House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was honduras.


(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #169

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from June 6 consideration of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario


Chris Alexander ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the chance to speak one final time on Bill C-24, a bill respecting the strengthening of Canadian citizenship. This is a challenge that has been before the House in one way or another for well over a century, since Confederation, as we have sought to understand and reinforce the value of the rights and privileges as well as the responsibilities and duties that we have as Canadian citizens.

It is important to realize that the bill has received wide-ranging debate, both in the House and across Canada, in committee and in this Chamber. We disagree perhaps with New Democrats on the nature of that debate. They have forgotten about the pre-study of the bill in committee; we have not. Earlier today in debate they declined to acknowledge that 25 very solid witnesses appeared before committee on the bill. We listened to their testimony with attention and found it extremely valuable.

There is a more fundamental issue, and this debate has revealed the fundamental difference of opinion between the NDP and ourselves on the bill. It revolves around the issue of revocation.

The NDP is silent on the issue of revocation of citizenship when it is fraudulently obtained. That is a power that we as a government already have under the current act. It is a long-standing power that has existed in one form or another through generations in the various versions of legislation governing Canadian citizenship. It is required, because as we in the House and all Canadians know, there was a phenomenon of abuse, particularly after 1977 with the Trudeau reforms to citizenship, of this highly prized program. People received the status of permanent residency but then actually failed to be physically present in our country. Instead, they paid lawyers and consultants to pretend they were here.

We have made great strides in understanding this issue. In collaboration with the RCMP, thousands of cases are being investigated, and they have led to dozens of revocations, as is proper in the minds of Canadians, who, as we all know, rightly have a low tolerance for abuse, for short-circuiting the system, and for rule-breaking of this kind, particularly when it relates to an issue as serious as citizenship.

Then there is the issue of revocation for gross acts of disloyalty to Canada. We on this side think that dual nationals who commit an act of treason or espionage or who are members of a terrorist group serving inside or outside our country have morally forfeited the right to be Canadian citizens. We think that moral forfeiture to the right to Canadian citizenship should be reflected in legislation. We should have the power, as a government and as a country, to revoke the citizenship of those who have taken up arms against the Canadian Forces or sold state secrets.

These are not widespread phenomena in Canada, fortunately. The loyalty of the overwhelming majority of Canadians is not in question. However, that same overwhelming majority understands that citizenship brings with it the concept of allegiance to a crown, to laws, to a political system, a democracy that has rules. When someone literally sells state secrets to a foreign power, betrays our country in fundamental ways, or takes up arms in a terrorist organization or in some other organized force against Canada and against international order, in the case of terrorism there should be a power to revoke citizenship when we are not making citizens stateless. That is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.

The bill would not create new classes, in isolated cases or larger numbers, of stateless persons, but it would give us a right that every other NATO ally, with the exception of Portugal, already has, which is to revoke citizenship for gross acts of disloyalty. This is a fundamental difference we have with the NDP and the Liberals, who do not seem to acknowledge that this power is relevant and that it should be reflected in the modernization of our Citizenship Act, which Bill C-24 would bring.

Second, we have a difference of opinion with a couple of stakeholders, notably, a few in the Canadian Bar Association, who have declared the bill unconstitutional. They do not listen to lawyers from the Department of Justice. They do not listen to lawyers across the country who are specialists in citizenship and immigration and see this bill as valuable, legitimate and entirely constitutional. They think that by asking permanent residents if they have the intent to reside in Canada as they begin the process of accumulating their residence in Canada to qualify for citizenship, is an unconstitutional request. We beg to differ.

If people are resident in Canada for three out of four years under the current law and four out of six years under the new law, they clearly have had the intent to reside in Canada. People do not take up residence in a country by accident, and it is entirely legitimate not only to ensure that there is physical presence for the requisite number of years but that people who are aspiring to attain citizenship have the intent to reside. If their intentions change, so be it. They may qualify for citizenship over a longer period, or their plans may change and they may go to live in another country, take up a job opportunity or follow family circumstances to another part of the world. They will not meet the residency requirements and they will not become eligible for Canadian citizenship. However, we are going to ask, and it is absolutely reasonable to ask, those heading toward the prized goal of Canadian citizenship if they intend to reside here.

Apart from those two criticisms, we have not heard much. There are isolated pockets of opposition to the bill, many of them badly informed, unfortunately, I think often by members opposite who have mischaracterized some of its provisions. There was an online poll, as I was saying in an earlier debate. Some of those who unwittingly signed were under a complete misapprehension of what the bill actually contained. If we on this side of the House had the opportunity to meet with these people, communicate with them directly, as we do in correspondence and emails every day, those misunderstandings would not have gone as far as they did.

The bulk of the reaction we have had from across the country, from the north and south, from the east and west, and everywhere in between goes along the following lines. I will quote Nick Noorani, managing partner of Prepare for Canada, who stated:

I congratulate the government on its changes [to the] Citizenship Act that combat residency fraud and ensure new Canadians have a stronger connection to Canada. With the changes announced today, processing times will be improved and new Canadians will be ready to fully participate in Canadian life.

Martin Collacott of the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, a former Canadian ambassador, stated:

The government's new citizenship legislation addresses a host of long overdue issues relating to the acquisition of citizenship. Its provisions, such as strengthening residency requirements for applicants, will increase the value and meaning of Canadian citizenship...

Gillian Smith, executive director and CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, stated:

Our organization works extensively with Canada’s newest citizens who tell us that measures taken to foster their attachment and connection to Canada have a positive effect on their successful integration. New citizens' sense of belonging comes in large measure from experiencing Canada first-hand-its people, nature, culture and heritage.

There are others, such as Sheryl Saperia on the need to send that clear message of deterrence to those who might contemplate terrorist acts and Bill Janzen, a consultant in the Central Mennonite Committee, who applauded us for the work to address the long overdue issue of lost Canadians.

There is a lot here. There is real value in this bill, such as faster processing, increased value for Canadian citizenship, honouring those serve and deterring disloyalty.

One hundred years ago, debate concluded in the House on the Naturalization Act, which is one of the forebears of this bill. Mr. Diefenbaker said the following on the last day of that debate, which took only one month:

If ever there was a time when we should assert and practise what our citizenship means, it is now....It is our duty and responsibility as Canadian citizens to maintain those principles and traditions which mean so much to us and to guard against infringement of the great principles of freedom; for...the hallmarks of liberty can be erased as a result of the acts of a zealous person who is misdirected, no less than by one who destroys those principles with evil intent. We will give a great citizenship to Canadians hereafter.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thoroughly confused by the minister's speech. He says that Canadians are misguided. He says that the Canadian Bar Association does not know how to interpret laws and that it is a group of lawyers that is phony and does not know what it is doing.

When I listened, I did not hear him talk about UNICEF. It wrote a brief and sent it to the committee when we did the pre-study. It said that the bill was making so many changes that it was going to make Canada in contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Lawyer after lawyer, committee organization after organization have said that the bill is not good completely as it is and have suggested many recommendations.

Why did the minister's parliamentary secretary, under his guidance I am assuming, not allow a single amendment to the bill that was proposed by any of the opposition parties? Why did the government did not listen to the experts who made suggestions? Why did it not propose a single amendment and did not accept a single one of the amendments that were put forward by any of the opposition parties?

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason that the NDP amendments were not accepted was because they were not very good. They would have watered down the provisions of the bill. They would have left us with an inferior processing model for citizenship. They would have left us with backlogs and long processing times.

Most crucially, they would have failed to address the issue of those who violated their allegiance to Canada, but somehow in the view of the NDP currently could continue along with their Canadian citizenship. We do not think that should be the case in future for dual nationals. That is why we have a fundamental difference of opinion with the NDP members who have no trouble defending these spies, traitors and terrorists and their right to continue to be Canadian citizens even after committing such gross acts of disloyalty.

There are serious improvements in the bill. They go in the same direction as that debate 100 years ago on the Naturalization Act, which happened in only one month. No one on the opposition benches repeated themselves in that debate. The quote I just gave from Mr. Diefenbaker was from the 1946 debate on the Citizenship Act. That too was a fast debate on a historic bill, with rich contributions from all sides of the House. We have not seen that from the NDP in this debate.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also want to pick up on the minister's gratuitous remarks about the Canadian Bar Association. I do not know whether that is because the minister is not a member of the Canadian Bar Association. I do not know why he would want to cast aspersions on the hundreds of thousands of lawyers.

However, I want to remind him that under section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act, the Minister of Justice is compelled for every bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons by a minister of the crown, that would be that minister, in order to ascertain whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The minister, in conjunction with the Minister of Justice, shall report any inconsistency to the House of Commons at the first convenient opportunity. In other words, the bill has to be constitutional.

Could the minister please stand and table the legal opinions rendered by the Department of Justice lawyers, which actually prove the bill is in fact charter compliant and constitutional?

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the bill in our view and those of the government's lawyers is constitutional. The risk of a constitutional challenge to any of its provisions is low. We on this side simply do not think that the small group of lawyers, which expressed itself in radical terms on the bill, speak for the hundreds of thousands of lawyers across the country. We do not think most of those lawyers are aware of what was said in their name.

We also think it is the right of Parliament to legislate on citizenship to circumscribe the conditions under which revocation can take place. We think the provisions of the bill with regard to revocation are legitimate.

Does the Liberal Party agree with these provisions? Because in 1947, when Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King brought the first citizenship bill forward, there were revocation provisions for treason, for other serious acts of disloyalty to Canada. What has happened to the Liberal Party of Canada on these and so many other issues?

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I again speak to this bill as a member of the citizenship and immigration committee who sat there every day for at least six hours a week during the pre-study of the content and subject matter of the bill. Witness after witness, including expert testimony, said time and again that the clauses in the bill were either in contravention of the charter, un-Canadian, in contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, treated different types of Canadians unfairly, such as naturalized Canadians verses born-in-Canada Canadians, and did not value their pre-PR time spent in our country. During our committee study, I polled every witness with whom I had a chance to speak. Every one of them said that the clauses about not valuing the pre-PR time people had spent in Canada should be removed and amended.

In the minister's answer to my previous question with respect to his speech, he made it clear that he did not value what any of the opposition members had to say or any of the amendments that the opposition had put forward. He also did not value the people who were putting time into our country and spending time learning what it was to be a Canadian and living the life of a Canadian.

For example, international students who live in Canada for four years, who go to school with our children, who become their best friends, who party with them, who build strong relationships with our Canadian students and who volunteer in our communities learn what life is like as a Canadian.

However, Bill C-24 states that those people and the time they have spent in our country have no value, that they are not learning what it is to be Canadian. It is easier for those who come to our country as landed immigrants and get their PR the day they arrive than it is for international students who spend four years learning what it is to be a Canadian and living like a Canadian. According to the bill, the time those students have spent in our country has absolutely zero value toward being a Canadian.

I want to talk about some of the amendments the NDP put forward, which the minister said made no sense and were of no value. I forgot the exact adjective he used, but he basically said that they had no value to add. I will not talk about all of the amendments. I want to go through some of the ones we put forward at the committee stage and we were unable to speak to any witnesses.

First was with respect to counting the value of PRs working abroad toward their citizenship application. That was with respect to permanent residents who were temporarily outside of the country for professional reasons. It could be somebody working on a United Nations project in any country around the world. We know that local businesses have operations outside of the country and their employees may have to travel for work. The government has said that even though those people might be living, working and paying taxes in our country, those days they spend working outside of Canada and bringing economic value and thrust to our country has no value. That is what the government said when it refused to accept one of the NDP's amendments.

Another amendment we put forward was to reverse the age changes the government made for language and knowledge requirements. Currently, the law states that 18 to 54 year olds need to pass the language and knowledge requirement tests. What the government members put forward was to increase the maximum age to 65 and lower the minimum age to 14. That means that children who are 14 to 18 are now being treated the same as the adults. I spoke earlier about UNICEF Canada submitting a brief to the committee. It spoke to how that was in contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I will read a small portion from the actual brief UNICEF Canada sent to committee. It states:

In relation to the acquisition of citizenship, a number of Convention articles are engaged, including: definition of the child (including age) (article 1); equality and non-discrimination (article 2); the best interests of the child (article 3); family integrity (article 5); survival and development (article 6); birth registration, nationality and protection from statelessness (article 7); family relations (article 8); protection from arbitrary separation from parents (article 9); and, family reunification (article 10).

For those members in the Conservative Party who do not understand what I am saying, I have just finished saying that I am reading, from the brief from UNICEF Canada, which articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child would be breached by the bill.

UNICEF Canada made it very clear that a child-rights-based approach to citizenship requires that we continue ensuring that we are not in contravention of the rights of the child.The language and knowledge requirements testing would be, actually. To quote UNICEF again:

Bill C-24 proposes to amend subsection 5(2) of the Citizenship Act to expand the age requirements of applicants to 14 to 64 (currently 18 to 54) to successfully complete both the language and knowledge requirements. The proposed amendments would effectively put the onus on children aged 14 to 18 to successfully pass both language and knowledge requirements, without additional supports, in order to become a Canadian citizen.

That is telling us that the current government wants to treat children as it does adults, as equivalent to adults.

The NDP proposed two amendments to ensure that these children would not be treated as adults. Another amendment we put forward was to not increase the age from 55 to 65 at the top end of the bracket, because we know that many studies have shown that for older people in the community, it is actually harder to acquire a new language and to pass these knowledge tests in this new language they may be acquiring.

The government members opposed both of those amendments and did not pass them.

Another amendment the NDP put forward would have allowed an opportunity for the applicant to make a submission before a citizenship judge. This is about the minister increasing discretion for himself or herself and future ministers. There would be increased discretion for a minister, yet the applicant would not even have an opportunity to make a submission before a citizenship judge. The NDP put forward an amendment to try to make it more of a fair process so that applicants would actually have an opportunity to appear before a citizenship judge and make a submission themselves.

Another amendment was actually recommended by the Canadian Bar Association. We know how the minister feels about that association and its validity, but I value what the Canadian Bar Association had to say. It specified that this amendment would specify that law students must be articling and offering advice while actually supervised by a member of the law society. The current law does not actually require that. We tried to make it so that law students who were helping out would actually be supervised by a member of the law society. This is another thing that apparently the government members do not seem to value.

One last piece is about the revocation of citizenship, which the current minister likes, and how it would create two tiers of Canadian citizenship for those born here and those naturalized here. This is basically saying that the government, or the minister, would have the opportunity to deport people and strip them of their Canadian citizenship just because they are dual nationals. This would also mean that Canadian-born citizens who have Chinese, U.S., British, or Italian parents, for example, would have their citizenship revoked--

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order, please.

Questions and comments.

The hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 9th, 2014 / 1:40 p.m.


Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the last point the member opposite touched upon, dual citizenship, there are not two tiers of citizenship. There is one Canadian citizenship. Dual citizenship is the choice of the person. If a child is born here and the parents choose two citizenships for that child, they have to be ready to accept the implications that come with it. There are not two citizenships. People do not have to have two citizenships. Whether they are naturalized or they are born here, they can have one. They could choose Canadian only, and they would not have any problems.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it funny that the member does not realize that there are many countries in the world where one cannot deny one's citizenship. For example, Canadians who may have been born in Canada or are naturalized Canadians and are of the Jewish faith have the right to return to Israel and claim their Israeli citizenship.

Bill C-24 says that for those who are dual nationals, or if the minister has reason to believe that they have a claim to another nationality, hence the example of a Jewish Canadian who potentially could have a claim to another nationality, the minister could, on his own volition, choose to revoke their citizenship. That is creating two tiers citizenship.

Those who do not have that option could not have their citizenship revoked because it would create a situation of statelessness. However, those who could be dual nationals or potentially have a claim to another citizenship could have their citizenship revoked. That would mean that there would be those who are full citizens and those who are kind of citizens. That is two tiers of citizenship.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when Jean Chrétien was the prime minister of Canada, we had citizenship processed in under a year. Under the current government, we have seen the processing of citizenship for those who qualify and meet the criteria taking 28 months, or almost two and a half years. Now the Conservatives are bringing in legislation to reduce the waiting period for citizenship by changing the process itself.

Does the member not believe, as the Liberal Party believes, that if the government made it a higher priority to process citizenship, it should have been able to do that without the proposed legislation and that there is no reason to have people in Canada waiting in excess of 12 months to qualify for citizenship? It is about making sure that the proper resources are in place.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, absolutely, the Conservative government could have come up with many other avenues to reduce the backlog that exists in the citizenship queue right now. It is choosing, rather, to make it far more difficult for people to qualify to become citizens of this country. For example, there are proposed changes to the intent-to-reside provision. It would double fees for an application of citizenship from $200 to $400, and it would make it more difficult with the age requirements.

I could keep going, but I want to quote from a brief we received from the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, which said:

What Bill C-24 really does, however, is as follows: It reduces backlogs by turning down more applications and making sure fewer and fewer permanent residents will become citizens. It diminishes the value of Canadian citizenship both by making immigrants wait much longer to become citizens, and by creating a two-tier citizenship—by distinguishing between people who have dual citizenship...

This is something I have already talked about. It continues with:

It violates Canadian values of democracy and the principle of the Rule of Law by giving new and sweeping power to the Minister to revoke citizenship while simultaneously reducing judicial oversight of the Minister's exercise of power.

What I just read were from the briefs of three different organizations sent in to the committee on how the bill would increase the minister's discretion and ability to revoke citizenship. The bill would change the value of Canadian citizenship and make it so much harder for people to actually become Canadian citizens, when so many want to.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto to speak to Bill C-24. It is of vital interest to the people in my community of Davenport, in fact to people right across the greater Toronto area, because over half the people in the GTA were born outside of Canada, so any changes to our citizenship and immigration rules, laws, or structures are of vital interest to the people I represent.

What we have here is a gross failure on the part of the government to address the fundamental issue facing so many of our immigrant families in Canada, and that is the failure of the government, in this legislation and in other pieces of legislation it has brought forward, to deal with the growing wait times, not just for citizenship but for family reunification. The bill does not address those issues. In fact, it makes those issues worse.

Right now we have about 360,000 people waiting for their citizenship applications to be processed. What we would have liked to have seen is the government expedite this, bring this issue forward, in a way that would actually get some resolution for so many families who are in sort of suspended animation. They are doing the work. In every other way they are Canadian citizens, except that they have not had their applications processed. They are waiting and waiting.

The bill also underlines a strategy the government employs time and time again, and that is to pick the outlier problem and use it as the justification for massive changes that would maybe appease some of its base but that would not address the fundamental issues immigrants in Canada face today.

I would like to bring the attention of the House to the issue of fraud in the system. We have over 300,000 applicants for citizenship right now. The other day the minister admitted that only 3,000 of those over 300,000 are being investigated by the RCMP for potential fraud. Fewer than 1% are being investigated, and we do not know what those investigations will glean. Of that fewer than 1%, they may find some fraud. I am not saying that there is not some, but the government and the minister are using this fraction of abuse in the system as a rationale for sweeping changes, changes that would, as they do so often on the government side, amass more power in the hands of the minister, power that would allow the minister to retroactively change someone's citizenship status.

If the Conservatives had listened to stakeholder groups, they would have heard quite resoundingly the deep concern of Canadians, immigrants, and the organizations that support and advocate on behalf of both refugees and newcomers to Canada.

I would like to also underline the fact that the government has changed the language test requirements. It has made it now the rule that anyone between the ages of 14 and 64 needs to undergo a rigorous language test. The minister has never once revealed any data that would back up any reasons for the changes he has made. He says that young people would score great on this test, and it would be great. We know that.

However, he has never brought forward any study that shows that this is indeed the case. The minister has never answered the question regarding what would happen if the child does not pass the language test, but the adult does. What happens then? I believe that one of the reasons that the government moved time allocation on the debate is because it does not want to answer the tough questions that are being raised on this bill. The questions just keep coming.

Today, there are families in my riding who have been waiting eight to nine years for grandparents and parents to come to Canada, and for the government to fulfill the promises that it made to newcomers when they first came that they could bring their parents or grandparents with them. What we have now is a government that says it going to fix the wait times for citizenship by making it much harder. In other words, the government would make the process and the system longer.

Some of it seems to make absolutely no sense. It the government wanted to ensure that those who were seeking Canadian citizenship would forge a real attachment to Canada, why on Earth would it then disqualify all of the time that a person has spent here as a non-permanent resident from their application?

That makes no sense. It sends a huge message to people. It tells them not to attach to us because we are not going to attach to them right now. That is fundamentally the wrong way to go, and it was not the case here in Canada until now, when the government politicized this debate.

The extended times required to stay in Canada are also an issue for many immigrants. In case the government has not realized, Canadians travel abroad for work all the time. We are in a globalized economy. We have Canadians working in the United States and we have Canadians working all across Europe and Asia, looking for opportunities. When they arise, Canadian citizens can take those opportunities, but the changes that are in this bill would make it more difficult for permanent residents who are waiting for citizenship. Indeed, after they are granted citizenship, it would make it harder for them to take the opportunities that are there in the global economy.

This seems incredibly unfair, and it brings up the point that my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River made earlier about the creation of two-tiered citizenship. Making it more difficult for new citizens to take those opportunities elsewhere in the economy is also a way of creating a two-tiered system of citizenship in this country.

People should not be surprised that this is the direction that the government has gone in. After all, when we are giving a message to immigrant families that their grandparents and parents are not as important to Canadians as Canadian-born grandparents and parents, of course, we have a two-tiered system.

We have always had families at the basis of our immigration system. The government, through its policies, whether on refugees or immigration, has moved Canada away from family values. It has seen families being torn apart. Quite frankly, we have to build an immigration that has, at its core and as its central function, the goal of keeping families together and a part of the Canadian community. The New Democrats on this side are committed to that.

Report StageStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

That brings the debate to an end at this time. The member will have five minutes for questions and comments when we resume debate.

Lac-MéganticStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour for me to rise in the House.

Today, almost one year has passed since the Lac-Mégantic disaster. On July 6, 2013, a train without a conductor crashed into the little town of Lac-Mégantic.

I mention it today because 6,000 people of that community in a class-action suit are seeking permission this very day to pursue justice through the court in Sherbrooke, Quebec, before the Quebec Superior Court.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who survived that disaster. We have taken action in this place to ensure it not happen again.

I send my best wishes to the attorneys for the petitioners, Mr. Joel Rochon, Mr. Jeff Orenstein, and Mr. Daniel Larochelle.

Navy League of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Northumberland--Quinte West is proud to support a growing and well-served local branch of the Navy League of Canada. The Navy League of Canada Northumberland Branch is dedicated to sponsoring two corps, the 116 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Skeena and the 194 Navy League Cadet Corps Northumberland.

Just this past Sunday, the 194 Navy League Cadet Corps held its annual inspection. Sixteen navy league cadets aged 9 to 13 participated in the 11th annual review and demonstrated skills learned through their training year. The cadets proudly demonstrated their skill and enthusiasm for a group of over 50 parents, guests, and visitors. I am pleased to see the ongoing tradition of the Navy League of Canada, which celebrates excellence and high standards, and promotes valuable leadership skills. The Northumberland Branch states that every cadet officer and instructor who has graduated from this program has contributed something special to the community.

Congratulations to all the cadets of 194 Navy League Cadet Corps for another successful annual inspection.

49th Quebec GamesStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are only about 50 days left before the 49th Quebec Games start in Longueuil. This is a special time that is bringing the entire south shore together. I am extremely proud to share this moment in the House today. I even decided to volunteer for the tourism brigade for the duration of the games. I booked a week off to be sure that I would not miss any of the celebrations. This is a rare opportunity to meet thousands of visitors and young athletes who will be discovering the top-notch competition venues, a welcoming and friendly community and some amazing tourism opportunities. Longueuil will shine this summer; I am sure of it.

I invite my neighbours to rise to the challenge with me and volunteer their time from August 1 to 9, 2014. I also invite my colleagues to come visit us in Longueuil at Place des Jeux in Parc St. Mark—the place to be for sports and culture in Quebec in 2014.

70th Anniversary of D-DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of travelling to Juno Beach, France this past weekend for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day to recognize the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Normandy. I was pleased to be joined by two schools from my riding, OSCVI and Grey Highlands Secondary School. I was honoured to meet veterans of the D-Day invasion who travelled to France to honour their fallen comrades.

On June 6, 1944 allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to open up the way to Germany from the west. Against all odds, Canadian troops prevailed. The victory came at a great cost as 340 Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice. We must never forget the great sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers on D-Day. While fighting would rage on in the days and months following the invasion, the Canadian victory on D-Day would pave the way for the end of the war. As General Dwight Eisenhower stated just hours before the invasion, “The free men of the world are marching together to victory”.

We will remember them.

Kensington CentennialStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to celebrate one of the gems of P.E.I., the town of Kensington. While 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, it also marks the centennial of the town of Kensington, incorporated in 1914.

Kensington grew up around the intersection of five roads taking people through Kensington to and from Charlottetown, Kelvin Grove, Travellers Rest, Summerside, Malpeque, Irishtown, New London, and Cavendish. It still is known for its railway station, which served as a centre of the island's agricultural market in central P.E.I., now added as a stop along the Confederation bike trail. Those who pass through Kensington always note its charm and friendliness and some even wind up staying.

While the big celebrations were on the weekend of May 23 with fireworks, a concert, parade, and celebratory dinner, Kensington also shows that small town hospitality the whole year through. For business or pleasure, Kensington is a must stop in 2014.

On behalf of the House, I offer my congratulations to the town of Kensington, its council, and its citizens.

Houston AstrosStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, a big congratulations goes out to Brock Dykxhoorn this weekend. He is a mountain of a man at 19 years old, 6 foot 8 inches, 240 pounds, who throws over 90 miles an hour. He was drafted in the first pick of the sixth round by the Houston Astros this weekend.

Congratulations to Brock. He grew up in Goderich, Ontario. He played for the Team Canada under 18 team, and pitched in Florida and the Dominican Republic. He won a silver medal in Seoul, Korea, where he won two games. Brock pitched this year at Central Arizona Community College and last year at West Virginia University. He is one of the very first players to be drafted from Huron—Bruce to the major leagues. He throws 90 miles an hour and has great control.

We should all watch for him. Even though some members like to wear their Blue Jays hats in the House of Commons, we can throw one on for Brock Dykxhoorn. Congratulations to Brock.

Mathilde BlaisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to dedicate my statement to the memory of 33-year-old Mathilde Blais, who died a month ago under the Saint-Denis/Des Carrières overpass. You go under this overpass just as you come into Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. I happened to be there yesterday with my family, and there are still memorials marking this woman's tragic death.

Mathilde Blais died after being hit by a truck. She was on her way to her job as a speech therapist in a school. She was a vibrant woman whom the children loved. Her death rocked the cycling community. It was a reminder of how dangerous it can be when bicycles, cars and trucks share the road. The boroughs of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and Plateau-Mont-Royal have made bold commitments to make streets safer for cyclists. I want to commend them for that.

As an MP and a cyclist, I am committed to encouraging active transportation and ensuring that it is better integrated into our road networks.

Canada from Space MapsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the extraordinary success of Commander Chris Hadfield's mission aboard the International Space Station last year and to Canadian inventions like the Canadarm and Dextre, students across this country have come to understand that Canada has an extremely proud history of accomplishment in space.

A key pillar of the space policy framework is “inspiring Canadians”, which is why, today, our government unveiled the Canada from space giant floor map. This map was created from 121 images of Canada shot by our country's own RADARSAT-2 satellite.

The Canada from space maps and teaching tools will be available to schools across the country, and will give students the chance to be inspired about Canada's role in space and to understand the role space plays in their everyday lives. These maps will help to inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, so that we can continue to learn, explore, and push the boundaries of human ingenuity.

Shootings in MonctonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow police officers from across North America will gather in Moncton, New Brunswick to say their good-byes to three fallen members of the RCMP, good-byes that are being said way too early in life, good-byes that cannot be explained. The police community is tight-knit and when something like this happens, it stirs strong emotions in each and every one of us. The day will be filled with many tears. As a retired member of the RCMP, it stirs up memories that I will never forget.

To the families of Constable Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Constable Douglas James Larche, and Constable David Ross, we will always be with them. Canadians will hold them in their thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks, and months to come. God bless each and every one of them.