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House of Commons Hansard #232 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for an excellent question and an astute observation that gets to the heart of what we are doing in this place.

To govern is to identify priorities and make choices. The government has the privilege, while it has a majority, to indicate what it thinks the priorities facing this country are.

In my view, the absolutely appalling historic and current treatment of our first nations, including men, women, and children, is of momentous importance and is of such pressing social need that we should be tackling it in this House with much more vigour than we have been. There are people living on reserve in this country who are living in third world conditions. We have Canadians who do not have access to potable water. We have first nations children who get one-third the amount of money spent on their education that a typical non-aboriginal child does in this country. These are very important issues.

I would conclude by saying that I have heard a lot of talk by Conservatives in this House about their concern for women and girls, and I believe that their views are sincerely held. However, over 1,200 aboriginal women and girls in this country have been murdered or are missing. When all of the groups involved in this across the country are calling for a royal commission to find out exactly what is going on, why this has happened, and what steps should be taken, and that call is rejected by the government, then I think that is also a missed priority.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bramalea—Gore—Malton Ontario

Conservative

Bal Gosal ConservativeMinister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for beautiful Wild Rose. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important debate.

In Canada, we are proud of women in leadership and their roles. We can see that in this House. Especially, we are always exploring ways in which barriers preventing anyone from living to their full potential can be removed. I am very proud that last night I was at a FIFA World Cup game in Montreal. This tournament is happening coast to coast and is a great showcase for Canadians in women's leadership roles. This is one example of women acting as great role models and being a great inspiration to all Canadians.

Unfortunately, there are many young women and girls who are not given the same opportunities. In the most recent Speech from the Throne, our Conservative government committed to ensuring that women and girls would no longer be brutalized by violence, including through the inhumane practices of early and forced marriages on Canadian soil.

I am pleased that our government is focused on strengthening the protection of all women in Canada and Canada's immigration system and on forcefully and resolutely supporting the rights of all Canadian women. In order to do so, the government must ensure that Canada's immigration policies and practices are especially focused on strengthening the protection of immigrant women as well. Indeed, it is deeply troubling that harmful cultural practices such as polygamy and forced and underage marriages still exist as a reality for some Canadian women. That is why I am happy to note the government's proactive approach today toward decreasing the vulnerability of immigrant and newcomer women.

For example, the regulations put in place in recent years have made it much more difficult for people convicted of crimes that result in bodily harm against members of their family or others, particularly violent offences, to support any family class members to come to Canada.

Other measures have been introduced to deter foreign nationals from entering into marriages of convenience to gain permanent resident status in Canada. These measures include a two-year conditional permanent resident status for certain sponsored spouses.

However, to protect sponsored spouses who are in an abusive relationship, our government put in an exception to these measures in instances where there is evidence of any abuse of a physical, sexual, psychological, or financial nature. This exception would also include those who are victims of forced marriage. Better guidelines and training have been introduced to assist front-line officers in processing requests for exceptions based on abuse or neglect and in handling sensitive information related to abusive situations.

As members can recall, the member for Mississauga South introduced a motion last fall to bar the accommodation of proxy, telephone, Internet, and fax marriages for immigration purposes because they may facilitate non-consensual marriages. Our government supported this motion.

While it should be noted that the practice of forced marriage can victimize men and boys, girls and women are more affected by this tradition. Women and girls who are forced to marry someone against their wishes are almost always also beset by a list of other restrictions of their human rights. These are restrictions that deny them education and the opportunity to find employment and place limits on their mobility. These are all against our Canadian values of freedom for all.

Why are immigrant women particularly vulnerable to harm caused by these practices? For one thing, they might not have knowledge of French and English, which can be a barrier to accessing social services and information on their legal rights in an abusive relationship. Some women may also lack the economic independence to leave abusive situations, especially if they are under age.

Under Canada's settlement programs for newcomers, the government also provides funding to a variety of organizations that offer programs and services that respond to specific needs of permanent residents, including immigrant women and their families who find themselves in vulnerable situations.

Also, Canada's citizenship study guide, Discover Canada, and the Welcome to Canada orientation guide are both being updated to reflect the fact that Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to harmful practices such as forced marriage or other forms of gender-based family violence.

Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration devoted a considerable amount of time meeting with representatives of organizations that provide services to immigrant women, and with victims of abuse, at a number of round table discussions across the country. These important discussions focused on domestic violence, polygamy, forced marriages, the immigration process, and how to strengthen the protection of vulnerable women and girls. The result is Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

Canada is a very generous and tolerant country, and we want to keep it that way. I am sure we can agree that Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to underage, forced, or polygamous marriage or to other harmful cultural practices that deny gender equality.

In this country, we do not and should not accept spousal abuse, so-called honour killings, or other gender-based violence. That is why measures in the bill would also amend the Criminal Code to address so-called honour killings and gender-based violence perpetrated against family members, usually women and girls, who are perceived to have brought shame or dishonour to the family.

Under our Criminal Code, someone charged with murder can raise the defence of provocation to obtain a reduction to a lesser charge of manslaughter. Measures in Bill S-7 would amend the Criminal Code so that legal conduct by a victim could not be legally considered a provocation. This would preclude accused murderers, including those involved in honour killings, from trying to reduce the charge they faced by using the argument that a victim's legal conduct provoked them into a heat of passion and that they killed while in that state.

In summary, the measures in Bill S-7 would strengthen our laws to protect Canadians and newcomers to Canada from barbaric cultural practices. The measures in Bill S-7 would improve protection and support for vulnerable individuals, especially women and girls, by rendering permanent and temporary residents inadmissible if they practised polygamy in Canada, by strengthening Canadian marriage and criminal laws to combat forced and underage marriages, and by ensuring that the defence of provocation would not apply in so-called honour killings and in many spousal homicides. That is why this bill is so important.

As legislators, it is our duty to uphold the equality of men and women under the law. I would go so far as to say that this is a fundamental Canadian value. Nevertheless, we must recognize that thousands of Canadian women and girls continue to be subject to violence and that barbaric cultural practices still exist as a reality for many Canadian women.

By supporting these measures and ensuring that they pass into law, Parliament would be sending a strong message that we will not tolerate on Canadian soil any practices that deprive anyone of their human rights. I have no doubt that everyone in this House would agree that in our capacity as representatives of the people of Canada, we have an obligation to always support victims of violence and abuse and to do everything we can to prevent such practices from happening in this country.

Our government is taking steps to strengthen our laws to help ensure that no young girl or woman in Canada becomes a victim of early or forced marriage, polygamy, so-called honour-based violence, or any other form of harmful cultural practice I urge all my colleagues in this House to support Bill S-7.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I gather that standing up for female victims of violence is very important to him. I have one simple question for him: why did he vote against our motion for a national action plan to end violence against women knowing full well that one in three women in Canada will, in her lifetime, be a victim of sexual, physical or psychological violence?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bal Gosal Conservative Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know that violence against women is very bad, and that is why we brought in Bill S-7.

Any measures we have brought in to support victims, the opposition parties, especially the NDP, have voted against.

Bill S-7 is very important, especially in immigrant communities, because of so-called honour killings and polygamous marriages. We need to send a strong message that this government is standing up for victims. We are helping victims get their rights. Human rights are a fundamental Canadian value. Freedom is a fundamental Canadian value.

Opposition members always oppose any measures we put forward. I urge the member to read this bill and support it so we can protect vulnerable women and girls.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we all understand Canadian values with regard to issues like polygamy and forced marriages, having young girls at the age of 12 being forced to get married. These are all issues that defy Canadian values.

There is some merit in the legislation. The Liberals will be voting in favour of the legislation. Having said that, Liberals are very concerned about the title of the bill, which no doubt comes right from the Prime Minister's Office. No one questions that there are types of actions that are of a barbaric nature, but there does not seem to be any rationale for tying in the word “cultural”. Domestic violence and the abuse of women occur in all societies.

Why does the member believe that the Prime Minister is so insistent about inserting the word “cultural” with the word “barbaric”, knowing that it offends a great number of Canadians and that it does absolutely nothing for the content of the bill itself?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bal Gosal Conservative Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very funny to hear Liberals saying they support the bill but do not like the title. For 10 years, they did nothing for immigration. Under the Liberals' watch, the immigration system was broken, and we are trying to fix it.

Polygamous marriages and honour killings are cultural practices in a lot of communities. We want to send a clear message to Canadians that we are standing behind victims. We are standing behind vulnerable women and girls. The message needs to be sent. Therefore, the title is very important so that people will know that we will not tolerate these cultural practices and that we are standing with victims.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Richmond Hill Ontario

Conservative

Costas Menegakis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is a little rich to hear the Liberals speak about the title of a bill when they voted against the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, and the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. They say they support this bill, but they do not like the title.

I appreciated the hon. member's speech. It was very informative. My question for him is as follows. With regard to empowering young women and girls to speak out when someone in their families perpetrates such an atrocity on them, such as a forced marriage or abuse, how important does he think it is for women and girls to know that they can speak out on Canadian soil and get support when they need it?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bal Gosal Conservative Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a great question. It goes to the heart of this bill.

As we know, one victim is one too many. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act would send a clear message to those coming to Canada that forced marriage, honour-based violence, and other harmful cultural practices are not acceptable in Canada. That is the clear message we want to send, and that is what the bill would do. It would send a clear message to everyone around the country.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate, I will let the hon. member for Wild Rose know that there are only about four minutes remaining in the time before we have to go to statements by members. We will get him started, and I will give him the usual indication when he needs to wrap up.

The hon. member for Wild Rose.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the opportunity to speak today in support of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

In October 2013, our government committed to ensuring that early and forced marriages do not take place on Canadian soil. Bill S-7 delivers on that very promise. The bill proposes to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, and the Criminal Code to enhance the existing protections against harmful and violent practices that are perpetrated primarily against women and girls.

I would like to take this opportunity to elaborate on the bill and to compare our government's measures to some of our peer countries.

As Canada's citizenship and immigration minister explained before the Senate committee on human rights, all violent acts committed against women and girls are unacceptable in a democratic Canada. That is why our government has taken action, and continues to, to address various forms of violence against women and girls.

Bill S-7 supplements Canada's robust responses to violence against women and girls by addressing some areas where gaps have been identified, such as the response to early and forced marriages, and it strengthens the legislative tools in relation to other forms of gender-based violence, such as polygamy, so-called honour killing, and spousal homicide.

The bill addresses certain forms of violence against women and girls that reflect antiquated notions of women as property or as mere vessels of family honour and reputation. These notions are clearly inconsistent with the fundamental Canadian value of equality between men and women.

The zero tolerance for barbaric practices act introduces important legislative measures that would protect potential and actual victims of early and forced marriages.

I would like to turn now to the proposed new Criminal Code offence of active participation in an underage or forced marriage ceremony.

There has been significant debate about how best to address the issue of forced marriage and about whether a criminal law provision would make reporting more difficult. Nonetheless, many international organizations, including the Council of Europe and the United Nations, have been calling on states to specifically criminalize forced marriage. For example, UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, recommends that:

Legislation should criminalize forced marriage, and should acknowledge that any child marriage is by definition a forced marriage.

This is exactly what Bill S-7 proposes to do with the new offence of forced and underage marriage. Moreover, at least 11 similarly situated countries have introduced criminal offences in relation to forced marriage over the past decade or so. The following countries have enacted forced marriage offences, with maximum penalties ranging from two to seven years of imprisonment: the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, and Norway.

Mr. Speaker, it looks to me like you are about to tell me that my time is up for the moment. I look forward to continuing after question period.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Wild Rose is very observant. Indeed, he will have six minutes remaining when the House next resumes debate on the question, likely later today.

Abenaki MuseumStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago, the Abenaki Museum opened its doors to visitors who wanted to discover Abenaki culture and heritage: 50 years of collaboration with the Odanak community.

To mark the occasion, a new exhibit will pay tribute to all those who founded the museum, supported it and kept it going all these years. This exceptional exhibit runs until December 23, 2016. It is a must-see.

Since 2011, the museum has won 11 recognition awards. In a little more than six months, the museum won four awards of excellence and recognition: the Société des musées du Québec Excellence Award, the National Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Award, the Quebec Aboriginal Tourism Award in the Interpretation Site category, and the Canadian Museums Association Award of Excellence.

The museum earned these awards of distinction for its innovative archeological projects and for its research, which promotes understanding and learning. I invite my colleagues to not only come visit the Abenaki Museum this summer, but also and especially to come discover and learn about the rich heritage of the Abenaki people.

Prairie Gleaners SocietyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to stand in the House to speak about an organization that I support, the Prairie Gleaners Society.

The Prairie Gleaners is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization that receives donations of vegetables that are from greenhouses and farmers to prepare for the needy of the world. They are then sealed in packages and sent mostly overseas in areas where chronic hunger is widespread.

The Prairie Gleaners recently hosted an open house session to give locals a chance to see exactly what its work entailed and to explain how its projects worked. The veggies are chopped into smaller pieces by volunteers then dehydrated and shipped. It is also working locally with food banks to deliver relief to families in our communities.

As a volunteer organization, it ships roughly three million meals every year. Having tasted the delicious soups from the packages that I made myself as a volunteer, I am pleased that such an efficient and helpful volunteer operation is run out of Medicine Hat.

I wish all of the volunteers, the caring folks who give so much of their time to make the Prairie Gleaners run on a daily basis, all the best in the future.

Canadian Interuniversity SportStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with the pride of the Lancer nation that I rise today in the House to acknowledge the University of Windsor women's basketball and men's track and field team. Both recently won their respective national championships in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

The Lancer women's basketball team has etched its place in history as one of only two teams to win five national championships in a row, and it remains the unquestioned benchmark in the CIS.

The Lancer men's track and field team has an equally impressive legacy of dominance in the CIS competition. The 2015 title marks the 20th time that the Lancer men's team has won the national championship.

Both squads compete with determination and discipline, embodying the character of their coaches and the community that supports them.

Coaches Chantal Vallée and Dennis Fairall, both recognized as coach of the year in their respective sports, have built programs around a very simple philosophy: Team first and do not quit: Win.

I congratulate the entire Lancer family on these incredible accomplishments and wish them continued success. Go, Lancers.

Magna CartaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Anders Conservative Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the Magna Carta, first issued and signed by King John on June 15, 1215, in a meadow in Runnymede, England.

British jurist Lord Denning called the Magna Carta, “the greatest constitutional document of all time – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”.

The Magna Carta laid the foundations for many rights and freedoms. Clause 39 guaranteed key legal rights like due process in trials. It guaranteed the right not to be deprived of property, except by due process. Clause 9 guaranteed certain commercial rights and the rights of guilds. Clause 1 guaranteed the right of the church not to be interfered with by the state. The Magna Carta made the monarch accountable to a council in fulfilling commitments.

Eight hundred years ago, the Magna Carta made the Crown subject to the rule of law. No one was above the law, including the Crown.

Dick MacLeanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember a legend of eastern Prince Edward Island.

Dick MacLean started in 1953 with a $97 concrete mixer bought in the Eaton's catalogue, and built an empire from the ground up which grew into a fleet of 16 ready mix trucks and 25 tractor trailers.

Mr. MacLean also tirelessly served his community for decades as a long time minor hockey coach and a member of the Community Welfare League of Montague, serving on the Montague Fire Department, Junior Board of Trade, Montague Museum Committee, as chair of the Kings County Memorial Hospital and helped to establish the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre.

On behalf of all members of the House of Commons, I send our condolences to Dick MacLean's wife, Mary, his children, John and Doug, friends and family, and all of those who were privileged enough to know such a great man.

CalgaryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, this summer, I invite all members of the House and all Canadians to visit our great city of Calgary to enjoy some world-class events.

In July, our city hosts the greatest outdoor show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede. Join me and people from around the world at Stampede breakfasts, barbeques, exhibitions and, of course, the most exciting rodeo in the world.

At the end of June, Calgary hosts “Canada One”, at Spruce Meadows, one of the finest outdoor show jumping tournaments in North America.

Then there is GlobalFest, in my riding, which lights up the August skies with incredible pyro-musical firework displays and has delicious foods and dance performances from the many cultures in our community.

Then Calgary is the gateway to Banff National Park, Canada's oldest and grandest national park. Spend a day in Banff to enjoy the outdoors.

I invite all Canadians to come to Calgary this summer.

Citizenship and ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Louis-Roger Jean-Pierre is an eight-month-old Canadian child who is suffering from encephalopathy. According to the prognosis made by his doctors at Sainte-Justine Hospital, he does not have much time left.

Considering how ill her son is, Christina César, the boy's mother, who is Haitian, applied for a visitor's visa to come and see her son one last time. Ms. César submitted a letter of support from Sainte-Justine Hospital, but she was denied a visa. It is so sad that such a decision was made.

I hope the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will show some compassion and intervene as soon as possible in favour of this grief-stricken mother, who cannot believe what is happening.

Highway of Heroes Challenge CupStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Perkins Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize the Whitby Minor Lacrosse Association, which will be hosting the second annual Highway of Heroes Challenge Cup this weekend.

The cup is held in partnership with the Oakville Minor Lacrosse Association and is played in honour of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

This one-day Box Lacrosse event will consist of a total of 18 games and will be played at the McKinney Centre in Whitby.

The Highway of Heroes Challenge Cup was born in celebration of the passion shared for lacrosse between the Whitby and Oakville clubs and was named after the section of the 401 named the Highway of Heroes.

I would like to thank both associations for fostering sportsmanship between Whitby and Oakville that instills the importance of commemorating our fallen heroes in our young athletes.

Jewish National FundStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope you will draw our attention a little later today to some 60 leaders of the Jewish National Fund who have come from across the country to be with us today.

Since its inception in 1901, the Jewish National Fund has been the most significant environmental organization in the Middle East, responsible for land, water and forest management the length and width of Israel.

The Jewish National Fund of Canada has been a leading contributor to a wide range of programs, from tertiary waste water treatment and reservoir building, to greening the deserts and reforestation of the fire-ravaged Haifa forest.

The JNF honoured the Prime Minister of Canada with the naming of the Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre last year, in recognition of his steadfast support of Israel and the Jewish people.

We thank the Jewish National Fund for a century of service to the land of Israel and its citizens, Jewish people everywhere.

Initiatives of the People of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-CharlesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, last November, I had the honour of meeting with students from my riding who travelled to Ottawa. They were attending an important national event to fight the stigma of mental illness.

Last month, these students invited me to attend the first Quebec school summit on mental health and stigmatization. With the theme “head held high”, the mission of Saint-Jean Eudes school was to help young people break down the stigma associated with mental illness, raise awareness among young people and teach them how to respond appropriately in their personal and professional lives.

Last weekend I also had the opportunity to participate in an event put on by AQEPA, the Association du Québec pour enfants avec problèmes auditifs, which works to ensure that all children with hearing problems can achieve their full potential and are not subject to rejection or harassment, and that the parents have support for their children's education.

We can be proud of the initiatives of the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles who, day after day, are committed to making this a better world.

MarijuanaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal vision for Canada is marijuana stores in every community, making marijuana as easy for children and teens to get as beer and tobacco, like Vancouver, which has more illegal marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks coffee shops.

In April, 63 young people in Vancouver ended up in the emergency room of St. Paul's Hospital suffering from nausea, palpitations and diminished consciousness in one day from marijuana poisoning.

Colorado rolled out legalization with tough regulations, yet 45 children have been treated in poison control centres after eating marijuana sweets. Almost half the adults arrested test positive for marijuana. Marijuana is the number one reason for DUI charges. Marijuana-related hospitalizations increased by 82% and marijuana-related traffic deaths doubled in the first five years.

How many Canadian children and teens have to get their stomach pumped or die in motor vehicle accidents before the Liberals admit their drug vision would be a nightmare for Canada's youth and their parents?

Civic EngagementStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 11, the Comité de vigilance des activités portuaires at the Port of Quebec had a look back on its second year of activity. Although it was disappointing that port users did not attend the committee meetings, it is important to note the remarkable involvement of the committee members, who give up many hours of their personal time.

Over the past four years, I have seen that many people are trying to understand the issues affecting them. It takes a lot of dedication to be a member of an advisory board or decision-making body. I have witnessed these efforts first-hand, whether we are talking about a housing roundtable, the decision-making board of a credit union or a citizen-driven rail traffic monitoring initiative. Hundreds of people are working to better understand their environment and are showing that they want to be full-fledged participants in their community.

Civic engagement contributes a great deal to our society. I would like to pay tribute to these people, who refuse to resign themselves to their situation and work every day to contribute to the common good.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, small businesses and middle-class workers of Brantford-Brant know that now is not the time for risky schemes and untested leadership. They reject the Liberal leader's plan to impose a mandatory $1,000 tax hike.

By pledging to enforce the Ontario Liberals' payroll tax increase on every employee and employer in Canada, the Liberal leader would burden our economy with wage cuts and jobs cuts. According to a CFIB survey of employers in Ontario, 69% indicated that they would have to freeze or cut salaries.

While the opposition wants to raise taxes, our government has cut the GST, introduced pension income splitting and created the tax-free savings account. Only our government can be trusted to keep taxes low for Canadians.

Democratic ReformStatements By Members

June 16th, 2015 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, after 10 years of the secretive, manipulative Conservative government, Ottawa is broken and the faith of Canadians in government has never been lower.

Today, the Liberal leader announced a plan for fair and open government, a plan for real change and a commitment to gender balance in cabinet. A Liberal government would change the electoral system so all votes would count and Canadians would get a fairer and more representative Parliament.

Liberals will end the abuse of omnibus bills which result in poorly reviewed laws. We will open up the access to information system to include ministers' offices. Charities will be allowed to advocate for the people and issues they represent without fear of tax audit harassment. We will bring back the long form census, bring science back into government decision making and we will stop the government's practice of using taxpayer dollars for partisan advertising.

Canadians want real change and real accountability. It is obvious the present government can provide neither. Canadians want their trust in government restored. The Liberal Party has the only plan for real change to do just that.