House of Commons Hansard #250 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-24.

Topics

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, as someone who represents a riding that includes Bay Street, I once again rise to my feet in the House to ask members to stop taking shots at parts of our country. The way in which it is demeaned, the way in which it is described do not reflect the street, the people who live there, and the businesses that operate there. They are all good Canadians and, like many people in Toronto, they often come from someplace else. Quite often that is one of the members' ridings.

Therefore, when members take a shot a Bay Street and say that people from Bay Street have no right to be in the House to make decisions with other Canadians about the future of the country, I find it profoundly insulting. I wish the member opposite, having just made a speech about the necessity for diversity in the House, could reflect on those words and please retract the shot he just took at part of my riding.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem admitting when I am wrong and apologizing.

However, in this case I will not apologize, because I have always had respect for Torontonians. Instead, I would ask the government to show some respect for Canada's regions.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for speaking up for Quebec.

I have a quick quote from the former president of the Quebec manufacturers and exporters, who says, “We have quite a few development programs with them in areas such as innovation and skilled labour. We are afraid they'll get mixed up with a national policy that won't necessarily work for Quebec. If we have to deal with officials as far away as Toronto or Ottawa to get the government to pay attention to problems with the Quebec economy, we're in trouble.”

Is my colleague surprised by the fact that none of our colleagues on the other side of the House from Quebec are speaking out against this move away from economic regional development ministers and is aware he of the quote from the former president of the Quebec manufacturers and exporters?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague. As I mentioned earlier, he is an exceptional person. I thank him for the question.

There are 40 members across the way who have forgotten about Quebec and do not get up in the morning to defend Quebec. We do not even have a minister representing Quebec. It is quite extraordinary to see a government like this one, which has been in power more than two years, act this way.

I would like to come back to the comments of my colleague opposite. Once again, I have nothing against Toronto. However, Toronto represents the centralization of power by the Liberal government. That is why we are using the term “Toronto”. I probably have much more respect for the people of Toronto than my colleague can have for Canada's regions.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill C-24. This is my second opportunity to speak to this bill, and I take great pride in it, as it is one I wholeheartedly endorse.

Assembling a cabinet is one of the first responsibilities of an incoming prime minister. The overall design of cabinet, the selection of ministers, and the alignment of their responsibilities determine how the government will marshal its individual and collective strengths under the prime minister's leadership to accomplish its priorities and oversee the day-to-day governing of the country. All these decisions are at the prerogative of the prime minister, as we know. The selection of members of cabinet is both vitality important and highly personal.

The Right Hon. Jean Chrétien writes in his memoir, “Building a cabinet is perhaps the most private and personal duty a prime minister has to perform.” The Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson writes in his, “In choosing my Cabinet, the decisions were mine and I did not ask anyone to share that responsibility.” The prime minister of Canada has considerable flexibility in exercising his or her prerogative for assembling the ministry and cabinet. Although a number of ministerial offices are created by statute and must be filled, the prime minister has room to design the ministry by cross-appointing individuals to more than one position, changing ministers' working titles to reflect their roles in advancing the priorities, and assigning responsibilities to the ministers through changes to the machinery of government.

The prime minister can also recommend the appointment of ministers of state to assist other ministers. These ministers might assist a minister with particularly heavy responsibilities or with a specific responsibility requiring special attention. Ministers of state can also receive statutory powers, duties, and functions. When they do, they are accountable to the prime minister and to Parliament directly for the manner in which they exercise them. The prime minister decides whether ministers of state are to be vested with statutory authorities in their own right and whether they sit in cabinet.

There can be parliamentary secretaries as well, as we know. These discretionary positions are not members of the ministry and do not normally play a role in cabinet. They are appointed under the Parliament of Canada Act to assist ministers with their parliamentary responsibilities, including interacting with caucus members and opposition counterparts, and assisting with the shepherding in of legislation.

Although the prime minister has considerable flexibility, there are rules underpinning the structure of the ministry too. For example, the Salaries Act, the legislation that authorizes the remuneration of ministers, lists 34 specific ministerial positions in addition to the prime minister. Many of those ministerial positions are statutory offices that must be filled. A few are discretionary.

While the governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, can appoint any number of ministers, only individuals appointed to positions listed in the Salaries Act can be paid a ministerial salary out of the consolidated revenue fund. The number of ministers of state whom a prime minister can appoint is unlimited, but it is subject to the requirement of Parliament's agreement to appropriate the necessary monies for that purpose under the annual appropriation acts.

The number of parliamentary secretaries that may be appointed cannot exceed the number of ministerial positions listed in the act. This mix of flexibility and rules reflects a fundamental constitutional principle. It is the crown's business to organize itself for the proper administration of the affairs of state, and it is Parliament's business to guide and supervise that administration through the granting or withdrawal of authorities and funding to the executive.

The size of the Canadian ministry has changed significantly over time, reflecting the development of Canada as a country and the growing complexity and range of issues under the federal government's purview. At the time of Confederation, the fledging government carried over seven federal organizations from its predecessor government, six departments and the Geological Survey of Canada. However, by the time of the first anniversary of Confederation, there were 15 organizations with 12 departments, the Geological Survey, the Dominion police service, and the office of the governor general's secretary.

Today, the prime minister must organize upward of 190 federal government entities into portfolios, each to be managed by ministers who are accountable for results. Over the course of the last 50 years, ministries have varied in size, from a low of 30 members in the Clark ministry, to at one point a high of the prime minister plus 39 other members in the Harper ministry.

The current ministry is composed of the Prime Minister and 30 ministers. It has not grown in number since its swearing-in on November 4, 2015. On that day, 26 individuals were sworn into ministerial positions listed in the Salaries Act. One of those 26 ministers, the Minister of International Development, and four other individuals were sworn in as ministers of state and assigned by orders in council to assist other ministers pursuant to the Ministries and Ministers of State Act.

The Ministries and Ministers of State Act was used in four cases because the positions are not listed in the Salaries Act and those ministers could not be paid or supported by the public service in carrying out their responsibilities. The Minister of International Development is paid under the Salaries Act. In this case, the Ministries and Ministers of State Act offered a way for the Minister of International Development to assume Canada's responsibilities for La Francophonie from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to be supported by Global Affairs Canada in that role.

The legal title of ministers appointed under the Ministries and Ministers of State Act is “minister of state”. They are paid under the appropriation acts. The orders in council assigning these ministers to assist other ministers are necessary because of the legislative framework and the decision to have these ministers supported by existing departments in the exercise of their authorities and performance of their duties.

When the ministry was sworn in, a number of observers wondered why five of its members were appointed as ministers of state rather than simply as ministers. They concluded that the Prime Minister's gender-balanced cabinet was not really that at all.

In an interview with iPolitics, for example, the member for London—Fanshawe said she did not understand the technical reason for making the positions ministers of state rather than full ministers. At the time, the positions were all filled by women. The member has been a powerful champion of women's rights and women's voices in politics. She said she was disappointed and sad. However, she need not be, and she was right: the reason is a technical one.

The appointments as ministers of state and the orders in council under the Ministries and Ministers of State Act allow these ministers to be paid and supported by existing departments in carrying out their important mandates. They were provided with what was possible within the legal framework that existed on November 4, 2015.

The Prime Minister made a commitment to introduce legislation that reflects the composition of his one-tier ministry. Bill C-24 fulfills that commitment. It would revise the list of ministerial positions in the Salaries Act by adding five titled positions that are currently minister of state appointments: namely, minister of la Francophonie, minister of small business and tourism, minister of science, minister of status of women, and minister of sport and persons with disabilities.

It would add three untitled positions to provide a degree of flexibility for this and future prime ministers to adapt their ministries to respond to priorities of the day. It would offset the increase in ministerial positions that may be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund by removing six regional development ministerial positions from the statute. This would have no impact on the regional development agencies or the statutory requirement for ministerial oversight of them.

Bill C-24 would also create a framework within which any of these eight ministers can be supported by existing departments, meaning that no new departments need to be created as a consequence of the bill. Also, it would change the legal title of Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs to Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to properly reflect the responsibilities of that position.

Why is the bill important? Why not just continue with the current arrangement under the current legal framework? We want to send a strong signal to Canadians that all ministers in this cabinet are equal. In Canada, we like to treat people equally. The ministry is the reflection of that value. We want to remove distracting distinctions, which even after two years and even after we debate the bill, have some members insisting that they are junior ministers and that they should stay as junior ministers.

The Prime Minister's team is a group of equals. We need to make this legislative framework a reality. In this ministry, there are no junior ministers or senior ministers. There are no first-tier and no second-tier ministers. There are just ministers, working together to deliver results for Canadians.

We would be shortsighted if we did not look to the future now. We need to modernize the legislation to allow for sufficiently varied and flexible ministerial structures, which can adapt quickly to the contemporary challenges of complex issues, changing priorities, and big government.

I urge my fellow hon. members to join me in supporting Bill C-24.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for my colleague.

The orders in council by which the ministerial positions were created on November 4, 2015, established that the ministers of state would be subject to the full authority of other ministers; for example, a minister of state to be styled minister of status of women to assist the minister of Canadian heritage in the carrying out of that minister's responsibility.

I have simple questions for my colleague. Have those orders in council changed? Would this legislation change those orders in council?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, and I touched on this in my speech, this is about making ministers equal.

We are attempting, in this legislation, to address one of those technical details that was preventing that from happening before.

If there is opportunity in the future to further fine-tune this and to make sure of any other technical requirements that need to be addressed, then I am sure the government will take the opportunity to do that.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague opposite if the bill simply validates something that already exists. As far as I know, ministers of state already receive this salary.

If we are here to validate decisions that you have already made, I can suggest other bills, such as bills on charging and collecting taxes and the GST that undermine our entrepreneurs.

If you want to change things to suit you and put the House at your service, say so right away.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am sure that the hon. member does not want me to respond when he says “you”. I believe he is referring to the member for Kingston and the Islands.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would love to hear your personal perspective on this at some point.

To answer my colleague, that is what we do in this House. We review and amend legislation. That is what we are doing here today. That is what we do on an ongoing basis.

Are we doing that now? Are we looking at the Salaries Act to properly reflect progressive changes that we are seeing with the government and with Parliament more generally? Absolutely, that is what we are doing here today. That is what we do on a daily basis.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Kingston and the Islands for his historical overview and the context in which he has put his comments this morning to help us better understand the importance and need for Bill C-24.

The question I would like to put to the member is with respect to the point he made about what this is really all about, and that is equal voices in cabinet. He mentioned the five ministries: la Francophonie, sport and disability, status of women, small business and tourism, and science.

Could the member comment on why it is so important that ministers who hold these portfolios have an equal voice at the cabinet table?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question, because it goes to the heart of this.

What this is all about is making sure that all ministries are treated equally. There are a variety of different issues that the government faces on a day-to-day basis, and there are different issues that are important to different people throughout the country at all times.

We need to take seriously all issues as they relate to the changes in cabinet members.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find this legislation remarkably inconsequential. I am torn about how I should vote on it quite honestly.

I really do have a philosophical problem with the idea that we do better in attracting people when we pay more. I frankly think every minister and every member of Parliament should be paid less. We would attract better people. We would attract people from the NGO sector who are used to working for poverty wages. We need civil service and public service to be foremost in our minds.

I do not know if we are going to say all members are equal. The salary of the Prime Minister should come down and ministers' salaries could come down. We could all work in a way that reflects to the Canadian public that we experience lives closer to the lives they lead.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way is absolutely correct, and that is what this is all about. I had an interesting conversation with a family member over the weekend who was a provincial cabinet minister. I mentioned this debate to him and he seemed surprised to hear that all ministers at the federal level are not paid the same, because in Ontario provincial ministers are.

This is about everyone at the table who helps to make the decisions being valued the same and remunerated the same. It is that simple.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Edmonton West will have 10 minutes. He will make his speech and then he will have his questions when we return to this topic.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Now I have nine and a half minutes, Mr. Speaker, but thank you.

I am pleased to rise today on Bill C-24. I spoke to Bill C-24 in an earlier reading at which time I named this legislation “the Seinfeld bill”, because it is a bill about nothing. As my colleague the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said, this is an inconsequential bill.

The bill goes back to 2015, when we had a freshly elected government that, with great fanfare, announced its gender-balanced cabinet. Someone in the media pointed out that five of the 15 women cabinet ministers were so-called junior ministers, ministers such as the Minister of Status of Women, etc., so it really was not gender balanced. The government immediately said they are all equal and they are all going to get paid the same.

At committee we asked the government House leader about this and her comment was that all 30 members already receive the same salary and this has been the case since the first day in office and it will not change with this legislation. I then asked why we are bothering with the bill. We were told that without the bill, ministers of state would not be full ministers and would not have equal voices at the cabinet table.

The Prime Minister spends a lot of time overseas and when he is not busy showing off his new socks, he is talking about how he is a feminist prime minister. As partisan as I am, I cannot believe that the Prime Minister sits at the cabinet table and ignores good ideas from someone who is a minister of state just because of a title. So again, why do we have this legislation?

Maybe it is about gender equality. I am all about a gender-balanced cabinet but what I am not about is having a quota system that forces the government to ignore better qualified MPs and pushes them to the back to fill the front benches with unqualified men, such as the defence minister.

Think where we would be without a quota system. We would not have a defence minister who claims to be the architect of someone else's work. We would not have a defence minister who has so badly bungled the purchase of fighter jets. First, he is not going to allow F-35s, so we are going to buy sole-sourced Boeing until Boeing gets into a trade conflict with Bombardier, so we are not going to buy Boeing. Instead, we are going to buy used Boeing. That makes sense.

The defence minister bungled shipbuilding. There was delay upon delay. Every single month, according to the parliamentary budget officer, it costs taxpayers $250 million.

If we did not have a quota system, maybe we would not have the finance minister, the same gentleman who is under an ethics investigation for proposing Bill C-27, which would just happen to include the same changes he lobbied for as a private citizen that would have benefited him. He tabled that legislation in the House.

We would not perhaps have the sport minister, the same minister who insulted victims of thalidomide, the same minister who said he hopes they die 10 years from now because it would be less of a burden on the government.

What did Liberal MPs have to say about this legislation? On second reading the Liberals framed Bill C-24

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am going to interrupt for a moment.

It is nice to see everyone in a festive spirit and talking among themselves, but there is a member giving a speech. We want to give him all the respect he deserves and allow him to give his speech. I want to remind everyone that if they have something to say to take it outside for a few moment and then come back and listen to this very interesting discourse.

The hon. member.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board said, “This government is also committed to ensuring that pay equity extends to the cabinet table....” A Liberal colleague in the operations committee with me said that we have chosen “to say that women deserve equal pay and equal voice at the cabinet table.”

It is very clear that the Liberals wanted to message this proposed legislation as an equality bill. They must have been absolutely giddy with joy at the operations committee when my colleagues from the NDP brought forward a witness, the only witness we were allowed to bring on the bill, who was a gender studies professor from UBC. Unfortunately for the Liberals, who thought it would be someone who would reinforce their view, it turned out to be more like Festivus with an airing of grievances from the professor.

The expert witness led by saying:

...this particular piece of legislation really doesn't...have much to do with gender equality...to claim that it is about gender equality is dangerous because...we cut off the really important, substantial, and tough conversations about gender equality by claiming that we've already dealt with it....

She continued with:

...women need these positions of leadership, not because of the actual amount of dollars, but because of the responsibility, the profile, the prestige, the authority that those positions command...to frame it as a piece of legislation that speaks substantively to the issues of gender equality and cabinet composition is wrong, and it's dangerous.

In response to a question on whether the Prime Minister's claim that the gender-equal cabinet was cynical, she replied, “it's dishonest.”

The Liberal members of the operations committee immediately tried to walk back from the previous statements made by many Liberal MPs in this very place to say that Bill C-24 was not about gender equality. The member for Newmarket—Aurora said, “...I don't think anyone was proposing that this was a gender equity bill.”

The member for Châteauguay—Lacolle tried to submit that Bill C-24 was a good step, until she got beaten back by the expert witness. She then tried to reframe it by asking if the junior ministries were more like emerging ministries. Yes, all ministers are equal, but some are more emerging than others it seems. The member for Don Valley East said that the witness's testimony was disingenuous, because Bill C-24 was nothing about gender equality.

We know that it is not about gender equality, and it is not needed to do anything the government has not already been doing for the last two years, whether it be pay or how it terms cabinet ministers. What is it for? Well, maybe Bill C-24 is all about eliminating the regional economic ministers, such as the minister for western diversification, and moving it all under the purview of the Minister of Innovation, the member for Mississauga—Malton.

I guess the member for Mississauga—Malton leading ACOA or western diversification is good as it allows a whole-of-government approach, we are told. Now, it is a whole-of-government approach of doing nothing for Alberta, as the western diversification minister for Mississauga—Malton sat around doing nothing while unemployment in Alberta reached levels not seen since the NEP, and a whole-of-government approach of turning deaf ears for help within Alberta with the orphaned wells. Where was the whole-of-government approach when dealing with energy east and watching the energy east pipeline get destroyed? Well, the whole-of-government approach was busy handing out subsidies to Bombardier instead of helping out Alberta.

We brought this up in committee, and the leader of the House said:

Regional expertise with national expertise is a way for it to work better together to create a synergy, to take a whole-of-government approach.

Good Lord, what does this mean?

What could we have done instead of looking at this wasteful Bill C-24? Well, we could have been studying useful legislation, such as was tabled in the report from the operations committee for the whistleblower act, which we know needs to be updated.

When we studied the whistleblower act, we heard from many witnesses whose lives had been destroyed by government. It does not matter if it is the current or past government, these people have come forward to do their best for Canadians, for taxpayers, and their lives were destroyed by government for being whistleblowers. The operations committee put together a very good report, which was unanimous, supported by the NDP and the Liberals, that would have brought substantive changes for whistleblower protection in the public service as well as, for the first time, extending it outside the public service to people working on private contracts doing work on government jobs.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order, please. I must stop the hon. member. What we will do is come back with his two minutes after, and he can wrap up then. By then it will be a bit quieter in the House, I am sure, and a little more conducive to questions.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Joliette.

Interests of QuebecStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, never has Quebec been so weak as it is in this government. Quebec is asking for time to legalize cannabis, but Ottawa is saying no. Quebec wants its fair share of contracts for its shipyards, but Ottawa is saying no. Quebec is asking the government to tax Netflix, but Ottawa is saying no. Quebec is asking the government to maintain the ban on knives on airplanes, but Ottawa is saying no. Quebec passed a bill on religious neutrality, and Ottawa wants to challenge it.

Quebec's interests are always being sacrificed, and the 40 Liberal members from Quebec are letting it happen so as not to displease Canada. Quite frankly, the only interests that always count are those of the friends of the Liberals, the friends of Morneau Shepell, KPMG, and Bay Street, people who hide their money in tax havens and attend $1,500 dinners with the Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the government will not give the time of day to our cultural community, our small business owners, our farmers, or our forestry workers. Our take on this government is that the same old Liberal Party is back, but with a Quebec that is weaker than ever.

Blood DonationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, as many of the members of the House may be aware, a blood donation is known to be a life-saving gift. This is why I am thrilled to share that just recently I gave my 100th blood donation at Canadian Blood Services in Guelph.

I was honoured to be joined by members of the Guelph community who also gave blood, and Ward 1 Studios that recorded the big day. Its fantastic video is on my Facebook page, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

The members may have noticed I rose in the House with a new red lapel pin to mark my 100th donation. I challenge hon. members to get one too.

In this season of charity, I encourage all Canadians to consider donating blood and giving the gift of life. It is easy. Simply call 1-888 2 DONATE, or visit blood.ca to book an appointment. Remember, it is in us to give, and we have the power to save a life.

Ray Reckseidler Appreciation NightStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, December 9, my wife Judy and I were honoured to attend the Ray Reckseidler Appreciation Night in Delburne, as Ray's community showed its gratitude for his 31 years of service.

Both my professional career as a teacher and my lifelong political journey were forged from Ray's example, advice, and mentorship. This is something I will always cherish. I long admired Ray's skills at listening to those searching for a community voice, creating a strong business environment in his community so social issues could be realized, and working within a budget, as mayor, so tax dollars were respected.

On behalf of the Delburne community, central Alberta, and indeed a grateful nation, I want to thank Ray Reckseidler for his 31 years of community service. I also want to thank his wife, Sheila for her service as the strong supportive partner of this hard-working and dedicated politician, a calling that is seldom recognized.

From the Dreeshen family to the Reckseidler family, I thank them for being our friends.

Yvon DurelleStatements By Members

December 12th, 2017 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, Yvon Durelle, who is also known as the Fighting Fisherman, was born in the small Acadian village of Baie-Sainte-Anne in my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake. Like many others of his generation, he left school at an early age to work on a fishing boat. However, Yvon developed a love of boxing and quickly earned a reputation as a tough opponent with a hard punch.

Capturing the Canadian middleweight championship in 1953, Durelle defeated opponents throughout Canada, the U.S., and Europe. Then came what was known as one of the most memorable fights in boxing history as he battled the great Archie Moore at the Montreal Forum in December 1958.

Boxing experts agree, Durelle was robbed of the world light heavyweight title that evening, but he gained the admiration of the boxing world and became a Canadian legend. I invite everyone to look up the fight and judge for themselves.

Yvon passed away in 2007, but his memory and story of perseverance lives on, as a billboard of the fighting fisherman welcomes everyone entering the community of Baie-Sainte-Anne.

PensionsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the proposed government changes to pensions, as laid out in Bill C-27, would allow defined benefit plans in federally regulated businesses to be converted to targeted benefit plans. In other words, the financial risk would be shifted from employers to workers.

These changes represent a serious risk to the retirement security of Canadians, and the proposal was met with an outcry of opposition from my riding of Kootenay—Columbia and from across Canada. As one of my constituents said, “It is important for Canadians to have security in retirement, because poverty in retirement creates a myriad of social problems.”

The NDP presented a motion calling on the Liberals to withdraw this attack on Canadian pensions, but to no avail. At this special time of year, filled with peace, joy, and love, the best present the Liberal government could give Canadians is to take Bill C-27, put it in a box, and return it to the Minister of Finance, stamped “Bah humbug, return to sender, no postage required”.

180th Anniversary of the Battle of Saint-EustacheStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the 180th anniversary of the Battle of Saint-Eustache.

On December 14, 1837, as the rebellions of 1837-38 raged, Saint-Eustache was shaken by cannon fire and gunshots. The facade of the Saint-Eustache Church still bears the scars of this battle. On this day, let us remember what the patriots were fighting for.

Their demands were manifold, and their impact on our parliamentary system can still be seen today; among other things, they called for responsible government and appealed for fair representation between Upper and Lower Canada.

As the celebrations for the 150th anniversary come to a close, I urge all of my colleagues to honour a page in Canadian history that shaped the nation we know today. I want to wish everyone happy holidays, merry Christmas, and a happy new year.