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House of Commons Hansard #248 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was syrian.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 13 petitions.

Navigable Waters Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-506, an act to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Don River).

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce this bill to restore protection of the Don River in Toronto, running as it does from the Port Lands in Toronto—Danforth all the way to the Don's source, 28 kilometres north in the Oak Ridges Moraine. This bill, which is seconded by my colleagues from Toronto from Beaches—East York, Trinity—Spadina and Davenport, is part of the NDP's effort to urge the Conservatives to reverse reckless changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act in their last budget and to restore protection of Canada's lakes and rivers.

The historic Don and the Don Valley through which it flows are iconic symbols of Toronto and are valued parts of our community history and environmental culture. Over the years, the rejuvenation of the Don River has been a stellar example of community-building and of the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and community organizations conscious of our need for green spaces and a healthy environment.

The bill would seek to continue to protect and enhance the Don's natural heritage for the city of Toronto.

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

Expansion and Conservation of Canada's National Parks ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Genetically Modified AlfalfaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition regarding genetically modified alfalfa. It is signed by constituents in my riding and surrounding area.

Nuclear Fuel Processing LicencePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

Several months ago, the people in my riding of Davenport in Toronto awoke to the fact that for 50 years now, GE Hitachi has been operating a nuclear fuel processing facility right in the middle of the riding, right in the middle of one of the most densely populated parts of the country. Its operating licence states that it is to engage the public in a public information program, which it clearly has not done, and in fact has not done for 50 years.

The petitioners are asking the government to reopen the licence so that the people in my riding and in the city can have their due course of public engagement on this issue.

Consumer ProtectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I present today comes from members of my riding who are very concerned, if not angry, over the fact that many people are being charged money, $2.00 and more, just to get their paper bills in the mail.

The petitioners call for the government to take measures to stop this practice.

Sex SelectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.

The first petition is signed by Canadians who recognize that CBC revealed some time ago that gender selection pregnancy termination is happening in Canada.

The petitioners point out that 92% of Canadians oppose this gender selection abortion and that all parties in the House condemned this practice.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons, as a House, to condemn it so the world can see that we simply do not accept that here in Canada.

Rights of the UnbornPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by petitioners who point out that Canada's definition of a human being is 400 years old.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to take into account the science of the last 400 years to redefine when life starts.

Genetically Modified OrganismsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from numerous people in my riding and beyond. The petitioners are calling attention to the issue of genetically modified organisms. They are calling on the government to conduct an independent inquiry on the safety of genetically modified organisms and to provide clear evidence that genetically modified organisms in food are not a risk to humans or the environment.

TelecommunicationsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by residents of Prévost who are opposed to Vidéotron erecting a telecommunications tower in their community. They feel as though the rights of residents and people in neighbouring communities were not respected.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to table. The first, which is signed by hundreds of Gatineau residents, pertains to the potential closure of the post office located at 139 Racine Street in Gatineau. These people are opposed to the closure of their post office, which is the only post office in the riding of Gatineau.

Trafficking in Persons and Sexual ExploitationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in support of Bill C-452, which seeks to combat trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation.

HealthPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition can be found on my website. I am not surprised, because health is a priority for Gatineau residents. They are calling on the Government of Canada to fully co-operate with the provinces and territories to negotiate a new health accord by 2014. This is extremely important to the people of Gatineau.

Lyme Disease StrategyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 7th, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions.

The first is from residents of Winnipeg supporting my private member's bill, BillC-442, calling for a national Lyme disease strategy. It is particularly timely, as this Saturday, May 11, is World Lyme Disease Day.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of the Vancouver area who are calling on the government and this House to support a permanent, legislated moratorium on supertanker traffic on the coast of British Columbia.

Impaired DrivingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present two petitions.

The first is about the sad fact that last year 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was killed by a drunk driver. A group of people, Families for Justice, who have also lost loved ones to impaired drivers want to see tougher laws and the implementation of a new mandatory minimum sentencing for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. They also want to see the Criminal Code changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving to be vehicular manslaughter.

Sex SelectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is regarding sex-selective pregnancy termination. The petitioners highlight that there are over 200 million missing women and girls in the world right now because of the gendercide. They are asking Parliament to condemn this practice.

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from May 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let us speak of kings and queens and crowns.

At the culmination of the Glorious Revolution in 1689, the British Parliament allowed William III and Mary II to ascend to the throne, but there was a catch: they would need to accept the convention of the right and the Bill of Rights, which established Parliament as the ruling power of Britain. It would become the mother of all parliaments, including our own.

While an imperfect document, some of the principles of the Bill of Rights live on to this day. One of them would later be described as no taxation without representation or, in the words of the Bill of Rights itself, that “levying money for or to the use of the Crown...without grant of Parliament...is illegal”. Simply put, the Crown can only spend the people's money with their consent, and only Parliament can grant that consent.

Three hundred and twenty-four years later, the principle is the same. Government cannot spend what Parliament has not approved, which brings us to the Crown, or crown corporations.

Under present rules, they may enter into a room with a union leader, negotiate an agreement and send the bill to taxpayers, who do not have a say but must pay. The people's servants in Parliament do not vote on it, nor does the elected government sign off, so in this respect it is as though we have returned to the mid-17th century, when the Crown levied money without grant of Parliament.

What has resulted? Let us consider Canada Post. Its losses and liabilities are the burden of its owners. They are taxpayers. Seventy-one per cent of the company's costs are labour wages and benefits. To find out why, let us look at the latest collective agreement, a 500-page monstrosity. For example, if there is no work for a Canada Post employee to do within a 40-kilometre radius of where he or she is located, the union agreement prevents that person from transferring to another place where his or her skills are needed. The worker must stay at home and remain without work even while on salary. In other words, when there is nothing to do, taxpayers pay for nothing to be done.

The union requires taxpayers to fund almost 500 corporate post offices, even though they are three times as expensive as retail outlets that provide the same service and are open for longer hours. After bankable sick days, pre-retirement leave, seven weeks of vacation and more, the amount of time the carriers spend delivering mail is only a portion of the time for which they are paid to do so.

None of this done, by the way, in the workers' interests; their jobs, after all, are only secure when the company is successful. What is more, ambitious, talented employees are forbidden from any kind of bonus, performance or otherwise, by their union. God forbid that excellence be rewarded.

The financial results speak for themselves. Last month's Conference Board report on Canada Post indicated “annual operating deficits of close to $1 billion by 2020”.

On top of that, the company will have billions more in accumulated pension liabilities. Who will pay for that? It will be taxpayers, of course. They never authorized it and they cannot hold to account the unelected officials who did. Politicians can claim innocence, for it was an arm's-length body that did it. Sure, the arms had enough length to reach into the pockets of taxpayers, but never mind; these crown corporations are independent. Actually, they are dependent on the same taxpayers they are independent from. In fact, we are told their very independence depends on their right to be dependent on the people they are independent from. Simply put, they are independently dependent.

I suppose it depends on one's point of view. In the view of opposition parties, today's crown corporations are similar to the crown on King James II's head. He was the last king of England prior to the Bill of Rights. He could tax as he wished and spend as he liked. He too was independently dependent.

However, every crown has its king. Union leaders have coronated themselves the monarchs of Canada's state-owned corporations. They have legislated monopolies on the workforce. Do as they say, or they will shut the place down with a strike. They collect mandatory union dues from workers, even those who choose not to be members—talk about taxation without representation. Employees who do want to work and build a merit-driven company are out of luck. They are banned from representing themselves in negotiations or from signing their own employment agreements. These vast union powers would make James II blush with envy.

While the budget will not solve all of these problems, division 17 of part 3 of the bill amends the Financial Administration Act to empower the democratically elected government to reject labour agreements that abuse taxpayers. In other words, we are restoring the principle of no taxation without representation.

We here in this chamber are that representation. The colour of this chamber is green, because in the early day of the House of commoners, the commoners came from the fields, and it was their toil in those fields that paid the levies the Crown expended.

It is the duty, therefore, of the government to have the approval of Parliament for all that it spends. This bill does precisely that. In this sense, it restores Parliament as defender of the public purse and makes the Crown servant and not master.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the Conservative member's shameful speech.

It is appropriate that he should speak about King James II, since, if hon. members listen carefully to what he is saying, they will realize that the Conservative member wants to take us back to the Middle Ages, a time when workers were overburdened by their employers, employers disbanded labour organizations, and workers had to work 14 hours a day in poor working conditions and did not have any rights. We get the impression from his anti-union attacks that the hon. member wants to take us back to 19th century England, as though that era is a model on which we should base the Canada of today.

The government is telling us that it has nothing to do with the closure of post offices because Canada Post is an independent corporation. However, as the hon. member for Gatineau pointed out today, if these corporations are independent, then why does the government want to stick its nose into their collective agreement negotiations and the rights of their workers? Why is the government acting in the best interest of employers rather than workers?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, it is members of the NDP who want to take our country back to the Middle Ages. They are the ones who want to take away the rights that Canadians and all members of parliamentary democracies fought for so that the people would have the right to decide how their money is spent. The New Democrats are the ones who want to take this power away from Parliament and the people that parliamentarians represent here.

It is they who want to take us back to the Middle Ages by removing the basic principle of no taxation without representation. It is they who want to take away workers' rights by denying them the ability to know how their union dues are spent or to make their own individual decisions.

We on this side of the House respect the principles of parliamentary supremacy, and we respect the taxpayers who pay the bills. Therein lies the difference.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, there are many examples of the Conservative majority government's lack of respect for democracy and parliamentary process. Canadians believe that there is a hidden Conservative-Reform agenda. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canada Post are national institutions Canadians believe in. There are government members with hidden agendas who want to attack our Canadian national institutions.

Why does the Conservative government attack our fine Canadian institutions?