House of Commons Hansard #229 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cbc.


Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I clearly heard my friend talk about where he was parked for nine years and that he was parked in Fort McMurray, so I thought it would be necessary to talk about parks.

We have done a great amount of work on parks, and green energy in particular. In fact, $4 million in 2013 will be spent to better protect against invasive species and water regulations. We are doing a lot to keep Canadians safe, making sure jobs happen, making sure that this economy continues and Canada has the best quality of life possible.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

I rise today to speak to budget 2013. I cannot say it is a pleasure to do so, since the budget is not really going in the right direction. It is my pleasure, however, to report on the concerns of the people in Brossard—La Prairie.

A budget is a series of choices. The Minister of Finance and the government decide to go in one direction or another when they bring in a budget. The Minister of Finance and the Conservatives have chosen austerity. That is their choice.

The government's goal is to balance the budget in 2015, the election year. That is a purely political choice. In fact, when we look closely at what is happening today and when we consider the world economy and the situation in Canada where economic growth is less than what the government projected, it makes Canadians worried. The economy is not as strong as the government wants them to believe.

Talking about choices means looking at the measures that have been taken. Ever since the Conservatives came to power, the youth unemployment rate has remained twice that of the average rate in the population. The gap between rich and poor is increasing at incredible rates and reaching record levels. Household debt has reached 167%, which means that for every dollar they earn, people owe $1.67. That is huge.

The Conservative government has also decided to reduce tax rates for big business. They said that would stimulate the economy. What has happened? Companies have $600 billion stashed away. Even the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Minister of Finance have said that the situation is worrisome. That is dead money, money that is not being reinvested in the economy and is not helping Canadians and their families. The government's measures are to blame.

For the 2013 budget, we propose a long-term vision that will also help employment. One of the first things we want to emphasize is the green economy. All members of this House can agree that a long-term vision should include a green economy, but this budget has nothing to offer in that respect. It still favours the big oil companies and subsidizes them to the tune of $1.3 billion.

The government decided to discontinue the eco-energy program, which was working well. The program helped people and families do renovations and get tax credits in order to save energy and help the economy at the same time. Unfortunately, the government has not come up with anything new to achieve that. It mentions the program and says it is proud of it, but it cancelled the program all the same. In my opinion, that is a flaw in the government's vision.

We agree that budgets ought to be balanced. The NDP has demonstrated that at the provincial level. We have the best record on budgets. We are the party with the best-balanced budgets and the least debt. These figures come from the finance department. We agree on this.

But timing is critical. Right now is not a good time for an austerity budget such as the government is proposing. An austerity budget slows down the economy and creates a problem.

Since household debt is at very high levels, we cannot count on consumer spending. Moreover, private companies are not reinvesting their money. All that leads to a possible economic slowdown and worse, a recession. I am not the one predicting this; the information comes from the IMF and OECD. Many studies have shown that such a problem would occur.

We made a proposal with respect to infrastructure. I am very disappointed that the government's budget did not include a national plan for infrastructure and public transportation. We proposed that the money from excise taxes be reinvested directly by giving it to the municipalities, enabling them to take the long-term view and invest, especially since our infrastructure deficit is about $123 billion.

That is enormous. We cannot expect the municipalities to make this kind of investment on their own. There will have to be co-operation with the federal government, and unfortunately, it is not happening. I know the government struts about proclaiming the many infrastructure investments in this budget. They talk about investment over 10 years, for example. It is a nice idea.

However, when we crunch the numbers, we can see that after 10 years, these proposals will lead to a loss of $4.7 billion. The government is taking money that already exists and pretending to make new investments, saying that it will be good in the long term. But if we look at today's figures, the money already invested and the existing programs, we realize that we lose in the end, and the consequences will be felt directly.

In my riding, Brossard—La Prairie, the Champlain Bridge is a good example. I know the government boasts that it is investing in the Champlain Bridge. However, I would remind the government that it announced $124.9 million—supposedly new money—last summer. That was for a temporary bridge connecting l'Île-des-Soeurs and Montreal. The money in this budget is not new.

We want the numbers for the Champlain Bridge. The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has already said that it would cost between $3 billion and $5 billion. We have no other details about these figures, and no other information about costs.

Having lived through the sad fiasco of the F-35s, we have many questions, particularly about the reliability of and methods behind the Conservative government's management of public funds. We do not want to deal with another F-35 fiasco. That is why we, on this side of the House, are demanding real numbers and an open, transparent, competitive tendering process with public input.

In Quebec, sadly, we have had many problems in the construction sector. Now is the time for the government to pay attention and choose to use a more open process. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening.

As for what is happening with the public transit that is supposed to operate on the Champlain Bridge, the government says it is co-operating fully. I have asked the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities a number of questions in the House on this topic. He says that co-operation with the provincial government is going well and reports that meetings are being held. However, when we read up on the subject, we find this is what the Quebec Minister of Transport has to say:

The Government of Quebec wants to work with the federal government on a common vision for this issue. Clearly, the Minister [of Transport] is not interested.

It is clear that the federal government does not want to work with the other provinces. It works behind closed doors without consulting anyone and then shows up after the fact. It should take a more open approach from now on.

The only thing I managed to find in this budget, on page 185 of the English version, is that for the new Champlain bridge, which will cost between $3 billion and $5 billion, no money is earmarked for 2013-14 and $14 million has been allocated for 2014-15. No other information is provided. That is a problem. There is not a whole lot of transparency. The government has to learn to co-operate more.

I am running out of time, so I will move on to the fact that the government is attacking labour-sponsored funds by eliminating the tax credit. Since the budget was tabled, I have received many emails from my constituents. I would like to read one from Bibianne Bédard from Brossard, which I received yesterday and which was also sent to the Minister of Finance.

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with your announcement in budget 2013 that the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds will be phased out.

I urge you to reverse this decision that will have an impact on the middle class and its ability to save for retirement and will deprive small businesses in Quebec of significant support for their development.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight what I believe is a very important and really overlooked issue, which is health care.

Health care is one of the issues that Canadians hold very close to their hearts. They want to know that the health care services we have grown so dependent on will be there in the future. The federal government plays a very strong role in the national health care program. Part of being able to maintain a strong national role is that the government has to provide the cash dollars necessary to feed the growth within the government expenditures at the provincial level.

My question for the member is related to the health care accord. The current accord will expire in 2014 and we seem to have a Prime Minister who resists meetings with premiers at all costs. At the end of the day, to alleviate the concerns Canadians have with regard to the future of health care, the Prime Minister needs to concede that he has to meet with the premiers at some point in time to come up with a new health care accord.

Could the member provide some of his thoughts in regard to the issue of financing of one of our greatest expenditures and most important social programs?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague with respect to consultation. We need to have more discussion between the federal and provincial governments.

I mentioned the example of infrastructure, but that also applies to health care and at all levels. What we have seen is the Conservative government doing things behind closed doors, then telling us that we can take it or leave it. We have seen it with the provincial government, with first nations and with aboriginals. The government is not collaborative and not consulting. It basically comes up with solutions and it is a take it or leave it situation. Most of the time the conditions are not as favourable as the ones we currently have.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent speech on corporate taxes.

I would like to quote a passage from the recent OECD report drafted at the request of the G20 leaders, which is entitled:

“Addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” and said, “Global solutions are needed to ensure that tax systems do not unduly favour multinational enterprises, leaving citizens and small businesses with bigger tax bills”.

Does he think the current budget really addresses this serious problem denounced by the OECD?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for her question.

On the contrary, with this budget, the government is continuing to do what it has done in the past, which is to favour large companies to the detriment of small enterprises and the population in general. For example, the analysis done by the Conference Board of Canada provides striking examples of the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

We often hear that reducing taxes will benefit the economy and the population in general. However, we see that these measures do not work in practice when companies are sitting on $600 billion. That is money that is not being reinvested in the economy. It is money that is not creating jobs.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my speech by making an announcement. I want to say just how reassured I was—relieved even—to learn yesterday that our great Prime Minister likes pandas. I think it should be mentioned in the House. A love of pandas is a great thing, especially since they are endangered.

However, I would really have liked it if the Prime Minister had been as receptive to the young aboriginals who walked more than 1,600 kilometres to come here and say that their living conditions are horrendous, that their community is suffering and that they need the politicians in Ottawa to listen. Unfortunately, because of the pandas, the cries of these young aboriginals went unheard. I find that absolutely shameful.

This budget is nothing but smoke and mirrors; it is mere window dressing. It is Orwellian in its vocabulary. In George Orwell's 1984, everyone is happy when the government announces that chocolate rations are increasing to 50 grams per month. They immediately forget that their rations were 100 grams the month before and that the decrease is being passed off as an increase.

There are 300 pages of that in this budget—300 pages of phony announcements, incomplete numbers, recycled announcements and decreases in investments, which the Conservatives are trying to pass off as increases. They will be investing $53 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. Bravo. How wonderful. However, if we really look at the facts and figures, it is clear that if they kept up the pace of this year's infrastructure investment, they would be spending $58 billion. They are trying to pass off a $5 billion reduction in infrastructure investment as an increase. That is what is happening in every single chapter of the budget.

I do not want to simply focus on incomplete numbers and the charade that is the latest Conservative budget. I want to emphasize the fact that it is an attack on Quebec. There are nasty surprises in this budget, and they will hurt Quebeckers, the middle class and families.

After butchering employment insurance, which has been discussed at length, the Conservatives are adding insult to injury: they are abandoning the job training agreement that was in place with the provinces. They are attacking Quebec's autonomy when it comes to control over how we train our youth and help them adapt to the labour market, and in a sense, although no one knows exactly how, they are privatizing the entire structure of job training. In fact, the Conservative government just made sure it could distribute thousands of cheques right across the country. We have already seen how this sort of thing turns out, under a government of a different political stripe.

Raising Mouvement Desjardins's taxes is another attack on Quebec. This is further discrimination against Quebec, against the pride of the Quebec economy and against Quebeckers' ability to save. These things will hurt people. The people of Quebec will receive less in dividends from the Caisses Desjardins because of the Conservative government.

One final aspect of the direct attack on Quebec's interests has to do with labour-sponsored investment funds. These funds have invested $10 billion in Quebec's economy over the years. This winning formula has paid off. Unfortunately, we have an ideological government that is attacking the formula of labour-sponsored investment funds, such as the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Fondaction CSN, to name a couple.

Why is this a direct attack on Quebec? Here is why: of the $350 million the government plans to collect, $312 million will come directly from Quebec. This Conservative government measure is completely short-sighted and unfair. It will undermine job creation and is an attack on workers' and Quebeckers' ability to save.

Since 1990, these funds have helped create, save or maintain half a million jobs in Quebec. This is a success story like no other. Businesses like Air Transat probably would not have been possible without the support of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

These funds have special features, and the most important one is that they create and save jobs in Quebec. What do the Conservatives have against successful job creation measures? It is completely absurd. Even the Conseil du patronat du Québec said it was surprised by this decision because these investment funds benefit Quebec and especially the regions.

This is an attack on the Quebec model in many respects. We hope that the Conservative government will listen to reason and that we will be able to save the tax credit for labour-sponsored investment funds.

What is the role of these funds? Why are they particularly useful? They are different than other funds and complement them. These funds equalize supply, result in the economic diversification of the regions and are a significant source of capital for businesses that operate in sectors that are sometimes overlooked. The yields on these funds are not the highest, nor are they the lowest. Nevertheless, they are used throughout Quebec to create employment, help small and medium-sized businesses, and help businesses start up, modernize, buy new technology, and remain competitive and up to date. This has to be maintained.

The investor gets the benefit of a tax credit. That is what provides the return on the investment. That is why this tax credit exists, why the province created it and why the federal government has applied it for years. We must keep it. Otherwise, this investment will be less attractive and less profitable for workers.

What is rather absurd is that the government constantly boasts about the fact that it is not increasing taxes. However, taxes on such items as bicycles and fans have increased, as well as taxes on the Mouvement Desjardins

Abolishing the tax credit increases workers' taxes. Seven hundred thousand Quebeckers make regular contributions to these investment funds. The Fonds de solidarité FTQ has calculated that these people will pay $425 more in taxes on average. Most of these investors contribute by payroll deduction. For every $1,000 invested in these funds that create jobs in Quebec, the investor receives a $300 tax refund. This amount will be reduced to $150. For every $1,000 invested, the federal government will keep $150. That is $150 that will be taken out of workers' pockets.The least fortunate often are barely able to save a little money for their old age.

We often talk about the poverty of seniors. We had a good tool to encourage them to save, one that benefited them, Quebec, the regions and the companies and that allowed them to have a little nest egg for their retirement. However, now the Conservative government is trying to do away with that tool.

This is not very surprising coming from a party that announced in Davos, Switzerland, that the age of eligibility for old age security was going to increase from 65 to 67. That was the Conservatives' first attack on Canadian seniors and pension plans. We have just seen another phase of that attack with the elimination of the labour-sponsored funds tax credit. This is a very real cause for concern but, unfortunately, it is not surprising coming from the government.

I would like to quote Léopold Beaulieu, CEO of Fondaction, who said the following:

Such action by the federal government would deliver a serious blow to Quebec's economy in two ways. The only way that many people with low incomes can save for their retirement is to contribute to a labour-sponsored fund. [The only way.] These funds are a key source of funding for the development of many Quebec SMEs.

The government is killing two birds with one stone: it is attacking both the people and the SMEs of Quebec. The government is also attacking the Quebec model, which makes it possible to provide workers with economic training. Last year, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ alone made it possible to provide 295 courses and train 6,400 people. This fund helps people to better understand investments, share ownership and how their investments help to develop all the regions of Quebec.

Ideological decisions on labour-sponsored funds aside, this budget is seriously lacking in many other areas. It is never going help to stimulate the economy or create jobs. On the contrary, it is going to sink us deeper and deeper into debt and put us on the slippery slope to privatization. The Conservatives have not proposed any measures to fight poverty or provide social housing, and they are making even more cuts to measures that fight homelessness. They are attacking the poorest members of society.

That is why the NDP will be proud to vote against this budget that does not respect people.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time provided for government orders has now expired.

Community ActivitiesStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, here is an S. O. 31, uncensored and unscripted.

I have two big events to talk about in my riding. The first is that we all, or many of us, are wearing purple today to celebrate Purple Day to increase awareness of epilepsy and Parkinson's. I will leave it to my colleague, the member for Halifax West, who I am sure will tell us more about it.

On Saturday, March 23, we had a plane pull in Saanich—Gulf Islands, out at the Sidney airport, to raise money for this good cause.

I also want to shine a light on a great idea that came from the Sidney by the Sea town council. It is called Glow As You Go, and the goal is to make sure pedestrians are well lit so that motorists can see them. This little reflective armband was distributed in the town through a joint venture. It involved the RCMP, local business, Slegg Lumber, Sidney by the Sea town council and ICBC. It was enthusiastically received, and I urge other members to try it in their communities.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, economic action plan 2013 is great news for the north.

I am pleased to tell Yukon residents of the record levels of funding through transfer payments to our territory. The $861 million transfer is $329 million more than we received under previous Liberal governments.

One of the greatest news stories is a line item to support the Yukon College Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining. This trades and technical facility investment would ensure greater opportunities for Yukon people, for Yukon jobs.

The new road map reflects the government's commitment to enhancing the vitality of Canada's official language minority communities. It helps to strengthen linguistic duality. Canada’s two official languages are an integral part of our national history, culture and identity. I am proud of our Franco-Yukon community.

Community SupportStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 20, 2013, a raging fire left eight immigrant and refugee families homeless in the middle of the night. The victims, who lived on Bouchette Street, in the heart of Limoilou, lost everything. My riding office quickly became the collection point for donations. Quebec City rose to the challenge and was extraordinarily generous. Everyone put in hours of hard work, and now some of the families are moving into their new homes today.

I would like to acknowledge the firefighters, paramedics, police officers and Red Cross staff for their quick and effective response. I would also like to acknowledge the generous donors and volunteers from the Quebec City region, as well as the businesses that showed their support. I also thank my team, as well as Entraide Agapè, the Centre multiethnique de Québec, the Salvation Army and the Quebec City administration for their hard work.

It was a moving and rewarding experience for me and my team, as well as the families involved.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government's economic action plan is focused on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canada and its people.

The Canada job grant aims to help job seekers and job creators, providing nearly 130,000 Canadians with access to the training required to fill available jobs.

Our Conservative government has also introduced the largest long-term federal commitment to Canadian infrastructure in our nation's history, $70 billion over 10 years. This is very welcome news in the GTA, where this money would go toward much-needed roads and transit.

We have also introduced tax-cutting measures, such as the first-time donors credit to encourage charitable giving within our communities.

Our Conservative government is committed to ensuring Canada's prosperity. We will not be stopped by the NDP's misguided plans to increase taxes and kill Canadian jobs.

Franco-Ontarian NewspaperStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1912, James Whitney's Conservative Ontario government prohibited the use of French as a language of instruction by adopting Regulation 17.

Father Charlebois and many collaborators, both religious and secular, joined together to confront this threat and, through a successful grassroots fundraising campaign, founded the newspaper Le Droit in order to keep francophone schools in Ontario.

The newspaper's first issue rolled off the presses on March 27, 1913, 100 years ago tomorrow. Since then, Le Droit has fought all the fights: for homogeneous school boards, for francophone colleagues, for linguistic duality and linguistic rights, for the Montfort Hospital.

My message today is for the more than 600,000 francophones in Ontario. Stay true to our language and our culture, and demand that Le Droit stay true to us. If the future belongs to those who fight, it is also up to our daily newspaper to fight with us.

Long live those who fight. Long live Le Droit, which is celebrating its first hundred years tomorrow.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I attended a retirement dinner for Brian Duplessis, who is retiring after 40 years with the Department of Agriculture in New Brunswick.

Brian is the consummate professional, giving his all to the industry. In this day and age when we tend to speak first and engage the brain later, Brian listened first, thoughtfully considered the situation and spoke with determination and kindness.

Anyone who knows Brian will say that he is deeply concerned about the industry and all producers. Brian travelled all over numerous rural regions in New Brunswick, and if a farmer needed to be seen, Brian was probably at that farm.

Brian could carry the serious messages from producers to government while applying the appropriate filters to keep the discussions productive.

He is a true gentleman, committed to his work, his family and his faith. Each tribute at the dinner provided a glimpse into a man who was well respected and valued for his contribution to the entire industry.

I want to extend my best wishes to Brian on his retirement and to him, Suzanne and the entire family our hope for many years of health and happiness.

Témiscouata and Les BasquesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, two economic gatherings were held in my riding in recent weeks. The first took place in Pohénégamook, in Témiscouata, and the second in Saint-Mathieu-de-Rioux, in Les Basques.

In total, over 300 entrepreneurs and workers met to discuss the economic vitality in my riding. In Témiscouata, there are about 350 job openings in a number of businesses, such as Bégin & Bégin, Les Constructions Unic and Les Produits PBM.

In Les Basques, people shared some wonderful success stories, including that of Basques Hardwood Charcoal, which sells maple charcoal to supply chefs' kitchens across North America, and Fromagerie des Basques, a success story in its own right and the first business of its kind to develop and use its own biomethanation process.

Comments to local media outlets showed how happy people are to finally see some success stories, rather than bad-news stories.

I am proud to have been a part of this initiative. Keep an eye on Témiscouata and Les Basques. Our region's ingenuity knows no bounds.

International TradeStatements By Members

March 26th, 2013 / 2:05 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, in 2009, the United States implemented a protectionist measure for meat products entering the U.S. from Canada, known as country of origin labelling or COOL. Our Canadian government requested a WTO panel, which ruled that COOL was a discriminatory and illegal trade barrier. The Obama administration has shown no intention of complying with the WTO ruling, but instead has proposed even more detailed labelling laws.

COOL has devastated our livestock industry. Exports of Canadian cattle to the U.S. have fallen by half, and hog shipments have fallen by over 60%. This represents losses to livestock producers in the billions of dollars.

If history has taught us anything, it is that protectionism does not create economic growth for anyone.

The Obama administration is stubbornly supporting COOL. It is ignoring the WTO, violating the spirit of NAFTA, jeopardizing Canadian good will, unfairly punishing our livestock industry and hurting American processors.

If the Obama administration will not comply with the WTO, Canada will retaliate. We will not stand for this unfair attack on our livestock sector.

Canadian National Institute for the BlindStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize a very special organization in my riding, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

The CNIB is an organization that serves Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are blind or partially sighted. It provides a strong national voice for all who are a part of the community in Canada.

Founded in 1918, the CNIB offers a wide array of services that ensure that those in its community have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in all facets of life.

I am pleased to note that budget 2013 would assist the CNIB in building its innovative national digital hub. This facility will “acquire and produce alternative format materials, and distribute them” to the print-disabled community.

Congratulations to president John Rafferty and his team in their pursuit to ensure that the CNIB continues to be an innovation leader in Canada.

Renaissance Brome LakeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday I participated in an event put on by a local organization, Renaissance Brome Lake.

This organization is made up of people who are concerned about protecting and restoring an ecological gem—Brome Lake. Nearby residents can enjoy this magnificent body of water at various times throughout the year.

In partnership with researchers and biologists, Renaissance Brome Lake has increased public awareness of the fauna in this area, which includes eight wetlands and various tributaries.

This lake plays a part in the economic vitality of the surrounding municipalities. Mr. Speaker, I invite you to visit this magnificent area, starting with a round of golf on one of the three courses around Brome Lake. Afterwards, you could stop for a while at Douglass Beach and then make your way to the Knowlton marina.

Congratulations to this organization on the work it does to protect the environment.

EpilepsyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise today and stand in support of Purple Day. It is wonderful to see so many of my colleagues in the House wearing purple ribbons today. We are all touched by epilepsy, whether of a family member, a co-worker, a friend or a neighbour. Those living with epilepsy face challenges, discrimination and often a lower quality of life. Sadly, 300,000 Canadians live with epilepsy.

Although there is no cure for epilepsy, we can all play a more active role by helping others understand what it is like to live with epilepsy and by helping affected Canadians reach their full potential. There are many citizen advocates in my riding of Barrie, Ontario who are dedicated to increasing awareness of epilepsy by providing education for people with epilepsy and their families, friends and employers, as well as the greater community.

I pay tribute to Melanie Money, Jeffrey White and David Lowe for their sustained and dedicated commitment to this important cause in Simcoe County.

EpilepsyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today orange turns purple. This is what is in our hearts today on this, the first official Purple Day for epilepsy awareness. The purple we see is simply the outward sign of our solidarity with all those who live with epilepsy, and there are many. This is not a disease that affects the very few. About 300,000 Canadians have this neurological disorder, and they come from all walks of life.

Among them are heroes of mine, such as the great Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young and young Cassidy Megan, who has epilepsy, yes, but also the power within her to inspire all of us into not just a single day of unity but an annual display, in purple to boot.

For Cassidy and others, the purple is about educating Canadians without epilepsy, but may all the purple in this House today also send a message to those with epilepsy. The message is that they are not alone and should not feel alone.

Tomorrow on this side of the House, purple will become orange again, but we are on their side year round.

PassoverStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise in the House today to extend my best wishes to Canada's Jewish community for celebrating Passover.

Last night Jewish families and friends across Canada shared traditional seder meals during which they retold the story of Passover. Passover commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt and their freedom from slavery. As the Israelites fled Pharoah, the bread they had baked did not have time to rise. During this eight-day holiday, Jews eat matzo, flat unleavened bread, to commemorate the Exodus.

Passover is a time when all Canadians can reflect on the importance of freedom, family, tradition and faith and a time to think about those who struggle for basic human rights.

I ask that my colleagues in the House join me in wishing all Canadians celebrating Passover a joyous holiday. Chag Sameach.

Purple DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the unanimous support from members on all sides of this House last year for the Purple Day Act, I am thrilled to stand in the House today to recognize the first official Purple Day in Canada.

Purple Day was founded by Cassidy Megan, a young woman from Halifax West, to raise international awareness about epilepsy. This condition affects 300,000 Canadians and 50 million people worldwide. Cassidy and members of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance are on Parliament Hill today to help us celebrate Canada's leadership in epilepsy awareness. I invite you, Mr. Speaker, and all my colleagues to a reception down the hall after question period to meet Cassidy Megan.

I know all members will join me in extending our thanks to Cassidy for her courage and her commitment to improving the quality of life for all people with epilepsy.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, Darryl Sutter is a Stanley Cup champion, and this native Albertan is also a champion of Canada's job-creating energy industry. When he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama, he will raise the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline in the long-term prosperity and energy security of both our countries.

Contrast this with the leader of the NDP who, on his recent trip to Washington, argued against Canadian jobs and met with convicted cop shooter Gary Freeman. When asked about why he met with someone who shot a brave front-line Chicago police officer, the NDP leader said, “There are values that guide you in what you do in your life.”

What are the NDP leader's values? Through his actions he has put left-wing extremism ahead of keeping our streets and communities safe. He has argued against a vital sector of our economy that creates jobs from coast to coast to coast.

Our Conservative government will continue to stand up for law-abiding Canadians, stand up for our economy and ensure that the NDP leader's wild socialist schemes will never come to pass.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, since forming government in 2006, Conservatives have consistently ignored and marginalized women.

They gutted child care programs, cut pay equity and closed Status of Women offices, and now they continue to undermine social supports for women and families.

On Friday, we got a window into their mindset when the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, while defending the budget, said, “Grace, you're a great cook. You're going to make a wonderful wife for somebody.”

Instead of apologizing, the minister tried to claim his words were taken out of context. The only context that could possibly make this acceptable would be if it was still the 1950s or if the minister prefaced them by saying, “It would be incredibly inappropriate for me to say the following”.

Canadian women deserve better. Fortunately, Canadians have the NDP. A New Democrat government would ensure its cabinet actually respects the contributions of women to all aspects of modern Canadian society.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the future of our country, it is a matter of choices. For example, our government has a responsible plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

The NDP leader, on the other hand, has schemed up a $20-billion job-killing carbon tax that would raise the price of everything.

Under our Conservative government, the Canadian economy has created over 950,000 net new jobs since the depth of the global economic recession.

In contrast, the NDP leader's job-killing carbon tax would kill Canadian jobs and stall economic growth.

Economic action plan 2013 builds on the strong foundation our government laid last year to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

The NDP leader has decided to abandon hard-working Canadian families by travelling to Washington to trash Canada and lobby against Canadian jobs.

Canadians chose to support Canada's government—