House of Commons Hansard #227 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.


Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the government's willingness to try to get more kids active. Obviously, youth inactivity has been a big problem in Canada. A couple of years ago a report card was issued giving us a D, which is far from where we want to be.

On that note, I have a question about the fitness tax credit. The member alluded to people having that extra money, allowing them to sign their kids up for physical activity. I asked an order paper question a couple of months ago and another one, the answer to which should be coming before the end of this sitting, but I would ask the member to give me a little preview of that answer. Does he know how many new people actually signed up for organized sports in their communities—up to this point, I have been unable to get that answer from the government—or is it only benefiting people who had already signed up for physical activity? Is this really doing something to solve the problem of youth inactivity?

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the member for seeking that number. I am sure when the order paper comes back, it will be shown. I will have a look at it before it gets sent over. I would be happy to get that number for him.

What this speaks to is that, across the country, people who were in a position where they could not necessarily afford to put their children into sports now at least feel and understand that the federal government is there to help them in that process. Let us not forget that, since that time in 2006, we have had programs like the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program so that, when there are situations when children are unable to sign up because of their parents' financial position, there is a way to make it happen. It is part of what was built upon, about getting children engaged and ensuring they have an opportunity to get involved in fitness and play sports. It is not just necessarily the government's responsibility to do that; it is the responsibility of all of us.

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke of funding families, but we all know that with the current government a family getting support is dependent on what income bracket the family is in.

I got a letter two days ago and I will quote from that letter. It says:

... [this Prime Minister's] government is abolishing the housing subsidies for low income families effective July 1 2015! This is disgraceful. Landlords of subsidized housing are claiming that they cannot lose the $200 a month subsidy and continue to offer housing to their current tenants. The families in those homes will be out on the street as they agreed to live in these apartments due to lower affordable rents.

The point is that the government is not helping low-income families. Through Canada Mortgage and Housing, it is cutting housing subsidies effective July 1. My question is this. Why is the government continuing to cut CMHC monies meant to ensure that individuals have a decent place to live while, at the same time, giving a $2 billion tax break to those who really do not need the money?

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I tried to focus the speech that I gave on the progress we have made from 2006 to 2015, and it is very clear. If there is ever an opportunity, the member should come to my riding in the St. Catharines community and see the investment the federal government has made into social housing, into assisting those who used to pay federal tax but do not have to pay it any more because we have raised the thresholds.

We have played a role in working with the region of Niagara and with regions across this country to ensure that those who need housing and those who cannot quite afford it have the opportunity to start and move in that direction. We have made those opportunities happen. We have continued to invest in housing. This budget invests again in housing. There has not been a budget since we took government that did not invest in social housing. The member knows it, and to say otherwise is a fallacy.

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the Conservative government's budget, which is an omnibus bill.

After studying the bill very carefully and consulting with my constituents as I went door to door on the weekend in my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, I can confirm without a doubt that this budget is strictly an election budget. It favours the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor, and more importantly, it does not meet the pressing needs of the people of my riding.

On top of that, the Conservatives have introduced another omnibus bill, a budget designed to make hundreds of changes with no opportunity for us to examine them. The bill is 150 pages long, has over 270 provisions and amends dozens of laws, including a large part that has nothing to do with the budget.

Once again, this government is showing its utter contempt for democracy. For these reasons, and many others that I will try to list, I am proud to say that as the NDP member for Berthier—Maskinongé, I oppose this budget.

I would like to talk about employment and investments in the regions. First of all, everywhere I go, the issue that my constituents want to talk about the most is employment. My region is no different than the rest of Quebec, but unfortunately, the Conservatives are offering nothing to spur job creation in the regions.

In fact, that is not entirely true. The Conservatives took our proposal to reduce taxes for small businesses to promote development and indirectly create jobs. The NDP truly believes that SMEs stimulate the local economy.

Other than this measure that they borrowed from our party, the Conservatives have made no investment in the regions of Quebec. On the contrary, they are still making major cuts to the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

More than 420,000 Canadians have lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector. The Conservatives stand idly by. Their budget is not really helping the situation. It only fixes past mistakes.

It is flattering to learn that the government is adopting our idea to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance period in the manufacturing sector. However, it is too bad that this measure comes so late, after the damage has been done.

In my region, the unemployment rate is alarming, and the government is doing nothing about it. Furthermore, the budget reaffirms the government's commitment to reducing EI premium rates and its refusal to make it more accessible for the workers who pay into it, but cannot access it when they need it. The government's reform is still just as detrimental, and to top it all off the government has followed in the Liberals' footsteps and raided the employment insurance fund to balance its books. These funds belong to the workers and employers.

Let us talk about the pyrrhotite situation. In the region, approximately 2,000 families have been affected by pyrrhotite. A number of these property owners are grappling with this problem. When I received the budget, I looked for the money set aside for this and the word “pyrrhotite”.

Since May 2, 2011, I have been working with the member for Trois-Rivières to raise awareness among MPs about the issue of pyrrhotite. We also asked the federal government to help these victims.

Unfortunately, the government's answer every time was that this was a provincial jurisdiction, even though the federal government had previously intervened in the pyrite crisis in Montreal. The pyrrhotite problem is devastating for our region. This is definitely a social crisis that the government should have taken action on.

Fortunately, it is not too late. Thanks to the NDP, the Conservatives and the Liberal Party will be able to redeem themselves by voting for Motion No. 615, moved by the member for Trois-Rivières.

As the official opposition’s deputy agriculture critic, another very important issue for me concerns temporary foreign workers. The problem is not only that the current government fails to take action at the right time during a crisis, but also that it creates even more crises.

For example, because of its reform of the temporary foreign worker program, last fall Quebec’s farmers lost $52 million. The government failed to take any financial action.

In the spring another crisis with this program was looming in the mushroom industry, for example, and once again the government stood idly by and did nothing. The temporary foreign workers program is vitally important to farming. By increasing the maximum number of years from two to four, the government caused a great deal of instability in the vegetable industry, not counting the training costs resulting from these changes.

I am really proud of my fight to make life more affordable for Canadian and Quebec consumers. However, it saddens me that the government is not doing anything to reduce the cost of living, especially when costs continue to rise while good jobs and good wages are not keeping up.

Fortunately, the NDP managed to get the government to support our motion forcing it to take action on pay-to-pay fees. It is important that the government regulate bank fees charged to consumers.

I am also dismayed to not find any measures to improve food security in Canada. In my riding, there are a growing number of people struggling to pay for rent or for groceries, and it is a shame that the Conservatives are not taking action to address this serious problem.

Under their watch, demand for food banks has gone up 25% since 2008. Government assistance and action have been ineffective and have not solved any of the problems. I would have liked to see the gora food strategy such as the one put forward by my colleague from Welland put in place by the government to improve the situation for these people.

I also want to point out that there is nothing in the budget for single-parent families. The government chose instead to proceed with income splitting, a measure that, according to reports by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the C.D. Howe Institute and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, will benefit only 15% of families. They also indicated that the benefits will flow mainly to the wealthiest households and that such a policy would encourage women, in disproportionate numbers, to leave the labour market or not to enter it in the first place.

Doubling the tax-free savings account contribution limit is another foolish measure that will only help the wealthiest. In addition to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's assessment that increasing the limit will not benefit the public purse, many studies have shown that a very small percentage of households will benefit from this measure. Once again, this measure will benefit only the wealthiest Canadians.

People in my riding are also concerned about cuts to Radio-Canada, which provides a vital service in the regions. Because of the government's cuts, the Radio-Canada network in Mauricie will have to make do with a 30-minute news broadcast all year long. Radio-Canada needs stable, long-term funding to do its job well.

The government must absolutely restore the health transfers to Quebec and other regions in the country. Its decision to freeze transfer caps is putting a great deal of pressure on the provincial governments. It is the federal government's duty to transfer the money the provinces need to provide people with adequate health care. The population of my riding is aging and health care is an important issue. Again, the government seems to want to balance its budget on the backs of people who truly need help.

In closing, I am extremely disappointed in this election budget. Making a budget is about choices. I would have liked to see more measures to help the middle class and families in my riding.

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member to clarify a little of her speech.

She talked about our government borrowing the NDP's proposal for accelerated capital cost allowance. I hardly think that is correct when in fact the accelerated capital cost allowance was put in in 2007. We had extended it in a number of ways up until the end of 2015. In the NDP playbook, they were looking at an extension of an additional two years. In budget 2015, we are extending it by 10 years. That is hardly borrowing from the NDP playbook.

I wonder if the member could comment on the importance of business and giving them a 10-year window on this. As the member would probably know, many manufacturing businesses sometimes take two to three years to actually do the engineering and everything else that is required to make an investment in machinery

Could the member comment on the fact that maybe 10 years is better for business to be able to make these investment decisions?

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

I remember when I first arrived after the election and the first time I worked in the House with my colleagues from the other parties. I found there was a real lack of collaboration and things have only gotten worse.

For example, the government introduced this omnibus bill. We should be focusing our efforts and working together more. When there is a good idea, we should use it and work with all the parties in the House to ensure that there is a healthy environment for creating jobs here in Canada.

We know that SMEs are important businesses, especially in rural areas where they create nearly 80% of the jobs. It is therefore important to have common sense measures to foster the right environment for creating jobs.

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, here we are today debating amendments to the government's budget.

In anticipation of the election which is only months away, political parties are stating their ideas and some of their thoughts. I would like to share some of ours and ask the member to reflect on them and provide comment in regard to the NDP plan.

A Liberal government, for example, would make the tax system fairer and cut the middle-class tax rate by 7%. That would be a $3 billion tax cut for those who need it the most. The Liberal plan would also provide one bigger, fairer, tax-free monthly cheque to help families with the high cost of raising their kids. We would also ask the wealthiest Canadians to pay a little more so the middle class can pay less. Liberals would cancel the Prime Minister's income-splitting and other tax breaks for the wealthy. We would introduce a new tax bracket for the top 1% on incomes over $200,000.

I am wondering if the member could share some of her thoughts on these ideas.

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, that did not sound too much like a question, but more like an ad for the Liberal plan.

I would just like to reflect on something that we have proposed and something which I think a lot of Canadian families have really rallied behind in terms of child care. I am a single mom. I had my son at a young age, and when I went back to school, I put him in day care. It cost me $55 a day. I was a single mom going back to school and I paid $55 a day for child care.

In Quebec, we have a system and it works. It is great. However, across the country affordable child care is something that is very important for parents and those getting back into the workforce. It is something that both governments have promised quite a few times but have never been able to succeed in creating child care spaces.

With this upcoming election just a few months away, Canadians will be able to vote and actually get what was promised. They would have affordable child care spots for $15 a day. I think that is important for a lot of Canadian families

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my absolute pleasure to take part in this debate on Bill C-59. It is a bill that I am very proud of and a bill which will make a big difference to my constituents in Winnipeg South Centre.

To begin, Bill C-59 builds on our government's record of support for Canadian families by keeping taxes low and helping families save more and invest more in their children, their families, their future.

Since 2006, our government has introduced measures to make life much more affordable for families. These measures include: reducing the lowest personal income tax rate and increasing the basic personal amount, so making more income tax-free; cutting the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%; introducing pension income splitting for seniors, which makes a huge difference to so many seniors, and certainly is one thing I hear about in my riding; establishing tax credits to support working low-income individuals and families, public transit users, first time homebuyers. I received a thank you note from someone who had just bought their first house. Especially for families caring for disabled relatives, we have done amazing work in that area.

We have also provided additional support for families with children through the children's art and fitness tax credits, enhancements to the registered education savings plan, and adoption expense tax credits. Most recently, the government has proposed a new family tax cut and enhancements to the universal child care benefit and child care expense deduction.

Canadians of all income levels are benefiting from tax relief introduced by our government with low- and middle-income Canadians receiving proportionally greater relief.

I am going to speak specifically to what economic action plan 2015 has done for families, for seniors and for students.

This year, Canadian families and individuals will receive $37 billion in tax relief and increased benefits as a result of actions we have taken in government since 2006.

For example, a typical two-earner family of four will receive tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 annually in 2015 and every year going forward in perpetuity. This is thanks to measures such as the family tax cut, the universal child care benefit, the goods and services tax rate reduction, the children's fitness tax credit and other new credits, especially the broad-based income tax relief, including the reduction in the lowest personal income tax rate.

By reducing taxes year after year and enhancing benefits to Canadians, our government has given families and individuals greater flexibility to make the choices that are right for them. Families are just like pantyhose: one size does not fit all.

Additionally, while we have been busy cutting taxes for families, we have in turn made sure that federal transfers to our provinces and territories, the transfers that help pay for what Canadians cherish so much, education and health care, have continued to grow. In fact, including the Canada health transfer and the Canada social transfer, this year, 2015-16, the amount is going to be almost $68 billion. This is an all-time high, and all the more impressive, it is at the same time as we brought the budget into balance.

This economic action plan is also very supportive of seniors who are already benefiting from important money-saving measures such as pension income splitting and of course, their TFSAs.

Bill C-59 will introduce new measures that give seniors freedom and more flexibility when it comes to managing their retirement income. For example, our government will be reducing the minimum withdrawal factors for registered retirement income funds. This will make a huge difference for many seniors in my riding of Winnipeg South Centre and across Canada. By permitting more capital preservation for our seniors, the new factors will help to reduce the risk of outliving one's savings, while ensuring that the tax deferral provided on RRSP and RRIF savings continues to serve a retirement income purpose.

I am also very pleased that our government is introducing the new home accessibility tax credit. This proposed 15% tax credit will apply on up to $10,000 of eligible home renovation expenditures per year for seniors and for people with disabilities all across Canada. Eligible expenditures will be for improvements that allow a senior or a person who is eligible for the disability tax credit to be more mobile, safe and functional within their homes. We will also be providing up to $42 million over five years to help establish the Canadian centre for aging and brain health innovation. We have allocated $37 million annually to extend employment insurance compassionate care benefits from the current six weeks to six months as of January 2016.

Our government continues to invest significant funding in training and education for students. Federal support for post-secondary education amounts to $10 billion annually and includes financial assistance, such as Canada student loans, Canada student grants, the Canada apprentice loan, and specific programming targeted to first nations and Inuit students. There are also programs designed to enhance skills training among specific groups, including through our youth employment strategy, through our opportunities fund for persons with disabilities, and of course, for aboriginal peoples, through investments of over $440 million annually.

In addition to ensuring Canadians have the skills they need, we also invest in labour market programming, which helps to bridge the current needs of our labour market with the future evolution of our labour force. In 2014-15, the government transferred $2.7 billion to support labour market programming, including $500 million for provinces and territories through the Canada job fund agreements, which include the Canada job grant.

The government has also taken action to support the labour market participation of older Canadians who wish to remain in the workforce by providing $75 million to renew the targeted initiative for older workers, providing assistance to improve the ability and employability of unemployed workers age 55 to 64.

This budget builds on existing measures to help people find jobs and help jobs find people. It commits to working with provinces and territories to facilitate the harmonization of apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades. Some members know that Red Seal trades include mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and even bakers. Our government, since last year, has made it so apprentices in these trades have had access to over $100 million in interest-free federal loans each year.

Overall, Canada saw a 20% increase in registrations in apprenticeship programs between 2006 and 2012. Based on that success, Bill C-59 will provide $1 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada's Red Seal secretariat to promote the adoption of the Blue Seal certification program across Canada. Blue Seal certification recognizes business training among certified tradespeople. Currently offered in a few provincial jurisdictions, the certification can help increase the chances of business success for entrepreneurial tradespeople.

Finally, our government has fulfilled a long-standing commitment of increasing the annual contribution limits of tax-free savings accounts to $10,000. This will be helpful to all Canadians, including families, young people and seniors. TFSAs help Canadians save at every stage of life, whether for retirement, starting a business, or buying their very first home. By doubling the TFSA limit, which when we introduced the TFSA in 2009 was $5,000 annually, we are empowering Canadians to save even more of their own money for their own priorities. We hope that more Canadians will take advantage of the tax-free savings account going forward. Of the nearly 11 million individuals who already have a TFSA, 2.7 million are seniors.

I am extremely proud of our government and the continued commitments it has made to Canadian families, Canadian students and Canadian seniors.

Report stagePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When the House next returns to debate on this matter, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre will have a five-minute period for questions and comments with respect to her 10 minutes of remarks this afternoon.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from May 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-588, an act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to stand to speak in favour of Bill C-588 regarding the Sambro Island lighthouse.

I had the pleasure of serving the community of Sambro between 2000 and 2004. In fact, the boundaries of the Halifax West riding were changed in 1997, and that was not a great year for me in other respects because I began what I call my involuntary sabbatical. I was defeated that year, but I was re-elected in 2000 under those same boundaries, so I had the pleasure and honour of serving the Sambro area from 2000 to 2004 when the boundaries were changed again and it was put back into the Halifax riding and taken out of Halifax West.

The Sambro lighthouse is a very iconic structure. It has a great history. It was established as a result of the very first act of the Nova Scotia legislature. That is remarkable, when we think about it. In fact, it was built in 1758. It is hard to believe that we have any lighthouses in North America that were built that long ago, which is why it should not be surprising, perhaps, that it is in fact the oldest operating lighthouse in North America.

I had the pleasure of going there, back in 2013, when I was no longer the MP for that area but still interested in attending public meetings in the Sambro area, along with the current Premier of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil, who was then the leader of the Liberal Party. He still is, of course, but he was not premier then. We were there to discuss community support for protecting lighthouses and in particular the Sambro light.

I want to begin by thanking my hon. friend, the member for Halifax, for bringing the bill forward. I think it is a very positive idea, and I am very supportive of any measures that may result in this light being maintained and preserved for the long term because of that incredible history it has and the fact that it is North America's oldest light, a beautiful structure.

I also want to congratulate Brendan Maguire, who is the provincial member, the MLA for Halifax Atlantic. He has done a lot of work on this and had many meetings and made lots of efforts with both levels of government to try to get support for the maintenance and the protection of this lighthouse.

I also want to congratulate Rena Maguire and Susan Paul from the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, who have done so much to gather support for the protection of the lighthouse.

In 2013, I tabled a number of petitions signed by more than 5,000 people, calling on the Government of Canada to preserve the lighthouse at Sambro Island, and I was very pleased that the Government of Canada decided to provide $1.5 million for repairs and upgrades to the lighthouse.

I hope we all recognize that this is an important part of Nova Scotia's heritage and really of Canada's heritage. I think that contribution of $1.5 million to upgrade it and maintain it is an indication of that importance. That is an important step, and we would like to ensure that it is preserved on a permanent, ongoing basis.

I had the pleasure of visiting the lighthouse. I think it was in September 2013 that I was there. Paddy Gray is a fisherman who fishes out of Sambro, and he was kind enough to take me out on his boat. We actually caught a few fish along the way, but then we visited the island itself and went up to the light. I had my camera and took quite a few pictures. As a matter of fact, I have one of my photographs as the wallpaper on my computer, so I see the lighthouse and the island every day when I look at my computer.

Not long ago I was asked to do a painting, just a little one, a five-by-seven canvas, for a fundraising auction. I do not claim to be a Renoir or Monet, but I enjoyed doing this from one of my photographs.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


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

I am certain he must be.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am glad my hon. friend thinks I must be. That is very generous of him. I did enjoy doing that painting from the photograph I had taken, and that is why I chose to paint that picture of the Sambro Island light. I put it on my Facebook page. I do not know how hard it is to find it, but if any member wanted to find it they could probably look there and discover it.

The lighthouse is very much symbolic, as all lighthouses are, of our seafaring heritage. For those of us from Nova Scotia, lighthouses mean a great deal.

However, I learned, certainly when I was minister of fisheries and oceans, how much they meant to people all across the country, in places like Collingwood, Ontario, on Georgian Bay, and throughout the Great Lakes and many of the larger lakes in this country. In places where there is navigation, like the Great Lakes, lighthouses have been an important part of our transportation system. They certainly form an important part of our heritage. They are iconic structures, often beautiful structures, that mean a lot to people in the communities where they are.

Not that long ago, 120 lighthouses in Nova Scotia had been declared surplus by the Conservative government. So far, community groups have only offered to take over 29. It is a big responsibility and a big cost for a community group to take on the ownership and, therefore, the ongoing maintenance of a lighthouse. These are often quite large and old structures. For example, the one in Collingwood had stone on the outside and was kind of rotting on the inside. The nature of the construction meant that it was very challenging to maintain. I suspect that the lighthouse in Sambro is of a similar kind of construction and might also be very challenging.

However, I am proud of the cases where communities have decided to take the plunge and take over a lighthouse. For example, the Terence Bay lighthouse society in my riding of Halifax West was among those groups that submitted a business plan to protect the lighthouse in their community. In fact, $80,000 was spent to paint the lighthouse in 2008, and that was a very difficult—excuse me; this is actually in relation to Sambro Island, not Terence Bay. On the Sambro Island light, $80,000 was spent to paint the lighthouse in 2008. The process was extremely difficult because it is on an island and the substantial amount of materials that were needed had to be actually flown in by helicopter.

The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society has what it calls a “doomsday list” of lighthouses that are in danger of being lost through neglect. That is of great concern to many people in my province. Sambro has been on that list. The Sambro Island lighthouse has already been designated as a federal heritage building and national historic site. I think what the act is proposing to do would follow well along with that designation.

Of all the provinces, Nova Scotia—not surprisingly, considering it is a peninsula and all the coastline it has—has the most lighthouses under petition to become heritage lighthouses. I think it shows the pride that Nova Scotia has for its lighthouses and their history.

In fact, I gather we have 92 lighthouses under petition, of the 348 total lighthouses under petition in all of Canada. That is, nearly one-third of all the lighthouses in Canada that are under petition are in fact in Nova Scotia.

It seems to me that the burden of maintaining these lighthouses should not be placed upon the community, especially when we are talking about heritage lighthouses of national importance, like the Sambro Island light, the oldest operating light in North America. This is an important asset for the broader community, in fact, certainly for my province and for our country. I am pleased that there has been money set aside to maintain it, but let us find ways to ensure that it is kept going, that it is protected for the long term, because it is a beautiful iconic structure. I urge any of my colleagues, if they have a chance to go to Nova Scotia, to go out to Sambro. If they could call me, I am sure I or my colleague and friend from Halifax could arrange for them to take a boat tour out to the island and have a look at that beautiful structure.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we go to resuming debate, I see the hon. government House leader rising on a point of order.

Bill C-59—Notice of time allocation motionEconomic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I must advise that an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) concerning the proceedings at report stage and third reading stage of Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015, and other measures.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at those stages.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-588, An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak in support of Bill C-588, an act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, with regard to the Sambro Island lighthouse.

I want to commend my colleague the member for Halifax for her tenacity in supporting this community and this iconic structure that means so much to not only the people of Sambro and the people of Halifax but also the people across this country if not internationally. As has been said, the structure was built in 1758 by the first act of the oldest legislature, in the province of Nova Scotia.

There have been a lot of people coming and going from Halifax Harbour, whether as part of the Royal Canadian Navy, war brides, or immigrants coming to this great country. It has been suggested by veterans that, when they left the harbour, the Sambro lighthouse was the last thing they saw, and when they returned to Halifax Harbour it was the first thing they saw. As one veteran expressed, it was like lifting a huge load off of their shoulders in making that crossing, seeing the lighthouse and recognizing that Nova Scotia and Canada were a few short hours away.

It is a huge structure made of stone and concrete, standing 24 metres tall, and located on a granite island off the entrance to Halifax Harbour just slightly beyond the community of Sambro. It is a stately structure and has been referred to as Canada's Statue of Liberty.

The other day I was thinking about how my wife's grandfather came to this country in 1928 through Pier 21 and would have seen this structure as the ship he was on approached this wonderful country, which he then made his home and where he raised his family, as did so many.

Why is this important? This bill would place the Sambro Island lighthouse within the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. Therefore, it would become a responsibility of Parks Canada to maintain it and save a piece of our natural heritage.

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act came into force in 2008. However, for some reason many heritage buildings were missed, this one included. As a result, there was a requirement for the communities to put together a petition to nominate them as historic structures and put together a business plan. It was quite an onerous process. Needless to say it was a difficult one, given the lack of resources. However, there was a lot of work done.

I think an indication of why it is so important for Parks Canada to take over this important structure for the Government of Canada is in recognition of the costs. No community is able to manage the costs of maintaining this important structure. It is on an island; it is 24 metres tall. We received an indication of what it would cost to maintain it when, in 2008, the Coast Guard repainted the lighthouse. It used a helicopter to ferry supplies, including a large web of scaffolding. The total cost was about $80,000, which is a huge expense for a small community and so a very difficult process.

However, I give credit to the Sambro Island Lighthouse Preservation Society for being diligent and tenacious on this issue, along with Barry MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. I do not know how many hundreds of petitions I tabled in the House, along with my colleagues from Nova Scotia, but they ensured it was in the minds of Nova Scotians and Canadians that something needed to be done about this. I commend all of those volunteers for their efforts in this regard. That is why we are now at this point.

I was happy to congratulate the government when I heard in early May that it had indicated that it would invest $1.5 million to restore the Sambro Island lighthouse. The minister at the time indicated that it was one of the most iconic structures in the country. It was great news, which would allow long overdue and needed concrete renovations, rehabilitation of the original lantern and gallery, and repainting to take place.

However, this was recognized as a stop-gap measure. Therefore, it was important that the legislation be introduced in the House. My understanding is that government members have indicated their support, and for that I am happy to commend them.

Part of the Parks Canada mandate is to protect the health and wholeness of the commemorative integrity of the national sites it operates. This means preserving the site's cultural resources, communicating its heritage values and national significance and kindling the respect of people whose decisions and actions affect the site. This is why it is so important for this important heritage structure in the history of Nova Scotia and Canada to be properly protected by the federal government.

It is not as if the federal government has not already recognized the heritage value of this structure. In 1937, the Sambro lighthouse was designated a national historic site, and a plaque was placed in the village of Sambro. Then in 1996, the lighthouse received Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office classified status, which is the highest ranking status for Canadian government heritage buildings. In the case of classified federal heritage buildings for which the minister has assigned the highest level of protection, departments are required to consult with the heritage protection legislation before undertaking any action that would affect their heritage structure

I did not indicate when I began that this is important to me for another reason. I was a member of the legislative assembly for the constituency of Halifax Atlantic between the years 1991 and 2003, and Sambro was part of my constituency. It was a constant reminder of the history that the community had shared with North America. The fact is that Sambro has been an active and productive fishing village for over 500 years, and it continues to thrive to this day based on the collaborative manner in which the people in that community, the fishermen and others, go about harvesting the resource of the ocean in a sustainable fashion.

I am very proud to be here with my colleague, the member for Halifax, who sponsored this bill, to speak for a few moments in support of what she has been able to do for this iconic heritage structure, and also as somebody who has had some attachment and has attended many public meetings in the community about what we would do with the Sambro lighthouse.

It is a good day, and I am pleased to support the bill. Again, I commend my colleague, the member for Halifax.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to private member's bill, Bill C-588.

Our government is prepared to support Bill C-588 subject to certain amendments. When we last spoke about the bill in the House on May 25, our government expressed our support for the designation of the Sambro Island lighthouse under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The Sambro Island lighthouse is an iconic Canadian structure. It speaks to so much of our history, whether it be immigration, commerce, politics or war.

On May 25, we also spoke about the need to find a long-term plan that would ensure the lighthouse could be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come. This objective is foremost in our thoughts and is the subject of the amendments we proposed to Bill C-588.

We know that local support for the lighthouse is very strong. A preliminary business plan has been worked up by the local lighthouse heritage society and this plan could be further developed in the future. Support for the lighthouse is also strong at the regional and provincial levels. The prospects are good that the local society will be able to draw upon that wider support to further develop its business plan proposal.

As the members of the House know, our government recently announced upward of $1.5 million to do some needed work on the lighthouse, which will ensure this iconic structure is in good condition for years to come. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also has funding in place to assist third parties that are acquiring heritage lighthouses.

I draw attention to these facts to make the point that the Sambro Island lighthouse is on a promising path that will ensure the protection of its heritage character for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

Support for the lighthouse exists in the community and at all levels of government. Planned investments in the lighthouse will ensure that it is in good condition for a new owner. Funding is available to facilitate the transfer of the lighthouse. These benefits should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential for the Sambro Island lighthouse. The act has proven to be working for other iconic surplus lighthouses.

For example, the Panmure Head and Point Prim lighthouses in Prince Edward Island are two examples of truly iconic historic lighthouses that are being acquired by local community organizations.

The Point Prim lighthouse is the first lighthouse in the province, and it was built in 1845. This lighthouse marks the entrance to Hillsborough Bay and Charlottetown harbour and is one of only a few brick lighthouses in Canada.

The Panmure Head lighthouse was built in 1853 and is the second lighthouse in the province. It marks the entrance to Georgetown harbour.

Our government's experience with these two lighthouses shows that it is possible for community-based organizations to assume ownership of our older, iconic lighthouses when the right conditions are in place.

In New Brunswick, the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse is another example of one of our older, iconic lighthouses being acquired by a local organization. Built in 1869, this lighthouse is the one that can be seen when crossing the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island.

The Île du Pot à l'Eau-de-Vie and Pilier de Pierre lighthouses in Quebec, built in 1862 and 1843 respectively, are other examples of local groups taking over two of our older lighthouses.

Another example is the Sheringham Point Lighthouse, which has stood on the west coast of Vancouver Island since 1912. Although younger than some of the other examples already mentioned, this lighthouse is an example of a uniquely Canadian design and its designation resulted from carefully developed local partnerships. This white concrete tower guides vessels as they enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

At the provincial level, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has acquired the Point Amour Lighthouse, completed in 1857, and is operated and protected as a provincial historic site.

These are some examples of truly iconic historic lighthouses that have been designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, to be managed by new owners in the future.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with third parties on other lighthouses that will no doubt be designated in the future. The dedication demonstrated by community-based organizations and other levels of government to identify and implement long-term visions for historic lighthouses that are important to them should inspire all of us who care about the Sambro Island lighthouse.

Our position is that the Sambro Island lighthouse deserves the same opportunity as the other iconic surplus lighthouses being designated and protected under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The ultimate goal is to identify a viable, long-term plan for the lighthouse, one that will secure its future for generations to come.

We should keep in mind that the Sambro Island lighthouse currently enjoys the highest level of protection afforded to federal heritage buildings under Treasury Board policy, and the care of a diligent custodian in Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as the recent funding announcement amply demonstrates.

Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, 74 lighthouses have been designated, Among them are some of our country's most iconic lighthouses, including eight national historic sites that will continue to be managed by the federal government. So far, 32 heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new owners have been designated. I have highlighted some of them here today and we know that others will follow when their future owners conclude their agreements to acquire the lighthouses from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The Sambro Island lighthouse merits inclusion in the family of heritage lighthouses. However, we need to do more than just designate the lighthouse. We need to continue in our quest to develop and implement a viable plan that would ensure the lighthouse can be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come. This objective is critically important for the future of the lighthouse.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

June 9th, 2015 / 5:55 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick


Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in the House today on this private member's bill, Bill C-588.

I would like to begin by recognizing the importance lighthouses not only have to our maritime heritage but also, as we have heard and as many members have shared, as part of the fabric of our history as Canadians.

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act is an opportunity for Canadians to participate in the conservation and protection of heritage lighthouses. It is intended to promote the conservation of as many lighthouses as possible, so that these sites remain accessible to present and future generations of Canadians.

On May 29, 2015, an important date for the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, our government announced that 74 heritage lighthouses had been designated under the act. We know that other historic lighthouses will be considered for designation in the future, once Fisheries and Oceans Canada concludes the necessary negotiations with community groups and other levels of government that have developed and submitted sustainable, long-term plans for the acquisition and conservation of their local lighthouses.

These positive steps in the preservation of our maritime heritage speak to the success of the act. The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act should be allowed the opportunity to operate as intended. Identifying a viable, responsible new owner for the Sambro Island lighthouse is both essential to that operation and good for the long-term preservation of the lighthouse.

Putting this objective foremost in our thought also respects the work that has been done by other levels of government and community groups across Canada to develop viable, sustainable plans for the historic lighthouses that are important to them. Their dedication, commitment and success should inspire all of us who care about the Sambro Island lighthouse to dare to dream a bright and confident future for this influential part of our maritime history

In many cases already, local community groups have been able to breathe new life into these lighthouses, converting them to museums, restaurants, lodging or other kinds of tourist attractions. The enactment of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act has created a unique opportunity for the government to work in partnership with various community groups, provincial governments and non-profit organizations whose ultimate goal is to maintain and preserve these iconic lighthouses all across this country.

There have been a number of success stories that have come out of the designation of heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new non-federal owners. We anticipate many more success stories in the future, as more community based organizations and other levels of government conclude their negotiations with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to acquire and protect the lighthouses that are important to them

I would like to take a minute to mention some of the lighthouses designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act that will be protected and preserved by their new owners from now on. These examples attest to the success of the law to date. The efforts of the people who envisaged a new future for these lighthouses and made it a reality have inspired all of us.

One example is the Brighton Beach lighthouse, which was successfully designated and transferred to the city of Charlottetown in 2013. This lighthouse is one of the icons of the city, and its transfer to the city has ensured that it will continue to grace the shores of Charlottetown Harbour for many years to come.

Another example is the Neil's Harbour lighthouse in Nova Scotia. A local group has been involved with this lighthouse for many years. The transfer of the lighthouse to the group is a natural evolution of their involvement with the site, and the government has every confidence that the community will be a great custodian for the future.

Similarly, the Île du Pot à l'Eau-de-Vie lighthouse has been managed by a local group for more than a generation. It has now completed the final step towards official ownership. It runs a unique and memorable bed and breakfast.

Some of the earliest heritage lighthouse designations are for three towers in the town of Southampton in Ontario. Though these are relatively simple structures, they are packed with meaning for the local community. Their acquisition by the municipality has helped to ensure that the town's maritime heritage will be preserved and showcased for the benefit of everyone who visits the town now and in the future.

More recently, three lighthouses in Nova Scotia were acquired by the municipality of Digby. In each case, the municipality is working in partnership with individual lighthouse societies, each with their own vision and plan for the future of their respective lighthouses. The municipality and the groups involved really should be congratulated for thinking and working together to ensure that critical markers of their history and heritage are preserved for the future.

The work that has gone into the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act by all levels of government, and more importantly, by Canadians, has in each of these examples proven to be meaningful, proven to be necessary, and proven to be successful.

For these reasons, our government supports Bill C-588, subject to amendments, which would rededicate the Government of Canada and all those who care about the Sambro Island lighthouses, to setting the lighthouse on a course that will ensure that it is protected and appreciated for generations to come.

Our government is pleased to be adding the Sambro Island lighthouse to this big family of heritage lighthouses and helping to ensure that future generations will continue to consider Canada as one of the world's great maritime nations.

Our government remains committed to protecting and preserving our heritage lighthouses. The 74 heritage lighthouses already designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act bear witness to that commitment.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate.

Accordingly, I invite the hon. member for Halifax for her right of reply. The hon. member has up to five minutes.

The hon. member for Halifax.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are here at the end of two hours of debate on the bill to save the Sambro Island lighthouse. I know that lots of people in Sambro and in Halifax are watching right now. I will let them know that I have this right of reply, where I actually have five minutes to talk about what we heard in the House and sort of sum up, if it is possible.

We heard a lot in the House about the reason it is about this lighthouse. It is not about all lighthouses. It is about the Sambro Island lighthouse.

Here are some reasons why. It is the oldest continuous working lighthouse in the Americas. We heard that the building of the lighthouse was actually commemorated as a historic event in 1937. We heard that it was designated a heritage building in the 1990s. We heard that it is a perfect example of a particular type of architecture when it comes to lighthouses. It is one of the best examples of permanent coastal navigational aids along the coast of Nova Scotia, and it played a tremendous role in the development of our nation. We heard about how it was associated with safe shipping in the early development of Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia.

We also heard some stories attached to the lighthouse, like the fact that this was the last structure seen by the Royal Canadian Navy as it departed in times of war and of peace. It was the first welcoming light as people came back home. We heard about how this light was a sign of hope for war brides, immigrants, and refugees making their way to Canada through Pier 21.

We have heard all of these facts and figures. We also heard about how this is not a lighthouse at the end of a pier or on land. It is on a rock in the ocean. It is not easy for the community to hire some summer students to throw a coat of paint on it and take care of it. It involves so much more, because it is quite dangerous. We heard about the weather that prevents people from even getting out there, with the fog, the rain, and the wind.

What we have not heard are the voices of the people on the ground who are working to protect the lighthouse and who care about it deeply. I would like to bring some of their voices to the House today.

Nancy Marryatt said, “I am 73 years young. I can remember going in Dad's fishing boat with the family to visit with the Gilkies on a Sunday afternoon. My brother and I would get to go up in the light. It was exciting. I hope the government will continue its support”.

M.H. Watson, from Sambro, said, “Surely we can find some love for a piece of our history. Our first lighthouse, America's first lighthouse and the last view our soldiers saw as they sailed off to war”.

Sheilah Domenie, a Sambro resident, said, “This island is so special. As they say, if you don't know where you've been, how can you know where you're going?”

Jeanne Henneberry, from Sambro, said, “Help us preserve an historic part [of our past], the Sambro Lighthouse. It reflects the hopes of the community and the country for a 'better world'”.

Leslie Harnish, also from Sambro, said, “I'm a descendant of the lighthouse keeper, the Gilkie family that were keepers on the island, and I've always wanted to see the island and the lighthouse preserved”.

I am going to sum up with a bit of a long quote from Kathy Brown. She said:

This lighthouse has a long and distinguished history and can be regarded as Canada's most important pre-Confederation building.

For the love of their lighthouses, the people of the Village of Sambro have founded the Sambro Island Lighthouse Preservation Society. They are working hard to raise awareness and money to save this Canadian icon. But this lighthouse is not just their responsibility, it is the responsibility of all of us, wherever we live and of whatever political stripe to make sure that Sambro is property recognized and preserved.

Since Sambro was not designated immediately in the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, this is a chance for you to set aside your political differences to amend this mistake. It is a chance to show that heritage and history are of real importance, not just the subject of fancy TV ads and passing celebrations.

I urge you, as the first step in preserving this heritage building for future generations to show your support for Bill C-588.

I am heartened by the words I have heard spoken in the chamber in support of the bill, spanning party lines as well as geography. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute in some small way to the protection and preservation of this important piece of our heritage and to find a way for this light to shine on.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members