the Conservatives have undertaken to undermine science-based information decision making. In an editorial, Nature magazine denounced the censorship by the government on the scientific community saying, “Canada's generally positive foreign reputation as a progressive, scientific nation masks some startlingly poor behaviour.”

The way forward is clear. It is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free.

For this government, a policy in favour of innovation also means eliminating Statistics Canada's long form census and $8.3 billion in cuts. These cuts will total $33.9 billion by 2014-15.

The Conservative government's decisions have proven lethal to Statistics Canada and its activities. In other words, in the middle of a demographic crisis, without the long form, a census of the Canadian population will not paint an accurate picture of that population. How can we propose sound legislation if we do not know what Canadians need? How can we keep an eye on demographic trends and trends in health, the economy and services to the public?

These decisions—like many other government decisions—to slash government sources of information and research and to undermine the knowledge-based decision-making process have been universally criticized.

At the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, during a study on e-commerce in Canada, witnesses condemned the fact that Canada did not have any recent data to compare Canadians' online shopping habits with other countries or any studies on how small and medium-sized businesses use e-commerce. This is because the Survey of Electronic Commerce and Technology has been eliminated by the government's budget cuts.

Critical up-to-date information was missing, preventing the committee from doing a thorough and enlightened job. Our researchers and scientists know full well that, if we, as a country, do not use their knowledge and research, the whole nation will pay the price. These Government of Canada professionals are serving the public because they are committed to their mission of serving the country. They are an invaluable source of information for parliamentarians and all Canadians. They help us to better understand our world, and they can enlighten us on how to find solutions that will help us meet the challenges of today and of tomorrow.

In response to those challenges, the NDP is proposing practical solutions to encourage dialogue with our scientists and to ensure that we have the tools we need to make well-informed decisions in the true interest of Canadians.

I therefore call on the Prime Minister to adopt guidelines on scientific communications similar to those adopted in the United States. I also ask the government to reinstate Statistics Canada's long form census. A number of organizations, including the Canadian Science Writers' Association and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, have asked the government to adopt guidelines.

I call on the government to reinstate the long form census in Canada.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Madam Speaker, it seems to me that perhaps one thing that the opposition is not clear on is that the decisions to fund science all across this country are made by independent councils, scientists and peer review panels. Scientists make the decision as to who gets funding and who does not.

In the case of MRS for example, that was a decision that was made by the council. The government, politicians, we stay separate from telling scientists what they can and cannot do.

Is the opposition suggesting we change that policy and disallow the scientific peer review process and let government officials make these decisions? I do not agree with that. Is that what the member is suggesting?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, in my proposals, I suggest that the voices of scientists be heard within the government and that we open the door to make sure that there is real dialogue between parliamentarians and scientists. That is the main objective of the motion.

I also hope that the government will bear in mind that the cuts within various departments, particularly to research and monitoring, will have a significant impact in the long term.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, as a scientist myself, I am very concerned about cuts to things like the Experimental Lakes Area, marine research, atmospheric research, especially climate research, and the anti-science attitude of the government.

The Conference Board of Canada has rated Canada 14 out of the 17 countries it examined. It gave Canada a D in innovation. That is our Conference Board of Canada. A key element in innovation is basic science research.

Does the hon. member share my concerns about the anti-science attitude of the government and that bad grade from The Conference Board of Canada? Would she like to add to my concerns?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, to properly understand innovation and the entire innovation chain, we must understand that the major innovations and achievements we benefit from today, in the comfort of our own homes, have come out of fundamental research. This involves making a commitment to the research process without exactly knowing what the results and applications will be. With a long-term vision, there will be long-term benefits for society.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jean-François Larose NDP Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, to illustrate this situation, I will say that this reminds me of a time in the 1940s when a famous government decided to burn books to try to control information. I believe it is a matter of trust. It is more a comment than a question that I have.

Scientists are always portrayed as mechanical and robotic individuals who are driven by data. I believe that these are people I can trust.

These are my cousins, brothers, sisters and parents who get up every day to ensure that their children have a better future. The put on their rubber boots to collect data in regions that are sometimes very dangerous, where no one else would dare go.

These are Canadian citizens who vote and want the best for our future. These are the people being muzzled. The government is destroying trust in our society, for reasons that are completely beyond me.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, scientists inform us about the state of our planet and our environment. These are the people who collect and interpret data to give us a privileged view of both nature and the nature of our society.

This information and these voices are very important in helping us better understand what is going on in our society, in terms of the challenges we will face and how we can do so with sensible policies, based on objective scientific data.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Madam Speaker, I rise today in the House with great pride as Minister of State for Science and Technology and as the member of Parliament for Cambridge and North Dumfries. I am here to speak on our government's strong support for science, technology and research.

Our government understands clearly that Canada's long-term economic competitiveness depends on supporting science, technology and innovation that will drive the growth of jobs, the growth of our economy and long-term prosperity for our citizens. It has been a fundamental priority of our government since we took office in 2006, including with the introduction of the science and technology strategy in 2007.

Over the past five years, our government has been implementing that strategy significantly and with commitment. It has provided nearly $8 billion in additional, new investments in Canadian talent, world-class research excellence, and the linkages between knowledge and the capacity to innovate in a global economy. Federal science and technology expenditures reached $11.3 billion in 2011-12, more than double the year before we took office. That is a significant increase by any imagination.

These investments have helped drive Canadian leadership in research, science and technology, and enhanced the ability to turn ideas into social and economic benefits for Canadians. Indeed, according to the Science, Technology and Innovation Council's “State of the Nation” report published in June 2011, Canada ranks first among all the G7 countries for higher education and research, and Canada's scientists perform at a world-class level.

OECD data notes that Canada produces 2.7% of the world's scientific output and 6.8% of the world's top cited research papers. Getting that scientific data out there at this level means that we are punching well above our weight, especially given that Canada accounts for only half a percent of the world's population. I would also note that Canada ranks first among the OECD countries for its share of working-age population with college and university degrees.

We have systematically enhanced federal support for advanced research. We are promoting partnerships between industry and academia through our three federal granting councils, namely the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

We are supporting research in human health and genomics technology through Genome Canada as well as studies to improve patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness of health care. We are promoting the development of alternative technologies for producing medical isotopes and linking Canadian researchers to the world through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Moreover, we are providing significant support for leading-edge research infrastructure. Two budgets ago, the investment made in the Canada Foundation for Innovation was three-quarters of a billion dollars and in this budget it is half a billion dollars. We are investing in Canada's ultra high-speed research network CANARIE, satellite data reception facilities, Canada's continued participation in the international space station mission and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. As well, we are supporting key activities in fisheries, agriculture and environmental sciences.

Beyond this, our government is also investing in institutions that are pushing the frontier of pure, basic knowledge and research. I am talking about the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which leveraged significant private sector money for their work that is going to benefit not only Canada but all the nations around the world.

Canada's history of discovery, I am very pleased to say, tells us that we play an important role on the world stage through research and development. From the pacemaker to Canadarm to the first mass market smart phone, Canadian entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses have made their mark time and again and proven they can be world-class innovators.

Our government is committed to helping these types of breakthroughs happen. We know Canadians want results for their investments. This means bringing innovative products and processes to the marketplace, which of course will in turn create high-quality, high-paying jobs, economic growth, long-term prosperity and, indeed, a better quality of life for Canadians.

However, we also know that competition remains fierce. The pace of technological change is lightning quick, and it is happening in both developed and emerging economies. This means that to ensure Canada's long-term economic competitiveness, we must create and nurture globally competitive businesses that do research, develop that research, innovate and create those high-quality jobs.

Beyond our borders, no one would be surprised if I said the global economic growth remains quite tentative and fragile. Any potential setbacks would have a negative impact on Canada. Canadian businesses face ever-increasing competition, not just from the emerging countries and the speed of technological advancement but also because of realities associated with our aging population and demographic shifts.

Now as a world leader in post-secondary research with a highly skilled workforce, Canada has some very strong fundamentals for innovation. Where we can do better is in our support of business expenditures on research and development. Canada continues to lag behind other peer nations in this sense. We are number one in a number of ways, but where we are not number one is in this particular area.

That is exactly why, with so many generous incentive programs for business research, we asked an expert panel led by Mr. Tom Jenkins to review all the federal investments in this area and provide advice on how we could optimize this expenditure of tax dollars.

Now through the response of this expert panel this particular budget, economic action plan 2012, takes a huge step forward at creating a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will deliver high-quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances.

It builds on our positive record of achievement to help further unleash the potential of Canadian scientists, Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in a modern economy to the benefit of all Canadians.

By focusing on the drivers of growth and job creation, which clearly are innovation, investments, education, skills and training and healthy communities, we will solidify, strengthen and draw upon the entrepreneurial sector's role as the driving force behind Canada's economy.

Economic action plan proposes a new approach to federal support for innovation, including $67 million new dollars to the National Research Council to refocus this council and all its efforts and its expertise towards business-driven industry-relevant applied research. This refocused NRC will help more Canadian businesses commercialize and develop innovative products and services.

We intend to build on a proven approach that we have seen used by global innovation players, carefully adapted and modified to the Canadian reality. The government's new approach also increases direct support for innovation and research by doubling the research and development assistance from the NRC's industrial research and assistance program.

Furthermore, our new approach in this budget supports innovation through procurement by connecting Canadian companies with federal departments and agencies to build their capacity to again compete in the global marketplace. We go on. This approach also seeks to help our high-growth firms to access risk capital by committing $400 million to leverage private sector investments in early venture capital stages.

It would support, indeed, private and public research collaboration through more internships for graduate students and funding of business-led research and development networks.

It would streamline the SR&ED tax incentive program and, as always, reinvest any savings in other support programs that would reinforce innovation in Canada.

These important measures would be aimed at building our innovation economy and driving improved competitiveness and prosperity for the betterment of all Canadians as we move into the future.

I will turn to a different topic. That is this government's ongoing support and commitment to basic science. The notion that the government is abandoning basic research is yet another fearmongering tactic by the opposition, which is irresponsible. The notion is completely false. I want to repeat that. Even someone with minimal mathematics would see that our increases show our commitment.

Through budget 2012, our government would build, yet again, on earlier investments by proposing significant new resources to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, half a billion dollars to support advanced research and leading-edge scientific infrastructure in universities, colleges, research hospitals and other not-for-profit research institutions all across Canada. This funding would play a crucial role in attracting and retaining the world's top minds, training the next generation of researchers and, of course, driving cutting-edge research.

As well, it is important to hear that Canada's economic plan, our budget that is before the House right now, would also commit a new $37 million annually to the three granting councils to enhance their support for research partnerships between industry and academia. Support for core granting council programs in support of discovery research and support for students would all be maintained. To suggest there would be a decrease is, again, false. In fact, I can tell this House that this would mean, on average, more than a 20% increase for the granting councils since we have taken office.

In terms of other investments made in budget 2012, we would also provide new funding for research in human health and genomics technologies through an enormous amount of support to Genome Canada.

We have invested heavily in research infrastructure at Canada's post-secondary institutions. This came out in budget 2009, which was also voted against by the NDP. In that budget, we provided $2 billion for research and advanced learning infrastructure at universities and colleges. Laboratories and all kinds of new state-of-the-art equipment would come from the three-quarters of a billion dollars I mentioned earlier, through CFI.

Now, the good news here is that this funding was leveraged by the provinces and other private individuals, the colleges and universities, and ended up being about $5 billion in support of rebuilding our research capacity all across our nation, which we need to attract and retain the brightest minds the planet has to offer.

The government is maintaining Canada's position as a world-leading supporter of research while strengthening one area that needs to be improved, results-driven applied research and development.

In doing so, this absolutely does not mean we are stepping back from our commitment in any other area. In fact, this is Canada. We can do more than one thing at a time. I believe firmly that our government can fund research across the board, as we have shown consistently, consecutively in every single budget. It is support for the basic, the applied, and all the way through to commercialization and marketization, getting those ideas out of the minds of our scientists, through our laboratories, on to our factory floors and into the living rooms and hospitals of the world. That is exactly what our government is doing.

Since coming to office, we have also introduced significant new investments in other areas. We have turned around Canada's brain drain and now have a brain gain. We have introduced such brilliant initiatives as the Banting post-doctoral fellowships program, the Vanier Canada graduate scholarships program and the Canada excellence research chairs program, attracting world-class talent and teams that have come to Canada to do their research.

We recognize also the importance of science and technology in forming public policies. That is exactly why the government, all the time, seeks the opinions from our scientists, through various independent as well as published scientific advice forums and a variety of sources. For instance, we have sustained the Council of Canadian Academies with a $30 million grant. The CCA conducts independent science-based assessments drawing together panels of experts to inform us on public policy initiatives. To date, the council has published 11 different science-based assessments on issues of importance to Canada and our citizens. Through the CCA and other bodies such as the Science, Technology and Innovation Council, the Government of Canada demonstrates its commitment to independent science and its crucial role in informing decision making.

Within the federal government, our scientists play an important role in informing policy decisions, assisting the enforcement of regulations and facilitating program delivery. Indeed, the multidimensional contribution of government science is critical to good governance. Federal scientists here in Canada are among the best in the world. These public officials are encouraged to publish regularly in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and many of them do just that.

Federally funded scientific knowledge is also shared directly with the public through other means. For example, science-based departments and agencies regularly produce accessible publications, highlighting research activities and findings. Second, public portals are available, such as science.gc.ca. It is a website we have developed to communicate information on federal science directly to Canadians.

I am very proud that our scientists participate in conferences and lectures all around the world. They are sought after for their expertise and innovations and they give thousands of interviews every year.

I must reiterate that funding for core federal granting councils aimed at supporting discovery-driven research is continuing. Our history supports that; our future will see that. We are also supporting student scholarship programs. Moreover, 2012-13 savings realized from operational efficiencies, or from reallocated funding from lower priority programs, are being fully reinvested back into granting councils' activities that they deem will help strengthen their activities.

We will ensure continued and growing funding for the programs and services that are priorities for Canadians. Economic action plan 2012 makes a wide range of important investments that bear witness to that commitment. These actions will yield real dividends for Canadians. They will support a return to balanced budgets at an appropriate pace as the economy continues to recover from the global crises. Three years after the stimulus phase of Canada's economic action plan was launched in response to that crisis, our economic recovery is advancing and of course it is clear that our policies are working.

I want to let the House know that scientific discoveries and new technologies are very important to a stronger economy. We are very proud of our scientists, which is why we have invested historically in science and technology and why it has been a pivotal point of all of our budgets, including this one.

Once again I would ask the opposition to support our recent budget and for once show its support for scientists, students and researchers.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I can see that the Minister of State for Science and Technology is a very slick salesman on these matters. However, I am trusting the scores of scientists who are sending me letters and contacting me personally saying that the government is fundamentally changing how we support and approach science in this country. It is shifting from scientists asking the questions and deciding funding to politicians asking the questions and basing funding on whims.

I worry that we are turning the scientific approach and innovation in this country into some kind of sausage machine where we put the meat in one end and the sausage comes out the other. That is not how science works, and that is what scientists are telling me.

Earlier in the day, the minister of state stated that the MRS cuts were solely decided by NSERC but I doubt this. However, does he think these cuts are a mistake?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, we were asked by the Canadian people to find efficiencies in how the government operates. We did that process. We received a strong mandate to complete that promise.

We have increased our investments in science and technology. The member is talking about 37 agencies. I sympathize with that. Approximately $100,000 per agency. To pare that to 1.1 billion new dollars for science and technology where we can find efficiencies and do a better job for Canadians but continue to invest more so that we can do the new challenges of the new economy and allow scientists to continue basic research as well as applied and getting it to the market is a brilliant idea. It not only helps Canadians, it can actually save the lives of people all around the world.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, while listening to the hon. minister of state give his speech, my impression was that he had totally missed the point of this motion.

We are not debating whether we value science. Many people on both sides of this House value science. We are not debating whether we should try to encourage businesses to invest more in research and development or whether we should encourage industry-academic partnerships.

What we are debating is whether, when government scientists give the government advice that it does not want to hear because it embarrasses the government, it should, nevertheless, pay attention to those scientists and give those scientists the resources they need to do their job.

Why is the government afraid of what its own scientists are telling it? This is not about industrial policy or making Canadian businesses competitive. It is about whether the government will listen to its own scientists and take their advice in formulating the best possible policies for the people of Canada?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, the simple answer is that we do that all the time.

I just mentioned in my speech organizations like the Canadian Council of Academies and the Science Technology Innovation Council. These are organizations that publish the state of the nation address. For example, the Canadian Council of Academies and a number of organizations provide advice to the government. It is not always favourable to the government, which is why we listen and why we massage our policies. We re-invest in new areas because our scientists actually tell us that they have invented something over here and that they now need to work on this thing over here. That is how policy changes and how scientific research evolves.

The NDP thinking that because we are modernizing for the benefit of Canadians by moving our resources from one area that may no longer be necessary to an area of great need for the nation moving forward is a cut is completely wrong because the resources that were here are actually reinvested over here, and then some.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, there are many Canadians who do not understand the difference between science and technology. There are profound differences. I have no doubt that our government and the minister understand and support technology but I wonder if they really understand and support science.

I have a broad question for the minister. Does he really believe in science and the implications of scientific inquiry? I have a more specific question that will put a fine point on it. There is a vast bunch of science out there that says that life was created on this planet three to four billion years ago, and there are other theories. Does the minister believe that life was created on this planet through evolution three to four billion years ago or does he subscribe to a different theory?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, what I would recommend to the hon. member is that when he tightens that towel around his neck at nighttime that he not do it for more than 20 seconds. It actually ends up causing cerebral anoxia that leaves permanent brain damage.

What I can say is that we obviously support basic research all the way through to applied research. In fact, we are looking at particle accelerators that can create the next generation of medical isotopes. We are working on the CERN project, which is the Large Hadron Collider where we are trying to smash together protons. In Canada, we are investing in i basic research for the pipeline of the future and applying it so that we can create jobs today.

The question is this: Will that member support this budget or reject it like he always has?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to ask the minister a question but maybe I should put it into context for the members.

Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale is one of the five ridings that make up the greater city of Hamilton. Within that, through the KIP funding, we funded two programs at McMaster University. One was around nuclear research building renovations, another was health promotion and innovation, and also projects at Redeemer University College. All of these were to sustain and enhance the capability of researchers to perform research in their particular scientific areas.

Therefore, I would ask the minister, particularly because this would not only impact those institutions but also the local economy, why the NDP would vote against these things when they have the opportunity to vote for them.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, there are a couple of purposes behind that type of investment. One is that, while we rebuilt those facilities, we created jobs right away, when the economy needed them most, for construction workers, architects, draftsmen, drywallers and so on. Obviously it allowed for a better quality laboratory facility for researchers to work in.

Indeed, one of the research projects down in that area brought the world's expert in automotive energy storage from the United States. This is one of the largest automotive initiatives for innovative discovery literally in North America. That is a great news story for Canada and a great news story for the automotive industry. That is why we are attracting bright minds. That is why we know we will create those high quality jobs of the future.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, in his speech, the minister of state said that NSERC made the cut to the MRS program but then, in his answer to my previous question, he said that the government found efficiencies and made the cut. I am just wondering what it is. Did NSERC make the cut to MRS or did the government make the cut to MRS, and will it restore the funding if it is the government's choice?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to clarify that.

In fact, these were recommendations that the efficiencies be found in these various programs. That has happened all across the government. We took great pains to look at the various areas where we could find these savings, not just in science and technology but all departments that had the least impact on the overall outcomes, including the effect on full-time people.

We have seen moderate reductions across the government meeting our commitment to the Canadian people in the last election in finding those efficiencies. Of course, those were recommended up the ladder to the departments and on.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, this is the first time that I have spoken in this House as the lead critic for the Liberal Party.

I would like to thank all those who make it possible for me to do the job of representing the people of Kingston and the Islands for their support.

I also thank those who made it possible for me to study and work in the field of science, and that includes the Government of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. I thank the member for Burnaby—Douglas for his motion today that allows us to discuss the value of science and the effects on ill-considered cuts to scientific research programs of the Government of Canada.

Today, before I focus on the main idea of my speech, I will mention some things that concern me and what are ill-considered cuts to research. Two examples that come from NSERC, which have already been mentioned in debate today, are the proposed elimination of the research tools and instrumentation program which provides money to buy and repair medium-sized equipment and is crucial to building a research laboratory, and the major resources support program which is crucial to funding the operation of infrastructure that the Government of Canada has already invested in. It is crucial to allowing us to get a return on our investment.

Scientists are telling me that cutting the research tools and instrumentation program is like sending carpenters to work without hammers. They are using words like “major disaster” or “extremely ill-advised”. Some examples of things that researchers are saying that they would not be able to buy without this program are trucks for biologists who go out and do field work, and simple things like microscopes, magnets and lasers. The program is very important because it is used to repair equipment. Equipment could break down at any time and the process for getting equipment grants from a program like CFI takes a long time. CFI is not structured to fix equipment that breaks down. So the researcher may have to choose between firing some graduate students or fixing a crucial piece of equipment.

One scientist told me that such shortages could potentially ruin the careers of new researchers.

I am hearing from young researchers that they do not want to come or are regretting coming to Canada after hearing about these proposed cuts. One of the concerns I will convey to the minister during this debate is that the policies set forth in budget 2012 would result in these cuts. He may blame NSERC for these cuts but he is the minister and he needs to take responsibility and he should be listening to the strong language that is being used by scientists in reaction to these proposed cuts.

I will now turn to the MRS program. These proposed cuts will affect facilities, as I have said before, where we have invested in large scientific infrastructure and whose use will be curtailed because of these cuts. It is like owning a car but having no money for gas. This includes the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network in which we have international agreements to monitor the sky around the earth with radar. This affects any business that has to do with satellites. The proposed cuts to MRS will curtail the use of the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering. It will curtail the use of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research, which is found in Hamilton at McMaster University in the riding of my hon. colleague who asked a question previously. It will affect living collections of algae and cyanobacteria and fungi that have been carefully isolated, which could have all sorts of uses and applications in industry and cannot be replaced at a later date.

These are things that concern me. It is just a small sample of the massive number of comments and emails that I have received from scientists in Canada who are concerned about the cuts to research funding. That is just the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

The motion today is not so much about the overall level of funding for science or support for industry or business competitiveness as it is about how the government chooses to value science in the service of good government.

As one of the few scientists in the House today, I am proud to support the motion on the value that scientists and the scientific approach have to offer to the Government of Canada as it serves the people of Canada.

I am also proud to speak for the party that I chose to join, the Liberal Party, because Liberals believe that for good governance, slogans and ideology are never a good substitute for facts, evidence, a scientific approach and just hard work.

Liberals are the most likely to say that such and such an issue seems complicated and before they decide what their position is on that issue, they will do some homework. This is the kind of party of which I want to be a part. These are the kinds of colleagues with whom I want to work. They can best serve the people of Canada.

By contrast, the Conservative government believes that if enough ministers and MPs fan out across the country and repeat the phrase “responsible resource development” enough people will believe it so they can pass Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill, and get re-elected. That is not the best thing for Canadians. When the Liberals hear that, they simply smile and say that it is an empty slogan.

We must put scientists in place and give them the resources to evaluate the risks of government policies so government can make informed development decisions for natural resources. We must provide them with the equipment and the staff to monitor the natural environment so they can measure any damage to the environment or any danger to people.

Additionally, we must let these scientists speak freely to the public about their research. People need to have a dialogue with scientists to understand the knowledge that scientists have gained for their benefit, knowledge for which taxpayers have paid. Governments must not be allowed to control this flow of information, at least democratic governments. This is really the only way Canadians can be assured that true responsible development is occurring.

Instead of cutting 11% of the workforce, over 700 employees of Environment Canada, cutting scientists who monitor water pollution, industrial emissions or climate change, let us put money on the table now and make a multi-year commitment to fully fund the environmental monitoring of resource development projects such as the extraction of bitumen. Then let those scientists speak freely of their research for the benefit of the people of Canada.

Scientists must be able to speak freely for the benefit of the people of Canada.

Why are Conservatives against free speech for scientists? I am not making this up. The international scientific community and science journalists have spoken up and called upon the government to stop muzzling scientists.

In the United States, government scientists have been encouraged to talk about their research and even give their personal opinions about government policy, as long as they make it clear that it is just their personal opinion.

In December 2011, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an administrative order on scientific integrity to encourage its scientists to speak freely to the public and the media about the results of their research.

Why is the Government of Canada opposed to free speech for scientists?

Liberals believe in free speech as do most Canadians. Why do the Conservatives get off the train? It is not a rhetorical question. The answer is that the Conservative government does not accept criticism. It is not politically convenient. It is just embarrassing. It is a roadblock to continued power.

Is it just a couple of journalists who are complaining, as the Minister of the Environment has said? If a couple of journalists do not matter to the public good, I would ask the House to recall how Richard Nixon felt about the pesky journalists from the Washington Post 40 years ago.

By contrast, Liberals believe that welcoming criticism will improve one's understanding, just as scientific ideas depend on criticism in order to improve and become stronger. Science is powerful because it welcomes criticism. Criticism from scientists will help governments and others make smarter decisions, thereby making Canada stronger.

Yes, the Conservatives will be embarrassed at some point. Every government makes mistakes, but a strong government for a strong country is one that recognizes and corrects mistakes.

To do this, governments must also be open about history. It is why the commission that investigated Canada's residential schools for aboriginals was called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That is why the commission that was set up in South Africa to study the effects of apartheid was called the truth and reconciliation commission. One must reveal the truth before a nation can reconcile and move forward.

The truth must be revealed before a nation can reconcile.

The Conservative government is making drastic cuts to Library and Archives Canada that will seriously harm our ability to preserve and access Canada's past. That includes a 20% cut to the workforce.

Related to what I just said about truth and reconciliation, the archival material in the LAC was instrumental in supporting the testimony from victims of the residential schools before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The minister will say that staffing cuts are justified because materials are being accessed online, but only 4% of the LAC's physical materials are available online and now 50% of the digitization and circulation staff is being cut. Conservatives have also eliminated the national archive development program, which provided funding to local communities, about 800 of them, to preserve local history in Canada.

Why spend money to save things in the National Archives and make them accessible? It is not the same thing and does not feel as good as celebrating a glorious event of the past that buttresses the ideology of the government of the day. It is about having information available, making it possible to study and understand the mistakes of the past so we can fix them and not repeat them in the future. A truly strong government would be open about its mistakes. A truly strong government would embrace its history and not simply retell it.

Liberals believe that science and a scientific approach are what the Government of Canada needs for an honest accounting of its successes and failures. I believe that providing an honest accounting in Ottawa is one of the greatest things we as MPs can do for our country.

One thing people have learned over the last few centuries is the value of observation and measurement. That is why we have made advances in science and technology. It is the idea of empiricism, of measuring and counting the number of teeth in a horse's mouth and counting the number of people, that gives us the ability to have smart government policies, to really understand what we are trying to govern.

There is an example that has already been brought up in the House today, and that is the Experimental Lakes Area. This is a great example of doing real experiments in real situations so we make smart decisions about environmental policy concerning clean water. The federal government has announced that it will cease funding for the internationally renowned Experimental Lakes Area, which is in northern Ontario and comprises about 58 lakes that have been set aside for pollution experiments.

Scientists pollute these lakes on purpose and then watch the whole ecosystem for decades to see what happens. Then they are obliged to return these experimental areas back to their original state. Research during the experiments and the renewal have helped us understand mercury pollution, the effect of phosphates and detergents, green algae blooms, acid rain and climate change. If people believe that pollution regulations are too strict, they need to know that these very experiments are the ones that help us understand how much pollution is tolerable.

Ending funding for the ELA goes against two of my core beliefs. People have to conduct experiments and measurements to really understand how the world works. This is what I believe in as a scientist. We must use facts and evidence to make good policy, and that is what I hope to bring to the House, along with my colleagues in the Liberal Party and other members in the House.

I next want to turn to Statistics Canada, which is having its budget cut by about $34 million on an ongoing basis, about 7% of its budget. The head of Statistics Canada resigned a couple of years ago to protest the elimination of the mandatory long form census. This is another example of how the government wants to avoid data.

Data is important for telling us about the country and its people, where they live and how they live, so we construct smart policy. Even if all we want to do is cut taxes, we want to know what effect those cuts will have, who will receive those tax cuts and what will happen in the country. We need statistics and good data to understand the effect of tax cuts on the Canadian population, not to mention good social policy that is meant to help people who live on the margins and who need our help. That help really defines for what Canada stands.

The First Nations Statistical Institute was brought in by a previous Liberal government of Paul Martin back in 2005 and the board was only appointed in 2009. Now the government wants to cut the institute. There was a realization that not enough census data was being collected from our first nations. This was hindering the creation of good policy and smart policy. It was decided that we would have a special institute to collect data. Now the government wants to get rid of this institute.

If government wants to do more with less money, if it wants to be more efficient and make every taxpayer dollar go as far as possible to serve the people of Canada, it needs information. It needs information to make smarter decisions and it needs an attitude that respects collecting proper information, thinking carefully and working hard to use that information to make every dollar go as far as possible.

I want to conclude with a few things that I and my party believe.

The Liberals believe that science is more effective than slogans. The Liberals believe that science is effective because it welcomes criticism. The Liberals believe that Canada needs science's honest accounting in order to be able to make informed decisions and to be competitive in the world.

Madam Speaker, from your chair, every morning a daily prayer is read. Let me read an extract from that:

Grant us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to preserve the blessings of this country for the benefit of all and to make good laws and wise decisions.

We have been blessed in our country with the people, the resources and the institutions to pursue systematic knowledge, to observe, measure and understand what we see in the world and what we see in our country and to do all of this in the service of the people of Canada.

We ask God:

Guide us in our deliberations as Members of Parliament, and strengthen us in our awareness of our duties and responsibilities as Members.

Let us appreciate the value of scientific knowledge, which can effectively guide our country toward the future.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened very closely to my colleague's speech, and I hope he can help me work through a dilemma that I face.

I hear contradictory statements from Minister of State for Science and Technology. The first is that the government is putting more money than ever into science. It is tripping over itself to open up the coffers and help scientists investigate problems. In the next breath, the government says that it has found efficiencies and is making cuts. With one breath it is saying that it is keeping everything the way it is and in the next breath it is saying that it is fundamentally shifting so that science can serve industry.

I find this a problem. The government cannot keep things the way they are and fundamentally change them. Could my colleague perhaps shed some light on these rather contradictory statements made by the government?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is not a problem that the government is encouraging industry-academic collaboration in trying to make our Canadian businesses as competitive as possible. That is good for Canada, but it is clear that the government is doing it at the expense of basic research, notwithstanding what the minister has said. We heard it from all the scientists who have written in to comment and strongly disagree with what the Minister of State for Science and Technology is saying.

It clear from the budget, for example, of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, that the funding for basic research through discovery grants has been going down every year. It is a shift in priorities towards funding research to work on immediate problems of industry and decreasing funding for work on basic research, which is the kind of research that would produce discoveries that we need to have in a pipeline of discoveries, to help Canada prosper in the decades to come and not just in the next few years.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Madam Speaker, I have a very good relationship with my hon. friend, but one of the points he made is that he likes to look back on historical facts. I would ask the hon. member to comment on some historical facts.

The facts are that at every single opportunity the government has had, every single budget we have ever tabled in this House, we have increased the investments for science and technology.

The second fact is that at every single opportunity on those budgets, the NDP members have voted against those investments for science and technology.

The third and final fact is this. My hon. friend was not here, but in the last recession that Canada faced, nothing like this one, the Liberal government of the time gutted science and technology. It not only transferred health care costs to the provinces and gutted them federally, and gutted education costs, it also cut science and technology.

By the way the member is speaking, and I believe he is sincere, will he now cross the floor and become a true Conservative?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of State for Science and Technology for his question. It allows me to have a little fun here and relax after a speech. Sometimes I am tempted to speak my own mind, but I will address the question the minister brought up about the cuts that were made two recessions ago.

The reason why all sorts of cuts were made was because the Liberal government of the day inherited a giant budget deficit from the previous Conservative government. On the other hand, the current Conservative government inherited a surplus and turned it into a deficit. Members can see that when a giant budget deficit is inherited from a Conservative government, and we know that the next government is going to inherit another giant budget deficit from the current Conservative government, we have to make some cuts.

The government that created the deficit should be responsible for those cuts. I will not be joining that party.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague can comment on the importance of research on the environment.

Tens of thousands of Manitobans are very much aware that there are some serious issues regarding Lake Winnipeg and its future. They are concerned with what the government is doing. Could the member comment on the importance of research, of having scientists involved in making sure that government policy will benefit places like Lake Winnipeg?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, any ecosystem is complicated. Sometimes we do not know the unintended consequences of a proposed remedy to a problem. Therefore, we need scientists who understand the ecosystem. We need a multidisciplinary approach with biologists, limnologists and people who really understand how a complicated ecosystem of a lake might respond if we try to apply some policy solution to deal with a problem.

That is why the Experimental Lakes Area is so important. We can isolate a lake and do a real experiment with all the complications in the real world to test a policy solution, to test a remedy, to make sure that we do not have unintended consequences in these very complicated ecosystems.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague for his comprehensive speech, which provided many concrete examples of the long-term repercussions on scientific research.

I would like him to talk a bit more about the steps that Canada should take to truly be an active participant in the knowledge economy.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, this gives me a chance to talk about something in the speech given by minister of state.

It is true that the government funded CANARIE, the ultra-high-speed Internet backbone that is used by researchers, hospitals and universities. However, it was only funded for two years instead of five years and it was only funded at a fraction of the previous level of funding.

We are talking about working in a knowledge economy. More and more, we are sending larger amounts of data across the country and around the world. That is why it is so important, if we want our researchers in the public sector to be competitive in the world, to give them that ultra-high-speed Internet backbone to participate in the knowledge economy.

I am surprised that the government did not renew its previous level of funding, which was for five years and was, I believe, 20% or 30% higher than the funding level that is in the current budget. This is a basic tool that our researchers in Canada need in order to be competitive. Having seen that, I do not know, really, what the government's strategy is and why it did that.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, the member talked about the archives and the changes that are happening there. He talked about a 20% cut.

We had that presentation recently and DRAP, the actual cuts in the budget, are about 4% of that 20%. The chief of that organization was making structural changes as to how it was operating, regardless.

Is it not important as a scientist, as he says he is, to tell the truth? He indicated there was a 20% cut when actually there was not. Or is it just his Liberal approach to put out whatever the number might be even though it might not be the truth?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, my goodness, Conservatives are worried about whether numbers are right or not. That is something we do not hear too often.

My research showed a cut of 20%. If that is slightly wrong, I apologize. But that is what my research turned up. I would be forthcoming with changing numbers if the Conservative government were forthcoming with numbers as well.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

Yesterday, hundreds of Canadians took part in the Black Out Speak Out campaign. Environmental groups and organizations such as Équiterre, Greenpeace, Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation, as well as scientists and ordinary Canadians participated. All these Canadian Internet users came together to condemn the Conservative government's approach to the environment and democracy. Therefore, today it is very timely that we are debating the opposition motion concerning cuts to science and technology.

I believe this is a real tragedy because it will be some years until we see the impact of these cuts on our daily lives. Once again, it seems that the Conservatives are trying to mortgage our future with this omnibus bill. Honestly, as a young Canadian, I find it revolting.

Basically, the opposition motion is taking the government to task for three things: muzzling scientists; showing contempt for basic research and the social sciences; and cutting the research programs of various departments, including Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Statistics Canada and the various Canadian research councils, as well as closing the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.

The Conservatives had shown their contempt for science and research long before this most recent budget. During their first year in power, they cut off funding to a dozen or so research programs. That was also around the time when Status of Women Canada's budget was reduced in a draconian way and its mandate changed in order to specifically exclude any work related to research. The Conservatives had no interest in acknowledging gender inequality because that went against their ideology.

Then, in 2010, the Conservatives got rid of the long form census, an essential decision-making tool used by various federal departments, the provinces and municipalities, businesses and non-governmental organizations.

We cannot underestimate the importance of science and technology when it comes to the governance of the country. Let us not forget that several members of the Conservative government question basic climatology. Countless statements from across the way deny the impact of human activity on climate change. Just this week, journalist Mike De Souza reported that a Conservative MP wondered whether volcanoes might be the real culprits behind climate change.

I am not using this example to embarrass my hon. colleagues, but rather to underscore the importance of scientific experts in the governance of this country. After all, very few members in this House are experts in climate change. However, instead of learning more about the issue, my Conservative colleagues prefer to slash funding to the organizations and projects that used to play key roles in the governance of this country. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is one example of this. In short, we have a government that does not trust science and is willing to do whatever it takes to advance its ideological agenda, even denying the facts.

This leads me to another problem with this government: the muzzling of scientists. For some time now, it appears as though the Conservative government has been trying to hide important information from the public by preventing government scientists from speaking to the media.

For the record, I would point out the case of Mr. Tarasick, who was denied the right to speak to the media regarding his research on climate change. The same thing happened to Kristi Miller who studied the causes of the sockeye salmon collapse in British Columbia.

The prestigious publication Nature even called on the Canadian government on two separate occasions to give its scientists their freedom of expression back.

This is the context in which the majority Conservative government has presented its first budget. The scientific community had every reason to be wary. For the past five years, this government has been choosing to ignore any scientific proof that goes against its ideology and trying to muzzle anyone who does not think the same way, even going as far as cutting funding to anyone who does not share its ideology.

Several times now in this House, I have had the opportunity to criticize the cuts to science and the environment made by the Conservatives in the most recent budget.

In particular, I have condemned the government's decision to dismantle the round table on the environment. I am shocked that the government is eliminating this valuable policy tool just because the organization insisted on talking about the cost of failing to address climate change.

I am also appalled by cuts to science programs and jobs at Environment Canada. For example, a key mining and paper industry emissions monitoring program will be cut, as will the unit responsible for sustainable water management and the oil spill intervention team. To me, that is simply irresponsible.

At Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the situation is even grimmer: 1,000 jobs will be cut because of restructuring.

According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is likely to cut all of its science teams working on the impact of contaminants on aquatic ecosystems. In Quebec, this means that the St. Lawrence estuary, one of the most contaminated in North America, is at risk.

At the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli, 22 employees are in danger of losing their jobs. The Laboratory of Expertise in Aquatic Chemical Analysis will be closed. And another three biologist positions will be cut in Sept-Îles, Gaspé and Cap-aux-Meules.

Lyne Morissette, co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Integrated Analysis of Marine Systems at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, did not hesitate to speak out about this attempt to silence science:

[This laboratory] is a jewel of marine science research in Canada. It provided scientific information that was crucial, but that probably did not suit the government, because these people worked extensively on the impact of hydrocarbons....It is no coincidence that these people were affected. Scientists are being muzzled, and the government does not want to hear what they have to say. It is clear that if [the Prime Minister] is not happy with something, he strategically cuts those who are getting in his way.

Also at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute, the only French-language science library on fisheries will be shut down. The government is taking this opportunity to transfer administrative positions to Fredericton, in the fisheries minister's riding.

In response to these changes, as well as the changes to the Fisheries Act regarding fish habitat protection, four former federal fisheries ministers, including two Conservatives, have spoken out publicly.

Tom Siddon, the Conservative fisheries minister from 1985 to 1990, said this:

[The Conservatives] are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act. They are really taking the guts out of the Fisheries Act and it’s in devious little ways if you read all the fine print...they are making a Swiss cheese out of [it].

The cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada are tarnishing our international reputation. Indeed, a group of scientists from Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research denounced the closing of the Experimental Lakes Area, an open-air laboratory made up of 58 lakes, with the following statement:

The general public in Canada and across the globe has gained from the numerous insights resulting from the trail-blazing research at ELA over the past 45 years. It seems incredible that, at this time, the Canadian government should choose to destroy this unique, world-class research facility.

In addition to cutting the research being done as part of various departments' regular activities, the Conservative government has begun to fundamentally change the activities of the main centres that are conducting research across the country.

Not content with reducing the overall research funding envelope, the government is embarking on a reorientation of the research being done at the National Research Council Canada towards applications that are geared to the needs of private business.

The major losers in this ideological reorientation are the human sciences and the basic research activities that have been deemed less “useful” or less “profitable” by this government.

Let me conclude by expressing the hope that Canada may one day have a government that respects its scientists and that bases its decisions on reason and facts rather than on ideology and calculating partisanship.

Our sick and our elderly deserve governments that know where to invest in health. Our provincial, municipal and aboriginal governments deserve a government with the data that allows for better support. Our anglers and hunters deserve a government with the information necessary to ensure the sustainable development of those resources. Our children and our generations to come deserve a government that is looking out for their economic, social and environmental future.

In short, Canadians deserve a government that takes into account the importance of science—something this Conservative government refuses to do.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Madam Speaker, I believe the hon. member went to McGill University. In budget 2009, our federal government announced the knowledge infrastructure program, which did a number of things. It created jobs at the immediate time and it allowed for future research capacity at McGill. However, it also reduced tuition fee hike pressures, because the federal government is ultimately paying for university infrastructure.

The money went for brain imaging, upgrades and renovation of chemistry facilities, pulp and paper research and engineering innovation. With the province and federal government, it amounted to about $103 million to improve the research capacity. It was for all kinds of things, from basic to all the way through.

The NDP voted against that funding. It voted against that money going into Quebec, in particular to the member's own university, if I am correct. I am wondering if she could comment and justify why the NDP would vote against that measure?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to note that there have been enormous cuts to science. Despite the fact that the minister likes to cite specific projects and specific examples, when we look at the big picture, we see a brain drain happening in Canada. Young folks are leaving because they know that they cannot get funding for things like basic science.

Here on the NDP side we raise concerns with the government's tendency to take funding away from basic science and move it towards applied science. We know that we need both sides if we want to ensure a strong future. We know that the basic science from previous years, previous decades, has contributed to things that we have applied today. We know that advances in science in medicine have come from investments in basic science.

As I said in my speech, enormous cuts have been made to conservation programs, and I would like the minister to speak about those cuts.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask a question that is related to the question that was just posed by the Minister of Science and Technology.

Because of the cuts to the research tools and instrumentation program and the major resources support program, one avenue that scientists have been looking at to pay for needed equipment or for equipment repair is the indirect costs of research program. Therefore, they are going to be hitting up the universities to get money out of the indirect costs of research program. That is going to provide upward pressure on tuition fees. Would my hon. colleague care to comment about that?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, we certainly cannot accuse this Conservative government of wanting to lower tuition fees, but that is not the subject of this debate.

We see that Quebec universities are currently suffering as a result of the cuts made by this Conservative government. My office and those of my colleagues have received letters from the Université de Sherbrooke that say that essential projects have been cut. Universities across the country are carrying out unique projects that are not being conducted anywhere else. By eliminating these projects, we are losing irreplaceable data, essential data, that are used internationally.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member on her speech. She reminded us of the importance of having scientific data and evidence in order to advance and adjust our policies.

I would like her to quickly comment on the Conservatives' ideological attitude with regard to these cuts and how it undermines the integrity of the scientific community.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has raised an important point.

Science affects not only the fields of medicine and fisheries and oceans, but also the governance of the country. It is therefore essential that a government use its scientists' expertise. It is essential that this government make decisions that are based not on ideology but on facts and science.

By cutting funding for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, this government can make ideological decisions without any watchdogs and without any scientists to tell it that its approach is not science-based. Unfortunately, we see a government that has chosen to govern based on ideology.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to engage in the debate. I want to thank my colleague who spoke earlier and did such a good job of outlining the problems that Canadians are facing at the hands of the government as it goes about hacking and slashing away at science, facts and knowledge.

When we raise concerns about various programs that are being cut, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of state gets up and talks about the money that the government is giving to a program or a university or the like. What he is missing is the real crux of the problem here.

It is not that those programs that the government is investing in are somehow wrong or bad; they are not. However, the danger is that it is cutting away research being done by government departments that is crucial in so many ways. I want to talk a bit about that in my few minutes that I have here today.

We are talking about environment science and fisheries science that enable us to understand two things. One is what development is doing to fish stocks and fish habitat—in other words, not just the fish but everything they eat, where they live and how they survive. That is what the government is attacking in the changes to the Fisheries Act. However, it is important science in that it allows us to know what impacts our activities are having on our environment, on other species, on plants and on the air we breathe.

I just participated in a discussion a few moments ago about the decision of the government, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to cut the Experimental Lakes project. This project has been in existence for four decades in northern Ontario and is made up of 58 small lakes. It does not just perform freshwater science in the laboratory; it has access to the ecosystem. It has access to living, breathing lakes on which it performs important research to determine the effects of various things we as humans do and the effects of development on that ecosystem. The government has decided to cut that.

I do not understand it. Scientists from around the world have condemned this decision, because they recognize the kind of contribution this one organization makes to research and science in the world with respect to how the animals within that ecosystem exist.

The other day there was a little story told by a former director of the Experimental Lakes Area, or the Freshwater Institute, as it is sometimes known, at our subcommittee. He talked about a study they were doing on acid rain and the acid rain levels that were being proposed to be set by government. They found that the levels did not affect the actual fish that were under review, so if they limited their study to that aspect, they would find that those levels of concentration were fine.

However, they went beyond that. They looked at the organisms, the other fish that those fish ate. They determined that the concentration level of acid rain that was being permitted did not affect that particular breed of fish, but it affected everything else that fish ate. In other words, if they had approved that concentration level of acid rain as permissible, it would not have directly killed that fish, but the fish would have starved to death, because all of the food that sustains that fish, allows it to thrive and reproduce, would have gone.

He made that point to underline the changes in the Fisheries Act which focus no longer on fish habitat, in other words the whole ecosystem, but focus most specifically on commercially viable fish. He pointed out that it is completely wrong-headed. He also made the point that the research that is being done by this institute, by the Experimental Lakes Area project, is so valuable. It has made so many important contributions, not only to this country, but to countries around the world in terms of its research.

It is just one example of the projects that have come under attack from the government. Just in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans alone there have been $80 million of cuts to the departmental budget. Much of it has been staff cuts to science and research, which undermine our ability to manage threats to the fisheries.

There is a whole host of things in here: libraries, archives, the elimination of DFO's ocean pollution monitoring program, which will cut 75 staff, including Canada's only marine mammal toxicologist. The Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research will not close, but its work will be seriously curtailed as a result of cuts. That makes me crazy.

I am from Nova Scotia, and there is under consideration the development of the old Harry site in the Gulf to drill for oil. There is talk that the government will ram through whatever it needs to ram through this House in order to ensure that bitumen gets shipped out to the west coast. There will be a whole plethora of tankers running up and down that dangerous coastline, running the risk of serious oil spills, on the east coast, on the west coast. We have not even started talking about the Arctic.

At the same time that it is moving forward with that kind of development, without the necessary checks and balances, it is cutting the science that is available to make sure we know what we are doing and how to go about it.

My time is up, but I want to share this with the House. Yesterday the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans was in Dartmouth, the community I represent. It appears from the media that he was not particularly well received. One of the questions he was asked was about the decision to cut funding for the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research.

People asked him why he would do that, and he said that it would not close and that work would be done by the private sector. I thought to myself, who, Exxon Mobil? Maybe the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers would now be the scientific watchdog with respect to offshore oil development and drilling and the effect it will have on our coastline. These are the kinds of things--

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I try to keep the members apprised of the time that is available to them, but unfortunately we have run out of time. Now we will go to questions and comments.

The hon. Minister of State for Science and Technology.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale has been very helpful. He is very concerned about this file.

We have a scientist we have been funding in the area of nanotechnologies who has now come up with a microscopic switch. One of the uses of this switch is to warn drivers on our highways of deer. It is a motion detector that can switch on a flashing yellow light.

My hypothetical question is this. Now that the research is done, we should move that technology to the commercial side and get it out there to save people's lives. If we then we shift to a new project of more need to the nation, not take it back but shift it, would that member interpret that kind of progress as a cut to science?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is a beautiful example because that is important research. However, nanotechnology is also what the Experimental Lakes Area project is involved in. In fact, scientists around the world have referred to it as the world's only ecological supercollider. In other words, it is all about the use of ecological nanotechnology. I say for the minister of state to support that program, but also to support this program because it is doing equally, if not more, important work and that is the kind of threat the government would put the environment under.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic that just as we were talking about nanotechnology I was reading an email from a very prominent nanotechnology researcher who is worried about whether he should be leaving the country to do his research.

My question is about the Experimental Lakes Area. It is a bit strange that in the last couple of years, in the fiscal years ending 2010 and 2011, there was about $800,000 spent by the Conservative government when it was still a minority government on a state-of-the-art research facility in the Experimental Lakes Area. That is when it was a minority government, maybe being careful and afraid to do what it really wanted to do. Now we have a majority government and the Conservatives decide they want to kill the Experimental Lakes program.

Would my colleague comment on the change in behaviour of the Conservatives, spending money to build a state-of-the-art research facility when they were a minority government, and then when they are a majority government and can really do what they want to do, killing the funding for the Experimental Lakes Area?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I had this to say earlier. When somebody said to me, “Do the members opposite just not care about information, facts and knowledge?” I said, “Not for a second”.

The women and men on the opposite side are not stupid. They are intelligent people but the problem is this. What they have shown is if they do not agree with the science and it does not serve their purposes, then they are going to shut it down. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is gone. The National Council of Welfare is gone. The Experimental Lakes Area project is gone.

I do not understand why the government does not have the confidence that is necessary, and that Canadians demand from their government, to allow the House of Commons to be filled with differing opinions and ideas so we ensure that the decisions we make in the final analysis are based on sound research, sound facts and sound debate.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission.

In 2007 our government released our science and technology strategy. It lays out a framework to guide strategic investments with the goal of fostering Canadian advantage in three areas: entrepreneurial advantage, knowledge advantage and people advantage. This strategy is guided by four core principles: promoting world-class excellence, focusing on priorities, encouraging partnerships and enhancing accountability.

In 2009 we announced Canada's economic action plan in response to the global economic crisis. As part of this plan, and consistent with the S and T strategy objectives, the government created the knowledge infrastructure program. More commonly known as KIP, the $2 billion program was designed to provide significant, short-term economic stimulus in communities across Canada while enhancing the long-term training and research capacity of Canadian universities and colleges.

Including funds leveraged from the provincial and territorial governments, educational institutions and private sector partners, this program resulted in a total investment of more than $5 billion in 190 communities across the country. The work at these facilities created and maintained jobs for engineers, construction workers and many others when they were needed most. But the impact that these investments had on research and training in Canada was truly remarkable and provided clear evidence of this government's commitment to research in Canada.

These projects contributed to the development of Canada's knowledge advantage by enhancing research facilities. KIP has improved the ability of institutions to conduct research in life sciences, information and communications technologies, energy and environment, and other disciplines, as well as in key sectors such as automotive and aerospace.

An example of our support for scientific research is our project at the University of Manitoba for its regenerative medicine renovation and development project. Thanks to funding from KIP and the province, a major renovation and expansion of the school's medical sciences building was completed. The expansion accommodated new labs, offices and study space to support new faculty, graduate students, lab technicians and post-doctoral fellows. The project enhanced the university's ability to educate future doctors and develop one of the top three regenerative medicine programs in Canada.

KIP helped develop Canada's people advantage by expanding training capacity at colleges and universities. In total, KIP projects added 2.2 million square feet to classrooms and training facilities, as well as 2.6 million square feet of laboratory space.

It may interest the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas to note that support under this category included a $39 million KIP project at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in his riding. Critical renovations to infrastructure at BCIT included state-of-the-art teaching technologies and sustainable building systems, including a micro-electricity grid. Furthermore, the project included completing seismic upgrades and modernizing safety and ventilation systems. The project was also designed to meet the requirements of LEED, leadership in energy and environmental design gold certification.

Also in the member's riding, the government funded a major overhaul of Simon Fraser University's chemistry facility. With $24.4 million in KIP funding, SFU completed a $49.4 million overhaul of the facility that brought the labs up to modern standards. Built to the LEED gold standard, the extensive improvements included a new exterior envelope and roof, seismic bracing, new fume hoods, lab benches, new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and upgraded mechanical, electrical and safety systems.

A total of 380 projects increased the energy efficiency of campuses, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 175,000 tonnes of CO2, which is the equivalent of the emissions of 34,000 passenger cars. These projects also provided estimated operational savings of $23 million per year.

One particularly interesting example is the construction of a 120,000 square foot environmental demonstration and training facility at the Nova Scotia Community College. The hon. member who just spoke might be interested in that. It incorporated solar panels, planted rooftops, living walls covered with vegetation, wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and geothermal heating and cooling.

Roughly half of all KIP projects resulted in significant health and safety improvements, addressing areas such as accessibility for persons with disabilities, fire safety, security systems, air quality, water leakage and resistance to earthquakes.

Finally, the program helped develop Canada's entrepreneurial advantage through new and expanded business incubation facilities that supported effective collaboration between academia and the private sector. These facilities are crucial in helping to accelerate the commercialization of the academic research into products in the marketplace, to expose more professors and students to real world applications and to encourage more private sector innovation and growth.

One of the best examples of this type of project is the MiQro Innovation Research Centre at Université de Sherbrooke. The Government of Canada partnered with the province of Quebec on this $218 million project to build a centre of excellence for electronic research and assembly. The new MiQro Innovation Research Centre is expected to become a world leader in assembling the next generation of microchips, thanks to collaboration with key local industry partners, including IBM Canada and Teledyne DALSA, Inc.

In just 31 months, KIP went from concept to conclusion and provided key stimulus to our economy at a critical time. In addition to supporting scientific research infrastructure, the program also clearly demonstrated the government's commitment to sound management of public finances.

The Auditor General's report examined the effectiveness of the implementation of all economic action plan programs, including KIP, and noted, “the total time needed to design, review, and approve programs was reduced from the approximately six months normally required to two months”. The AG's report held up KIP as “an example of speedy implementation”.

The report recognized the effectiveness of KIP's project monitoring and reporting systems, its speedy implementation and its effective collaborations with provinces and territories, as well as colleges and universities. Thanks to those partnerships, KIP stands out as a tremendous example of governments working together to take action during a time of great economic uncertainty.

We are quite pleased that the Auditor General of Canada confirmed that the program was delivered effectively and efficiently. KIP not only made a difference in meeting immediate economic challenges, but it also set the foundation for future prosperity in the knowledge economy. The program was an excellent demonstration of our strong commitment to supporting Canada's science and technology sector. The investments made provided a strong base for research and helped create new facilities that would help attract new students and provide a better educational experience for tomorrow's highly skilled workers.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat a reaction that I had to the speech by the of the minister of state and I had the same reaction to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

I believe the parliamentary secretary has missed the point of this motion. The point is not that we should not be funding the knowledge infrastructure program, the point is whether the government will listen to advice from scientists and people who have made measurements, observed the country, done their homework and figured out and analyzed the situation.

Will the government take advice that it does not agree with or that embarrasses it? Will it have a scientific approach to good governance as opposed to simply funding technology or ensuring that we have good buildings and facilities in our country?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member suggests that maybe I missed the point of the opposition motion today. I would suggest that there really is no point to the opposition motion today.

In terms of the member's comment about taking the advice of the experts, the Minister of State for Science and Technology takes the advice of those experts every day. The minister meets with stakeholders across the country on a regular basis in round tables and meetings where he hears their views.

We only have to look as far as economic action plan 2012 to see how the government has taken that advice. We can see things like the reinvesting of $37 million annually, starting in 2012-13, to the granting councils to enhance their support for industry and academic research partnerships. I have more lists I could go through if I get another such question.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is really obvious how narrow-minded the government opposite is when we hear responses like that, and especially when the minister insults members opposite by belittling what they are saying. For nearly a year, the government has been trying to muzzle any opposition.

We are talking about science and technology. These fields advance civilizations, from Galileo to Newton and from Darwin to Einstein. These people had to face similar opposition.

Now, the government is putting Canadian scientists on the chopping block. Once again, the government's narrow-mindedness is muzzling these voices.

I have to wonder how the government, which claims to be responsible and open-minded, can oppose a motion like the one that was moved today.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about research and listening to Canadians. Before he voted against the budget in 2012, I wonder if he actually took the time to take a look at the budget document. If he had taken that time, he would have seen some interesting investments that were made in the interests of all Canadians, investments like $60 million for Genome Canada to launch a new applied research competition in the area of human health and to sustain the science and technology centres until 2014-15. It is on page 54 if he wants to read it. There are $6.5 million over three years for a research project at McMaster University to evaluate team-based approaches to health care delivery, $17 million over two years to further advance the development of alternatives to existing isotope production technology and $10 million over two years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to link Canadians to global research networks.

I could continue to read through the budget document for the hon. member, but I would suggest that he take the time to read the document himself.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the House on the important issue of government science supporting our decision making and, in fact, our government's record of upholding this important function.

It is important for fisheries and oceans because it has a broad and powerful mandate, requiring the minister to regularly make decisions affecting Canadians. Many Canadians whose lives and businesses are directly influenced by this mandate include commercial, recreational and aboriginal fishermen, those in the marine transportation business, developers in proximity of water, aquaculturists, tourism operators and many more. Not least are the many everyday Canadians who rightfully want our aquatic resources to be protected and available for both current and future generations.

Therefore, science at fisheries and oceans is a critical element in ensuring that sound decision making is achieved. Today, in the few minutes I have, I want to focus on this science program, outlining its multifaceted nature and some notable recent achievements and investments in new and continuing science activities since 2006.

The numerous fisheries and aquaculture operations in our country generate a total of $5.3 billion in GDP, and that is 2008 values, and in so doing, support upwards of 71,000 Canadians, including their families and communities. In order to advise the minister on the potential outcomes of the many resource-use decisions that are needed, the fisheries science program at DFO maintains a broad suite of aquatic resource monitoring activities, including research vessel surveys and regular population assessments.

This vital fisheries science program has seen several important investments in recent years, including $8.4 million per year in permanent funding for ecosystem-based science and a total of $68.5 million since 2007 to maintain key collaborative activities with the fishing industry.

Let me begin with aquaculture, where fisheries and oceans aquaculture science is essential and has two main programs. For more than 10 years, the aquaculture collaborative research and development program has partnered with industry to invest $2 million per year in scientific research to improve environmental performance and fish health in aquaculture operations.

The second key aquaculture science program is the program for aquaculture regulatory research. This $7 million program was founded in 2008. It supports the environmental management of the Canadian aquaculture sector.

Both are very important.

I will move on to aquatic invasive species, one of the leading threats to aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem health. DFO's national program on aquatic invasive species was initiated in 2005 and renewed in 2010, at $4 million per year, to assist Fisheries and Oceans Canada to respond to the invasive species challenge. The research completed has yielded much valuable scientific advice.

In addition, on May 28, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced a significant investment to protect the Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp. This new funding, totalling $17.5 million over five years, is in addition to the $8.1 million per year that we invest in the sea lamprey control program which, in collaboration with our partners, keeps the invasive sea lamprey numbers down by more than 90%.

As shown, DFO is committed to the sustainability of the Canadian fisheries and aquaculture industries. However, it also aims to protect aquatic biodiversity upon which these fisheries depend. One key tool used by the department to achieve such protection is the Species at Risk Act of 2003. Species surveys conducted by DFO scientists are the main source of information to identify and protect aquatic species at risk. Budget 2012 made an investment of $75 million over three years to support SARA implementation, including scientific activities.

This government is also serious about supporting responsible energy development. To that end, budget 2012 provided $35.7 million over two years to introduce measures to support that key objective. Details are still being finalized, but the bulk of this funding will go to DFO to support the research activities needed to improve scientific knowledge and understanding of marine pollution risks and to manage the impacts in the event of a marine incident.

We are at the leading edge of science and several highly technical and emerging fields of science like genomics, which is the science that studies DNA in living organisms and how it affects their biological functions. The government has recently invested an additional $1 million in fishery science through the genomics research and development initiative. This DNA analysis is making it possible to better distinguish among fish species, enhance our understanding of their population structures and improve the regulation of fisheries.

For example, as members know, the Fraser River sockeye salmon species on the west coast has been under some stress recently. Although 2010 was a record year, it has been in decline.

The species is made up of a number of different populations. Some come down the west coast of British Columbia and take a left turn at the Fraser River, and some take a right turn at Cultus Lake, and of course we call those the Cultus Lake sockeye. They look like every other sockeye, but to know which are which, we need to do some DNA analysis to know when the exploitation rate has been reached so that we can protect the population. It is an important area of science.

Marine transportation is fundamental to the nation's economic prosperity as well. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS, article 76, Canada is invited to provide evidence for territorial delineation of our continental shelf. This could potentially add a significant economic opportunity for Canadians, if rights on the sea bottom and sub-bottom resources on the Atlantic coast and in the Arctic outside our 200-mile exclusive economic zone are accorded to Canada.

Since 2004, over $30 million has been provided to support the continental shelf work. This investment has not only yielded critical data for the Canadian submission to the UN but it has also enhanced our science capacity in hydrography, geology, ocean engineering and modelling of the sea bottom.

Other ocean sciences, such as oceanography, are a key element of the department's science agenda. Canada recognizes the need for ocean sciences; it is the foundation of our understanding of Canada's oceans.

To equip our scientists with the necessary tools to undertake this research, we have made an important strategic investment to construct a new ocean science vessel. This world-class vessel, to be finished in 2015, would ensure that departmental scientists have access to a state-of-the-art vessel and science equipment for their job.

Climate change is also very important. Canadians want to know that government operations and mandates are adapted so that effects of a changing climate will not unduly impact Canadians in the future. For this purpose, the department is benefiting from an investment of $16.5 million over five years for science funding to assist the department adapt to climate change. These funds enable the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to identify the key risks of climate change and take action in response.

Our scientists are also well engaged with other scientists on the domestic front as well as the international area. Many DFO scientists have close links with universities, doing research in partnership and supervising graduate students. In recent years, we expanded this collaboration by teaming with NSERC and several Canadian universities to fund specific research networks that focus on research themes relevant to oceans and fisheries research.

In 2008, the NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, based at Memorial University, was created to develop scientific guidelines for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity resources in partnership with policy makers. DFO contributes more than $1 million in ship time to this network. We have also contributed financially into a number of other similar networks that focus research on the impact of hydroelectric facilities, invasive species and fisheries research issues important to the fisheries industry.

To wrap up, we are proud of the excellent work done by our scientists and will continue to build on existing knowledge about our oceans, waterways and fisheries resources. Our government understands that science is essential to the long-term sustainability of Canada's fisheries. However, the government must continually review its operations to make sure that taxpayer dollars are focused and spent in a way to achieve the best results for Canadians and our marine environment and to address the needs of a changing world.

Over and above the approximately $150 million the department spends on science programming each year in core funding, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, our government has invested an additional $100 million to support key research for Canadians, the details of which I have summarized in my remarks here today. These are the types of projects on which we believe the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should continue to focus.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, rattling off a list of projects that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans spends money on misses the point of the motion.

Let me address one of the points of the motion by asking the minister about muzzling scientists and not letting them talk to people.

If we go back to the announcement that Conservative Minister John Crosbie made in 1992 announcing the moratorium on the cod fishery and we try to understand how it is that we fished out all the cod without realizing it, we realize that fishery scientists thought there was a bunch of fish out there but the inshore fisherman, who actually went out and tried to catch fish, were saying that the number of fish was decreasing, as was their size.

The government scientists and the inshore fishermen were not talking. What they really should have done was sat down and said, “Boy, we disagree on the state of the cod population. We'd better sit down and resolve this”. If they had done that, we may not have fished out the Atlantic cod.

What I want to ask my hon. colleague is this. Does he not agree with me that, if the government scientists had been talking with the people in Canada and exchanging ideas and information, we would have been in a better state in this country?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague raises an interesting point. In fact, he knows that there are a number of reasons why the Atlantic cod experienced a serious decline, including overfishing, but that was only one of them. There were some environmental issues as well.

In fact, I was in a study on the Atlantic coast trying to determine why the cod had not rebounded. That was in 2005. In effect, some people did tell us that they had told DFO that the stocks were declining and that we should stop fishing. I remember distinctly asking one of them, “Did you stop fishing?” He said, “Of course we didn't stop fishing.” Therefore, there was a fair bit of blame to go around.

On the other point the member raised, the scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are talking to people regularly. They do more than 300 interviews a year with the media and certainly interact and relate, as I said in my comments, with other scientists, and they will continue to do that.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's participating in this debate. I wanted to go back to him with a question on the Experimental Lakes Area project and the decision of this government to cut funding for that organization. I mentioned earlier that this is a unique research facility that has been in existence for almost 50 years and has been instrumental in identifying environmental problems caused by acid rain, phosphorus in detergent and mercury from coal-fired power plants. It is one of the only facilities in the world where scientists can look at the impact of contaminants on the whole ecosystem.

I ask the parliamentary secretary if he would explain why the cut to this organization is in any way in the interests of the fishery.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, from a broader point of view, let me say that the nature of science is such that science programs, science research projects and so on need to keep evolving because we are faced with new challenges and new questions that need to be answered. They will not all be answered by government scientists by any means, but they keep changing. That means we will be adding programs and at times we will be discontinuing programs that may not be as important as they once were. I think that is the case with the Experimental Lakes. It has done some good work and we hope it continues under the management of either a non-governmental organization or perhaps a university.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. We have run out of time again for questions and comments.

I just have a reminder for hon. members. I do see on a number of occasions that members are getting up to put questions to the member who has just spoken. We appreciate the co-operation of hon. members, when they do get recognized for a question, to keep that to around a minute or so. That way we can maybe get three questions in each round of five minutes.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Windsor West.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House to speak about an issue that is very important to Canadians. I will read the motion, but a lot of my comments will be focused on some of the issues I have dealt with in the past, one being the long form census, which we no longer have in this country, and my concerns about the process of eliminating that census and what the consequences are for this country.

The motion by my colleague states:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canadian scientific and social science expertise is of great value and, therefore, the House calls on the Government to end its muzzling of scientists; to reverse the cuts to research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and to cancel the closures of the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.

It is really important to note that over $1 billion of cuts have taken place to a number of different departments, which are going to affect the competitiveness of Canada. When we look at the opportunity for research in the modern economy, it is the value-added economy that we need to be enhancing. This is why science and research are so important.

Canada has a tradition of falling from actually producing the end results of science and research. We do not often bring enough products to market. There has been a real conscious effort to work with universities and other entrepreneurs to try to bring some patents and other types of inventions into the manufacturing world, because we have seen hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the manufacturing sector over the last number of years. My constituency has been particularly affected, as well as Ontario, Quebec and other places across Canada where the value-added economy has been lost. That is what is important about research and science. It is the backbone of the value-added society we really need to have for our exports.

One of the statistics that is important to recognize is that in 2005 the Government of Canada at the time had a $16 billion manufacturing export deficit. It is the value-added work done through manufacturing that is being lost because we were importing $16 billion more than we were exporting out to the world. That grew in 2010 to $80 billion. That is a significant shift. It is important to recognize that there is a significant place for a natural resource sector in our country, but it should not be only about lifting things out of the ground or chopping things down and then sending them away to be refined or processed elsewhere. We are more than just being able to take a piece of lumber or a tree and sending it off to China and then buying the table back later on. That is no way to organize our labour force, to sustain our cost of living or to encourage innovation. Often those decisions are made elsewhere in terms of the research and how it takes place.

One thing I will touch on briefly is the Investment Canada Act. As we have been seeing, the hollowing out of our manufacturing sector has occurred partly because there have been many takeovers of Canadian companies that have been uncontested by the government. In fact, recently it raised the threshold to $1 billion. We are losing decision-making capabilities. For example, there is a situation in Hamilton where U.S. Steel has a very capable plant, workforce and environment. Despite all the government's rhetoric of lowering taxes to create jobs, U.S. Steel is not using this facility to its fullest capacity. It is barely using this facility.

I neglected to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that I am splitting my time with the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.

Getting back to the Investment Canada Act and the U.S. Steel facility, it has not been fired up again in terms of providing the proper resources in jobs and elements that could take place. In fact U.S. Steel has redirected some work back to the United States. Part of that is because of the Investment Canada Act that was changed, and it is being changed in the budget again.

An interesting sidebar is that by amending these acts and the types of things we are debating here today without using the parliamentary process often does not fix legislation. The Investment Canada Act, which is again being altered in this budget, has not gone to committee in the past, like it should have. We did study it indirectly but did not study the actual legislative changes. These are some of the unintended consequences that would actually be addressed, even if the government had the right intent or the right agenda, because we could even get government amendments to legislation that have not properly thought through or there is a twist in something that did not work out through the process and that needs to be addressed.

It is important to note that one thing that will change is the statistics with regard to the census. What took place was that the minister at the time talked about personal privacy and that was one of the reasons the government would amend the long form census into a short form census. That is an issue that I am particularly concerned about because back in the day, a number of years ago under another administration, the government decided to outsource the census. Lockheed Martin actually got the contract. People might know Lockheed Martin for its manufacturing of arms across the globe but it also does censuses. It did the British census and a number of others. It picked up the Canadian census.

I was very concerned about that outsourcing and fought a long campaign to keep the data here in Canada. Lockheed Martin was going to assemble the Canadian data in the United States. What does that mean? It means that when our data leaves our soil and goes to the United States it is then subject to its privacy act. The privacy act is very particular. If the Government of the United States wants to access information from any source, it will get that information. What is important to note is that the company cannot disclose that the information has been accessed because of national security reasons. Therefore, if Lockheed Martin, for example, were storing the Canadian data in the United States and it was accessed by the U.S. government, it could not even disclose to us that this had taken place. We fought a long campaign to protect Canadians' privacy and ensure that the assembly of information at least took place here in Canada.

When the minister came forward and started talking about the privacy issues over the census, it was very disturbing because we did not have that type of a push back from Canadians. What we have done now is moved to a short form census. What that does is it takes away all the previous materials and censuses done in the past, which leaves us with no comparables. What ends up happening is that the data information we have today from this short form census cannot be compared with the previous years. There are no measurables in there. People often do not know that we have a lot of surveys in Canada and a lot of those surveys are backstopped by the science behind the census. Therefore, by losing this data and then having further cuts, we are actually undermining a lot of the programs.

Back in the year 2000, I was part of the complete count in Windsor, Ontario, where we actually went door to door to get the information. It is important because the information about age, sex, ethnicity with regard to living standards and all kinds of different things are used for important economic decisions.

I know I only have about a minute left but it is important for people to realize that the long form census was an investment so that when decisions are made about how the public and how governments decide about transit, housing, the aging population and a number of different services, they have an educated backbone of science behind it. It is sad that we have lost this element because the privacy issue was never there. Ironically, the minister often talked about jailing people with regard to the census. We had a couple of Canadian citizens recently harassed about it but nothing took place. At the same time, the minister has yet to correct this legislation problem on which we agreed from all sides of the House to do so.

I will finish by thanking my colleague for bringing this very important issue forward. Science is the basis of our economy for the future. We need to be able to compete but we cannot do so with these cuts and we cannot do so if we break down the science and eliminate the data we use to make important decisions.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member spoke on different topics but several times he talked about the long form census as if it has disappeared.

Is the hon. member aware that there is still a long form census going out and that it is now voluntary? There are no jail sentences associated with not completing the long form census. Does he know what the response rate is on the long form census? There were more census forms sent out and we are still receiving that data.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Actually, Mr. Speaker, that census is costing Canadians more money, around $30 million more, to do a voluntary census.

All the statisticians, a number of businesses, organizations and groups, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada wrote supporting our census back in 2010 as an example.

All has basically been a waste. The voluntary census does not get into the specific details that the mandatory long form census had, ensuring that the demographics are represented by the return rate. We could have certain return rates that are higher or lower in different regions and that contaminates and skews the data.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pinpoint that science is actually knowledge. Science means knowledge and science is the basis for everything we do.

I heard the minister make a speech this morning and talk about the fact that we are a very small population compared to other countries in the world. The point is that because we are so small we cannot be competitive unless we are the best and the brightest, unless we carve out for ourselves, using basic science, niche markets that will allow us to be competitive and thrive in a global economy.

When we talk about cutting scientists and research, as the government, no matter what it says, has done, we are destroying our ability to be competitive in the world market. We have destroyed our ability, for instance, to look at something that Canada was well-known for around the world, which is biomedical research, the information that allowed us to make vaccines--

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I do not wish to interrupt the hon. member but the time is limited and we are trying to keep those questions and responses to about one minute.

The hon. member for Windsor West.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was trying to combine some of the Investment Canada Act and the statistical changes that took place. The real cue here is the fact that our value-added economy is being left behind.

When we have a small population, a wide geography and climate differential, the science is even more important for us to be effective in this world.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

Not only is the government muzzling scientists, but it is also mortgaging our future and the future of research. Could my colleague elaborate a bit more on the brain drain and its impact?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have seen that with RADARSAT and a few other projects. It is very important. If we do not have a directive, we lose people from our field.

For example, right now we do not have an automotive strategy of any sort while the United States is very aggressive on that. So I have concerns. A number of plants across Ontario will be retooling and decisions need to be made soon. The United States and state governments have had an actual auto policy. Now Europe is creating an auto policy. We are not providing the opportunities for the scientists and the researchers.

My concern is that we have been very much on the forefront on automotive research, development and the movement into a greener sector and I am very worried that industries like that will be left behind.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Dr. Assaf Sukenik, a senior scientist at Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, said:

By shutting down the ELA facility, the Government of Canada is stamping out the ability of the world scientific community to conduct the research required to formulate sound environmental policies.

Could the well-spoken member for Windsor West comment, please?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

It is critical, Mr. Speaker. In the last budget, only $8 million were provided for the Great Lakes. Per capita, the fake lake in Muskoka actually received more money than the Great Lakes per capita.

With the U.S. pumping a lot of money into science and research, we are losing out on the opportunity to be a part of that.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, 15 years ago, in 1997, three respected Canadian university scientists wrote a paper with a fascinating title, “Is scientific inquiry incompatible with government information control?”. In other words, if that were not put simply enough, can science coexist with government manipulation? That is a very good question.

A line from that 1997 controversial report reads:

Scientists were also explicitly ordered then, as they are today, not to discuss “politically sensitive” matters...with the public, irrespective of the scientific basis, and publication status, of the scientist's concerns.

Does that sound like scientists have been muzzled? It does to me.

I will read from the summary of that 1997 report because that 1997 report is as relevant today as it was then. It reads:

There is a clear and immediate need for Canadians to examine very seriously the role of bureaucrats and politicians in the management of Canada's natural resources. The present framework of government departments such as the DFO is based on the belief that the conservation of natural resources is best ensured by science integrated within a political body. Recent history would suggest otherwise.

The recent history that would suggest otherwise was the fall of the fisheries. Scientists were just a bit off when they missed the collapse of what was once the world's biggest fish resource on planet earth, northern cod off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

The trouble with science in Canada, fish science for example, is that it is tainted by politics. Science is manipulated and massaged by politicians and bureaucrats to meet their own objectives. That is the way it works.

The short answer is, no, scientific inquiry is not compatible with government information control, the key word being “control”. I have seen too many examples over my time as a journalist and an editor and my short time as a member of Parliament.

As for the motion that we are debating here today calling on the government to end its muzzling of scientists, the Conservative government will say that scientists are not being muzzled, that science is not being manipulated. That is not the case.

Back in December, on the floor of the House of Commons during question period, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans was questioned about how scientists were reportedly afraid to go public with concerns about cuts to Fisheries and Oceans. In response, the minister asked a question. He asked, “Do I look like a bully?”. I was next to speak and I answered the minister's question. I said that the minister did indeed look like a bully, although I later apologized and it was a sincere apology, but I answered his question. The minister does not look like a bully. He looks like a stereotypical Canadian grandfather. That is not how government scientists are bullied, not directly by ministers. It does not work that way. It is not in-your-face bullying. It is not blatant muzzling. It is a lot more subtle than that.

On that particular day in December, when the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked whether he looked like a bully, he was responding to questions about how employees fared. They could face sanctions or suspensions for remarks on federal job losses within the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

According to their union, scientists were worried about cuts to Fisheries and Oceans but would not speak for fear of being blacklisted. As with all cuts, the Conservative government said that there would be no negative impact on research, but what else is it going to say? The scientists say otherwise, or they would if they were not going to be blacklisted “for the rest of their lives”.

The media policy in place at Fisheries and Oceans Canada is similar to what has been implemented at Environment Canada. Scientists there cannot speak to reporters even about their own research until it is cleared through a network of public relations and even the Prime Minister's Office. Scientist Kristi Miller was recently told not to give interviews about her research on the causes of the sockeye salmon decline on B.C.'s Fraser River even though her research had been published in Nature.

Scott Dallimore, a Natural Resources geoscientist who had an article published in Nature about a flood 13,000 years ago in northern Canada, was denied the right to speak to the media until after the media's deadline had elapsed. This is frequently how muzzling occurs.

I was a journalist for 20 years. I was a reporter and I was a persistent one. I was like a dog with a bone. Early in my career, I would be allowed to sit down with a scientist one on one. There was no problem. That was the way it worked. By the end of my career, I was not allowed to sit down with a scientist, even with a public relations official at the scientist's side. I had to submit questions in advance, in writing, and get an official formal response. Are scientists being muzzled? Take it to the bank.

The prestigious British journal Nature has written two editorials in the last two years calling on the Canadian government “to set its scientists free”. The truth will set us free—not as the Conservatives see it, but as it is: pure, untainted truth.

The Conservatives are taking the art of muzzling to another level. The ultimate muzzling is to eliminate the person being muzzled altogether, to eliminate the position, to eliminate search and data-gathering programs. If under the Liberals we had the decade of darkness, under the Conservatives we have entered another period of dark ages, the darkest of ages, the con age. “Conage” is a new term, according to the Urban Dictionary. It means “completely and utterly owned”. The Conservative government is attempting to eliminate all opposition and all opposing opinion by eliminating the information at the source. Welcome to the con age.

The Conservative government's Trojan Horse budget makes sweeping cuts to departments, agencies and organizations that engage in research and data collection, meaning that scientific research is being increasingly corralled into demand-driven funding models to serve profit-driven demands from big industry, and big industry is what the Conservative government caters to.

Budget 2012 eliminates the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. By the year's end, funding would be cut to a team of seven smokestack air pollution specialists who crack down on toxic pollution that kills more than 21,000 Canadians a year. Environment Canada will lose 20% of the budget for a key program that checks to see whether the mining industry meets emission standards. The unit of Environment Canada that responds to oil spill emergencies would be dramatically scaled back, and most regional offices would be closed. The list goes on and on. The Conservatives will say that they do not see a trend, but that is because their heads are stuck in the con age.

The last thing I want to touch on is the proposed elimination of the National Council on Welfare, created in 1962 to provide research on poverty in Canada. The National Council on Welfare has been described by a former director as a friend to the opposition and a royal pain in the butt to a party once it takes government. No wonder it has been eliminated.

I have been wearing a wristband since before the federal election. I have not taken it off. The wristband says, “Make poverty history”. Before making each and every decision as a politician, I ask how the decision will impact the Canadian poor, and the Conservative government should ask itself the same question with respect to the elimination of the National Council on Welfare. This decision will not help Canadians; rather, it will make their plight that much harder.

This past weekend, I held a town hall in my riding to discuss the Conservative Trojan Horse budget. One of the speakers was Chris Hogan, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Network. Chris said something about the Conservative government's gutting of environmental legislation and cuts in general that has stuck with me. He said, “Less science equals less knowledge. It's basically like driving with the lights off”.

The Conservative government is at the wheel of this country, and it is driving full speed with the lights off. Not only that: the Conservative government is eliminating the police, so there is no chance it will be pulled over.

The Conservative government is an accident waiting to happen. Let us make no mistake: there will be a public roadblock in 2015, the Conservative government will be forced off the road and the con age will come to a dead stop.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, on May 15 I was on a panel on Power Play, and the host asked the NDP environment critic for something she felt the National Round Table on the Environment advocated—not a carbon tax, but something that was useful and that perhaps the government should have paid attention to.

The host was asking the environment critic to name a report that she used. She responded, “Pulling it off the top of my head like that, I am not sure.”

I would like to ask my colleague opposite which report he would point to.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to speak for the New Democratic critic for the environment. She can speak for herself.

However, I will say this: if there is one quick thing that I could say to the member opposite and to the government opposite, it would be that there has to be balance. There has to be balance in life, there has to be balance in politics and there has to be balance in this country between industrial development and the environment.

The Conservative government has lost that balance.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note that the hon. member talked about science and about some of the cuts that were made. He also mentioned 10 years of darkness under the Liberal government.

I would like to inform the member that Technology Partnerships Canada and all of the research that moved us from number seven in the G8 to number one in the G8 came in under the 10 years of Liberal government, and $10 billion was spent just on the Foundation for Innovation alone.

I want to ask the hon. member a pertinent question. We notice cuts in the water and air quality analysis are going on. I am speaking as a physician, and my concern is that when all these scientists who are monitoring water and air quality are cut, what is going to happen to the safety of the water we drink? How is this going to impact on the health of Canadians across this country and the diseases they will get from drinking non-potable water?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, if cuts are made to basic science research in any area, be it research for air, water, fish, mining or oil and gas development—and the point was made here earlier that science is another word for research—then the environment will suffer, and we as Canadians will suffer in the end. Our knowledge base will not be there, and mistakes will happen.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his excellent speech. I thought his analogy of the Conservative government's wilful dismissal of scientists and scientific information and data is appropriately like driving a car full speed ahead in the dark with our eyes closed.

It also seems that the government does not even want to look in the rear-view mirror. There are massive cuts to libraries and archives. More than 20% of the workforce will be eliminated. The government said it is just getting rid of duplication and modernizing, but apparently only 2% of our archives are digitized, which means that Canadians will lose their history.

Can the member comment about the loss of this important Canadian information?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I like how the member took my analogy one step further.

The Conservatives are like a government driving a car without the lights on and not looking in the rear-view mirror. The member is absolutely right.

In the case of libraries, for example, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans had 11 libraries across the country. That number is being cut to seven. Are most of those libraries digitized? The answer is no, they are not.

What is going to happen with the information in those libraries? It will be lost. What will that mean? That will mean we will not learn by past mistakes. How big are the past mistakes made by consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments? Huge. There were huge environmental mistakes. I am a member from Newfoundland, and the Grand Banks off Newfoundland were utterly destroyed. There were huge mistakes made.

Now the government is going to destroy the libraries. That makes no sense.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to this opposition motion today, partially because I spent the better part of my career working in research administration and working at the University of Calgary with some of what I would like say are the greatest scientists in the country. I witnessed first-hand, at ground level, the support that our government has given to research and development across the spectrum of research disciplines. I have also seen first-hand the results of funding that research, which is some of the world-class research that has been published in this country over the last several years.

Today I would like to speak specifically to research at Environment Canada.

As we have said all along, our government recognizes the importance of scientific research. At Environment Canada, science is central to the department's work, promoting a clean, safe and sustainable environment for all Canadians.

As a measure of its commitment, this government has made significant investments in science to support environmental protection.

Mr. Speaker, I should also say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Kitchener—Waterloo.

Last year, Environment Canada spent about $600 million on science and technology and plans to spend a similar amount this year. These funds support a wide range of research and monitoring activities focused on air, water and wildlife.

Science is the foundation of Environment Canada's work and is central to its performance as a world-class regulator. The department's scientific expertise spans a wide range of fields, including water, air, climate, weather, wildlife, pollution prevention and environmental toxicology. Research and monitoring at Environment Canada generates invaluable data, information, and tools that are central for developing and implementing the policies, regulations and services that help Canadians make decisions about the environment and that protect the environment for present and future generations.

In spite of what the opposition might say, scientific research remains strong at Environment Canada. One way to measure that strength is to look at the scientific publications we have produced. The department's scientists have published, on average, more than 600 peer-reviewed scientific publications per year in recent years. This makes environment Canada a global leader in environmental research. It is also one of the most productive institutions in the world in this field.

Of course, Environment Canada does not do its work in isolation. In fact, the department maintains strong relations with experts in academia and in other international organizations. These collaborations help Environment Canada build synergies, leverage resources and access expertise in other organizations, resulting in the world-class science we need as a country to ensure our environment is clean, safe and sustainable.

In December 2011 the Commissioner of the Environment tabled an audit of environmental science at Environment Canada. The findings of the audit were positive, recognizing that Environment Canada has good systems and practices in place to manage and ensure the quality of its science and that the science performed by the department is being communicated to decision-makers and delivered to meet user needs.

It is true that Environment Canada, like all of government, is reducing its spending in order to contribute to Canada's return to a balanced budget, something that we heard very clearly from Canadians in the last election.

However, the department is doing so in a way that will not compromise environmental protection. Rather, Environment Canada will focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of all of our science activities through improved coordination and streamlined management.

The department has developed an integrated and risk-based approach to environmental monitoring. This would see more resources devoted to issues and areas that pose the greatest risks to our environment. This approach is consistent with the recommendations made by recent reports of the Commissioner of the Environment, and Environment Canada is moving forward by being flexible and adaptable. The department is maintaining the capacity and expertise needed to carry out its mandate.

Let me give members some details.

This year Environment Canada plans to spend nearly $50 million on water science and technology. This includes activities such as monitoring freshwater quality and studying climate change impacts on aquatic ecosystem health. For example, Environment Canada will spend $1.5 million this year to track harmful chemicals through the Great Lakes, investigating where they come from and where they end up.

The department also plans to spend nearly another $50 million on its atmospheric science and technology research this year. This includes key research on emissions from industry and transportation, monitoring greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and research to support weather prediction. For example, the department will spend more than $600,000 this year to study the impact of air pollutants in the Arctic. This would help to ensure northern development happens responsibly.

Other important science and technology investments include nearly $20 million to support the chemical management plan and more than $7 million on research to maintain and sustain healthy wildlife populations and ecosystem habitat.

Another example is environmental monitoring in the oil sands region. The government recognizes that action is needed to ensure that the oil sands are developed responsibly and in a way that respects the environment. That is why the government has listened to eminent Canadian scientists and experts and is turning that advice into action on this important issue.

This past February, the hon. Minister of the Environment and his Alberta colleague, the minister of environment and water, announced the joint Canada-Alberta implementation plan for oil sands monitoring. This plan commits Canada and Alberta to an integrated environmental monitoring program for the region that is scientifically robust and transparent.

The implementation plan outlines the path forward to enhance the monitoring of water, air, land and biodiversity in the oil sands by sampling more sites for more substances more frequently. It is designed to improve our understanding of the long-term cumulative effects of oil sands development and activities under the plan have already begun.

Data from the new monitoring program and the methods on which it is based will be transparent, supported by necessary quality assurance and will be made publicly available to allow independent scientific assessments and evaluations. In short, the program is founded on external scientific peer review that will encourage informed discussions and analysis on the impact of oil sands development based on factual, high quality scientific information.

Canadians gave us a strong mandate to deliver on our priorities. Scientific research remains central to the work Environment Canada and many other departments within government do. This government is confident that Environment Canada's ongoing science and technology efforts and activities will remain well funded, scientifically robust and focused on those areas which matter most to Canadians.

I would also like to point to the hundreds of millions of dollars that budget 2012 committed to research and development, including basic research. We heard today that perhaps my colleagues opposite had not read that part of the budget. The Association of Universities and Colleges said that it was very supportive of the levels of funding that were included in budget 2012 and our government's focus on research and innovation as a key driver of the economy.

I would also like to speak to some of the other things with regard to scientific research that Environment Canada has been doing over the last six years, including $1 billion to support clean energy research development demonstration projects, including carbon capture and storage. I saw some of these projects first hand at the University of Calgary. These are projects that look at new technologies to capture carbon in all sorts of different industrial settings and research to look at the viability of sequestration. We are also funding research across the country that looks at clean energy policy. It is not just about the research on the engineering side; it is also about funding research in social sciences and humanities.

Our government values the support of innovation. It is evident. We are attracting some of the key research professionals from across the world. The Canada excellence research chair program is now in its second iteration. It has recruited dozens of some of the brightest minds from around the world to Canada, supported not only through research infrastructure funding, but ongoing operating funding that allows them to bring their research teams to the country.

We are also seeing the economic effects of investment into research and development. I encourage my colleagues opposite to look at that component of the budget, wherein we say that by investing in research and development, we know that we can diversify the economy. We have seen that in the transfer of early stage technology through the life cycle of technological development into the marketplace. There are technologies that come through biomedical research, for example, that affect Canadians when they enter the health care system. There is research into how best to deliver primary care.

Our government fundamentally understands that investment in research and development on good policy and scientific outcomes in the environment equals economic growth. We took the findings of the Jenkins panel to heart and that is why we funded the granting councils at record levels. I certainly hope my colleagues opposite will support this rather than just sticking to their talking points.

I asked my colleague opposite a question about the national round table. I certainly hope he and his party will look into these funding principles to find out where they can better apply these funds and better support innovation. That is what our government has been about in budget 2012.

This is probably one of the first budgets in a long time that has seen such a pronounced focus on research and development in innovation. As someone who has spent the better part of my career in the administration of research and who has worked with folks on the ground who conduct our nation's research, I am certainly proud to speak to the budget and the levels of funding that we have established.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about a strong mandate.

When the government got barely 40% of the vote, and that 40% was obtained through the use of robocalls, I would not consider that a very strong mandate. The government could do with a little modesty and reserve.

We have heard everything she said before. Exactly same thing was said in Ontario before the Walkerton crisis, and that is the problem. When scientists tell us that we are headed towards a wall and a dangerous situation, they are muzzled. The government does not want to hear about the massive environmental deterioration in the far north; it does not want to hear about isolated water problems, and that is the problem.

Why muzzle public servants and scientists who are informing us of an imminent danger that goes against what she is saying?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, by my colleague's math, then over 70% of the population of Canada did not vote for his party. I would ask him to check his figures on that as well.

He said that what I had said was well known. Absolutely, it is well known. Across the world, our government is becoming known as a place for the brightest minds in the world to come and work. That is a great message to come across. I certainly hope he supports the budget for that reason.

With regard to our scientists, they provide tens of thousands of peer reviewed publications to internationally renowned research journals. How is that muzzling scientists? By supporting research and development in our country, we unleash the potential of scientists across the country. I am proud to support this budget.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the point of this debate today is not so much a chance for the government to rattle off the ways it spends money, but to ask whether it takes seriously the advice of scientists, natural and social scientists in Canada. However, I am pleased to have the chance to ask a question of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment.

To talk to natural scientists and social scientists, namely economists, they will tell us that the government needs to do much more than it currently has done on the issue of climate change. In particular, it needs to do a lot more to compensate for the negative externality, the fact that we do not have to pay for emitting fossil carbon into the atmosphere.

How can the parliamentary secretary talk about supporting scientists when the government will not listen to scientists on something which is probably one of the most important pieces of advice that natural scientists and social scientists have given to the government today?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, as opposed to the party opposite, what our government does is listen to Canadians. In 2008 Canadians clearly said that they did not want a tax on everything. They did not want a carbon tax.

When we talk about economics, we are under a time of fragile economic recovery. As legislators, we need to be cognizant of the fact of new taxes, regressive taxes, that could increase the price of consumer goods across the spectrum. Across the world we see economies suffer because of government policies that are not cognizant of the need to balance the budget and ensure that there are policies in place to grow the economy.

At this point in time, we need to be very careful about looking at taxes that increase the cost of consumer goods across the spectrum.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we all know in the House it was 13 long years that the previous Liberal government did absolutely nothing and created a huge environmental mess. I want to thank the parliamentary secretary for her hard work in getting things done on the environment.

Environment Canada science was recently audited by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. I understand the commissioner had very positive comments to make about the department's science management. Could the parliamentary secretary elaborate on that?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also congratulate the member for Langley for his wonderful job in chairing the environment committee of the House of Commons. He is a great chair.

On his question, the commissioner wrote:

—Environment Canada has incorporated standards of quality and that it uses a range of systems and practices—including peer reviews of scientific publications and accreditation of environmental testing laboratories—to ensure the quality of the science it conducts.

On top of that, I should note that last year Environment Canada scientists published over 684 articles, attended 326 conferences and they did over 1,200 media interviews. Our scientists are busy, they are active and we are proud of them.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to speak to our government's very strong support for both basic and applied research, not only in my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo but across the country.

Guided by the 2007 science and technology strategy, we have been systematically enhancing federal support for world-class research and building on Canada's knowledge advantage. The federal government has demonstrated a strong commitment to promote and to prioritize science and technology and build a sophisticated knowledge-based economy. Canada's economic action plan 2012 builds on earlier investments by proposing significant new resources to support leading-edge research and infrastructure through investments that strengthen Canada's position as a leading supporter of research.

Budget 2012 announces $341 million over two years to support research, education and training. This ongoing support for advanced research has contributed to a very strong system of innovation in our country. We are helping to ensure that Canadian researchers continue to generate new ideas and that businesses have access to the resources they need to bring this knowledge to market and create high quality jobs. That is a goal that we should all share in this House.

Our government has invested significantly at a time when it is needed most. We are building on a record and providing our innovators, our colleges, universities, businesses and industries, with the support they need to work together and create high quality jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. We have invested in world-class research through our three granting councils, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Through these councils we have introduced such initiatives as the Banting post-doctoral fellowships, the Vanier Canada graduate scholarships and the Canada excellence research chairs. To illustrate this, I would like to highlight that two of the current Canada excellence research chairs have in fact come to Waterloo, to my riding, to pursue their research. Dr. David Cory, who was attracted from MIT, is a leading global innovator in experimental quantum physics and quantum engineering and whose work is already being used in a range of applications from the medical field to the oil industry. Dr. Philippe Van Cappellen, who is a world-leading expert in ecohydrology, came from France to pursue his work in Canada.

We have systematically enhanced federal support for advanced research. Recent investments are supporting research projects across Canada as well as Canadian involvement in major international research projects. We have continued to support large-scale research in genomics. Since 2000, the Government of Canada has invested more than $1 billion to ensure that Canada remains at the forefront of this important field, supporting amazing breakthroughs in health and life sciences. In budget 2012, our government announced an additional $60 million for Genome Canada, helping continue to support research excellence in genomics.

Moreover, we are committed to building a strong and vibrant research environment to strengthen our ability to compete in the knowledge-based economy. We are providing significant support for leading edge research infrastructure. To date, the federal government has allocated $5.5 billion to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which has committed support to more than 7,300 projects at 130 research institutions across Canada.

To support the foundation's core activities, the plan announced $500 million over five years starting in 2014-15. The funding will support new competitions, including the college-industry innovation fund.

Investments are also being made in Canada's ultra high-speed research network, CANARIE, satellite reception facilities and Canada's continued participation in the international space station mission, as well as the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.

In addition, at the University of Waterloo in my own riding, investments in automotive research and development through Automotive Partnership Canada will result in a more efficient and sustainable automotive industry that continues to create jobs for Canadians and provide greener transportation solutions.

I am also proud to highlight another impressive research partnership anchored at the University of Waterloo, the Southern Ontario Water Consortium. Our government is investing almost $20 million in this project that will strengthen our position as a world leader in clean water technologies, create new jobs and develop solutions for communities across the globe that lack easy access to clean water.

Beyond this, our government is also investing in institutions that are pushing the frontiers of knowledge. I am talking specifically about the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which I am proud to say are both in my riding of Kitchener--Waterloo.

The Institute for Quantum Computing is a recognized international leader in the field of quantum computing. Our government contributed $50 million to support the construction of a new state-of-the-art scientific research facility. With the grand opening of the Quantum Nano Centre this fall, IQC will become the world's largest research centre devoted to quantum information science.

In addition, our government is also proud to support the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. We continue to invest in this world-leading institution. In budget 2011 we announced a further $50 million over five years to support its leading research, education and public outreach activities. A recent evaluation concluded that the Perimeter Institute has markedly improved Canada's science capacity and global reputation in the field of theoretical physics.

Investments like these in PI and IQC enable these premier institutions to attract the best researchers from around the world and bring them together in Waterloo to engage in basic scientific research. We have not only reversed the brain drain, we have ensured that Canada is becoming a powerful magnet for talent.

Members may remember the NDP took the unfortunate step of dragging the reputations of the Perimeter Institute, the Auditor General and our government through the mud with its conspiracy theory that the Perimeter Institute received more funding than we committed. The funds received by the Perimeter Institute are consistent with our government's commitments year after year. Unfortunately the press release that makes the false accusations remains on the NDP's website today. This is unfortunate and I do hope that the NDP finally takes the opportunity to apologize.

I should also note that the Government of Canada provided, through budget 2009, $2 billion for research and advanced learning infrastructure at universities, colleges and CEGEPs through the knowledge infrastructure program. This funding helped leverage an additional $3 billion in contributions from the provinces, territories and private partners. For example, in my riding this program provided $25 million to the University of Waterloo to construct facilities for environment, engineering and math research and education.

This is how we are helping industry partners bring technology to market, provide our students with hands-on applied research experience and create a highly skilled Canadian workforce. Taken cumulatively, these measures, along with our efforts to support business innovation, demonstrate this government's support for world-class science, technology and innovation. We are ensuring that Canada continues to lead in the knowledge economy.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, this member has talked about all the investments the government is making. I have often been asked by the government if I support its aerospace research and development, for instance. In February, the Montreal aerospace industry said that there is not enough research and development in the aerospace industry in Canada and that the government should be doing a lot more to make us competitive.

Why does the government not understand that it needs to be putting publicly funded research as a priority in order to increase our innovation and competitiveness internationally?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find the question from my hon. colleague from the NDP quite interesting and somewhat amusing. This is a member of a party claiming to support the aerospace industry, which is largely based in the Montreal area but has other important aspects of the sector across the country.

This is a sector that is anxious to see the government move forward with our next generation fighter aircraft, and of course the NDP finds every opportunity to oppose that. We have renewed our government's commitment with Canada's involvement in the international space station, and we continue to lead the world in the aerospace industry.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, an internationally famous scientist, Dr. Cynthia Gilmour, is a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center who has done research all over the world with her team in mercury, acid rain, acid lakes and climate change. She has used the Experimental Lakes Area for experimentation. She is not from this country. She has no political stake in this. This is what she said in a letter last week to the minister involved, “By shutting down ELA, you remove a critical tool for finding the most reasonable and cost-effective solutions to national and international environmental issues. The small federal investment in the research station has been returned thousands of times over in public, in ecosystem, in human health.”

My question to this hon. member, and to every member on that side of the House is, will they all follow in mindless lockstep in muzzling scientists and killing research, or will a few of them dare to stand up to their party?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to point out that with respect to the Experimental Lakes project, our government is looking to transition this particular project to a partner that will take on responsibility for whatever remaining research priorities there may be.

It is important to point out that our science and technology policy, first developed by this government in 2007, is really unprecedented in the Government of Canada's support for science and technology. As part of that, we embrace and we celebrate the work that our Canadian scientists and researchers do in this country, at our universities, for our federal government departments. We will continue to celebrate the excellent work they provide.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the member opposite certainly pointed out some investments that the government has made, I think he has misled us to a certain degree with respect to the exodus of scientists from this country.

The agriculture committee has travelled across Canada on at least one occasion in the last couple of years. All we heard about was the exodus of our scientists to other countries because of the lack of investment by the government in basic science. The agricultural adaptation program was ended completely. It was science-based.

My question to the hon. member is, why would he mislead us like this and suggest that our scientists are staying, when in fact they are leaving this country?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Guelph is clearly out of touch. Under the previous Liberal government, there was a brain drain. Since our government has taken office, there has clearly been a brain gain.

We are attracting some of the world's greatest researchers. Many are coming to my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo. I would be happy to host a visit of the hon. member for Guelph to show him the fantastic research that is taking place, not only at our two universities, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, but also at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Institute for Quantum Computing.

He should come on down Highway 7.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is probably a good thing for the member that his time ran out before I had a chance to ask him a question. I would have been asking the member about the RADARSAT Constellation mission. I introduced a motion in the industry committee to have MacDonald, Dettwiler and industry ministry officials come to the committee to explain what has happened with that program and why we are off track. Unfortunately the member opposite who just spoke introduced a motion to take the meeting in camera. I cannot imagine why we would need to discuss such important issues in secret. They concern all Canadians.

I am proud to stand today in defence of science and research. Canada's ability to compete in the 21st century is inextricably linked to science and research. Science and research touch every aspect of our daily lives and must be preserved and enriched. In Canada, we must foster an environment that encourages more research and science. Sadly, the 2012 budget and recent changes by the Conservative government take Canada down a path of darkness rather than enlightenment.

The muzzling of scientists and the assignment of chaperones by the government is repugnant. This has been widely condemned and rightly so. Only ideologues and people afraid of the truth would resort to such actions. If nothing else, scientists must be free to report the findings of their work, free from political interference. They should only need worry about the critiques of their peers, which in the end leads to better scientists. Peer review and not political review must be the standard.

The cuts announced affect far more than I could possibly say in 10 minutes. The Conservative members of the industry, science and technology committee have a much better understanding of just how much I have to say on this issue.

It really is a shame that this morning's meeting was also cancelled and that industry ministry officials were not available to discuss the estimates so that we could learn more about these reckless cuts. We are still looking forward to seeing them and, we hope, the minister before the summer recess.

The first issue I want to raise is about good government. One might ask why. It is pretty simple. To provide good government, one needs to assemble a tremendous amount of facts, primarily obtained through large quantities of research from places like Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council, Statistics Canada, and of course the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

I forgot to request to have my time split with the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, so I would like to do that now.

Limiting research at all levels of government and all agencies of government restricts everyone's ability to make fact- and evidence-based policy. This is a critical issue because I cannot possibly see how limiting that information would be a good thing. Yet here we are, debating a motion being brought forward by our science and technology critic and our industry critic.

The seconding by the member for LaSalle—Émard is significant because these cuts also largely touch industry. Cuts to Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and the National Research Council affect our ability to monitor industry to ensure adherence to environmental regulations that are there to protect us, the air we breathe and the water we drink. As an aside, I will definitely be taking a pass on drinking tailing pond water. There is absolutely no way, but the Minister of Natural Resources can do as he likes.

Cuts to research and science affect our ability as parliamentarians to make the best policies to foster innovation and economic growth. I am proud to stand as deputy industry critic with our industry critic, our science and tech critics, and all NDP members of this House to say that cuts need to be reversed for the long-term benefits of Canadians. The government needs to knock it off.

A lot of research is done independently and in conjunction with industry that has a great impact on our economy, and that will only grow with time. Cuts to Statistics Canada from the policy-making side and the National Research Council from the innovation side will only hinder our long-term development. The time to invest and not pull back is now.

I would like to address two of the looming cuts in wildly different areas that are of particular concern to me.

The closing of the Experimental Lakes Area, as we have already heard today, is particularly troubling because of its international importance and its repeated successes that have only proven its worth.

I would like to cite from an article in the June 1 Globe and Mail about its pending closure:

Former top researchers at the centre say the decision is emblematic of the government’s anti-science approach to environmental policy and its emphasis on resource development with little regard for impacts on the ecosystem unless they affect commercially important fish stocks.

“I think they are uninterested in the environment and scientific research into the environment,” said John Rudd, who served as chief scientist at ELA and now consults for private labs. “They don’t want to see things that might get in the way of promoting industry.”

Now a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in the United States, Dr. Gilmour, said:

By shutting ELA you remove a critical tool for finding the most reasonable and cost-effective solutions to national and international environmental issues.

She also wrote:

The small federal investment in the research station has been returned thousands of times over in public and ecosystem health.

Frankly, the further we go on, the more I start to believe the government's motto is, “Never let a good policy get in the way of bad decision making”.

On a similar note, we have the RADARSAT Constellation mission, where a committed minister and a committed parliamentary secretary say they are on board, but the money is just not in the budget.

This vital Canadian satellite program, with the multi-mission of environmental monitoring, Arctic sovereignty, ocean safety and ice monitoring, and disaster management, as well as the ability to attract other governments and agencies as clients, all makes good business sense and science and safety sense, yet the government has put the program in jeopardy.

What is worse, the government is, unlike what the former member said, precipitating a brain drain from a company that is of such strategic importance to Canada that the government blocked the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler.

Delays in this project could also put Canadian lives at risk. If the Constellation satellites are not in space before RADARSAT-2's end of mission, we could have a coverage gap, and that would put Canadians' lives at risk. It is critical that the situation not be allowed to occur or to continue. The government needs to get off the mat.

These and many other reasons are why we are calling upon all parliamentarians to support and adequately fund these agencies and programs because the return is better government through a fact-based evidence policy, a better and stronger economy that has fewer negative impacts on the environment, through science and innovation dependent from and in conjunction with industry. It is as simple as that.

The cuts just go on and on in this budget, as we mentioned, with several different agencies. The cuts that are happening at Environment Canada and ozone monitoring and with the Arctic monitoring stations, they just have absolutely no basis to be there. These are the programs that keep us safe. They are the programs that keep our air clean. They are the programs that keep our water drinkable. They need to be given the appropriate amount of funds in order to continue to keep us safe. As well of course, on the innovation side, which is very important to me, we certainly need to do a lot more in order to foster innovation and productivity, not a lot less, which is what the government proposes.

There are also disturbing reports that hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises have disappeared from Canada in the last several years. Of course, these are companies that, by and large, are more productive. They contribute more heft to the Canadian economy than their sizes would indicate. Yet they are disappearing because there is a lack of investment, there is a lack of opportunities, they are being gobbled up by larger enterprises or the unbalanced approach that the government has taken to the economy has put them out of business.

I could, of course, go on for another 20 or 30 minutes, or maybe a couple of hours, as I may or may not do in committee before long, but I will leave it at that. I look forward to hearing what the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has to say.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, could the hon. member tell my why the Conservatives have decided to eliminate the National Council of Welfare? This organization gives advice to the federal government on how to best improve the living conditions of low-income Canadians. In addition, it only costs about $1 million, which is 10% of what the Conservatives are planning to spend on advertising in their budget.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question, since it is definitely a topic that I did not have time to address.

I personally do not see why they think it makes sense to cut the program, given that the research conducted by the council helps parliamentarians make better legislation, creating more opportunities for the poorest people in the country.

In my view, the only reason that explains why the Conservatives want to eliminate the National Council of Welfare is that they are afraid of what information we might find.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the hon. member is very knowledgeable on this matter, as the former science and technology critic and current industry critic.

It is interesting that, on the one hand, we are talking about reducing the number of scientists, muzzling them and preventing them from speaking, and, on the other hand, we often hear arguments about how much it costs the public to keep these “bureaucrats”. In reality, these scientists provide us with data that can help us create good laws and govern properly, which will reduce the costs of environmental damage in the long term.

Keeping these scientists on the job will permit us to introduce legislation to ensure that the next generation can count on a healthy environment with all the benefits that go with it. Could the hon. member expand on that?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

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

Most certainly, the challenge is even greater for young people, who will have to work until age 67 because of the changes, meaning two years more than previously, or perhaps more, because they will first have to wait for new job opportunities.

Specifically, changes are currently being made to the economy and we need an educated labour force. But education itself is far too expensive. In addition, the job opportunities need to be there once they complete their studies.

Cuts to innovation, science and technology will harm the industry and young people, who will not be able to find jobs and will not be able to help improve the world. We do not know what the scientists of the future are going to discover. The fact is that we must give them the opportunity to do so.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, what impact does the hon. member think the Conservatives' research and development policy will have on our country's future?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and Social Science ExpertiseBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' research and development policy will be detrimental in a number of ways. If there are fewer opportunities, fewer people will pursue a career in science and technology, thereby limiting innovation and invention. We need to lend our support to a large number of scientists to ensure that discoveries are made in health, the environment and industry.

The oil sands are problematic. A lot of work in science and research still needs to be done in that area, so that the oil sands will not harm the environment, as they currently do.

“MP for a Day” CompetitionStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the sixth winner of the “MP for a Day” competition, Samuel Daigle, experienced a memorable day on Parliament Hill last week. The student at the Cégep de Victoriaville attended the Bloc Québécois caucus, met the Minister of Foreign Affairs and members of Parliament from the other parties, and participated in an interview on CPAC, among other things.

This competition, organized with the political science and geography teacher, Jean-François Léonard, helps demystify the job of a politician, gives a behind-the-scenes look and helps the student become more familiar with our democratic mechanisms.

I would like to thank my colleagues and everyone else who took time to explain their jobs to Samuel and who welcomed him warmly. Although he maintains a necessary critical eye, I think he now has a much different perspective of the job we do.

I would also like to thank the partners who make this competition possible: Équipe Sévégny-Baril from Via Capitale, the UPA Centre-du-Québec and the Association générale des étudiants et étudiantes du cégep de Victoriaville.

Erin DoyleStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, on May 25, the community of Kamloops held a commemoration service for Master Corporal Erin Doyle. His name was added to the cenotaph in Kamloops, joining those who died in the cause of freedom.

Master Corporal Doyle served our nation and the Afghan people with distinction over the course of three tours of duty. It was with great sadness that we learned in 2008 that he was killed in action during a Taliban attack.

Beyond his role as a soldier, we also remember him as an irreplaceable man who was loved and cherished. He was truly our “local boy done good”, starting his career as a reservist in our Rocky Mountain Rangers.

In his military career, he not only worked to safeguard Canadian communities, but to assist people halfway around the world in rebuilding theirs. This was a role he willingly took on in the hope of making a difference, and he paid the ultimate price.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, we salute the life and legacy of Master Corporal Erin Doyle.

Festivals in Vaudreuil-SoulangesStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to invite all Canadians and Quebeckers to take on the pleasant task of supporting the local tourism industry this summer. More specifically, I would like to draw the attention of my colleagues to what is happening in my riding.

On June 10, I invite my colleagues to take part in the very first S.O.U.P.E. festival, a free festival that provides an opportunity to bring generations and cultures together. From June 22 to 25, there is the Vaudreuil-Dorion circus festival, the first international circus competition of its kind in Canada. What is more, it is a carbon-neutral event.

Then there is the Hudson Music Festival, which will be held from July 31 to August 5.

Finally, the 28th Maison Trestler summer festival will hold concerts all summer long.

This summer, let us support the events in our regions. Let us travel at home.

Citizenship ActStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I recently introduced Bill C-425, an act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian armed forces).

First, it outlines another pathway to integration for permanent residents. Second, it underscores the incredible worth of Canadian citizenship. Third, it honours the contribution of our brave men and women in uniform.

According to the bill, permanent residents who sign a three year contract with the Canadian armed forces would receive a one year credit toward citizenship. Additionally, a Canadian who commits an act of war against the Canadian armed forces would be deemed to have renounced his or her Canadian citizenship.

To serve Canada in our military is a patriotic act of service worthy of reward. Conversely, to commit an act of war against Canada's armed forces signals a clear rejection of Canadian responsibilities, values and citizenship.

In the coming months, I ask for support from all sides of this House for the bill.

World OceansStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, with every breath we take, every drop of water we drink, human beings are connected to the ocean. They are our life support system, give us more than half the oxygen we breathe, regulate our climate, provide invaluable resources and are an endless source of magic and mystery for the human spirit.

Eighty percent of the world's population lives within 100 kilometres of an ocean and three and a half billion people depend on the oceans for food. Yet, scientists estimate that up to one-third of commercial fisheries are overfished, climate change is making oceans warmer and more acidic, and a mere half a percent of global marine habitats are protected. We have work to do.

June 8 is World Oceans Day, a great opportunity to celebrate oceans, but our aim must be to protect them as a way of life. That is why this year's theme, “Youth: The Next Wave for Change”, is so critical. We welcome young people's creativity and innovative ideas so that we can truly sustain oceans as they sustain us.

D-DayStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, June 6, will mark the 68th anniversary of D-Day when nearly 25,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen stormed Juno Beach in Normandy and helped to turn the tide of the Second World War.

Our troops would pay a brutal cost to begin the liberation of Europe, with 5,400 Canadian graves in Normandy, the highest in the British army group.

I am very proud to have several D-Day veterans in my riding of Perth—Wellington, men like Chief Warrant Officer Art Boon and Battery Sergeant Major Stuart Jeffra who landed with the 19th Field Regiment, as well as Chief Warrant Officer Bill Broughton and Corporal Ray Huras who landed with the Highland Light Infantry.

Canada has always been a peaceful nation but our warriors have always brought an equal measure of determination and courage to battle when peace or freedom is at stake.

I know hon. members will join with all Canadians in recognizing our D-Day veterans.

World Environment DayStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this World Environment Day, I would like to congratulate all those who are taking real action to protect the environment.

This year, supported by their devoted principal and teachers, about 30 students participated in the CFER program at Riverdale High School.

Thanks to their skills, to the stockrooms and machines in their school, as well as to the good co-operation they maintain with different companies, these students recycle televisions and computer systems. With the Caravan project, they also visit elementary schools to raise awareness about the environment and recycling.

They can be proud of the important work they do for our community.

Other initiatives also deserve to be recognized, including: the Pierrefonds-Roxboro Éco-quartier, which demonstrates leadership in waste management and in the cleanliness and beautification of our community; the Ferme Bord-du-Lac, which provides local, organic produce to people from the region; and the City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, which offers an organic waste collection service.

There is still much to be done but, in my riding, we are taking real action for the environment and we can be proud of that.

George AbdallahStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with a touch of personal sadness that I rise today to remember prominent Pembroke citizen, George Abdallah, who passed away this week.

George was a public man, in business, politics and community service.

“Trader George” joined his father in business in the early fifties, running a furniture and appliance business in Pembroke “at the block at the bridge”.

A member of the Pembroke City Council from 1963 to 1972 and then mayor from 1972 to 1974, George impressed upon me the importance of every single voter as he missed being returned to office as mayor by less than a handful of votes. I valued his counsel.

Always active in politics, he was my driver in the last two federal elections.

George went on to serve over 20 years on the local hydro commission.

George was very active in charitable activities, as a one-time member of the Kiwanis, the Masonic Lodge and the Shriners. As a member of the Ottawa Valley Shrine Club, George could be seen on its float every Santa Claus parade.

On behalf of the community, I ask his wife of 57 years, Joan, and his children, Kathryn, Sandra and Brian, to please accept our appreciation of George of a life well-lived.

ALS Awareness MonthStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, June is ALS Awareness Month.

ALS, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a rapidly progressive fatal motor neuron disease that affects approximately 3,000 Canadians.

My father succumbed to ALS a number of years ago and, as a result of my very personal encounter with this devastating disease, I reintroduced my private member's bill last year to have June officially designated as national ALS month.

I commend the ALS Society of Canada for its tireless work in increasing awareness among Canadians, in funding research to find a cure and in providing quality care for those affected.

I encourage each member to wear a cornflower today to show their support in the fight against ALS. I also invite all hon. members to attend this evening's ALS reception in the parliamentary restaurant to learn more.

Together we can find a cure.

Foreign AffairsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the staff of Rights & Democracy, a great Canadian organization that will, unfortunately, be closing its doors in July.

Rights & Democracy was created in 1988 by an act of Parliament that received unanimous approval. Its mandate was to promote respect for human rights and the development of democracy abroad. It was doing exceptional work in many places, including some of the most dangerous areas of the world.

The organization is being abolished, but as Jean-Louis Roy, former president of Rights & Democracy, told me recently, the organization is not dying. It will live on through all those it has helped throughout the world.

I will be hosting a non-partisan reception for the staff of Rights & Democracy on the Hill on June 14. I invite all my fellow MPs to attend this reception and to join me in thanking the employees of Rights & Democracy for their service.

Budget ImplementationStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our government has an excellent track record when it comes to job creation and economic growth. Over 750,000 jobs have been created since 2009. Our most recent budget is the next phase of our plan for job creation and long-term prosperity in Canada.

Given that the global economic recovery remains fragile, particularly in Europe, Canadians want the government to focus on what matters most. That is exactly what our government is doing through the implementation of our economic action plan.

This is the longest debate that any budget bill has had in the House and in committee in nearly two decades. It is high time that the NDP made the economy a priority instead of playing partisan procedural games.

Why do the leader of the NDP and his party always side with the interests of radical activists rather than the interests of honest, hard-working Canadians?

HealthStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Mr. Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada; Mr. Mark Dobson, regional director for Atlantic Canada; and Mr. Tim Hosford, as well as all members of the UFCW across the country.

Last year, they had another record-breaking fundraising year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising over $2 million. To date, UFCW Canada has raised over $23 million for leukemia and lymphoma research in Canada, making UFCW Canada the number one donator to this very important cause.

On behalf of the House of Commons on both sides, we congratulate UFCW Canada and all its membership for their fantastic work, one day hoping to find a cure for that terrible scourge of leukemia and lymphoma disease in this country. We congratulate UFCW Canada and thank its members for their continued efforts in this regard.

Rodolfo Quezada TorunoStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) offered our sincere condolences to the government and the people of Guatemala on the death of Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno today.

Cardinal Quezada Toruno led Guatemala's National Reconciliation Commission from 1987 to 1993 and later negotiated the peace agreement signed in December 1996. That brought the end of Guatemala's 36-year civil war. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Guatemala on this very sad day.

Our government is actively engaged with our partners in the Americas to help ensure a prosperous, safer and more democratic hemisphere. Continuing in the cardinal's good work in Guatemala, we are proud to announce today that Canada and Guatemala are working together to strengthen security at the Guatemala-Belize border to help facilitate the peace process between these two countries and increase their capacity to stop the flow of organized crime.

We look forward to continuing this important work with Guatemala and throughout the Americas.

RugbyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday on Parliament Hill, I had the pleasure of participating in a demonstration of the best sport in the world: rugby. Of course, you know because you were there too.

The match was staged to promote the sport and enabled many Canadians to discover the beauty of a game that unites agility and physical contact. This marvellous sport is not well known in Canada but deserves to be.

Yesterday's game showcased what, in essence, makes rugby so great. Media personalities, politicians and players from the Canadian rugby squad were all out for a good time. People tall, short, young and old all donning a jersey.

As with all events, there is always one mishap. Yours truly was given a jersey that seems to have been shrunk even though the sizing label was correct. Two of Canada's greatest rugby players were also on hand and both were given the task of having to do what they were not trained to do. My buddy, Al Charron, was given a task to coach yours truly and my friend, Gareth Rees, was given the task of refereeing. Everyone was a winner.

Our thanks go out to the organizers and sponsors of the event, the CRU. I wish all members of the Seniors Men's Canadian Rugby Team good luck in the three important games they will play in the next few weeks.

The BudgetStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, our government has a proven track record of creating jobs and economic growth across the country.

Since July 2009, Canada's economy has created over 750,000 net new jobs, 90% of those being full-time. Our government's economic policies have made Canada an island of stability in a troubled global economy. As the global economy remains fragile, especially in Europe, Canadians want their government to focus on what matters. That is exactly what we would do in implementing economic action plan 2012.

Unfortunately, the NDP members continue to play partisan procedural games to obstruct our job creating budget bill. The NDP members are proposing dangerous economic experiments, job killing taxes and reckless spending we simply cannot afford. They continue to put narrow special interests and activists ahead of ordinary Canadians.

When will the NDP members stop the political games and support our plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity?

Canadian ForcesStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will celebrate the 68th anniversary of one of the greatest acts of bravery in the history of the Canadian Forces: the Normandy landings. It will be the occasion to honour thousands of men and women who fought courageously.

I had the great pleasure of participating in such a commemoration in Etobicoke last Sunday. Unfortunately, none of my colleagues from the other parties were present to thank these veterans for their tremendous sacrifices. Instead, they were slinging mud at one another, even phone canvassing.

Celebrations like the one in Etobicoke should put all politics aside. Thousands of Canadians fought hard to preserve our ideals. They deserve that we take the time to stand above partisanship to thank them.

I hope that the next time we celebrate the incredible efforts of the veterans of Etobicoke, my colleagues from the other parties will be standing beside me, thankful for everything that the men and women of the Canadian Forces did 68 years ago to ensure that we can still stand here in this House in a free and democratic country.

Natural ResourcesStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that our country has been blessed with a wealth of natural resources. It is upon these gifts that millions of Canadians have built their careers and homes in support of their families, all the while creating economic growth for our country.

A recent study from the Conference Board of Canada shows that Canada's resource sectors are creating jobs and growth across the country in many different industries, including the manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, the NDP leader attacked Canada's resource sectors by calling them a “disease”. In an attempt to divide Canadians, he is attacking key economic drivers in Canada.

For the Leader of the Opposition, the resource industries, such as forestry, minerals and mining, conventional oil, natural gas, coal and oil sands in my province and in my riding are not a disease.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised ships, planes and vehicles for the Canadian armed forces. They promised to repair search and rescue craft in British Columbia. The Conservatives knew full well that they could not keep those promises. They did not have the money to keep them. National Defence officials had made that clear to them.

Why did the Conservatives not tell the truth about their military procurement strategy? Why did they fail to respect taxpayers?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, we told the truth and we took action to rebuild our armed forces. While we were doing that, the NDP and the Liberal Party opposed our efforts to get the equipment that our men and women in uniform need to do their jobs to defend Canada.

Our government has made historic investments, unprecedented in modern Canadian history, to give Canada's men and women in uniform the equipment and resources they need.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, from the helicopters to the F-35 fiasco, Canadians are well aware of the Conservative' litany of failures and half truths on military procurement. On the F-35, costs were lowballed. The process was rigged from the start. Now the government is doing damage control because of a scathing Auditor General's report.

Now we learn that the entire Conservative defence plan has been mismanaged and is over budget. The minister was told last year by his own department that his plan was “unaffordable”. Why did the Conservatives hide the fact that their defence plan was unaffordable from the public?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that no government in the modern history of Canada has done more to invest in giving the equipment necessary to our men and women in uniform. For example, we delivered four C-17 Globemasters and seventeen C-130J Hercules. We have delivered unmanned aerial vehicles to support our soldiers in Afghanistan, over 1,000 new medium support vehicles and Leopard 2 tanks.

The government has consistently reacted to support our men and women in uniform, giving them the modern equipment they need. At every step of the way, the NDP and Liberals have opposed our efforts to invest in our military.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer again misses the point. The Conservatives were told by officials a year ago that their entire military plan was “unaffordable”. One of the main reasons is the mismanagement of the F-35 and the Chinook purchase.

The minister himself was more interested in photo ops than running his department. The Conservatives' F-35 photo op cost taxpayers $50,000 and the fake plane had to be trucked in all the way from Texas.

How far back will ship, vehicle and aircraft purchases now be delayed as a result of the government's mismanagement?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the announcement to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fleet was considered significant and necessary to ensure public media and industry awareness. The cost of this announcement had been reported in many ways, including previous responses to written questions.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, we have billions in procurement mismanagement, tens of thousands squandered on a photo op and the whole defence plan now back to the drawing board. What incompetence. When the defence minister was caught red-handed using a search and rescue helicopter to fly out on a vacation, he expected military staff to cover up for him. Today we learned the minister's office even had the gall to chastise the military for not defending his reputation properly.

My question is simple. What exactly was so lacklustre about the military's response to the minister's questionable activities?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, these questions have been answered over and over again. The reality still remains that if it were up to the NDP, our military men and women would have no assets whatsoever.

The issue here is that we are doing the best we can under the circumstances to provide our men and women the tools they need to do their job. Issues of use of military assets is up to the men and women of the military.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, spending $47,000 on a photo op is not responsible management.

However, that is not the worst of it: not only did the Minister of National Defence have a military helicopter fly him back from a fishing camp, but his employees criticized the Canadian Forces for not properly defending the minister.

I served in the armed forces. I was responsible for defending my country, not the minister's reputation.

Why does the minister believe that the military should clean up his mess?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, nobody is denying the contribution made by the hon. member opposite to the Canadian Forces. However, there is a strong professional relationship between the Canadian Forces and the minister's office. The Canadian Forces are responsible for human resources within their organization.

With respect to the trip in question, it has been answered many times before.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question on the economy that I would like to ask the Minister of Finance. He will know perfectly well that one of the things that happens when there are significant layoffs in the manufacturing sector is that those layoffs often affect apprentices more than they affect anyone else. He will also know the very significant problem we have with respect to skill shortages right across the country.

Could the Minister of Finance tell us this. When it comes to the youth unemployment question and the youth employment question, here is a very practical issue. What will the government do to protect the number of apprentices who are now at work in the economy in Canada?

EmploymentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of the investments we are making in helping young Canadians get the skills they need to do the jobs of today and the future. That is why we introduced the apprenticeship incentive grant, the completion grant for apprentices, and also incentives for employers to hire and keep them.

We also expanded the Canada summer jobs program so young people could get the experience for the jobs they needed. As well, in the budget, which the House is debating right now, there are an additional $50 million to help youth get the experience they need for the jobs that are in high demand.

We hope the opposition and the Liberals support that effort to help our young people.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that has nothing to do with the main issue: layoffs that are primarily affecting young people and apprentices. That is the real problem we now have in Canada's manufacturing sector as a result of such layoffs. It also brings to mind the inequality crisis and the equality crisis in the real economy.

Where is the government's plan to ensure that there will still be well-paying jobs instead of the layoffs we have been seeing for some time?

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, a growing economy will create equal opportunities for all Canadians, including young Canadians. Under this government, 750,000 new jobs have been created in Canada over the past two years. That is the best job creation record in the developed world. The Conservatives will continue to focus on economic growth and job creation for all Canadians of all ages.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one can always throw the numbers around, but the key question around it has to do with the manufacturing strategy, the manufacturing unemployment that is facing the country.

The fact is that our main trading partner and our main economic partner, the United States, is putting tens of billions of dollars into a manufacturing strategy and tens of billions of dollars into creating new green jobs. It is putting tens of billions of dollars into ensuring that mandates stay in the United States.

Where is the manufacturing strategy for Canada to ensure that—

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, now we know the Liberal economic plan is to spend tens of billions of dollars on everything.

The country to which he refers is running a deficit of over a trillion dollars, while this country is on track to balance the budget within two years. We have the lowest deficit and lowest debt in the developed world. We have the lowest federal tax burden as a share of the economy since 1964. We have seen the creation of over 750,000 net new jobs with the best job creation record in the developed world thanks to having the world's best Minister of Finance.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for days silence has reigned among the Conservative ranks on the changes to the Minister of International Cooperation's travel expense claims for her trips to Korea, Haiti and Africa. I am not talking about the expense claim from her trip to London. I am talking about new expense claims.

The Conservatives should re-record their message to make it at least appear as though they are answering the questions about these changes. Taxpayers have the right to know what the Conservatives are trying to hide from them.

Why these changes? When will they provide answers?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have answered that question many times. The answer remains the same: only appropriate expenses were paid for by the government.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons insists on repeating that only appropriate expenses were reimbursed, let us talk about his expenses.

In January 2011, he went parading around Davos, you know, where cuts to old age security were announced. He was accompanied by the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance. In just a few days, the three musketeers of wasteful spending racked up $20,000 in limousine costs. For that price, they could buy a car and carpool.

Is that what the government House leader means by appropriate expenses?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Finance, the President of the Treasury Board and the Prime Minister go to represent us on the world stage, we are very proud because they are telling the story of Canada's economic success.

It is a success that is second to none among the major developed economies. It is the reason we are leading, with the lowest debt of any of those major economies and the strongest economic growth of any of those major economies. It is why the kind of people who go to Davos are bringing investments into Canada to create jobs here in Canada for Canadians.

That is our priority, job creation for Canadians.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, now we know why the House leader is so bullish on defending the minister of luxurious living: it is because he shares her same sense of entitlement.

We learned that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Minister of Finance and the President of the Treasury Board racked up $23,000 for two days of joyriding in Davos. This sense of privilege is unconscionable when they have the nerve to tell Canadians that the cupboard is bare.

Enough of treating taxpayers like chumps. Will the minister pay the money back?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the opportunity in Davos to present Canada's economic success story is a critically important one for Canada.

I know that if the NDP were in government, it would not have to worry about it, because Canada would not be there with an economic success story to deliver. However, we make no apologies for being there to make sure that those who want to invest, those who want to see economic growth, those who are looking for the best place in the world to invest are following the lead of people like those in the Economist Intelligence Unit, who have said that Canada is exactly that.

They are coming to hear the story delivered by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and others about why Canada is the best place to create jobs.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not expect an apology, because the ministers seem to think that should be entitled to act like the Habsburg dynasty as soon as they leave Canada.

This is the latest issue of lack of accountability. When we have the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who have—

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has the floor.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, obviously we have touched a nerve here, because the Minister of Finance, the Muskoka minister, and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the three musketeers, have the nerve to preach austerity while whooping it up like royalty off the taxpayers.

Will one of those men do the right thing? Will this member do the right thing? Will they stand up and pay the money back?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, Davos is an opportunity where those who are looking to invest, those who are looking to create jobs around the world, have an opportunity to meet.

In the case of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of International Trade, there are opportunities for literally dozens of bilateral meetings with not just other counterparts in terms of trade and the economy around the world but also with investors.

That is why they are going there. They go to hear about Canada's economic success story and to make decisions about where they are going to invest and where they are going to create their jobs. They can do that anywhere in the world.

We are there to make sure that when they make those choices, they choose to come to Canada to create jobs.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

My goodness, Mr. Speaker. It is clear that those ministers have been spending too much time in their ivory gazebos.

We just learned that they wasted $20,000 on transportation for a few days in Davos. At the same time, they are cutting parking for federal public servants. They do not even know what parking is because they have drivers on standby 24 hours a day.

Can the minister explain why it is more appropriate to spend tens of thousands of dollars on limousines than it is to provide parking to federal employees?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the vehicles that were utilized in Davos, it should be underscored that the cars were utilized to transport not just ministers but also staff and departmental officials. Those vehicles were booked by the department, not by the ministers' offices, and they were booked following a competition. Davos has limitations. It requires that when attending the conference, all vehicles must fit a certain profile. They have to be green vehicles.

The question that the NDP is putting forward is one suggesting that Canada should not be there. We believe that Canada should be there, representing our place on the world stage as economic leaders.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, only the Conservatives would consider parking spaces a luxury when they have drivers on standby 360 days a year. Only the Conservatives consider EI and OAS as non-essential when they spend their time in luxury junkets on the taxpayer's dime. The President of the Treasury Board is asking Canadians to do without essential services, but then he turns around and spends $20,000 to be driven around Switzerland. That is totally unacceptable.

Will he back down on his reckless cuts and cut his own entitlements instead?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is revealing its plan here. Its plan is that Canada should not be there attracting investment on the world—

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The government House leader has the floor.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP plan is that Canada should not be there on the world stage, that we should not be meeting with potential investors, that we should not be telling Canada's economic success story.

The fact is that our number one priority is jobs and the economy. That is why we will continue to promote Canada's success on the world stage and that is why we will ensure that those who are looking to invest and create jobs know that Canada is the best place in the world to do that.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, a couple of months ago, the citizenship and immigration minister stood in the House and blamed civil servants for a botched citizenship ceremony staged for TV. Now we discover the truth: that the network and the minister's department knew that the “oath fakers” were actually government employees. The minister blamed officials while in fact his office knew the truth.

Will the minister now admit the truth and apologize to the citizenship employees he blamed for his scheme?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, every year we have dozens of special ceremonies, including many that are televised, including on the CBC, for example. At every one of those ceremonies, Canadian citizens, including public servants, reaffirm their loyalty to Canada through the oath.

In this particular instance, the documents that have come to light today reconfirm that in fact I and my office were not aware of the fact that there were only a few new citizens sworn in at that ceremony. In fact, this reconfirms what we have said.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, citizenship ceremonies are solemn and significant, as is ministerial accountability, but the minister has made a mockery of them both. After pressuring his department to rush a ceremony, the minister then insisted he was duped by civil servants. We now know the minister and his political staff knew the truth.

Why did the minister mislead Canadians, and will he apologize for his involvement in this embarrassing fiasco?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

I did no such thing, Mr. Speaker. The member should apologize for the tone of that outrageous question. The reality is that every year we have dozens of special ceremonies, some of which are televised. In this instance, officials reaffirmed their citizenship, which, by the way, they do all the time at ceremonies. The fact of the matter is that the documents that have been released today demonstrate that neither I nor my office were aware of the fact that most of the people participating in that particular ceremony were officials.

In any event, we are strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship and we are proud of our record in that respect.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, citizenship ceremonies are a key part of the process to become a new Canadian citizen. They should not be a partisan tool. Yet the minister did not hesitate to use them as a vulgar backdrop for political purposes.

Together with a television network, the minister's communications team organized the broadcast of a ceremony featuring departmental employees. Then they tried to bury the story.

When will the minister formally apologize for his role in this matter?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, clearly the NDP does not understand that citizenship reaffirmation ceremonies take place every year and that some of them are televised. In fact, many of these special ceremonies have been broadcast by CBC. It is completely normal for Canadians, including government officials, to reaffirm their loyalty to Canada during such ceremonies.

As to whether it is difficult for new citizens to attend these ceremonies, I was not aware of that, and neither were the people in my office.

International TradeOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government's refusal to implement mandatory drug shortage reporting puts the health and safety of Canadians at risk.

Now it is failing to protect our interests in trade talks with Europe. Provinces fear that the increase in cost will be $3 billion if the Conservatives cave to demands to increase patent protection for brand name pharmaceuticals.

Why are the Conservatives so incompetent on these files? Why are they negotiating a deal that could drive up medical bills for provinces, employers and individual Canadians?

International TradeOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's question and I listened to other questions from members of his party. They continue to try to mislead the public on what is really happening with the negotiations with the European Union.

The reality is that the negotiations will exclude public services such as public health, public education and social services. It will not drive up the cost of health care. It is just sheer nonsense.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, politicizing bureaucrats is bad enough, but now we learn the government was deceiving Canadians about the fake citizenship ceremony. The whole mess began when the minister ordered bureaucrats to stage the event, ignoring their advice to simply film an existing ceremony.

It now turns out that the minister's line that bureaucrats deceived the network was not true, and they knew all along these were not real new citizens.

Why did the minister deceive Canadians and try to make public servants take the blame for this fiasco?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I did no such thing. The reality is that every year there are dozens of special citizenship ceremonies, many of them produced specifically—

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The minister has the floor. We will have order.

The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, many of them are produced specifically for broadcast on television networks, as was the case in this instance.

Many of the special ceremonies are in fact reaffirmation ceremonies. At every citizenship ceremony, Canadians are invited to reaffirm citizenship, including public servants. In this case, public servants could not get enough new Canadians to fill the studio, so some of them reaffirmed their citizenship, which is perfectly normal and legitimate—

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order.

The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, apparently the Minister of National Defence was mightily upset with the lacklustre defence offered by the Chief of the Defence Staff concerning his inappropriate use of a search and rescue helicopter. On the other hand, when the CDS was questioned about his use of military aircraft, his support from the minister was tepid indeed.

However, unlike the minister, the CDS manned up and answered each and every question patiently and thoroughly, a model that should commend itself to the minister.

When will the minister man up and answer the public's questions about his inappropriate use of a search and rescue helicopter?

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there is a strong professional relationship between the Canadian Forces and the minister's office, as I stated earlier.

The Canadian Forces are responsible for human resources within that organization. With respect to the trip in question, that question has been answered many times before.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians of all political stripes are now condemning the Conservatives' tactics.

At the convention last weekend in Saskatoon, the FCM passed a motion critical of the Conservative Trojan Horse budget bill. Mayors from coast to coast to coast are voicing their concerns about the gutting of environmental protections, because they know that when something goes wrong, they will be the ones to pay the price.

When will Conservatives start listening to cities and communities and finally agree to split the budget bill?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I was at the convention of FCM last weekend in Saskatoon.

What I heard is that they are so proud of what we have done together. They have supported what we delivered about infrastructure. We are the government that invested the most in Canadian history to help them to replace infrastructure and support them. That is what I heard.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, a lot can happen in a week. While hundreds of organizations oppose Bill C-38 because of its despicable content, now mayors from across Canada also oppose it, because the government likes to cut corners when the time comes to consult Canadians. Among other things, the mayors want all changes to legislation on the environment and on fisheries to be properly examined in committee, so that Canadians' voices can be heard.

Will the government stop going it alone and start listening to the municipalities?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, of course we are always happy to listen to the municipalities. I had the pleasure of meeting with the board of directors last week and giving a speech to the 1,600 representatives. A number of mayors came to see me afterwards to tell me how much they appreciate the support our government has provided in the past to the municipalities in replacing aging infrastructure.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The BudgetOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

It is interesting to hear laughter from the people whose party voted against that.

Our government has done more for the municipalities than any other government in Canadian history. And we have good news: we will continue to do the same, since we are building a new infrastructure plan.

PensionsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that they are making cities pay the price for Conservative mismanagement. Shame on that minister.

My question is about the Conservative mismanagement of retirement security. Last month, private Canadian pension plans experienced one of the biggest slides on record. The funds lost all of the gains of the past year. This volatility is yet another example of why the Conservatives' reckless pooled registered pension plan scheme will not provide Canadians with retirement security.

When will they stop playing with the retirement security of Canadians? When will they stop playing retirement roulette?

PensionsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, opposition members would actually have the opportunity to answer their own question pretty soon, because we actually have a piece of legislation that is willing and able to help 60% of the people in the workforce who do not now have a pension plan. That is an incredible number of people.

NDP members have chosen to ignore the 60% of people in the workforce who do not have a pension. They complain about not helping those people who are looking towards retirement. That is what they are doing, voting against seniors, voting against people who want to build a retirement package.

PensionsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

That is not true, Mr. Speaker. The fact is that the Conservative plan is leaving Canadian seniors vulnerable. It is a disgrace.

Private Canadian pension plans have as little as 70¢ available for every dollar owed to retirees. This instability threatens Canadian retirement security. It is long past time to invest more in the stable, secure and predictable Canada pension plan.

When will the Conservatives expand the CPP and give Canadians a truly secure retirement savings option?

PensionsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Once again, Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the NDP has not done its homework. Its members do not understand the jurisdictional differences.

We do not have the jurisdiction to change the Canada pension plan whatsoever without the support of the provinces. We have actually consulted with the provinces and they have said that they support the pooled registered pension plan framework that we are putting forward. They do not all support increasing taxes on businesses and on employers, and that would be by increasing CPP at this time.

It is very important. Canadians are supporting this and most of the provinces are supporting it. It is too bad the NDP does not.

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are increasingly concerned about elicit drugs being imported into Canada. In particular, there is a series of dangerous amphetamines with the street name “bath salts”. Unlike legitimate bath salts, these drugs have been known to cause serious psychotic episodes and extremely dangerous behaviour in those who use them.

The Safe Streets and Communities Act toughened penalties for the importation and exportation of dangerous drugs. Can the Minister of Justice please inform this House about the government's latest action to keep our streets and communities safe?

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct in that the recently passed Safe Streets and Communities Act will crack down on those who would import these dangerous drugs into Canada. This legislation ensured that 21 different amphetamines, including two of the substances with the name of bath salts, will be moved into schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This means tougher sentences for those who import and traffic these dangerous drugs.

I would like to thank the Minister of Health for moving quickly to ensure that the drug MDPV is also listed in schedule I, thus giving more tools to law enforcement agencies.

Unfortunately the NDP and the Liberals voted against all our efforts to crack down on these dangerous drugs. Shame on them.

National Film BoardOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the arts community is currently crying for help to save the NFB's CineRobotheque. Indeed, the complex will have to close its doors because of the Conservatives' cuts. But it is central to the cultural life of Montreal, Quebec and Canada and has been for some 20-odd years. The CineRobotheque is well used by members of the public and artists alike. No fewer than 30,000 people visited it last year.

Philippe Falardeau, an Oscar nominee who has been praised many times by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, is a good example of the NFB's relevance: he got his start there.

Once again, the minister needs to think about the consequences. If the centre closes, we will be left with nothing, but we will see.

I invite him to reconsider his decision in order to keep this cultural centre open.

National Film BoardOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I have told the House a number of times already that this government understands the importance of arts and culture in Canada, which is why this government has invested heavily in that sector.

Unfortunately, the NDP and the Liberals voted against all those investments. I hope that, in the future, the NDP will vote for our bills in order to support our artists.

We will always support our artists. We will always support communities across this country that want to join with us in investing in arts and culture because we understand how important it is to the Canadian economy.

We will continue to do that because we are going to focus like a laser on jobs and the economy. We hope the opposition will join us in doing that.

National Film BoardOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government had a funny way of showing its support for artists in Canada when it cut both the NFB and Telefilm in the budget, including Mediatheque cinema in Toronto, which has had more than half a million visitors viewing more than 10,000 Canadian-made films, important films, films that tell the stories at the heart of who we are.

People make these films to share with Canadians and then the Conservatives close the cinemas that show the films. What kind of cultural policy is this?

Will the government reverse these absolutely senseless cuts?

National Film BoardOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has a problem here. Every single time we have moved forward with our economic action plan to invest in arts and culture, those members vote against it. When we support cutting taxes for families, they vote against it. When we support our scientists, our communities, they vote against it. Whether it is on resources, arts and culture or tax cuts for families, they vote against it. Anything that will create wealth in this economy, they vote against it.

We are very proud of the investments we have made in arts and culture, some of the highest levels of funding in Canadian history. The only thing we know for sure is that, no matter what we do, the NDP will vote against it.

VeteransOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, cutting culture and spying on veterans. The Conservatives have a fine record, to be sure.

In terms of violations of veterans' privacy, we thought we had seen it all. But here we have a Department of Veterans Affairs' inquiry into privacy violations that is now under investigation itself for privacy violations.

The allegation has led to an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner.

Can the minister tell us why he is incapable of putting a stop to the continued violations of veterans' privacy?

VeteransOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. Our government believes that any breach of confidentiality is totally unacceptable. That is why we do not agree with the Jolicoeur report. We do agree with the Privacy Commissioner's report and that is why I have asked the staff in my department to co-operate fully with the commissioner during her investigation.

VeteransOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, not only privacy issues are at stake at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Surprisingly, Sarah Atwood, a 90-year-old World War II veteran was denied access to Camp Hill. Ted Shiner, a 91-year-old veteran in Bedford, Nova Scotia, was denied VIP services just like 87-year-old Harry Gulkin of Outremont and Art Humphreys, who unfortunately passed away before he was able to get a lift to help him go up and down his stairs.

All these World War II veterans were denied benefits, but surprisingly the government found $700,000 to give to well-paid executive managers at DVA.

How can the minister possibly justify $700,000 to well-paid public servants and deny World War II heroes—

VeteransOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs.

VeteransOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have invested billions of dollars so that our veterans have access to all the services and benefits to which they are entitled.

Of course, veterans must meet the criteria to become eligible for those programs. That is what our officials do. They are dedicated people. Thousands of public servants are working every day to assess each veteran's specific needs. I can tell you that they do a remarkable job. We can be proud of the public servants in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their job is to look after a national treasure, our veterans themselves.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government says it will privatize the Experimental Lakes Area program, if it does not eliminate it altogether. However, the program does large ecosystems-scale research whose findings inform federal public policy. Because of the program, we have an acid rain treaty with the United States and we have taken phosphate out of detergents.

Canada's ecosystems belong to Canadians. Only the Conservatives would think that privatizing research fundamental to the health of our aquatic ecosystems is a good thing.

Why is the government not treating Canada's water as a public trust?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, let me assure my colleague that it is.

He is indeed correct. The Experimental Lakes Area program, over the decades, has greatly informed both treaty-making as well as public consumer goods; it played a big part in the acid rain treaty.

At the same time, we want to put the research where the challenges are. Environment Canada is moving its scientists farther west, to examine the acidification of lakes in western Canada.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is throwing out tools that would allow it to develop and implement a national water strategy.

It is sabotaging the Fisheries Act; it is abandoning the Experimental Lakes Area; it is cutting the Institut Maurice-Lamontagne—the only francophone research centre at Fisheries and Oceans Canada; it is eliminating the water resources strategy group at Environment Canada; and it is ending groundwater modelling. The list goes on.

Will the government ever stop pretending that it wants to adopt a national water strategy?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, clean and cleaner water is a priority of our government, certainly for Environment Canada. We have invested significantly in our Great Lakes, in Lake Simcoe, in Lake Winnipeg. We continue to maintain the highest standards of water quality monitoring across the country, leaving to the provinces and municipalities water quantity because they are the ones that regulate both metering and pricing.

This government does not pay lip service to the environment, as the previous Liberal government did. We are getting things done.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the agriculture committee, Canada's honey and honeybee producers testified first-hand their gut-wrenching accounts about devastating losses to their industry. Some witnesses reported up to 85% of colony losses. This could lead to a crisis in agriculture production in areas of this country. They also highlighted the lack of support programs for this disaster.

What support is the government providing to these producers to ensure that they will make it through this crisis, and will it take action immediately?

AgricultureOral Questions

June 5th, 2012 / 2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we take these types of allegations very seriously. Of course, we rely on sound science to prove these types of situations.

There are reports from the United States and other areas that this type of action has happened. There are studies that are ongoing. Certainly, we will look at those. We will begin our own studies and get to the bottom of this as quickly as we can.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, the witnesses we heard at committee believe that the death of their healthy bees this spring is directly linked to corn planting in neighbouring fields. Corn seeds are coated with neonicotinoid insecticide. Recent research shows that seed planter exhaust containing this dangerous chemical is likely responsible. A number of countries have banned the use of neonicotinoid insecticides. Canadian voices calling for a moratorium are growing.

What urgent action is the minister taking now to ensure these chemicals are not destroying a vital and irreplaceable part of the food chain?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as the government, we understand the importance of bees in pollinating our crops and moving forward on that front. We have spent some $3 million on research and development projects to make our bee industry healthier here in Canada.

These are new allegations that have just come to light yesterday.

We are a good government. We react as quickly as possible. However, we do not do things overnight, just like that. We rely on sound science to make sure we are moving in the right direction. We spend our money appropriately, with taxpayers' funding. We can never ever count on the NDP to backstop any of that spending.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite the budget bill having the longest amount of debate in the House and the longest amount of committee stage consideration of any budget bill in over two decades, the NDP and its partners want to delay it and the implementation of the economic action plan 2012.

At a time when the global recovery remains fragile, especially in Europe, Canadians want the government to focus on promoting jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.

Could the Minister of Finance explain why the implementation of Canada's economic action plan is so important to ensure that Canada's economy remains strong?

The EconomyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is the best question of the day so far. It is about the economy and it is about jobs. The economic recovery, particularly in Europe as I know from my discussions today, is fragile. We must protect our own country.

The economic action plan is vitally important for our country. It has been working. We have created over 750,000 net new jobs in Canada. We have the bill before Parliament now to continue with Canada's economic action plan. It is important that we get this bill passed to protect Canada and protect—

The EconomyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for St. Paul's.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of the Environment effectively shut the door on including aboriginal groups in the new advisory panel on hunting and angling. That is the same minister who has refused to apologize for listing first nations as “adversaries”.

How can the Conservative government exclude the only Canadians with constitutionally protected hunting and fishing rights from this important consultation?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I reject the entire content of that question. The hunting and fishing advisory panel was created to deepen the dialogue with a group which had not been previously broadly consulted, and that is fishermen and hunters.

As my colleague has rightfully said, first nations have a constitutional right to hunt and fish and they are regularly, if not constantly, consulted with regard to wildlife and conservation issues. They also, in many cases, are members of the panel committee.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Experimental Lakes Area of the Freshwater Institute is a vital program for keeping our ecosystems healthy. It has helped us make outstanding discoveries, especially in terms of the effects of acid rain and pollutants—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are still too many conversations in the House. The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry has the floor and all hon. members should give her their attention.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this program has helped us make outstanding discoveries, especially in terms of the effects of acid rain and pollutants on freshwater ecosystems.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives have decided to end the funding for the program. Its elimination will have major consequences that will jeopardize the health of Canadians, our water and our environment.

Why are they putting Canadians' health at risk?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my previous answer, the experimental lakes program has proved invaluable over the decades. It did inform the writing of the acid rain treaty. However, our knowledge of the impact of acid rain from the American industrial region is very broad and deep. We are now moving our science father west where there are acid-sensitive lakes and where research is required.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader has shamefully attacked Canadians who work in Canada's resource sectors by calling the industries that provide their communities with jobs a “disease” to Canada. This irresponsible position is offensive to Canadians everywhere.

Could the Minister of Natural Resources please update the House on the government's position regarding resource industry jobs?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Conservative

Joe Oliver ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, a new study from the Conference Board of Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada has found that, contrary to the ideological views of the NDP leader, massive investment in the oil and gas and mining sectors is fueling growth in industries ranging from manufacturing to engineering.

Pierre Cléroux of the BDC said:

It is interesting to note that the economic boom linked to oil and gas and mining activities is benefiting many industries--not only in Western Canada, but throughout the country.

The NDP's divisive view that Canada's resource industries are a disease is irresponsible—

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

Neuville AirportOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us see what excuse the Minister of Transport will use today to wash his hands of the Neuville airport.

Last week, I was in Saskatoon at the FCM conference, where 1,600 mayors unanimously asked the federal government to consult them before building private airports in their municipalities. At the same conference, the minister stated that he was very willing to work with the municipalities. That is a clear commitment.

Will the minister keep his promise and work with the municipality of Neuville on the airport file?

Neuville AirportOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, that is unbelievable.

The town met with the developers seven times. The developer received a plan with seven possible sites from the town. It was the town that provided the plan. The town signed a memorandum of understanding with the developers. If that is not being consulted, I wonder what is. There were seven meetings and the developer decided to use a parcel of land proposed by the town. That is no longer consultation, that is an agreement. Just because the mayor wants to rip up a memorandum of understanding, that does not mean that it is not valid.

We will continue to do what must be done. In future, we will analyze the scenario and all possible options, but this matter is closed.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. memer for Trinity—Spadina already raised today in question period the decisive vote of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities urging the government to remove non-budgetary environmental items from Bill C-38.

My question is for the Minister of Fisheries, since he has repeatedly referenced FCM as a supporter of the bill and in fact said, “countless other municipal leaders have been calling for these types of reforms for many years”. Now that we can count them on the fingers of one hand, will the government admit it made a mistake in going after and gutting the Fisheries Act in Bill C-38?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I have said many times that we are focusing our fish and fish habitat protection on Canada's fisheries. In fact, it is true that municipalities across the country have indicated to me on many ocassions that the red tape they have to go through for work in and around minor waterways is excessive.

I have a quote from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that says, “By reducing the time municipal employees are forced to spend filling out forms...the changes will make it faster and less expensive for local governments to perform routine public services”.

Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and EthicsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, my point of order arises out of an event that occurred today at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

During the meeting, while witnesses were providing testimony in response to one of the members of the committee, a member of the media, Kady O'Malley with CBC, approached the member for Avalon at the committee table and requested to see an in camera report, and it was provided by the member for Avalon. I recognize that the breach by the member is an issue to be dealt with by the committee itself, but the conduct of the member of the media, in my view, very clearly breaches the procedures of the committee.

Could you please review that, Mr. Speaker, and report back to the House on the proper etiquette by members of the media and their conduct at committee?

Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and EthicsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I appreciate the point raised by the hon. parliamentary secretary. When events transpire at committee, it is up to the committee to deal with anything that may have breached protocol or the rules at the committee. I appreciate him raising it in the House and if there is a report presented to the House, it will be something that the Speaker can then weigh in on.

Access to InformationPrivilegeOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. I want to bring to your attention a situation which I believe may be a breach of my privilege in that it is hindering me in my capacity to do my work as a member of Parliament.

About a month ago, I called the office of a president of a crown corporation to obtain some information. I had dealt with that office in previous years and had obtained information. This time, I was told that I had to put the request through to the office of the minister responsible for that corporation.

A couple of days later, I asked that minister in the House for a briefing. I was told that the minister would see to it and that I would hear later. This was before the May constituency week. After the May constituency week, I had not heard, so I asked the minister again in the House. I still have not heard and I need this information to do my work. I had hoped to have it by the weekend, because I am attending a convention for which the information is required.

I am asking not for privileged information, secret information, cabinet documents or anything like that. Nor am I asking for government strategy. I am asking for facts and an ability to meet with officials to ask them questions about these facts.

I am advised that another member of the House had asked and was offered such a briefing. That member happens to be on the government side, and I wonder if the fact that I am on the opposition side has anything to do with it.

I am aware that if a briefing were to be offered to me, my question of privilege would be moot. However, it has not been and I have not heard. Therefore, I am bringing this to your attention, Mr. Speaker. You will notice I have not mentioned specifics because my intent is not to aggravate, antagonize, attack or criticize. It is strictly to obtain information to allow me to do my work as the Liberal advocate for co-operatives.

If you would like to look at this, Mr. Speaker, I would gladly provide you with more detailed information in order to assist you in your determination. Should you determine that there is, indeed, a breach of parliamentary privilege or a prima facie breach of parliamentary privilege, I would be happy to move the appropriate motion.

Access to InformationPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I appreciate the hon. member raising this. I will ask him for a little more information and then come back to the House in due course.

SyriaOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion on Syria. I move, seconded by the Minister of International Cooperation and the member for Mount Royal:

That the House continue to support measures which

(a) condemn the brutal massacre of Syrian civilians by government forces in clear violation of earlier commitments;

(b) call for an immediate end to the violence, especially the attacks on civilians;

(c) support the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and Arab League efforts to establish a ceasefire and implement the six-point peace plan;

(d) call for unrestricted access to the country for the international media;

(e) support the government's decision to expel Syrian diplomats in protest to the latest atrocities in Syria;

(f) call on the international community to speak with one voice clearly and categorically condemning the violence and working to bring about a complete cessation of hostilities;

(g) urge the leadership of China and Russia to play an active and decisive role in achieving an effective ceasefire that saves the lives of innocent civilians as well as negotiating a road map to reforms that respond to the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people;

(h) continue Canada's humanitarian aid to refugees and to internally displaced persons fleeing violence in Syria, as needed, and;

(i) stand in solidarity with those who aspire for peace, democratic governance and the protection of human rights.

SyriaOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

SyriaOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SyriaOral Questions

3:10 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?

SyriaOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SyriaOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I move the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the Member for Burnaby—Douglas, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 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?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise today in support of this motion, which focuses attention not only on the massive cuts to research, data and evidence that can be found in the budget bill currently before the House, but also to speak to the government's contempt for information, research and advocacy since the beginning of its mandate.

Research is a core driver of economic competitiveness, environmental protection, and health and safety. Objective, publicly funded research and statistical data is necessary for our public service to be able to serve all Canadians, especially since service provision is the majority of the work of the federal government. The government has made it its mandate to obscure objective facts in favour of controlling and privatizing information to create narratives that suit its priorities.

It is crucial that research be credible. In order for it to maintain this integrity we must be sure that private funding of our research respects the autonomy and independence of our researchers in their objectives and in their methodologies. Yet this last budget has proposed refocusing the National Research Council to be “business-led”, and is increasingly concentrating on targeting post-secondary research to meet “business needs”. I know that research often relies on private funding, as much as private interests rely on the research provided to them.

I know that much innovation comes from these partnerships, but this is not what the government is proposing. What it has done is increase the control that it and private interest have on what research is being done and how it is being done. That is a frightening move for the credibility of Canada's research.

By increasingly removing critical financial supports and increasingly correlating research to demand-driven funding models in order to service profit-driven demands, we are systematically inhibiting our research integrity and competitiveness.

We have seen many instances of the government obstructing research before. One of the first things the government did in 2006 was slash $5 million from the Status of Women agency and make a series of changes to its purpose. The independent research fund was abolished, and the mandate of the women's program was changed to explicitly exclude any project having to do with research and advocacy. While the funds themselves have since been recommitted to the agency, the independent research fund has not reappeared and the mandate of the agency continues to forbid research and advocacy. The purpose of this is clear. The government is ignoring the deeper, systemic injustices that women repeatedly encounter because the injustices do not fit the government's world view. Effective, long-term planning and investment in social programs, while proven to be in the best interests of women and the economy at large, are something the government fears.

As a member of the status of women committee, I hear every week from expert witnesses who are still suffering from the long-term effects of this strategic shift.

Carmela Hutchison is president of the DisAbled Women's Network Canada, which is the only organization that represents disabled women, the largest minority group in Canada. She wrote to me to say:

We could write volumes about the health and safety consequences to millions of women and girls with disabilities in Canada which are due to the lack of publicly funded research and statistical information already! How can this Government propose any further cuts to research and data collection when this information is essential to informing your honourable Members and all Canadians about the health, safety and the economic well being of millions of women with disabilities in this country, who continue to be the poorest citizens of this country!

When we look at Bill C-38 and its anti-information cuts, which are overwhelming in their scope, we see that what happened to women in Canada will happen in almost every community and sector, from first nations to academia. It is most acute in the field of environmental science. The fact of climate change is something that the government needs to suppress as quickly as possible in order to serve the corporate interests of its friends.

However, the ethically repugnant muzzling of scientists is certainly not all we are facing. The cuts to Library and Archives Canada, Statistics Canada, the National Council of Welfare, the First Nations Statistical Institute, and even the CBC are moves against the cultural identity of Canada.

Our heritage and history are deeply affected by these cuts. There is a relationship between dismantling Library and Archives Canada, discrediting Statistics Canada and disabling the CBC, which becomes clear when one considers that the government is aggressively pursuing a mandate to create a Canadian narrative that suits its interest rather than reality.

If it targets Library and Archives, we will have fewer resources available that describe what Canada once was. If it utterly destroys our ability to produce credible statistical data, we will not know who we are now. When it entirely abolishes the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute, it is preventing social scientists from understanding trends and finding solutions. Couple this with the witch hunt we are witnessing against the CBC and the subsequent slashes to its budget and we see a weakening of the only mainstream Canadian broadcaster that is mandated with communicating our diverse heritage and cultures.

I was alarmed when the Minister of State for Science and Technology announced this past March that he was planning on refocusing the National Research Council and in May announced that he was changing the direction of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in order to strengthen its ties with the private sector. SSHRC, like the NRC, is a public research-funding body that is mandated with funding innovative research that benefits all Canadians, not just the business sector. Yet, in his own words, the Minister of State for Science and Technology said that this is a great opportunity to focus the NRC more toward the business end to be “a one-stop, 1-800, 'I have a solution for your business problem'.”

Coming from an academic background, I know that privately commissioned research where the objectives are determined by private interests and not the researchers themselves is simply not credible. As an MP, I have witnessed the fact that our public service providers require our research councils to conduct research on behalf of all demographics and communities, not just businesses. As a citizen, I do not agree that my taxes be spent to subsidize the needs of businesses before the needs of families.

In conclusion, without credible research all Canadians will see a decline in the quality of their service provisions the way women have over the past eight years. Innovation will be stalled by the control of private interests over what it is we study.

I seriously urge this House to consider the long-term effects of these cuts and I urge us to ask ourselves this. Who does the suppression and rewriting of information benefit? When did the needs of big business supplant the needs of citizens? Where will Canada be in 5, 10, 20 years without credible statistical data upon which we can base future planning?

If there is one thing the now abolished National Council of Welfare has taught us through its research, it is that short-term investments in human capital and communities reap long-term economic gains. It is frivolous, short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible for the government to be dismantling these institutions.

I hope that this debate enlightens the members opposite as to the dangers they are precipitating in the budget bill. I hope that they will support the opposition motion.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on her very thoughtful and well considered speech.

During our budget consultations, I met with residents of Vancouver and spoke to them about the budget, this Trojan Horse, since the Conservatives do not want to consult Canadians. One scientist told me that he did not want to reveal his views on the environment for fear that this government would arrange for him to lose his job.

Could the hon. member respond to that comment? What does this tell us about the academic community in general when a scientist is so afraid of talking about his information and his research? What message is being sent to the scientific community?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville for this excellent question.

In fact, the government is sending a message to Canada's scientists that it does not want their research to be credible. It wants them to reflect what it wants to show and what it is doing. It wants to be able to say that it is investing a great deal of effort in the environment, even though that is not true.

In order to do so, the government consistently prevents scientists who are conducting innovative research from showing their results. It is trying to control the research being done, in all academic fields but especially the environment.

It is clear that the government is not concerned about the Canadian environment and it does not want to show that a problem currently exists.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, over the last while we have been raising the issues of scientists and scientific research to Statistics Canada. We think these issues are fundamental in terms of being able to make sound decisions. We need to have the background information necessary in order to make policy decisions.

Could my colleague tell the House how important it is for us to have statistical information that is well researched prior to making good policy decisions that will have an impact on things such as our environment and social programming? Without having the research necessary in order to provide evidence that certain things work and certain things do not, is the government putting itself into a bad position going forward in terms of public policy?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, if we do not have valid and specific data, we cannot make correlations with what is going on in society. We cannot correlate, for instance, a woman being in poverty and her experience of violence when we do not have that kind of data. The national household survey, which was implemented by the Conservatives, is not valid because does not give us valid information because we are not getting an adequate sample of what Canadians are experiencing and the situation of Canadians.

As a result, we do not know where we need to be targeting policies. We do not know the effect of certain policies. We do not know how to solve problems and move forward as a country.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again in the House to talk about some of the initiatives that our government is taking with respect to arts and culture and, more specifically, to Library and Archives Canada.

As I said in question period, our government understands the importance of arts and culture to the Canadian economy. That is why, as part of our economic action plan, we made a conscious effort and decided that, while other governments around the world were cutting funds to arts and culture, it was important to the Canadian economy that we continue to invest in arts and culture. We understand how many jobs that represents and how much economic activity it generates. It generates literally hundreds of thousands of jobs and some $80 billion worth of economic activity.

Our economic action plan not only increased the budget for arts and culture but we worked with our provincial and municipal partners across the country to make significant investments in the sector. In my own riding, I just had the good fortune on Saturday to work with my mayor, the town council of Stouffville and the provincial MPP to cut the ribbon on the expansion of the Stouffville Museum. It was a wonderful day. The entire community came out to celebrate the expansion. It followed on an earlier ribbon cutting of the expansion of the Markham Museum, another initiative that came through Canada's economic action plan.

We have announced investments in the Markham Theatre. Investments were made in the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. On every matter that counts, be it supporting artists or the Canada Council for Arts, we have continued to support that community because we have always understood how important it is to Canadians that their government support their artists and do everything in its power to preserve, protect and enhance its heritage. Our government will continue to do that into the future.

Library and Archives Canada has been mentioned in the motion. A lot is happening at Library and Archives Canada. It is moving forward with its modernization initiative that will improve and expand access to Canada's documentary and cultural heritage for all Canadians, regardless of their interests, profession or location. In fact, just last week, Library and Archives Canada announced the launch of its portrait portal, which showcases the largest collection of portraits in the country, including works acquired since the 1880s. This collection, made up of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, caricatures, medals and other works, represents historical figures who played an important role in Canada's development as a nation. This digitization initiative makes available to Canadians across the country many thousands of works by renown Canadian artists, ranging from portraits by Yousuf Karsh to those of William Topley. Hockey fans across Canada can even find rare hockey cards from around 1910.

The portrait portal gives Canadians the ability to access their national portrait collection at the time and place they want, wherever they are. For millions of people across the country, this will be an exciting first step in the discovery of the wealth and diversity of Canada's documentary heritage.

Library and Archives Canada is committed to posting over 2,000 digitized portraits every month for the coming years. This project illustrates its commitment to adapting to the new digital environment by making the national portrait collection more accessible to all Canadians from coast to coast. This is important because in communities across the country people want to have access to the collections, which we sometimes take for granted as members of Parliament, that we have right here at our doorstep.

It is not just Library and Archives Canada, of course. I know my community museums are doing a heck of a lot of work in order to digitize their own collections. We are very proud of that. Across the country, small and local museums have very impressive collections. We will continue to work with them to ensure those collections are preserved and protected.

Additionally, the government has sought to move forward with commemorations for the War of 1812. It is, of course, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which, as we have said, was an incredibly important war in what was the foundation and creation of Canada.

The War of 1812 helped preserve the French facr here, and it led to a unified Canada. We are very proud of Canada's participation in that with our allies, the British and our first nations people. I know that people in communities across Ontario to Quebec to New Brunswick will be celebrating their local contributions to the War of 1812. Library and Archives Canada is also doing a part. Members will be interested to know that it will provide access to over 73,000 new images of the War of 1812. That is an incredible opportunity for Canadians to learn more about the War of 1812, a war that was so fundamentally important to the foundation of this country.

Last year, Library and Archives Canada also launched the Canadian feature film index. This index was created in 1972 and is now available as an online database that provides information on over 4,300 Canadian feature films produced from 1913 to 2009. This database is an important resource for filmmakers, students and researchers, as well as those who are interested in Canada's cinematic history. It ensures that this key part of Canada's documentary and cultural heritage is accessible to everyone.

We can trace Library and Archives Canada's commitment for enhanced accessibility to 2010 when it decided to expand the Lest We Forget workshop program to include students from across Canada. Military service files were selected from the vaults where they were stored. They were digitized and made available online, along with a step-by-step teachers' guide to organizing a workshop.

In the first year of this online program, Library and Archives Canada began with 200 military service files and the participation of our public library systems. This year, in the second year of digital outreach, students will be able to access more than 5,000 military service files of Canadian soldiers, doctors, nurses and chaplains who served during the First World War or who were killed in action during the Second World War. The number of participating public library systems doubled so that now LAC's Lest We Forget workshops are offered from coast to coast to coast. In the first six months, approximately 20,000 downloads of military service records were conducted by the Lest We Forget section of the Collections Canada website.

Our latest example is Library and Archives Canada's development of the new digital projects to help Canadians access their documentary heritage online. Library and Archives Canada recently launched discover blog. It contains information on military and genealogical records where Canadians can discover their family connections. These new initiatives showcase what great work Library and Archives Canada has done to enable Canadians to become more knowledgeable and to experience our historical and documentary heritage.

Again, this is good for Canadians. They will be able to access historical content regardless of their interest, profession or location. The modernization initiative means LAC is becoming an institution that promotes democratic access to Canada's documentary heritage for all. It means changing LAC's points of access to reflect the tremendous opportunities that advanced information and communications technology provide.

Library and Archives Canada has made some strategic choices to ensure that funds invested will yield tangible, sustainable results for Canadians.

It is clear that Library and Archives Canada's long-term plan to modernize and virtualize services in order to reach the greatest number of Canadians more easily and to provide Canadians with better service is actually working. More services in historical content are available to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Library and Archives Canada's long-term plan includes the introduction of video conferencing tools, like Skype, to extend front-line services to clients across Canada. Clients will be able to book an appointment on site or by using Skype or the telephone. This allows the right experts to be at the appointment and it allows the experts to prepare, therefore providing better services.

Additionally, Library and Archives Canada is using social media. The use of social media has been working to achieve a comprehensive presence on the web in five key areas.

First, in 2008 Library and Archives Canada launched its Flickr account to provide systematic images around the institution and from the collections. To date it has approximately 400,000 views.

Second, Library and Archives Canada has a Twitter account. It was launched at the end of February and is gaining new followers every day. It provides information to stakeholders and citizens, allows the organization to reach new audiences and facilitates access to Library and Archives Canada's services and collections.

Last week Library and Archives Canada also launched its streamlined YouTube channel in order to raise awareness about its holdings and activities. Also last week, Library and Archives Canada launched its official Facebook account. In addition to institutional messaging and news about events and new products, Library and Archives will initiate original features to engage with Canadians, such as “Today in History” and “What Have We Here?”

The fifth element of Library and Archives Canada's expanding web presence is the release of podcasts that highlight significant collection items and share expertise and knowledge. Each podcast episode will feature different content and will maintain a common focus on engagement with the collection and accessibility.

Podcasts have recently been launched on Project Naming, which enables Nunavut youth to connect with elders and to better understand their past. It also helps bridge the cultural differences and geographical distances between Nunavut and more southern parts of Canada.

Upcoming podcasts will feature the War of 1812 and the “Double Take: Portraits of Intriguing Canadians” travelling exhibit. This new way of promoting our heritage will facilitate discovery, access and engagement among Canadians, Canadian users and their collections.

In addition to the modernization initiative, Library and Archives Canada has also created a broad pan-Canadian network for the preservation of the country's documentary heritage. This emerging network now involves a wide range of stakeholders from the library and archival fields from across Canada. In so doing, Library and Archives Canada continues to serve communities across the country, but in a more efficient and effective manner, using partnerships with the documentary heritage network.

As I mentioned earlier, we on this side of the House have consistently understood the importance of arts and culture. Unfortunately, we have been placed in a position such that each time we make an investment in this sector, the opposition has voted against it.

As part of our economic action plan, we said quite clearly that we wanted to invest not only in arts and culture but also in a wide range of activities that are important to the Canadian economy. Of course, that included investing in roads and bridges. It included working with our provincial partners to make sure we could invest in colleges and university campuses across this country. Unfortunately, what happened? Again, the opposition voted against that.

What did it mean for my community? What did the opposition actually vote against in my community? It voted against the Stouffville museum. It voted against the expansion of the Markham museum. It voted against an emergency operations centre for the town of Markham, this following what was a terrible summer tornado in Vaughan, where the need for an emergency response system became clear and evident. It voted against improvements to our sports facilities.

For the town of Markham in the riding for the hon. member for Markham—Unionville, it meant voting against a skating rink, the largest outdoor skating rink in the GTA. It meant voting against tennis domes for the community that the hon. member for Markham—Unionville and I share.

One of the things that has been so important about the economic action plan is that it invested in communities across this country. It invested in all of these communities. Back in 2008 and 2009, we sat down with our provincial and municipal partners and asked, “What do we need in order to get the economy moving?” They told us we needed to invest in infrastructure, so that is what we did.

How did the opposition respond? It voted against.

Every single time the opposition members get up in this House, they consistently talk about an initiative they would have liked to see the government do as part of our economic action plan. They talk about infrastructure; we have already talked about how they voted against that. They talk about a national housing strategy. This government invested in housing for our seniors and for those who are less advantaged as part of the economic action plan. How did they vote? They voted against it.

When we talked about seniors and expanding opportunities for our seniors, the first thing we did was allow for income splitting for seniors. How did they vote? They voted against it.

They talked about increasing the supports for our vulnerable seniors. What did we do? We increased funding for GIS—

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, I fail to see how the voting record of the official opposition pertains to the debate at hand today in the House. I would hope that the member across would get to the point and return to the subject of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

If the hon. member would like to comment and perhaps return to the motion at hand, which is rather general, I will leave it to the member to return to the subject.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I know that the truth is starting to hurt the opposition. You will agree with me that this motion before the House today is a pretty broad motion that brings in a whole realm of activities of the Government of Canada. It is rather an omnibus motion that gives us the opportunity on this side of the House to talk about all of the great things this government is doing and has been doing since it was elected in 2006 to help further the economy of this country.

We cannot talk about Library and Archives Canada without talking about growing the economy. That is the real problem we have with the opposition members. They do not understand that the resources that go into paying for these programs and services that Canadians value so much come from a growing economy. When there are more jobs in the economy, we have more resources to invest in health care, in education, in our heritage and in things like Library and Archives Canada, but they do not understand that.

It is a year since Canadians gave us a strong mandate to focus on jobs and the economy, to bring our budget back into balance and to ensure that we continue with economic growth so that we can continue the investments that Canadians have told us are their priorities. They have said to us that their priorities are for the government to focus on jobs and the economy, but they also want us to continue to focus on health care. That is why we have increased funding for health care to the highest level in Canadian history. How do the opposition members vote? They vote against it. They have voted against everything that this government does to improve the economy of this country and to help those who create jobs in this economy.

Here we are, a year later, still talking about issues in question period. The opposition members have nothing to talk about at all, so they are dragging up questions from the first days after the last election. They are talking about issues that are not the priorities of Canadians.

Then when we point out the fact that we have actually accomplished all of the things that Canadians have sent us here to do by focusing on jobs, by creating 750,000 net new jobs, by watching how we do our resource sector, by balanced economic growth and environmental protection, they get nervous and realize they are making a mistake, but they still vote against it.

They have an opportunity here with the budget bill that we are bringing forward, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, to actually do the right thing. They have the opportunity to do the right thing for Canadian families. They have the opportunity to do the right thing for small businesses. They have the opportunity to do the right thing for those industries that help create wealth, jobs and opportunity in this country. They can vote in favour of Canada's economic action plan. They can stop the delaying tactics that they are using on all of the committees and specifically on the next phase of Canada's economic action plan and start focusing on the priorities of Canadians: jobs, the economy, health care and those programs that Canadians have come to depend on as foundational to this government.

We will continue to do this on this side of the House because we know it is what is important to Canadians. I only hope that side of the House will actually, just for once, take off their partisan hats and put the interests of Canadians first.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my Conservative colleague the following question.

He talks about his initiative. I would like to congratulate him because putting all government data online is a good initiative. However, if there are no data because of all the cuts that the government is making in research and at Statistics Canada, what data are they going to be putting online?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, on the War of 1812 alone, Library and Archives Canada is putting out some 73,000 images for Canadians to use. The portrait gallery is putting a number of portraits online.

We are trying to work with our provincial and municipal partners across this country to make sure we digitize the collections available here in Ottawa and make them available to people across the country.

The hon. member talks about the census. We heard the ironic spectre yesterday of the Liberals wanting us to jail people who are not filling out the census, after we have said it is not something we would do. We are seeing incredible information coming back from the census that could be used by communities across this country to provide programs and services.

There will be lots available to Canadians through the digitization projects, not only through Library and Archives Canada but also through the National Film Board. I encourage the hon. member to take a look, because there are some really great things happening in both of them.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, as my uncle used to say, “Hang on there, skipper; there is more to this than meets the eye.”

I would suggest the member look at the program, the NADP, which has provided small and medium-sized grants to these local communities.

I get the feeling that the government is only looking at the act of taking a picture and putting it onto a CD. There is more to it. There is a storytelling element to this that archivists can provide. These small grants that were provided under this cancelled program really provide the expertise for the smallest of communities—church groups, ethnic groups and aboriginal communities—to tell a story.

I would like the hon. member to comment. Does he not agree that this is not just about putting a picture on a CD, but about telling a story? It is the narrative that needs to be done, and that takes a small investment from a program that the Conservatives have just cancelled.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, it is about telling stories and it is about unleashing the potential that we have, not only in our national museum but in those across the country, to tell that story. That is why the government, through the economic action plan, has made significant investments in arts and culture across this country.

I referenced my own two museums. I referenced the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum, which received a $2 million boost through Canada's economic action plan. That offsets some of the other initiatives that the town could not do, which is leading to more participation at the local museum. The same goes for the Markham Museum. It has an incredible collection that the staff wants to digitize to make available to their community. They are starting to do that because this government has invested in health care.

We have uploaded a lot of those costs through Canada's economic action plan, which the opposition members voted against, whether the costs were for infrastructure for roads or bridges or all those cultural and sporting institutions. They consistently voted against all of that.

We are trying to work with our partners to alleviate those high costs that they cannot afford so that they can put more money into arts and culture. We are actually getting the job done.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, just to bring it back to the larger issue of science, I am just wondering if my hon. colleague could let me know what he thinks about who should be asking the fundamental research questions. Is it scientists or is it big industry?

His government is moving the research agenda toward making scientists answer the questions of big industry, whereas the scientists are saying that they are the ones best suited to ask these questions.

I am wondering where the hon. member stands on this debate.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, let us be fair. We do not consider those people who create jobs and investments and wealth in this country to be a disease that we need to run away from. On this side of the House, we believe that the people who create jobs and investments—small, medium and indeed large businesses—are actually important to the growth of the Canadian economy.

We have supported scientific research across this country through Canada's economic action plan. The member was not here for parts of the economic action plan, but if he were to look at the economic action plan, he would see significant reinvestments in our colleges and universities in research chairs across this country.

The one thing we could always depend on is that the NDP would vote against that, and so would the Liberals. When it comes to scientific research and expanding the economy, we get the job done; they do everything they can to stand in the way of that growth.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, as I was listening to my hon. colleague's speech, it seemed to me that he really wanted to avoid talking about science and the use of a scientific approach to good governance.

The reason for my hon. colleague's emphasis on the economy and it all being about growing the economy is that those members do not want to face honest accounting of what is going on in the country. Just as an example that I would bring up to him, the Soviet Union had a lot of economic growth for many decades, but the economy and the society was rotten at the core and they were not willing to be honest with themselves as to what was going on in their country. That is the sort of thing that can go wrong.

Why does my hon. colleague not want our government to be honest with itself and the Canadian people?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, what an absolutely disgusting question from that member.

The member's party on that side actually clapped when he compared this government to the Soviet Union, which massacred hundreds of thousands of people and was responsible for all kinds of atrocious crimes across the world. What an absolutely disgusting thing for that member to say. It really showcases the difference between that side of the House and this side of the House. Those members will do anything, say anything, to try to convince Canadians that they actually care about anything, but they do not.

We are going to focus on jobs and the economy, and we are going to do that so we can pay for health care, so we can pay for the things in my department, such as Canadian Heritage, Library and Archives Canada and our national museums, all things they consistently vote against.

What a disgusting way to try to win points in a debate.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, I will tell the House what is disgusting.

I find it completely ridiculous, and even hypocritical, that a Conservative member should rise and list the things against which the NDP has voted, while we are debating a bill of more than 400 pages under a time allocation motion. That is what is hypocritical, disgusting and ridiculous.

Many cuts have been announced. I would like to name just a few of them: the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy; the Major Resources Support Grant, the Discovery Grants and the Research Tools and Instruments Grants have been eliminated at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and the First Nations Statistical Institute has been abolished.

One would think that this government has no confidence in science. Could the member tell us why not?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, that itself highlights the difference between the opposition and the government.

It is quite clear to us that the opposition does not understand the budget implementation act. We understand that. Those members probably have not read it. They do not care to talk about all of the important initiatives that are within Canada's economic action plan that will unleash job creation and potential in this economy. They do not get it. They do not understand that. I get that.

We are going to continue to focus on all those things Canadians want us to focus on, because it is the right thing to do. What the opposition does not understand is that by growing the economy, by putting in place initiatives that will help people create jobs, there is more revenue for the government to invest in health care, in culture, in heritage, in education, including some of the things we did through our economic action plan, which included improvements to our colleges and universities, which included research chairs to a number of our institutions.

How do they vote? They vote against it. Then they get upset when we talk about the fact that they voted against every single initiative this government has brought forward to improve the economy. Whether it is housing, they vote against it, or whether it is research, they vote against it. No matter what it is, opposition members vote against it. They stand for nothing, and now they are getting caught up in a web of lies they have tried to sow with Canadians. On this side of the House we will stand up for those Canadian taxpayers and jobs, because it is the right thing to do.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Claude Gravelle

You are disgusting.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do have thick skin in most circumstances, but I just want to note the fact that the people in my riding sent me here with the largest plurality in the entire country. I am not sure it is parliamentary to call the representative of the largest riding in Canada “disgusting” and the opinions of the people I represent “disgusting”.

I wonder, Madam Speaker, if you might ask the hon. member to take a moment to maybe apologize, not only to me but to the 250,000 people I represent who did not send members of Parliament here to call each other disgusting and other names like that.

If this is the new civility in the NDP, I would hate to see what happens when civility breaks down on that side of the House.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, absolutely, if the member from that side of the House wants to apologize to Canadians for misleading them and saying that the NDP voted against this and voted against that and we do not know what we are voting against, I will consider apologizing to him.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it seems as if this getting a bit out of hand. However, if people would like to apologize for calling each other disgusting, I think maybe the first person who used that word in the last few minutes should start with an apology.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Before we continue along that path, I would like to remind all members to be judicious in their choice of language. The word “disgusting” has been bandied around. I think it is not a polite term. I am not sure it is unparliamentary, but it is certainly not a polite term. I would not like to see it used about a person, particularly.

At this point, I would like to ask all members to be judicious in their use of language in this House. This is the Parliament of Canada. I think all Canadians expect us to be respectful. Certainly, there is not necessarily agreement, but there must be respectful language in our debates.

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary want to pursue this point?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I think the member for Kingston and the Islands raised a point. What I did call disgusting was his question. Any time a member equates a particular party, a duly elected government, with a regime that was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold atrocities, I do think that is a disgusting question.

However, I still have not heard an apology from the member of the NDP for calling the representative of the largest riding in Canada disgusting. I do not think that is parliamentary, Madam Speaker, and his explanation does not suffice.

I hope you will review some of that and, if some of that was picked up in the transcript, you will demand that the member apologize, not only to me but to this House, for such a lack of decorum and for the continued slide of the NDP towards gutter politics.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I was not calling him disgusting. I was calling what he was saying disgusting. Lying to the Canadian public is disgusting, and it should be held as that.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I think that I will review the record and, if appropriate, I will come back to the House with a ruling.

For now, I think perhaps he has clarified his intent. I did not hear whatever was said, but his intent was not to personalize the debate.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Madam Speaker, we will try to stop using bad words, even though we are being told that we are getting caught up in a web of our own lies. That is quite something to say as well. I have to wonder if the word “lies” is unparliamentary language. Regardless, I will share my time with my colleague from Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

Once again, we are gathered here to talk about the blind cuts being made by this government. Unfortunately, some competent people who actually know about these subjects are currently leaving the room, which is too bad because I would have re-read today's motion to them:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canadian scientific and social science expertise is of great value and, therefore, the House calls on the Government to end its muzzling of scientists; to reverse the cuts to research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and to cancel the closures of the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.

The purpose of today's debate is to protect those people in the public service who aim to fuel the debate with objective facts and observations. It is something scientific. Several people said earlier that some people on the other side were having difficulty accepting scientific facts. I would not say that it is because a portion of them are creationists, but there are some people across the way who think that the world is flat or who thought that for some time, anyway.

Today, we wonder if some are denying certain facts deliberately. Why? Is it because of their religious views or because they have strong ties to large companies that, of course, would themselves prefer to choose environmental data analyses with results that suit them better? What is their motivation?

I do not know, but there is a reason why this is the theme of our opposition day: science generally does seem to be losing more and more ground. My colleague who is a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage was just called to order on that very issue. I do not believe that this is a topic that he tries to avoid at all costs, but he certainly has his hands full.

This man constantly has to defend the positions of the Conservatives on heritage, archives, libraries and culture, so many issues that they obviously do not care about, with the exception of an editorial line of narrow thinking and a precise reading of history, which they try to shove down our throats with a vengeance. With the exception of those two specific themes, they do not care about those issues.

But when one is the representative in the House of the people at the Department of Canadian Heritage who are responsible for those areas, when one is responsible for constantly defending those issues on behalf of a team that does not care, one is constantly busy. The Minister of Canadian Heritage said himself on TV that his team was constantly backstabbing him because he stood up for the CBC and other noble cultural issues associated with fine arts and Latin literature, in their view.

I even heard him say just now that he was very proud of cutting the ribbon at an institution. I would rather hear him talk fondly about organizations he has a connection with than talk about the cuts that the Conservatives are currently making.

But what I am really interested in, for example, is the doublespeak on Library and Archives Canada. Earlier I heard the hon. member opposite praise the merits of digitization. Of course, that probably has to do with a date in history that adds up to 21 exactly—yes, I am talking about 1812. I have no doubt that he is really interested in that because he likes numbers a lot.

All that aside, they talk about public servants who are digitizing information so that it can be shared. However, the current bill will mean that 50% of the archivists will be laid off, something that seems to me in fact to be completely illogical.

There will always be a need for archivists. Right now, the Conservatives are saying quite enthusiastically that it is marvellous to have access to information. They are patting themselves on the back and saying it is extraordinary that today culture is available on the Web, but on the other hand, they are making cuts. It seems they are taking credit for properly managing the troops, they are congratulating the archivists for their good work, but then they are telling them to get lost. That is what they are saying.

I myself went to meet with the archivists, when they were in town 10 days ago. They were completely shattered. Honestly, no one is more passionate about knowledge than the people at Library and Archives Canada. These people are only interested in the truth, in history and in facts.

No one is in a better position than they are to assess the thoughtlessness with which these cuts are being made, under a gun. Because cuts had to be made, the Conservatives just found a place where cuts could be made and they cut. What happened at that point? The cuts were not made in any visible areas, but rather in an obscure area. What happens when they do not know what it is they are cutting?

Is it not true that the most important thing in a home, or in a society is its foundation, its culture, its history? It is crucial. As we speak, we may well be in a period of restraint. We will have to find out whether things are going well in Canada, or not. We no longer know for sure, because it changes from day to day, according to our colleagues opposite.

The NDP believes that work must be done in broad daylight and that the best antiseptic is sunlight, that the best way of knowing we are doing the right thing is to do it in the open. This is something that I criticize constantly. Watching the Conservatives, we see that they work in the shadows. They decided to make cuts in places where it would not be too obvious.

It is clear that if 100 archivists showed up in a park in Ottawa, it would be a rather low-key affair. In their heart of hearts, they would rather not breathe fire, wave placards or set fire to mailboxes. They are intellectuals, they are pragmatists, and they are rational people. Of course, they will be against these cuts. There is no better target for cuts than people like them, people who usually work behind the scenes. If the government decided to cut back on snow removal because of a shortage of money, that would really be obvious. But cuts to archiving will go through like a letter in the mail—assuming there is no lockout.

I would also like to mention another very sad program. Actually, the program is not sad at all; on the contrary, it is a wonderful program. But it too was arbitrarily cut. It is called the national archival development program. What is deplorable about it is that we constantly hear from the people opposite about the value of a penny here and a penny there. But we all know the value of a dollar.

It is all a question of choice and of management. You have to know how to manage wealth creation and sharing. This is a very strange example. The national archival development program is being cut, though its main feature was getting communities involved. With each dollar invested by the federal government, people managed to interest private partners in the community so that they could organize local exhibitions and enhance local archives. But the choice was made to cut it. Once again, it was an arbitrary cut.

What is sad in all this is the short-term, panicked vision. That kind of behaviour is what scares me most at the moment. We can feel that everyone associated with the Conservative government is afraid; they are afraid of being cut and they are afraid to speak out loud and clear.

I have seen constant examples of that fear from people who have come to testify about the cuts. It can even be seen in the Prime Minister's staff.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member to give us an example of how Archives Canada has revealed or provided evidence of an error made in the past and provided us with the opportunity to correct it, reconcile with the past and move forward to the future.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Madam Speaker, I have no doubt about the hon. member's good faith, but I did not really understand his question very well. However, I appreciate his candid, honest reaction.

I will simply say that, when I was at the demonstration 10 days ago, I met a man who told me how devastating it was to see that his work was being threatened. Actually, he was working on something that the hon. member might be able to relate to. He was involved with the archiving of aerial photographs of Canada. I do not recall their date, but they were clearly very old photographs. To take them, you needed a plane and a camera. That tells you how old they were. I am no aeronautical engineer or expert photographer. But it was still clear to me how relevant it was to have a portrait of Canada from the air at that point in time. And if those photographs are not archived properly, information will certainly be lost when someone is trying to talk about our country, about the erosion of riverbanks, or any kind of subject that has nothing political about it and does not deal with the art of mime or dance. Those are things that should normally interest the hon. members opposite.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, it is interesting to listen to my colleague across the way denigrate the major investments we have made in education, research and commercialization. I want to read a couple of quotes that people from the university environment have made.

From the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the chair, the president of UBC, said:

In the face of tough fiscal choices, the government showed leadership by continuing its investments in research, innovation, research infrastructure and university-private sector collaborations...These investments will build a stronger future for our society and economy.

Paul Davidson, the president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said:

The budget provides new opportunities for talented graduate students to gain research experiences in companies across Canada...We’re also pleased the budget recognizes the importance of deepening international education and research linkages.

This is feedback from people who are actually doing that research, directing it and benefiting by it. How can NDP members say that they have such great knowledge about the research that is being done when people like this are applauding the government—

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I will have to give the hon. member time to respond.

The hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Madam Speaker, I am being asked to respond, and I will respond, but honestly, the answer is self-evident because my colleague is giving me an example that has nothing to do with what I am talking about.

First, I invite him to go and see the people from Archives Canada, the people who are in the park and who are protesting. They could tell him about the people doing research at the University of British Columbia.

Second, this is classic. In Bill C-38, the government is deliberately including worthwhile things, such as the enhancement of the travelling exhibitions indemnification program, but it is also including a bunch of garbage. Then, I will be criticized for voting against the enhancement of assurances with respect to travelling exhibitions.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher for his excellent presentation and his contribution to this House. I will have the honour of running a relay race with him on June 24.

Knowing the importance of information and statistics to governance issues in any society—there is a saying that "knowledge is power"—I would like him to comment more on this shift that seems to be taking place on the other side of the House, judging by all the measures being proposed here.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, the hon. member is right. We are going to jog and exercise together to have a sound mind in a sound body.

Second, in response to his question, I honestly think that the government is not interested in knowledge per se, because they do not have a long-term vision for our society. They are constantly looking for short-term solutions. So, in the short term, when a lobbyist comes in the door, they ask him what he wants and say, “Sure, man. We will do that for you.”

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, in response to the “Black Out Speak Out” national campaign that denounces Bill C-38, and in support of which members wore black buttons yesterday, the Minister of Natural Resources said, “We want people to know the facts, not the distorted or exaggerated version.”

Frankly, this is an insult to our intelligence. The last thing this government wants is for people to know the facts. It would seem that they do not even want to know the facts themselves.

In my view, the Conservative government period will be the age of scientific darkness. The government is making cuts to science. Over the past year, 12 research organizations and programs have been eliminated in a number of areas: Statistics Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, Human Resources and Skills Development, Industry Canada, Public Safety Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to name a few.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is one of the hardest hit departments. Does the Prime Minister know that oceans are not just for warships? There are actually many coastal communities that rely on the sustainability of oceans.

The government cannot ignore it, but it does not seem to be bothered about it. In fact, it is so indifferent to it that it is making reckless cuts to Fisheries and Oceans, slashing $80 million, including a number of layoffs in research and science-related areas.

It is ending the Experimental Lakes Area program in northern Ontario, it is eliminating the aboriginal inland habitat program, and it is cutting the funding for aquaculture sciences activities. Furthermore, it is eliminating the ocean population monitoring program at Fisheries and Oceans, which means, for this program alone, the abolition of 75 scientist positions.

We know that these cuts drastically reduce our ability to resolve marine pollution issues, such as the problems associated with municipal sewer systems, contaminated sites, the impact of pesticides on salmon and the effect of PCBs on killer whales.

I would like to stress what a Conservative member said just a few minutes ago, which was that the Conservatives were here to support and help the municipalities.

With all the cuts announced by the Conservatives over the past few weeks, the municipalities in the Gaspé and Magdalen Islands region will not be able to pick up the slack and continue the scientific programs abolished by the Conservatives. The people in remote areas will not be able to take over.

In the Conservatives’ view, which private sector organization would in fact be able to take over the scientific programs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

Furthermore, five research centres will be axed: the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg, which works in cooperation with the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario; the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia; the Gulf Fisheries Centre in Moncton; and the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli, in the Gaspé, in my riding.

The Maurice Lamontagne Institute is a centre of excellence in cutting-edge research in a number of scientific areas. The facility specializes in research and innovation in science. The institute also generates more than 400 jobs in a region where jobs are precious. These are well-paid jobs. The loss of 400 jobs means that 400 families will no longer be able to support themselves and that 400 families will soon be moving to another area, probably one of the larger cities.

Endangering or cutting 400 jobs in the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands will hit these people hard.

The Conservatives are making fools of themselves claiming that they are creating jobs, when they are actually cutting jobs in areas where employment is badly needed.

Clearly, they do not care about those jobs. We know their strategy. They say that all of those people can go work for less pay thanks to their employment insurance reforms. Maybe they can get McJobs or commute far from home, at least 100 km or maybe even to remote locations in Alberta. This reminds me of the bad old days when people were shipped off to work camps.

The Conservatives' disdain for coastal communities is blatantly obvious. They are planning to change fleet separation and owner-operator policies in the fisheries sector. These policies protect the culture of coastal communities that depend on fishing. The Conservatives' decision to eliminate fish habitat protection from the Fisheries Act proves that they do not care about the sustainability of fish stocks. We have to protect the whole ecosystem if we want to protect populations of fish that depend on other species for their survival. If the government eliminates the fleet separation policy, huge processing ships will move in, which could easily result in the same problems that we experienced in the 1990s, when fish stocks declined dramatically. We must not let that happen again. That is why we need science.

The Conservatives would know this if they listened to scientists. They are putting the lives of sailors and recreational boaters in danger by closing the search and rescue centres in Quebec City and in Newfoundland and Labrador. With their changes to employment insurance, the Conservatives are attacking coastal communities whose economic activities are mainly seasonal.

Canadians deserve better than a government that has no long-term vision. They deserve better than a government that makes decisions based on ideology. They deserve better than a government that tries to hide information from them. The culture of secrecy is so pervasive among the Conservatives that the government is muzzling scientists.

To name just a few, consider the following examples: Dr. David Tarasick, a scientist at Environment Canada; Kristi Miller, a scientist at Fisheries and Oceans; and Scott Dallimore, a geoscientist at Natural Resources. They were all muzzled by this government. The Conservatives prohibited them from talking to the media about their research—research, I would point out, that is paid for by us, the taxpayers.

The research conducted by these scientists on climate change or on declining fish stocks is crucial to sound management in Canada. To slash funding for science means slashing the information needed to govern properly. How can the Conservatives claim to believe in science or to base their decisions on science if they cut funding for scientific research?

The Conservatives' war against science has long-term consequences that they are not taking into account. I want to emphasize the fact that in my region, we saw fish stocks collapse in the early 1990s. The economy in our region and that of the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence suffered greatly as a result. The communities in my region have had a very hard time recovering to where they were 20 years ago. Making the same mistake of not taking an accurate and thorough inventory of the fish stocks is a recipe for disaster.

While countries like Germany are increasing funding for basic research, Canada is at risk of losing its scientific expertise to other, more visionary countries. Is this government trying to trigger a brain drain? The Conservatives have forgotten that they are here to serve the public, not control the public. Canadians have the right to be informed. The Conservatives do not have the right to control information and to shut down scientific facts when findings do not suit them. That is the basis of morals and ethics. Of course to the Conservatives, whose ideology is taking us back to the Dark Ages, this seems perfectly normal.

The Conservatives are waging an ongoing war on research, data collection and the development of fact-based policies because these things interfere with their ideological agenda and force them to recognize embarrassing truths, such as the human causes of climate change.

That is why I am urging the government to support the motion of the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas. I am urging this government to drop the ideological rhetoric and make decisions based on scientific facts.

I am urging the government to get back on the right path and support scientific research for Canada's short- and long-term benefit.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, in my opinion, this government fears criticism.

In the hon. member's opinion, what do the scientists who were muzzled have to say that could scare the government?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands for his question.

Certainly, when scientists are muzzled, it is a great loss for Canadians. Canadians and all the scientists in the world can trust the research that Canadian scientists have done because it is sophisticated and renowned.

For example, there is the announced closure of the Experimental Lakes Area program in northwestern Ontario. This program is known throughout the world. It is an enormous loss for some Canadians to no longer have access to that research. The private sector cannot take over. When the federal government does this type of research, it is done over the short and long term and, most of the time, private companies are more interested in the short term.

My question is for the government: who exactly is going to take over?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, there seems to be a sense of fear on the government side, and it is a fear of too much information. There seems to be this need to just shut down all of the avenues of information that help Canadians and the government and the House work for Canadians.

Along with that, there is a sense of “Trust us, we know what we are doing. Trust us, the cheque is in the mail.”

The reason we have institutions like committees and outside arm's-length and very distant organizations to monitor certain things is to make sure that everything is done for the needs of Canadians.

Could my hon. colleague comment on that? The word “fear” has been used a couple of times by my colleague from the Liberals as well, so maybe he could say a few words on that.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Jeanne-Le Ber.

We do indeed appear to be going through a period in Canada where the government wants to operate in the dark. When people are afraid, they are less likely to complain. I can give as an example what is happening in the public service right now when layoffs are being announced. In some departments, a letter of termination will be sent to 20 or so employees, but they know that perhaps only four or five will actually be laid off.

This is creating a culture of fear that is harmful to sound scientific development. It pits employees against each other. It really means a loss of efficiency. The federal system will have at least a one-year period during which the public service will be frozen and it will be very difficult to cope in this situation. It is really very frightening.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges has 30 seconds for a final question.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, I totally agree with my colleague.

Even today, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans defended the fact that the government will no longer be conducting environmental analyses on small streams. It astounds me that the minister does not understand the facts of hydrology. We have seen this on a number of occasions from all the members of this government, who do not base what they say on science.

Can the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine tell us more about the cabinet’s scientific ignorance?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges for his question.

Up to now, I myself have been very disappointed in the work by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I believe he is letting down the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

I would like to ask him the following question. What is he waiting for to do his job and defend what needs to be defended? I think that people want answers, but so far the only thing we are hearing from him is a lot of silence.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for St. Paul's.

Two days ago I had the privilege of giving a keynote address at the world congress for the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics. As a former scientist, I was thrilled to hear about cutting-edge research regarding new technologies for imaging the brain, and the promise of stem cells and personalized medicine. I was pleased to share my work advocating for 2014 to be the Year of the Brain, and for a national brain strategy.

Science should be a driving force for public policy—for example in determining whether or not to put in place a national dementia strategy—and should always be impartial. By the way, the science is overwhelming that Canadians need to address this public health priority of dementia, which is a ticking time bomb.

Since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, there has, however, been a gradual tightening of media protocols for federal scientists. Researchers who once would have responded freely and promptly to journalists are now required to direct enquiries to a media relations office, which demands written questions in advance and still might not permit scientists to speak. Federal scientists are under growing surveillance and control. Numerous studies have shown a pattern of suppression, manipulation and a distortion of federal science. Officials have limited public access to scientific information.

Canadian journalists have documented numerous cases in which prominent researchers have been prevented from discussing published, peer-reviewed articles. For example, there is a Canadian government scientist whose work in the prestigious journal Science suggested that an unexplained virus was resulting in a higher death rate for some salmon. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans declined to make her available to the media for over 15 months.

An Environment Canada team concluded that a 2°C increase in global temperatures may be unavoidable by 2100. That is associated with dangerous climate change. Environment Canada's media office granted no interviews.

A Natural Resources Canada scientist could not talk about research into a flood in northern Canada 13,000 years ago without pre-approval from political staff in the office of the natural resources minister.

An Environment Canada scientist's research showed an unprecedented loss of ozone over the Arctic, a 2 million km2 ozone hole. He was interviewed three weeks later, saying, “I'm available when media relations says I'm available.”

I can attest not only to the muzzling but also to the fear of scientists. I used to consult for Environment Canada, and I have numerous friends who are scientists across Canada and the United States. Because of fear of retribution if they speak out, Canadian scientists often ask me to speak to American colleagues, who can freely comment on what is happening in Canada.

I had one friend who was so concerned that he or she wrote to me from the spouse's email account to my old university email account, and then explained that he or she would call on the spouse's cell phone from a busy mall so that the call could not be traced.

Surely everyone in this House should be outraged by the climate in which our scientists are being forced to perform. Surely everyone should be outraged by the quashing of dissenting opinions, by the war on democracy, environment and science.

Nature magazine, one of the world's leading journals, recently reported that policy directives confirm the government's little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge. The journal reported that, “rather than address the matter, the Canadian government seems inclined to stick with its restrictive course and ride out all objections”.

The government's untenable position is coming under increasing pressure as a result of the scientific integrity policies taking shape in the United States. As environment critic for our party, I have repeatedly called on the government to recognize that Environment Canada's ability to protect environmental and human health depends on scientific excellence and integrity, and should therefore ensure that a scientific integrity policy is developed to foster the highest degree of accountability, integrity and transparency in conducting, utilizing and communicating science within and outside Environment Canada, and to protect the department's scientific findings from being altered, distorted or suppressed.

Recently, a symposium called “Unmuzzling Government Scientists: How to Re-open the Debate” was held at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver. The Conservative government's media policies were centre stage in the international spotlight. According to Nature, “The way forward is clear: it is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free”. We used to be praised internationally for our openness and now we are seen “as a pariah”.

During the symposium, journalist Margaret Munro said that during much of her career it was easy to reach federal scientists to talk about their published research, but in recent years that had changed dramatically. Now the government is taking control to quite incredible extremes. Munro said that federal scientists faced many layers of approval before they could speak to the media, even going all the way up to the Privy Council Office. Approved interviews are often taped. Sometimes when the timelines are too tight, journalists receive written lines approved by the government. Munro discovered that it was the result of a new governmental policy that said a single department should speak with one voice. However, as she rightly points out, science depends on debate and discussion. If there is only one voice, where is the scientific questioning, where is the debate?

Acclaimed climatologist, Professor Andrew Weaver, said that most scientists were frustrated with the policies and their inability to speak about their research, some so much so that they were looking for jobs outside the government.

Professor Thomas Pedersen, a senior scientist at the University of Victoria, said that he believed there was a political motive in some cases. For example, he thought that the federal government would prefer that its scientists did not discuss research that pointed out just how serious the climate change challenge was.

Yesterday was Black Out Speak Out, and Liberals stood in solidarity with organizations across the country, organizations that are committed to showing the Conservative government's consistent assault on democracy and the environment. Many of the 500 organizations that joined Black Out Speak Out joined because Canada's environment was being threatened by the government, destroying 50 years of safeguards through Bill C-38 and the 2012 economic action plan.

The Conservatives are severely cutting the budget for Environment Canada, gutting environmental legislation, cancelling the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, silencing dissent from environmental non-governmental organizations, continuing to muzzle government scientists and, in so doing, impacting our economy today and in the future.

Anyone who disagrees with the Prime Minister is told to sit down and shut up. All Canadians should ask who next will be under attack for voicing their opposition. Silence is not an option. It is time to stand up and speak up for democracy, the environment, science and Canada.

Shockingly, the environment minister says that concerns about the muzzling of scientists are being driven by a small number of impatient Canadian journalists. Specifically, he has stated:

There is an element in all of this controversy, second-hand information and criticism from the scientific community abroad responding to a few, a very small number of Canadian journalists who believe they're the centres of their respective universes and deserve access to our scientists on their timeline and to their deadlines, and it simply doesn't work that way.

The environment minister should stand up for science, for scientists, for unmuzzling researchers and for ensuring a scientific integrity policy so Canadians can receive the best science, cutting-edge science to ensure evidence-based decision making.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, the exposé from my colleague in the Liberal Party was very informative, but I would ask her to elaborate a little more. I was particularly interested to hear about muzzling scientists and the effect that has on Canadians' understanding of the situation we are in, especially with regard to the environment. If she could speak a little more on that, I would be very interested to hear it.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, we have a real problem on the environment right now. The government has slashed Environment Canada. These are severe cuts to Environment Canada. Last summer it announced cuts of 700 scientists and most recently 200 scientists. It muzzles its scientists. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has been cut. This was started under a former Conservative prime minister. It provided good data on the economy and the environment. Its only mistake is that it produces evidence-based reports that do not fit with Conservative ideology.

The government shuts down its critics. Non-governmental organizations are being affected by changes at Canada Revenue Agency. It cannot silence its critics. We want all opinions and all evidence. This is a return to 1940s style McCarthyism.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, in the United States, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there was an administrative order in December of last year which told its scientists in the United States that they should talk about their research to the public and even talk about their own personal opinions on government policy, as long as they made it clear it was their personal opinion.

In stark contrast to the Canadian government's policy, why would the United States government want its scientists talking to the public about their research?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, we want our scientists to speak to the public. We want them to share their information. This is their research. This research is paid by the public and they should have the opportunity to share that information.

There was a letter to the Prime Minister. It urged the government to allow freedom of speech for federal scientists. It said:

Despite promises that your majority government would follow principles of accountability and transparency, federal scientists in Canada are still not allowed to speak to reporters without the “consent” of media relations officers.

The letter was signed by several groups, including the Canadian Science Writers' Association, World Federation of Science Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Professional Institute for the Public Service of Canada, which represents 23,000 federal scientists. It went on to say:

Prime Minister, we want freedom of speech for federal scientists because we believe it makes for better journalism, for a more informed public, for a healthier democracy, and it makes it more likely that Canadians will reap the maximum benefit from the research they fund.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, my question will be brief.

I would like to know what my colleague, who has worked very hard on environmental issues, thinks about the cuts to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

I am proud to belong to the NDP. Sustainable development is one of our values, and we link economic development with environmental protection.

What does she think of these cuts to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I know my hon. colleague well through the health committee, and he works very hard.

We are very disappointed by the cuts to the national round table. Our former colleague was the president and CEO of the round table for seven years. It is an important, unique in Canada, unbiased organization that provides economic and environmental data. It is about sustainable development, development that meets the needs of today without compromising those of the future.

My concern with the government is it pits the economy against the environment, and this is 1950s thinking.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, I am speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party, as I am the party's aboriginal affairs critic.

I agree entirely with the NDP motion, on this opposition day, on the cuts in scientific areas and on the muzzling of scientists, particularly with regard to the effects on first nations communities in Canada.

It is important to put this debate and the motion in context. These cuts are actually based in ideology, the belief of Conservatives that government does not have any role to play in terms of facilitating equal opportunity for Canadians or in the quality of life. This rigid ideology is focused on smaller governments and fewer social programs, leaving Canadians to fend for themselves.

In management talk, it is always that if it is measured, it gets noticed, and if it is noticed, it gets done. If we do not measure, it will not be noticed. It will be less demand for government to do something, and therefore it is content to do nothing.

We recently saw the Conservatives' indignant response to social inequality when the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food highlighted serious food insecurity issues in Canada, particularly in aboriginal communities. The Minister of Health stated that there was no problem in spite of the fact that a Canadian Medical Association Journal article from the McGill scientists showed that 70% of Inuit preschool children were food insecure.

The Conservatives do not like these kinds of numbers. We have seen this strategy play out time and time again. First, they emphatically deny there is a problem, then savagely attack the credibility of those raising the issue. However, facts make the approach more difficult. Evidence makes knee-jerk denials less credible. Even the Minister of Health had to admit that maybe there was a problem, faced with a huge backlash from her community in the north and from Inuit and Métis Canadians across the country.

The Conservative government has no respect for evidence. The Conservatives want to rule by ideology, blind to the facts, blind to the reality of every day Canadians. This is neither competent, nor responsible government.

To facilitate this approach, the Conservative government has muzzled the scientists, as my colleague just stated, bullied non-governmental organizations and slashed programs focused on gathering and analyzing evidence-based data.

Both government and non-governmental sources have noted the lack of data quality regarding first nations, which inhibits a full understanding of the social and economic conditions of first nations people throughout Canada.

The First Nations Statistical Institute was established to fill this gap, to increase the quality and accessibility of first nations statistics to improve planning, decision-making and investment for all first nations as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments. One of its key roles was to work to build the expertise in capacity within first nations and their governments in the area of statistics and data.

With the cancelling of this initiative, it is puzzling why the Conservative government is not reinvesting the money into another initiative to deal with this critical first nations capacity gap. The reason is simple. The last thing the government wants is accurate data on the challenges faced by first nations in Canada.

Aboriginal Canadians are working to build sustainable prosperity in their communities, but they can no longer count on the federal government as a partner. Despite lagging first nation educational outcomes, the Conservatives have failed to address the growing $2,000 to $3,000 per student annual funding gap between students on reserve and those in provincial schools.

With first nations suicide rates five times the national average and Inuit suicide rates 11 times higher, the Conservatives are cutting the aboriginal youth suicide prevention strategy.

Even though aboriginal Canadians are much more likely to suffer from diabetes and have significantly higher infant mortality rates and significantly lower life expectancy, the Conservatives are cutting aboriginal health programs in the national aboriginal health organizations as well.

The aboriginal diabetes initiative, the aboriginal health resources initiative and the aboriginal health transition fund have all been cut by the government.

The National Aboriginal Health Organization, NAHO, which was created as a response to the royal commission, will have to roll up its programs by the end of this month. Everywhere we have been in Canada we are hearing horror stories from the medical community as to what that means, the data that this organization has created, the knowledge translation and the toolboxes. It houses the Journal of Aboriginal Health. Everyone is asking who will do this essential work.

I note with some regret that the NDP motion is obviously narrow and is not able to deal with these cuts but it underscores why generating accurate socio-economic and health statistics is so important.

Despite overcrowding rates on reserves six times those off reserve and more than 40% of on reserve homes in need of major repairs, the Conservatives have no plan to deal with the crisis in first nations housing.

Despite supporting a motion on the right to clean, safe running water, we see no new funding to upgrade the huge number of first nations waste and waste water systems, which the government's own national assessment determined to be either high or medium risk.

The Conservative government is turning its back on first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians and the Canadian values of compassion, fairness and the tradition of evidence-based policy.

The Conservative government will argue that First Nations Statistical Institute work will be completed by other organizations, such as Statistics Canada or the First Nations Information Governance Centre. However, neither Statistics Canada nor the governance centre will address capacity development on first nations' governments in the area of data collection. Further, the government is not reinvesting the money saved from cutting the statistical institute and these other programs.

The Conservatives have killed the mandatory long form census. They have cut what first nations have called the count in accountability. It eliminates the ability to measure whether we are making progress and whether we are closing the gaps in health outcomes and educational attainment.

In killing the mandatory long form census, participation has dropped from 94% in 2006 to an abysmal 69% for the Conservatives new national household survey. It means that the data is no longer comparable. The worst part is that statisticians and policy-makers cannot identify which segments of the population were not counted by the NHS, which means that they are unable to measure the data's bias or rely on its accuracy.

Studies have shown that eliminating the mandatory long form census will negatively affect rural communities, ethnic groups, women, the poor and aboriginal Canadians. By eliminating the mandatory long form census, the Conservative government has essentially said that it wants to marginalize these Canadians. It does not want to measure, it does not want it to be noticed and it does not want to do anything. The Conservatives will no longer be able to help the poor, the disabled, ethnic or aboriginal communities because Canadians will not know they exist.

Rather than working with first nations, Inuit and Métis Canadians to develop solutions for the unacceptable socio-economic gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, the Conservatives' answer is to simply shut their eyes to these appalling programs. Again, if it is measured it gets noticed, if it is noticed it gets done. The Conservatives have chosen to stop measuring so it will not be noticed and, therefore, there will be no demand for the government to do anything.

It is a sad day for Canada and it really is a contempt of knowledge in this country. As Andrew Coyne said last year, “What was once a war on the elites is now a war on knowledge.” The Conservatives should be ashamed.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I am inclined to agree with the member that not all of these overt attacks on science, data, facts and knowledge are even about money.

I would ask the member for her view on one example that has come to light with the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario through the Freshwater Institute in my home province of Manitoba, where it has been demonstrated that the research has paid for itself over and over again. It is a paltry $2 million a year, and I do not say that lightly. Given the fact that it is unique in the world and internationally renowned and acclaimed, is it not more about shooting the messenger pre-emptively than even about saving money, when it is an almost insignificant amount of money when we are talking about a $40 billion deficit?

By preface, I would like the member's views on one recent piece of research by these scientists. We knew that phosphates and nitrates going into Lake Winnipeg were bad so we were trying to eliminate them both. The scientists at the Baltic Sea had the same problem.

These scientists realized that if the phosphates were eliminated to reduce the algae bloom and the nitrates, it may in fact be counterproductive. We saved $400 million by not going after the nitrates with the same zeal as the phosphates. In the Baltic Sea, they saved $3 billion by concentrating their efforts where it was effective. It was all because the scientists were doing original research.

Does the member agree with me that this is not really about saving money, that this is about pre-emptively shooting the messenger to avoid messages the government does not want to hear?

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. This is not really about saving money. It is about following an ideology.

The government does have absolute contempt for basic research and for investigator-driven research where people have a hunch that a return on investment might not be tomorrow with a new drug, but that it will be in saving lives and actually improving the quality of life.

That institute has paid for itself time and time again. It is this very linear thinking by the government that the savings must be found in the same department or in the same part of a department. Whole of government approaches or how this country works is just of no interest to the government.

The government just wants to know how it can cut, and particularly cut the stuff that will find things that might be embarrassing and that it might have to act on.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I was just looking at openparliament.ca, where I found a quote by the Minister of the Environment on February 6 in question period. He said, “Our government believes that what gets measured gets done”. That is exactly what my colleague, the member for St. Paul's, said.

I think we should believe the minister when he says that in question period, of course. What that must mean is that if the government does not want to do something, it will try as hard as it can to avoid measuring it.

I was wondering if my colleague would comment on the relevance of that quote.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a matter of choosing what we want to measure, choosing the issues upon which we want to act and choosing to actually shut down the measurements of the things that might be embarrassing.

In the industry committee hearings on the long form census, I remember the mayor of Iqaluit, Elisapee Sheutiapik, stating that his community wanted the long form census to measure the number of people living in any given home and the number of bedrooms. Up there, where it is too cold to be homeless, they wanted people to know so the government would then need to deal with the housing crisis in the north.

When the government was first elected it talked about liberally funded social science research as though it was one swear word, because the liberally funded social science research never proved the ideology. It only proved that its ideology was following the wrong path that would not get results.

Opposition Motion—Scientific and social science expertiseBUSINESS OF SUPPLYGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.

Today we are discussing a very important motion made by my colleague, the member for Burnaby—Douglas, whom I would like to thank.

I will read the motion, so that the people at home fully understand why this NDP initiative is important. This initiative aims to make the Conservative government take a step back with respect to all the cuts it is imposing on all federal government departments:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canadian scientific and social science expertise is of great value and, therefore, the House calls on the Government to end its muzzling of scientists; to reverse the cuts to research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council of Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and to cancel the closures of the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute.

I just listed a number of programs that will be cut. However, these programs help various segments of the population. One cut that particularly bothers me is the abolition of the operating budget of the National Council of Welfare. Few Canadians know that body. It has a very small annual budget of $1.1 million, which accounts for 0.0001% of the Government of Canada's budget.

A few weeks ago, I asked the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development why she was cutting funding for this federal but independent organization, since it allows it to collect information on people living in poverty in Canada. Unfortunately, there are many of them, including seniors and families. We must help these people get out of poverty. In order to do so, we need information. The minister provided an absurd answer. She said some programs were redundant and that was the reason why she was cutting the budget of the National Council of Welfare.

Before talking about cuts, let us first describe the role of the National Council of Welfare, so that people at home really know what the Conservative government and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development are abolishing.

The National Council of Welfare was created by the Government Organization Act of 1969, to give advice to the Minister of Health and Welfare. The title was different at the time. Today, we refer to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

As I said, the council currently reports to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. Its mandate is to provide advice to the minister on social development issues that the minister submits to its review, or that the council deems appropriate to examine. In other words, the council acts as an advisor to the minister, so that she has a better knowledge of the plight of people living below the poverty line. She can then help the government make the right decisions. A government does not only represent those who voted for it. It represents people from all walks of life: the rich, the poor and the middle class. That is why the council has been in place since the 1960s.

The organization advises the minister on issues related to poverty, conditions faced by low-income Canadians, and related programs and policies, by communicating directly with the minister, imparting information, transferring knowledge and raising awareness of poverty-related issues among the various stakeholders and the general public.

One aspect of its activities is therefore to inform people through the media and its Internet site. I recommend consulting the site while it still exists. It contains a great deal of very important information as well as excellent studies conducted by the National Council of Welfare.

The council also gives those affected by poverty, in particular low-income Canadians, a way to inform the government of their points of view.

The organization fulfills its mandate and achieves its objectives by publishing many reports and managing a website on poverty and social issues; by submitting briefs to groups such as parliamentary committees—as a member of several parliamentary committees, I know that obtaining advice from experts in their areas of expertise is very important if the right decisions are to be made, even by the government—by commenting to the minister on issues raised at council meetings or in council reports; by meeting various stakeholders to encourage well-informed conversations on ways to address poverty; and by answering requests from researchers, the media and the public for reports on scientific data and other information about poverty, as well as related policies.

As I mentioned, the council publishes reports and informs the minister of its opinions on a wide range of issues. Some of the issues studied in recent years include income security programs, child benefits, the taxation system, income adequacy, employment programs, the judicial system, social services such as child care and child welfare, the costs of poverty and issues that affect certain populations, such as children, single-parent families and seniors.

In relation to the program, the council operates outside the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, and its reports are published under its own authority. The organization is therefore quite independent, at least for as long as it continues to exist.

The council secretariat also operates independently from the department with respect to the department's responsibilities to the counc