House of Commons Hansard #168 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elections.

Topics

Citizen Voting ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I give the floor to the hon. member for Gatineau, I would like to inform her that I will interrupt her at 2 p.m., when statements by members will begin. There are four minutes left.

The hon. member for Gatineau.

Citizen Voting ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we will try to do the best we can in the four minutes left to us to talk about a bill as important as Bill C-50.

To begin, I want to commend the exceptional work done by my colleague from Toronto—Danforth, who, on behalf of all of us in the official opposition, is trying to make sure that democracy continues to be alive and real in this wonderful country.

I am both happy and sad to rise. I am happy to do so on behalf of the people of Gatineau and to have a moment to speak to Bill C-50. At the same time, I am sad to see that Bill C-50 is being described as a response to a decision of the court. Once again, this shows me that this government has a strange way of responding to decisions of the courts. Every time, I am gobsmacked.

Frank et al. v. Attorney General of Canada was decided in the context of section 11, paragraph 11(d) of the Canada Elections Act. It stated that every Canadian citizen who had been absent from Canada for at least five consecutive years could not vote in Canadian federal elections.

In fact, what Justice Penny tells us in Frank is simply that the principle stated in section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every Canadian the right to vote, without limitation. There is no exception depending on the context; it is an intrinsic right of every Canadian citizen. This is the primary method by which we are able to speak democratically in this country. It is the right to speak in the context of an election. It seems to me that this principle was obvious. The court made the decision that had to be made: that the right to vote cannot be taken away from Canadian citizens. We are talking about Canadian citizens. We are not talking about people who have no ties to Canada. They may not be in Canada, but they are Canadian citizens. What did the government do? It introduced Bill C-50.

As I listened to the debates all morning, I was pleasantly surprised. I would say I was was somewhat surprised because people sent me messages on Facebook, including a message from one person in particular. We know that in paragraph 11(d), to which I referred just now, there was in fact an exception relating to the military. The person in question said that all the rules obviously will not apply to our troops—and I am very pleased to know that—but this will not necessarily be the case for the family members of military personnel. That is a double standard.

I have some difficulty with that example and with others as well. What Bill C-50 does is leave us with different kinds of citizens.

I agree with all my colleagues who have spoken in the House and said that, insofar as we can, we must do everything in our power to make access to the vote as easy as possible—not to encourage ways of hijacking democracy, but to enable the most possible people to express their democratic choice. We might say that this government has a lot of trouble acting that way.

The bill tells us that it is in response to the court’s decision, but the decision says that people may not be prohibited from voting. What are the Conservatives doing? They are prohibiting people. I truly have a lot of trouble understanding how this government reads the decisions of the courts. In any event, they have continued to appeal the case.

I know my time on a subject this important has unfortunately already expired. However, I will certainly have an opportunity to speak to this issue at greater length.

Citizen Voting ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Gatineau will have six minutes for her speech and comments when the House resumes debate on this motion.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity during Black History Month to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution that blacks make to enriching the identity of Canada, Quebec and Montreal.

I was born in the Ivory Coast to Lebanese parents. The symbolic elephant remains dear to me. Being black is not about colour; it is about belonging to an identity defined by great trials and injustices, but mostly by great accomplishments.

This is month is an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions blacks have made to humanity. Nelson Mandela was one of those exceptional people. It is high time the federal government declared a Nelson Mandela day so that future generations remember the remarkable role this man played.

I would also like to acknowledge the blacks of Ahuntsic—Cartierville, including the writer Dany Laferrière, who, a few years ago, agreed to give his grandmother's name to the Internet café at the Ahuntsic cultural centre, the Café de Da.

Constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South GlengarryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to add my voice to those in Cornwall, in Canada, and around the world praising the actions of some of Cornwall's finest. They are constables Kim Norman, Cody Casselman, Michel Riel, Rodney DeGray, Casey MacGregor, James Lemoyre, sergeants Patrick Paquette, Dan Doyon, and George Knezevic, as well as civilians Jody Sheard, Josee Lalonde, Claire Denis, Jenna Legault, and Tasha Marcotte.

These individuals demonstrated how generous the Cornwall community is by raising money to help an elderly man buy back the wedding ring he had pawned in order to buy groceries for himself and his wife. These compassionate, caring people saw a problem and took it upon themselves to correct it. They truly demonstrated what it means to be a Canadian.

It is constituents like these who make me so proud to serve as the member for Parliament for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher PrizeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a very special teacher in Vancouver East. Vancouver Technical Secondary School teacher Mark Reid is in the running for the $1 million Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize, given to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. It is widely referred to as the Nobel prize for teaching.

With nominees from more than a hundred countries, Mr. Reid is in the top 50 and one of only three Canadians being considered for this prestigious award.

The global teacher prize was set up to shine a spotlight on educators and to recognize and celebrate the important role teachers play in our society. It brings to light the dedicated work that teachers do.

To Mark Reid and all teachers whose hard work and caring motivation contributes every day toward nurturing and inspiring the young minds of tomorrow, I know Parliament extends its heartfelt thanks. Keep up the wonderful work.

Reuben Cohen and Gilbert FinnStatements By Members

February 3rd, 2015 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the lives of Reuben Cohen and Gilbert Finn, two prominent New Brunswickers who have recently passed away and who made great contributions to my riding and to the province of New Brunswick.

Reuben Cohen was a lawyer, financier, and philanthropist, born in Moncton from eastern European immigrants. Throughout his life he supported the University of Moncton, my alma mater, among others, by enabling its gallery to acquire an important collection of Acadian art.

Mr. Cohen also contributed to the expansion of the YMCA of Greater Moncton, and as chancellor of Dalhousie University, he was instrumental in securing funding for the first Canadian chair in black studies.

Gilbert Finn was a prominent Acadian. He was a champion of health and education. He was one of the primary advocates for the creation of Moncton's Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre. He also served as Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick from 1987 to 1994 and was the former rector of the University of Moncton.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of these two important gentlemen.

Mental HealthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House today to recognize an outstanding achievement by my constituent Raphaël Guévin-Nicoloff. He has recently completed a 2,000 km bike ride from Buenos Aries to Tierra del Fuego in memory of his brother Simon, who suffered from depression and tragically took his own life 10 years ago. Through this impressive feat, Raphaël has raised over $4,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Twenty per cent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. We all know that mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians through a family member, a friend, a neighbour, or a colleague.

I ask the House to join me in applauding Raphaël's incredible determination in the face of such tragedy and encourage all Canadians to work together to continue to raise awareness about mental illness.

Congratulations, Raphaël.

Canadian FlagStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Conservative Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, how a nation views itself is a measure of its pride and self-esteem. How a nation is viewed by the world is a reflection of its collective deeds. How a nation projects this image is through its national symbol, a flag.

Our nation is known throughout the world for its deeds in war and peace. Canada's symbol is its flag, which floats supremely over this very House. Our flag is the embodiment of our nation's heart and soul. For 50 years our flag's symbolism has been world renowned of a nation that serves mankind by supporting freedom, justice, and tolerance in the God-given belief that all mankind should share these virtues together in harmony.

Canada's flag is not merely a symbol for our country, but is truly emblematic throughout the world as a symbol of hopefulness, as a symbol of the desire for peace, and as a symbol of our Canadian way.

Millennium KidsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto to honour a remarkable young woman from my riding. Mercy Justine Hildebrand began advocating for Canada's millennium development goals when she was just eight years old, and with her mother Sara's help, she formed a group called Millennium Kids, made up of children who were all born in the year 2000, the same year that Canada, along with the global community, committed to the UN millennium development goals by 2015.

She is now 14, and yesterday she was in New York participating in the United Nations Economic and Social Council's youth forum on youth engagement in the transition from millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. Mercy Justine is part of a new generation of young people in our country who believe that Canada must play an active part in the global struggle to eradicate poverty, hunger, gender inequality, and preventable disease.

I am very proud to stand here as her member of Parliament to say thanks to Mercy Justine Hildebrand for her passion, her commitment, and most importantly, her leadership.

AuschwitzStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to be part of the official Canadian delegation to Poland for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.

More than a million people were murdered there between 1940 and 1945. At the commemoration, we listened to the testimony of three survivors: Halina Birenbaum, who grew up in the Warsaw ghetto and was imprisoned at Auschwitz; Kazimierz Albin, one of the first prisoners at Auschwitz at age 18, who would later escape and join the resistance; and Roman Kent, who issued a strong plea to world leaders that I would like to relay back to the House. He said, “We survivors do not want our past to be our children's future”. I would ask my fellow parliamentarians to remember Mr. Kent's words.

We must all work together to protect innocent people here and around the world. We should never sit on the sidelines when we face evil, oppression, hatred, or injustice.

Government of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week marks the ninth anniversary of our Conservative government, during which time we have provided real results to Canadians.

We have cut taxes more than 160 times, reducing the federal tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years and saving the average family $3,400; supported families with children, including the universal child care benefit, the child tax credit, and the children's fitness tax credit; provided $2.8 billion for seniors and pensioners in annual tax relief, and $5.8 billion this year for B.C. health care and social services. We have concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries; invested in public infrastructure and transportation; and passed tough-on-crime reforms, cracking down on gun and gang crime and violent and repeat offenders.

Our Conservative government is making positive changes that are improving the lives of my constituents, British Columbians, and all Canadians.

PovertyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, today Dignity for All released its national anti-poverty plan for Canada.

As members may well know, poverty affects one in seven Canadians. I repeat, one in seven. In a prosperous country like ours, the government must take action to address this startling number. Too many people are facing income insecurity. Too many people are working full-time jobs and are still not able to make ends meet. No one should be forced to play eeny meeny miney mo between bills and medications.

What we need to help individuals and families grow and thrive are more full-time, well-paying jobs, a strong public health care system, an enhanced federal minimum wage, and a national early childhood education program. We need an economy that works for all Canadians. Solving poverty requires a commitment to human dignity and justice.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank all those who participated in assembling the national anti-poverty plan released this morning.

25th Suicide Prevention Week in QuebecStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this week is Quebec's 25th suicide prevention week. This year's theme is “You're important to us. Suicide is not an option.”

This issue is particularly close to my heart as a father and parliamentarian, since it can affect people of all ages, including our young people.

Many factors may cause a person in distress to think that there are no solutions to their problems.

I encourage all my constituents and all Quebeckers to join the movement and tell their loved ones, “You're important to us. Suicide is not an option.”

It is important that people talk about their problems and not keep them to themselves. That is why members of the Association québécoise de prévention du suicide have been listening since 1986. Bravo and thank you to all the people working in our regions.

If you are in Quebec and are worried about a loved one, do not hesitate. Ask for help by calling 1-866-277-3553.

Antique Snowmobile FestivalStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to tell people about the 20th edition of the Neige en fête festival, which will take place from February 12 to 15 in Saint-Raymond, which is in my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

The Neige en fête festival is Quebec's largest annual gathering of snowcats and snowmobiles. Every year, hundreds of fans from across the country and even the United States gather in Saint-Raymond to give people a chance to see these distinctly Canadian antique vehicles.

For years, snowcats and snowmobiles were the primary means of transportation during our harsh winters, and they remain an important part of our heritage.

Nowadays, snowmobiles still hold a special place in the hearts of Quebeckers. They are also an economic driver for quite a few regions, including Portneuf.

I would like to thank and congratulate Denys Tremblay, chair of the organizing committee, his team and the volunteers who make this festival such a success year after year.

I invite everyone, including all of my colleagues, to come to the Neige en fête festival in Saint-Raymond to admire these beauties from another era that bear witness to our past and the genius of our home-grown innovators.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Liberal member for York West said that if ISIL attacks Canada, it is because our Prime Minister put us in that position. I think I speak for everyone on this side of the House when I say that these comments are shameful.

Jihadist terrorism is not a future possibility; it is a present reality. Violent jihadists oppose everything about our society and our values. They hate pluralism, tolerance, and the freedom of others.

The Liberal leader refused to condemn his colleague's comments, which is yet another sign that he is simply not in a position to lead a country.

Jihadi terrorists aim to destroy the kind of open, diverse, and free society that Canadians have chosen. We as Canadians will not let that happen, which is why we have joined our allies in combatting the threat of terrorism, both at home and abroad.

Sustainable DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the main challenges of the 21st century is switching from self-destructive development to real sustainable development that brings human beings into harmony with the earth.

Every country and every community must wage this global battle.

This is why I rise today as the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville to applaud the borough of Saint-Laurent, proud winner of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Sustainable Community Award.

With this award, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is recognizing Saint-Laurent's efforts in support of public transit and the construction of LEED-certified buildings.

This award speaks to Saint-Laurent's outstanding achievements in urban development and bodes well for a promising future.

I thank the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for its recognition of Saint-Laurent's ambitious vision for its residents and look forward to continue working with the people of Saint-Laurent to make the borough an even greener and better place to live in.

Congratulations, Saint-Laurent.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, thanks to our government, Canadian families can be assured that their hard-earned money is making it way back to their bank accounts. Our plan is simple, and we stand by it. We trust parents to invest in their children and spend their money as they see fit.

Soon families in my riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River will receive almost $2,000 annually per child under the age of 6 and $720 per year for youth age 6 to 17.

The NDP and the Liberals, on the other hand, want to take this money away and spend it on big government bureaucracy instead. They would take this money away from families and hike taxes.

Despite the opposition and third party Liberals, who have positioned themselves against middle-class families, I am proud that our government is giving money back to each and every family with children in Canada.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, not so long ago, the Conservatives were constantly claiming that the economy was their top priority.

For some time, the development of the oil economy concealed their incompetence and their inability to diversify our economy. However, now that the price of oil has plummeted, we can see that the emperor has no clothes.

They would like us to forget that there are 200,000 more people out of work than before the recession. They would like us to forget that 400,000 good jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector in the past 10 years. I have news for the Conservatives: families are not fools. They know who is responsible for the current economic mess.

There is hope, however. Families also know that they can count on Tom Mulcair's NDP, which has concrete solutions to help people make ends meet, including public day care, increasing the minimum wage and implementing a plan to create jobs in SMEs.

We in the NDP have a dynamic team and a strong leader, a man of principle and experience who is capable of replacing the Conservative government this year.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would just remind the hon. member that we refer to each other by titles or ridings, but not by proper names.

Al WilsonStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to one of Canada's great veterans in Flamborough, a community within the riding I represent.

His name is Al Wilson. In World War II, Al was a member of Canada's legendary elite special forces unit, the Devil’s Brigade, which conducted covert missions behind enemy lines.

Al would be in Washington today with his family and some fellow soldiers receiving the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Congress, for his service in the Devil's Brigade. However, just yesterday morning Al passed away at the age of 90. Though he was a humble man, the legacy of his life and the missions he and the Devil's Brigade members carried out during World War II to secure the peace and freedom we enjoy today will never be forgotten.

Our hearts go out to Madge, Al's wife of 69 years, and his family. Lest we forget.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, retail sales are a good indicator of economic vitality. Since the beginning of the year, the number of closures and job losses keeps growing. The closure of Target alone represents the loss of 17,000 jobs in 133 communities across Canada. The job market is in crisis. Where is the Prime Minister's plan? Where is the budget?

EmploymentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, over the past few months I announced a number of economic initiatives with our economic action plan to cut taxes to ensure that jobs are created. We will carry on despite the uncertainties of the global economy.

Now is not the time for NDP policies, policies that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said were stupid and anti-small business.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, why not quote Dan Kelly, the head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business? He said, “Good on [the NDP leader] for proposing a cut in the small [business corporate] tax rate.” That is a quote from last week. I do not know who the Prime Minister speaks to at the CFIB, but Dan Kelly speaks for the CFIB.

What we are seeing is a loss of jobs that reflects the failure of the current government to protect the middle class. All those job losses, tens of thousands in the retail sector, are a representation of its failures. The Conservatives only have a plan to help the richest 15%. What about the middle class? What about the other 85%?

EmploymentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, speaking of Mr. Kelly, he complimented the fact that the government has already cut small business taxes, something the NDP actually opposed. It is not surprising Mr. Kelly would compliment the NDP when it actually embraces Conservative policy after the fact, but what he did say about the NDP's unique policies is that they were stupid, dumb, and anti-small business.

We are cutting taxes for 100% of Canadian families, and the New Democrats would raise taxes for 100% of Canadian families.