House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.


Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his pertinent and very clear comment.

As he mentioned, in Quebec we are working on transparency and reducing the influence of money in politics. Unfortunately, since arriving in the House, I have the impression that this Conservative government does not have a handle on reality, or that it is wearing blinders and is making a beeline for its objective, which serves the interests of the Conservatives and not of Canadians.

Once again, today's debate is a charade. Things must change. We have to talk to one another. We are in Parliament and the word “parliament” contains the French word “parler” or to talk. Unfortunately, that is missing from the government's actions.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could provide comment on the fact that the Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act are fundamental to our democracy, and changes to them must be achieved by a broad consensus and backed by solid evidence. This is something we in the Liberal Party would advocate in the strongest ways.

Once again, through closure, the government is forcing the vote later on today. I wonder if the member might comment on how important it is, when we pass this type of legislation, that it is done with a broader sense of consensus, as opposed to the manner in which the majority Conservative government has used its majority to push through this Conservative election act. It was done without any consultation from organizations such as Elections Canada and many other stakeholders, including political parties that are in opposition to the government.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague for his pertinent question.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a complete lack of transparency with this government. Everything is opaque and everything serves its interests. We can no longer have faith in the Conservatives and in the Minister of State for Democratic Reform when it comes to improving election laws. That was clear when the committee was shut down even before the NDP had a chance to move all its amendments.

Unfortunately, as my colleague clearly said, this government is using its majority to impose the rule of tyranny on Canada's Parliament.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would describe today as a very dark day. In fact, it is the last day of debate on Bill C-23, the government's electoral “deform”, as we rightly refer to it.

This bill was not introduced with a view to better protecting our democracy and our electoral system. Changes are being made to benefit the Conservatives in the next election. Tactics include voter suppression and the ability to continue to get around the election rules without the slightest concern.

What the government is doing today is outrageous. It is steamrolling over the opposition parties. This is actually the first time in Canadian history that a government has used its majority to impose its views and anti-democratic changes, without coming to an agreement with anyone, with any of the opposition parties or members of civil society. Everyone is against this bill; that is unanimous. Seldom have we seen all segments of civil society join forces to speak so strongly against a bill.

The content of this bill is anti-democratic. In addition, true to form, the Conservatives trampled over and circumvented our Parliament's democratic procedures in the way they introduced and debated this bill in the House. Showing contempt for Canadian democracy, the Conservatives once again imposed time allocation motions, which means that debates were limited. In fact, this is the first time I have been able to speak to the bill. I have not been able to do so previously because debates on bills are constantly being limited. Some of my colleagues definitely would have been interested in speaking out against this terrible bill.

Furthermore, the Conservatives put an end to the committee's study of this electoral “deform” bill, even though half of the amendments proposed by the NDP were not even debated.

Furthermore, the first draft of this bill was extremely outrageous. This one is a bit better, but it is still outrageous. This shows that the government has no respect for its democratic institutions. It proposed amendments that elected members of Parliament themselves had submitted during the parliamentary committee's study. It wanted to change Canadian democracy by first studying this bill in the Senate. It is rather ironic that the government would propose amendments in the Senate and that an unelected chamber would make changes to our democracy. That is absolutely ridiculous. Furthermore, this shows what kind of respect this government has for its democratic institutions.

The Conservatives rejected the amendments that would have given investigators the tools they need to combat election fraud, that would have kept Elections Canada independent from government and that would have given the Chief Electoral Officer the right to encourage Canadians to vote.

The Minister of State for Democratic Reform did not even consult the CEO on this bill. He misled the House during question period. He indicated that he had consulted the CEO, but that was absolutely not true.

The minister has been going after Elections Canada for years, and more recently he has been going after the Chief Electoral Officer by undermining his credibility and attacking him, as he has done with all the officers of Parliament. That is absolutely outrageous and disgraceful on the part of a government.

The minister has been going after Elections Canada for years. He says that this agency is biased because it has criticized the Conservatives' non-compliance with election laws. They were caught with the in and out scandal. I want to explain to Canadians what that scandal involved. In Canada, each party has a maximum amount for election spending. They circumvented this maximum by diverting funds through riding associations that had $90,000 maximums but where the party had no chance of winning. These associations were made to pay invoices that should have been charged to the national party. The party was circumventing the law.

The Conservatives got caught and pleaded guilty. This bill will allow them to keep circumventing election laws without being concerned about the Chief Electoral Officer or the commissioner, even though he has some investigative powers. The Conservatives want to get rid of all of the measures so that they can keep bending the rules illegally without the slightest concern. We need to keep in mind that the Conservative database was used to send voters to the wrong polling station.

Instead of complying with election laws, the Conservatives decided to take direct aim at Elections Canada by limiting its investigative powers, even though they voted in favour of the motion we moved in 2012 that called for more investigative powers for the Chief Electoral Officer. Elections Canada's powers were completely eliminated, thus allowing the Conservatives to keep bending the rules without a care in the world.

Our party, all of the opposition parties and Canadians in general oppose this bill. Canadians from coast to coast voiced their disapproval. Faced with such a public outcry, the Conservatives had no choice but to back down on some fundamental aspects of the original bill.

We obtained a number of concessions, which proves that the NDP is a strong opposition, worthy of being the government in waiting. Soon, we will no longer be waiting because we will form the government in 2015. I would remind the House that in the wake of the robocall scandal, it was the NDP that demanded changes to the Elections Act, notably to strengthen the powers of the Chief Electoral Officer, not weaken them as the government is currently doing.

The NDP is there to protect Canadian democracy. We stand at the ready when the government attacks our democracy. We are there to make sure the government is accountable to Canadians.

One aspect of the bill that the government partially backed down on is the Chief Electoral Officer's ability to participate in public education campaigns to increase voter participation, which is plummeting. The government wanted to see those numbers drop even further in the next election so that it would increase its chances of getting re-elected.

The Chief Electoral Officer will no longer have the authority to educate Canadians about the importance of voting. From now on, the Chief Electoral Officer will only be able to publicize certain aspects of the voting process, namely, when and where to vote. Unfortunately, they are limited to just that. The Chief Electoral Officer will no longer be allowed to reach out to certain groups to help them encourage voter turnout among the people they represent.

We feel that public education is an essential function of the Chief Electoral Officer and that these changes will certainly not help boost voter turnout, but will instead have the opposite effect and lower turnout among young people, seniors and aboriginal groups living on reserves. All these groups will have more difficulty voting because, in a way, their right to vote will not be recognized.

Canada's Democracy Week, which was organized by Elections Canada, is a glaring example. From now on, Elections Canada will no longer be able to organize this important week to raise awareness about democracy.

Furthermore, the Chief Electoral Officer will have to ask the Treasury Board for permission to hire private companies to help in conducting an investigation or drafting reports like the report on the robocalls case. The government will be interfering in the work of an officer of Parliament, who must have complete independence from the government. The Treasury Board's control is unacceptable.

As I mentioned previously, one of the bill's main objectives is voter suppression. Someone using a voter information card as proof of address will be prevented from voting under this bill. That provision will create serious problems for Canadians who have difficulty providing proof of address when they go to vote.

Students, seniors and aboriginal communities are affected by this change.

Since I do not have a lot of time left, I just want to say that we have been strongly opposed to this bill from the start and will continue to be until the end. In a few hours, we will continue to denounce this dishonest strategy the government is using to try to secure its re-election.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, as we have pointed out in the past, one of the greatest deficiencies within this legislation is the government's failure to recognize the importance of compelling a witness. In the last federal elections we saw literally thousands of Canadians from all across our country who expressed concerns in regard to public confidence in the last federal election. One of the ideas that came out of that was that Elections Canada needed to have the ability to compel a witness.

I see my colleague, the former MLA from Burrows in the Gallery. He would recall that Elections Manitoba has the authority to compel a witness, as an example. There are other jurisdictions that have the authority to compel.

We had the Chief Electoral Officer come before the committee, along with the Commissioner of Elections. They both felt that it was important to strengthen our election laws so that they would have the ability to compel a witness. The government has decided not to enable them to compel. Thereby, we in the Liberal Party would argue that it is a fundamental flaw within the legislation, and we have challenged the government to allow for--

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments and question.

That is one of the major problems with this bill. It is a strategy that the Conservatives borrowed from the Republicans in the United States and used during the last election. The Bush administration used this strategy in 2001. The Conservatives looked at this strategy and knew that it would work to call voters to discourage them and tell them that the polling station had moved, when that was not true, and send them in the wrong direction. One in three people who received that type of call did not vote because they thought the polling station was too far away, for instance.

After this scandal, Elections Canada showed that the Chief Electoral Officer did not have the power to investigate or compel witnesses to testify. He did not get the desired co-operation from the government and, as such, Elections Canada could prove only that the Conservatives' database was at the origin of this scandal.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his passionate debate on this issue that is important to our democracy.

The Conservatives rejected the NDP's amendment that sought to ensure that the Chief Electoral Officer did not need the Treasury Board's consent to hire electoral experts to conduct studies and prepare reports, such as the Neufeld report and the one on the robocall scandal.

Can my colleague tell the House what he thinks the Conservatives are afraid of?

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question.

Hon. members opposite must surely be afraid of losing the next election. That is why they are in the process of implementing measures that will allow them to keep getting around the rules governing elections without being bothered by the Chief Electoral Officer. He will not have the power to do the necessary investigations or to compel witnesses to testify.

In addition, if there is another electoral fraud like last time, he will have to consult the Treasury Board in order to be able to hire a firm with the expertise to prepare a proper report. This is interfering in the work of an officer of Parliament. It is completely unjustifiable, it makes no sense, and it undermines the credibility of the Chief Electoral Officer.

The Conservatives are afraid of losing the next election.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.


Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in this House to speak about Bill C-23.

Over the past few months, the opposition parties have been tirelessly trying to portray the fair elections act as undemocratic and sinister. Before the bill was introduced, even before they had had a chance to read it, they were against it. They have consistently tried to misinform Canadians about why the government was implementing Bill C-23. They have tried to build a narrative of the government ramming legislation through without proper consultation or investigation. Quite frankly, nothing could be farther from the truth.

It seems to me that the opposition parties have forgotten how our legislative process works. I would like to use my time today to highlight two issues. First is how the progress of Bill C-23 thus far exemplifies the integrity, utility, and efficacy of our legislative system. Second is what Canadians have really been saying about Bill C-23, not the fabricated stories the opposition parties have been desperately trying to sell.

The 2011 election saw several irregularities. While courts recently determined that nothing illegal had been done, Canadians, Elections Canada, and our government were concerned about the integrity of our electoral system and the process by which any irregularity would be investigated and prosecuted. This was the true motivation behind the fair elections act.

Although the opposition parties like to throw around alarming phrases like “voter suppression tactics” and other wild descriptions, this bill started out like any other. A problem was identified that needed a government legislative fix. There is nothing controversial or new about this. This is how our democracy has functioned for nearly 150 years.

Before Bill C-23 was introduced, the government spent a great deal of time examining the various issues raised by Elections Canada, as well as court cases related to the robocall scandal and other irregularities. I myself was inadvertently, and quite frankly, unnecessarily, dragged into the robocall case by the Council of Canadians. The court found, after close investigation, as we had stated all along, that nothing illegal had been done by any of the MPs involved.

If Elections Canada had sharper teeth, this entire investigation could have been completed more quickly, saving thousands of taxpayers' dollars. If Elections Canada had only had the proper investigative tools from the get-go, it would have been straightforward to discover the evidence, if any existed. Only charges with substantive evidence would have progressed, and countless hours of the court's time and taxpayer resources would have been saved.

Since Bill C-23 was introduced, the opposition parties have been trying to misinform Canadians by stating that the government had not consulted with Canadians or experts. They have continuously tried to convince Canadians that this bill was being rammed through Parliament without any debate or proper investigation.

Let me provide the House with some facts about what has actually transpired on Bill C-23. In committee, the bill has had a long and exhaustive analysis. There have been over 15 meetings, amounting to roughly 31 hours of study, with testimony from over 72 witnesses.

In addition, Canadians have continued to voice their concerns to their MPs, who have duly consolidated these concerns and have informed the minister and his department accordingly.

In my riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming, I have received input from 45 constituents. As people wrote in, the overwhelming majority of concerns were focused on one particular part of the bill, and that was the elimination of vouching. As their MP, I communicated this to the minister. The Minister of State for Democratic Reform was always open to the feedback I shared on behalf of my constituents.

In addition, the Senate conducted its own study of the bill and conveyed to the minister its thoughts and concerns. What was the result? On April 25, the government announced that it would support amendments to the fair elections act in anticipation of the clause-by-clause review of the bill by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. These amendments included voter identification and vouching, the mandate of the Chief Electoral Officer to include engaging the public on voting, the appointment of central poll supervisors, fundraising exceptions that would constitute an election expense, and several others.

While the opposition continues to pine and misinform Canadians, our government has methodically, in combing through the bill, listened to Canadians and experts and has made modifications that better reflect expert insight and essentially what Canadians want. That is not controversial or sinister. That is, quite frankly, democracy in action. In fact, I am currently in the process of sending correspondence to every single one of the constituents who expressed concerns about the bill to inform them about the details of the amendments so that they know that their letters, calls, and emails played a direct role in the legislative process of fine-tuning the bill before it becomes law.

Here are some of the details. First is voter identification. The bill would allow an elector to vote with two pieces of identification that prove identity and a written oath as to his or her residence, provided that another elector from the same polling division who proves his or her identity and residence by providing documentary proof also takes a written oath as to the elector's residence. This new measure would allow those who do not have identification proving their residence to register and vote on polling day.

Second is the public information and education mandate of the Chief Electoral Officer. The bill specifies that the Chief Electoral Officer may communicate with the public, but where he advertises to inform electors about the exercise of their democratic rights, he can only do so with respect to how to be a candidate; when, where, and how to vote; and what tools are available to assist disabled electors. Further, the Chief Electoral Officer may support civic education programs for primary and secondary schools.

Third is the appointment of central poll supervisors. The legislation would retain the current appointment process for central poll supervisors.

Fourth is the fundraising exception and what constitutes an election expense. We are eliminating the proposed exception as to what constitutes an election expense in the case of expenses incurred to solicit monetary contributions from past supporters.

Overall, thanks to input from experts, Canadians, and legislators, 14 substantive and 45 technical amendments have been introduced by the Minister of State for Democratic Reform to further improve the quality of the fair elections act.

Now that we have an appreciation of how Bill C-23 has carefully gone through analysis, consultation, and revision, I can briefly discuss what Canadians outside the Ottawa bubble have actually been saying about it.

A recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of CTV demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that it is entirely reasonable for voting to have identification requirements. We require Canadians to have ID to drive, travel, purchase alcohol, and do countless other tasks. Canadians recognize the good common sense in requiring identification for one of the most fundamental acts citizens can do, and that is elect their government. This makes abundant common sense.

This poll demonstrated that 70% of Canadians believe that it is acceptable to eliminate vouching. This reflects the desire of Canadians to ensure the integrity of their electoral system.

Canada is a very tolerant and diverse society. If resident non-Canadians want to vote, they are always more than welcome to apply for citizenship. However, the responsibility of choosing our federal government belongs to citizens and citizens alone, and we must protect that important privilege from those who would seek to abuse it.

The opposition parties protest that ID requirements would disenfranchise some Canadians. For example, they argue that ID requirements would make it more difficult for students to vote. This is a perfect example of the kind of fearmongering and misinformation the opposition has been propagating. All Canadian universities and colleges issue their students ID cards. These same cards can be used to vote.

However, the issue of ID raises a more important question. If the right to vote is reserved for Canadian citizens, how does one prove that he or she is a citizen? ID requirements are just good common sense. However, and although it is highly unlikely, for citizens who do not have access to any of the 39 pieces of acceptable ID, including basic and easily obtainable documents such as bank statements, hydro bills, or library cards, we have retained vouching as an assurance, because we recognize that improbable does not mean impossible. We want to make sure that every citizen who makes the effort to come out and cast a ballot has a reasonable way of proving his or her status as a citizen. This would ensure that no Canadian citizen would be deprived of the right to vote.

Citizens who could not obtain the necessary ID could request that another voter from the same poll vouch for them, but this person would have to first prove their identity and would only be able to vouch once.

This change to vouching is in line with the March 6 recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer, when he said, “vouching procedures should and can be simplified.... The need to rely on vouching should also be reduced”. We agree with that.

This amendment is a perfect example of how the bill has been fine-tuned through the legislative process after extensive review and consultation. In fact, for all the sound and fury the opposition has been making about Bill C-23 and how allegedly outraged the majority of Canadians are, the same poll indicates that some 23%, that is one out of every four Canadians, are closely following the issue. Clearly, this reflects the fact that most Canadians have come to the conclusion that the fair elections act is nothing but common sense, a common sense response to some very serious issues.

The opposition parties have tried to mislead Canadians by calling Bill C-23 a scheme intended to disenfranchise voters. This is simply not true, and Canadians know that it is not true. Sixty-one per cent, six out of every 10 Canadians, disagree that Bill C-23 is a scheme, and only 15%, fewer than two in 10 people, strongly agree.

Finally, when asked if requiring voters to personally prove who they are and where they live is essential to eliminating potential fraud in our electoral system, 86%, nearly nine out of every 10 Canadians, agreed. Only one in 10 Canadians disagreed with that statement.

There is evidence that the opposition parties are desperately trying to distract Canadians from the fact that they have no policy or plans of their own, except for possibly a $21-billion job-killing carbon tax. They have tried to mislead Canadians into thinking that this is a scheme and that the majority from coast to coast are upset about it.

As I said throughout my speech, over the past few months, only 45 constituents in my riding of 96,000 have raised concerns about Bill C-23. The majority of these concerns dealt with vouching. That issue has now been put to bed.

Once again, the opposition opines and fusses instead of making meaningful and critical positive contributions to our legislative process.

I would certainly like to commend our Minister of State for Democratic Reform for his principled commitment and leadership of guiding Bill C-23 through the legislative process.

While the NDP and the Liberals have tried to misinform Canadians about the contents of the bill, how it was drafted, how it continues to be fine-tuned, our government has attentively listened to Canadians, experts and legislators in order to improve the fair elections act.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question will be quite simple.

The aim of an elections act is to allow people to vote freely, knowing that the election has not been fixed. Does the hon. member really believe that, with this act, first nations and student participation will increase? Does he feel that Pierre Poutine, the professional election rigger, will be going to jail? That is the question. What will be the purpose of this act?

Everyone involved has said that the act will not make for more voter participation.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, there those members go again, as I said, fear-mongering, negativity. I am more than convinced that Bill C-23 would provide the environment so students, native people and, in fact, all Canadians would come out to vote in the next federal election.

Fair Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time for government orders has expired. The hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming will have nine minutes remaining for questions and comments when this matter returns following question period.

Edmonton Oil KingsStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.


Brent Rathgeber Independent Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Edmonton Oil Kings on winning the championship of the Western Hockey League last night, and doing so in a very dramatic fashion.

For the second time in three years, the Oil Kings have captured the Ed Chynoweth Cupas WHL champions. After posting a 50-19-3 regular season record, capturing the eastern division of the WHL, the Oil Kings swept the Prince Albert Raiders 4 games to 0 in the first round, then bested the Brandon Wheat Kings 4 games to 1. In the eastern conference final, the Oil Kings beat the Medicine Hat Tigers 4 games to 1, setting the stage for an exciting 7 game championship against the defending champions, the Portland Winterhawks.

Each of the seven games was riveting. After losing game 6, 6-5 in overtime, the Oil Kings prevailed last night in game 7 in Portland with a 4-2 victory, taking the championship 4 games to 3.

The Oil Kings will now travel to London, Ontario, where they will be hosted by the Minister of State for Science and Technology where they will compete for the Memorial Cup.

I would like to congratulate head coach, Derek Laxdal, and the entire Oil Kings organization, and wish them well in their quest to capture the Memorial Cup. Go, Oil Kings, go.

Miss Universe Canada PageantStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to acknowledge and salute Miss Breanne Tozer of Miramichi, who will be representing New Brunswick in the Miss Universe Canada pageant this month.

Breanne is a bright and talented young lady, who holds degrees from the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University. She received several scholarships, including the prestigious National Millennium Excellence Award. Breanne now has a career in the Canadian construction and mining services industry.

Breanne has a big heart, and is a volunteer in her community. Through the Miss Universe Canada pageant, Breanne will be helping to raise awareness and support for two of these wonderful organizations: Operation Smile and SOS Children's Villages.

On behalf of Miramichiers, I wish Breanne good luck in Toronto. We are very fortunate to have such a capable and caring young woman representing all of New Brunswick on the national stage.

I also encourage people to visit and vote for Breanne.

Fabio BelliStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is my first opportunity in the House to pay tribute to Fabio Belli, a dedicated family man and city councillor from my riding of Sudbury, who passed away suddenly a month ago yesterday.

Fabio was only 37 years old, and he was known as an award winning business leader. He channelled that spirit into getting elected as councillor. He worked hard for his constituents, as well as on major projects, especially for a new arena for his beloved Sudbury Wolves.

More than anything, Fabio was a committed family man. To his wife, Sue, his two young daughters, Emma and Brianna, his parents and extended family, I thank them for sharing Fabio with us. As political colleagues, we would meet, but as friends, we would talk about our families, our community and about how Italy was always the favourite to win the World Cup.

My city lost a good a man, a great husband and father, and I lost a friend. I truly hope this tribute will be looked upon by his daughters in the years to come, and it will remind them of how great a man their father truly was.

Career ProtestersStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been my experience and the experience of many others that when someone says that it is not about the money, it is always about the money.

Recent media reports about the expansion at CFB Trenton indicate that career protesters, the ones I mentioned in my previous statement in this chamber, can now be described as paid professional protesters. Despite the efforts of the member for Ottawa Centre and a Liberal senator from B.C., this issue is all about the money. These media reports show that these career protesters are being paid to protest. How sad.

We will continue forward with our government's original intent to create long-term, secure jobs and countless opportunities for the Quinte region. Our government is committed to the base expansion and the transfer of JTF 2 to CFB Trenton.

Elizabeth HarveyStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour Elizabeth Harvey, who passed away recently.

Ms. Harvey, from Isle-aux-Morts, on Newfoundland's southwest coast, spent many years fighting on behalf of fishermen treated unfairly through the Atlantic groundfish licence retirement program. She led a campaign for justice and equality.

In 2011, the result of her fight led to a victory in the Federal Court for over 750 fisherman, who finally received tax payments that were owed to them. Her determination and hard work led to fair tax treatment for many former fishers throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and across the east coast of Canada.

I know Ms. Harvey will be thoroughly missed, and that her tireless and determined efforts will be remembered for many years to come.

On behalf of all members, we offer our condolences to Elizabeth's family, her friends, her community and the many people throughout the Atlantic region who worked with her to see that justice was done.

Sam HermanStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to recognize Sam Herman for a lifetime of service to the people of Lloydminster and area and to our country, Canada, which he loved so much.

I first met Sam through politics in 1988. He was a driving force in building the Reform Party of Canada through immense contributions of hard work, money and, most important, well considered policy ideas.

He led the way in building the constituency association for the Vegreville and Lloydminster areas and helped me get elected as a candidate and then as the first Reform member of Parliament for Vegreville.

As campaign manager, Sam took the best part of a year to get me elected. I found out later that he never really thought he could accomplish that task. When I asked him why he contributed so much time and effort, he said, “Because it was the right thing to do”. That was my good friend Sam.

He deservedly was named Reformer of the Year in Ottawa in 1994. Sam's contributions to his community did not stop with politics. He was involved in Rotary, the Rotary Young Entrepreneur Program, his church and so much more.

To Sam, his wife Ardis, his children, and his God were his greatest loves and the source of so much pride.

Young Visitors from Portneuf—Jacques-CartierStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I am pleased to welcome to Parliament Hill a group of young people from the Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier youth centres.

These young people from my constituency of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier are already very involved in school and in the community. They are here to find out how our parliamentary system works and what kind of work federal members of Parliament do in Ottawa.

These young people from my constituency are shining examples of the vitality and incredible potential of Canadian youth. It is a privilege for me to welcome them. Their presence in Ottawa shows that they are already committed citizens; their voices must be heard by this government, so that it can finally provide them with all the support they need.

Whether by developing initiatives to encourage young people's active participation in the labour market or by funding programs aimed directly at our youth, such as the Coopératives jeunesse de services, the time for action is now.

As elected representatives, we have a duty to find room in our debates and in the policies we adopt for the young people whom this government too often neglects.

Calgary EastStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, my current riding of Calgary East is fortunate to have a strong, vibrant community associations, namely, Riverbend, Marlborough, Dover, Marlborough Park, Millican Ogden, Southview, Lynnwood, Crossroads/Mayland Heights, Forest Heights, Albert Park/Radisson Heights, Penbrooke Meadows, Forest Lawn, Erin Woods, Applewood Park, Inglewood, Douglas Glen and Abbydale.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers of all the community associations in Calgary East for their hard work and commitment to keeping the Calgary spirit of community bright.

With new boundaries taking effect during the election in 2015, I warmly welcome the new communities of Vista Heights, Rundle, Pineridge, Monterey Park and Coral Springs

I look forward to working with these communities in the coming years.

I also would like to thank those whom I have had the honour to represent since 1997.

International Tibet Solidarity DayStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, Etobicoke—Lakeshore is home to a growing number of Tibetan Canadians, many of whom fled religious persecution and made Canada their adopted land. Within a short time, they established the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre in Etobicoke. Draped in prayer flags, the centre actively promotes the distinct Tibetan culture of non-violence and tolerance.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an Honorary Canadian Citizen since 2006, visited Etobicoke—Lakeshore and inaugurated the centre in 2010.

May 17 is International Tibet Solidarity Day. On this day let us recall how Tibetans face difficulties in practising their religion. We renew our calls for the release of imprisoned religious leaders, including the 11th Panchen Lama, who disappeared 19 years ago at the age of six, and Khenpo Kartse and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who are being denied medical attention.

Canada's Ambassador for Religious Freedom recently met the Dalai Lama to reaffirm our commitment to the Tibetan community. Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Tibet. We call on the government of China to let people living in Tibet realize their political, cultural, religious and linguistic rights.

Eurêka Search and RescueStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to applaud the remarkable work of Eurêka recherche et sauvetage, a non-profit organization whose volunteer members specialize in searching for people who have disappeared or gone missing.

Last month, I met members of the group. I was impressed by their work and their generosity. They work with Sûreté du Québec and the Quebec emergency preparedness organization when disaster strikes, searching for people who have gone missing.

The important work these dedicated volunteers do in emergency situations enhances the effectiveness of the Sûreté du Québec's activities. On May 31 and June 1, Eurêka members are holding a garage sale in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès to raise money for equipment they really need.

I encourage everyone to check out the garage sale. Let us make sure that Eurêka has everything it needs to help our communities. Once again, I would like to thank all of the Eurêka volunteers who sometimes get the feeling nobody knows what they do.

Your work does not go unnoticed.

Thank you.

Relay for LifeStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to tell you about an event that many people in our community have decided to participate in: the Relay for Life.

This non-competitive, 12-hour overnight walk allows people to fundraise, celebrate life and fight cancer.

Relay for Life is a worldwide movement to fight cancer that takes place in 20 countries, including Canada where there are 500 different event locations. From coast to coast, in communities of all sizes, thousands of Canadians get together to fight for life. Last year in Canada, 16,224 teams collected $46.5 million.

I invite everyone to visit the site in order to find a relay that has been organized in their region or to put together a team of 10 to 15 people and stay up all night for a cause that affects all of us either directly or indirectly

Lynn WilliamsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a great Canadian labour leader, Lynn Williams, who passed away on May 4, just a few months short of his 90th birthday.

Lynn started his union career in the late 1940s as a member of United Steelworkers Local 2900 at the John Inglis plant. His links with the industrial and manufacturing core of the city of Toronto would later result in a street being named after him.

Lynn also became the first Canadian to lead an international labour union when he was elected president of the steelworkers' union in 1983, and in that role he skilfully led the steelworkers until his retirement in 1994.

He was a man devoted to his family, which he believed was the reason for everything that he did on behalf of other working families.

Lynn was known to many as a labour intellectual who considered all the consequences of his actions and those of the union he led. He understood politics, the nature of capitalism, and the need for social justice at every level.

This made Lynn a much sought-after media commentator long after his so-called retirement.

His wisdom, his strength, and his love for Canada led to his being invested as an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2005.

Yes, Lynn Williams was a labour giant and a great Canadian. He was well loved and he will be missed.