Skip to main content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

38th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 040

CONTENTS

Tuesday, December 7, 2004





CANADA

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 140 
l
NUMBER 040 
l
1st SESSION 
l
38th PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[English]

Order in Council Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments recently made by the government.

Government Business No. 6

    Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties with respect to the take note debate on Government Business No. 6 scheduled for later this date in committee of the whole and I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:
    That during the take note debate in committee of the whole on Government Business No. 6 later this day, no dilatory motions, no quorum calls or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

  (1005)  

     The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Department of International Trade Act

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Department of Foreign Affairs Act

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[Translation]

Interparliamentary Delegations

     Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report on the visit to the Mexican Congress, held in Mexico City, Mexico, from November 8 to 10, 2004.

Canada Elections Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce, on behalf of my hon. colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, a bill to amend the Canada Elections Act dealing with the process for the appointment of returning officers.
    The bill is intended to clean up political practices in the appointment of returning officers. Under the current system, the governor in council or the government appoints friends of the government, former organizers of the government party, instead of having, as the bill provides, an open and transparent process where positions would be posted in newspapers and the most qualified people would be hired. This would support the free and democratic election of the people's representatives.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[English]

Criminal Code

    He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to reintroduce this private member's bill in the House. If enacted it will raise the age of sexual consent from age 14 to age 16, something that is long overdue in the country.
    I first introduced the bill in 1996 and have reintroduced it several times since, but with the proliferation of child prostitution and child pornography, we in the House should be more determined than ever to raise the age of sexual consent to at least 16 years to protect our children from sexual predators.
    It is well known that when children are exploited, the damage is devastating and often lasts a lifetime. Therefore, for the sake of our children, I urge all members in the House to support the bill.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

  (1010)  

PETITIONS

Property Rights 

    Mr. Speaker, my petitioners charge that government regulations are destroying the rural foundation upon which our society was founded, that the unnecessary gun registry and farmland, bush and forest control are causing undue hardships for these people, and that it is only by amending the Canadian Constitution to include property rights that the interference will stop.

Justice  

    Mr. Speaker, following the tragic murder of Clayton Kempton Howard in my riding on December 13, 2003, a petition is being submitted by petitioners asking for the Minister of Justice to ensure that the standard and expected practices with regard to sentencing are put in place to deal with those charged, assuming there is a proper conviction.
    Clayton Kempton Howard was much loved in our community. He was the most popular of community workers in the community centre in Blake Boultbee. On behalf of his mother, the many young people with whom he worked and served, and the entire community, I am pleased to submit this petition despite its tragic circumstances.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act

    The House resumed from November 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, an act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this bill today.
    Before speaking specifically about the bill, I want to give the House a brief historical overview. I have been in politics for over 20 years, particularly since my move to the Gaspé in the early 1980s. If any place in Canada has suffered as a result of federal interference in regional development, it is the Gaspé.
    I remember that just before the 1995 referendum, the commissions on the future of Quebec were created. I submitted a brief to this commission, the title of which was “Federalism—The Gaspé Peninsula: The laboratory for the failure of federalism in regional development”.
    In order to raise its profile, the federal government tried, over several years, a number of different types of interventions in regional development. Because it lacked the basics needed to do this, it had to regularly change its approach.
    We remember the former Department of Regional Economic Expansion. Initially, agreements were reached between Quebec government and the federal government in order to decide how investments would be made. However, the thirst for power and visibility led the federal government to withdraw from this kind of agreement and ultimately turn to direct interventions.
    First, it was through the Federal Office of Regional Development - Quebec, as it was called back then, which was really an extension of the Department of Industry created by the Conservative government for one main reason. In short, the structure of the Department of Industry was almost entirely controlled by the economic establishment in Ontario. Consequently, it was impossible to obtain the necessary share of investments.
    At that time, rather than withdrawing from regional development and giving Quebec its rightful share, the Conservatives decided, for visibility or maybe also out of a desire for greater efficiency, to create the Office of Federal Economic Development. It is somewhat similar to performing bypass surgery after a stroke so that blood can flow. Consequently, we wanted out of the Department of Industry and for the money to reach the regions of Quebec.
    This judgment on what I have been seeing for the past 20 years is not aimed at those working in the system, in the bodies providing community development assistance or in the regional offices of Canada Economic Development . We know that the latter are doing the best they can within the rules they have. Our judgment on Bill C-9 has to do with the fact that the federal government instead of withdrawing from areas over which it has no responsibility is doing the opposite. It is continuing to want to take over more and more.
    The amendment to the present legislation will enable the minister responsible to become a kind of senior minister, but in a sector that is not a federal responsibility. We should be concerned today with whether there is any overall advantage to Quebec in this bill.
    Last week I learned something quite significant that I wish to share with the House. The federation of Independent business surveyed its entrepreneur members and came up with statistics for Canada and for Quebec. The survey was on whether it would be better to have tax credits or federal action by Canada Economic Development.
    In the case of Canada, about 50% would prefer tax credits. Still more significantly, the figure for Quebec was 60%. People in Quebec's small and medium businesses are not sovereignists particularly nor people likely to be sitting on our side of the House. They are industrialists, business people, the community, owners of small and medium businesses, and they are they ones saying, 60% of them, that they would rather have tax credits than the intervention of Canada Economic Development.
    This has nothing to do with the efficiency or lack of it of individual departmental employees, who are doing the best they can under the circumstances. For a structure like this one within the Canadian system to be effective, it would have to be decided that regional economic development is a federal responsibility, and then the federal government would have to make the necessary funds available to those employees.
    Small scale programs are being put forward in every region. The government is trying to make the most of these so as to have as many economic benefits as possible. However, when we look at the payroll that is actually paid out and made available to companies compared to the department's fixed operating costs, it is clear there is room for improvement and a new vision completely different from that introduced by the minister in Bill C-9, an act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

  (1015)  

     Even more insidious is that the current act, as written and in force, states that the agency must promote economic development in the regions of Quebec where inadequate employment and slow economic growth are prevalent.
    Yet this clause promoting the agency's intervention in areas having specific problems has been omitted from the new agency's object. This is absurd. We have discussed the principle that there is no need for the federal government to involve itself in this sector. However, if it does choose to do so, this clause removes the government's responsibility to intervene in those regions most needing help. This creates a messy situation.
    There are now two departments involved, the Department of Industry, which has all the means available to it, and the Department of Regional Development, which has no means available and which has lost its reason for being, that it exists to help those regions most in need.
    Moreover, the clause inherent in the agency's object has been removed, and the new act gives direct authority to the minister to establish as a designated area, for an indeterminate period, any region in Quebec where exceptional circumstances provide opportunities for improvements in employment.
    In fact, it might be pertinent to be able to do so, but we must ensure that it is structured correctly; it is not just a question of political partisanship leading the way, which may lead to something other than desirable outcomes in terms of economic development.
    This new act is a clear step backward for the regions of Quebec currently struggling with problems of economic growth or insufficient employment, because their recognition as a designated area would become conditional on the goodwill of the minister rather than being based on objective criteria as it is now.
    I have an aside to make here. Recently we have been discussing RCMP staffing in the regions. There was a decision that will, today, I hope, be overturned following the presentation by the mayors to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. That decision was to withdraw personnel from all over the regions.
    This kind of behaviour by the federal government, coming from within the Department of Justice, will now be justified and legitimized by the amendment to the act. It is as if there was finally some backing up. Previously, there was a commitment to intervene in the regions where the need was greatest. Now, the minister will be able to decide which regions these are, and, in the end, it will become a much more partisan decision that it was before. Therefore, this bill presents no added value.
    In fact, by handing over the general guidelines for intervention to the political level, Bill C-9 hides another flaw, that of taking another step toward the achievement of the Liberal government's objective of investing as much as possible in Quebec's fields of jurisdiction, which will lead to increased confrontation with the Government of Quebec.
    For a number of years, the Government of Quebec has had regional development structures in place, including the CLDs or Centres locaux de développement, which are now governed by the regional county municipalities. The current Liberal government in Quebec is a federalist government , which has to live with both structures. All over Quebec, right now, there are two structures. I do not believe this is the best way to achieve objectives.
    Something much more practical and consistent with Quebec's structure could have been done by delegating the necessary resources to Quebec. It would essentially have involved coming back to something similar to what the Department of Regional Economic Expansion used to do. Expenditures to be made in Quebec were made under agreements between Quebec City and Ottawa. This ensured consistency between Quebec's policies and the federal government's involvement. That has changed.
    There are currently enough areas of federal responsibility, including international trade, to move forward and have the federal government look after those areas within its jurisdiction without enacting legislation that will basically move Quebec backward instead of forward.

  (1020)  

    We know that, to justify introducing this bill, the federal government is referring to similar legislation passed previously with respect to the Maritimes and western Canada. But there is a fundamental difference where these regions are concerned. In the Maritimes and western Canada, the legislation was requested by the provinces, which did not have their own department or ministry responsible for regional development.
    It is different in Quebec, where this is a major department with a past record which speaks volumes, and which is getting interesting results. The Government in Quebec has put a great deal of effort into putting in place the appropriate regional development structures. Decentralization activities have already been carried out. The current federalist Liberal government even conducted an operation to make elected representatives more accountable.
    Now, a second structure would be added next to the existing one, when that is not necessarily desirable. It is not relevant to take the example of the Maritimes or western Canada to justify establishing such a department in Quebec. It is unacceptable for the federal government to try and meddle in this area of provincial responsibility.
    According to Canada Economic Development officials themselves, Bill C-9 does not bring anything to the agency, from an administrative point of view or in terms of new money. Therefore, it is nothing but a new structure to promote nation building by the Liberal government which, following the 1995 referendum, decided to invest in Quebec's jurisdictions and to aggressively increase its visibility in that province by taking advantage of its huge surpluses and its spending power.
    What could the Liberal government have done to meet the real needs of the regions? Instead of constantly getting involved in Quebec's jurisdictions and duplicating services in a totally unproductive fashion, the federal government should—but currently refuses to do so—withdraw from regional development. However, if it absolutely wants to continue to get involved, it should at least make sure that it will improve the services that come under its own responsibilities.
    The first thing that it should do is to adjust federal programs to the regions' realities. The number of battles that must be fought to ensure that federal programs finally become flexible enough to apply to Quebec is simply unbelievable. Moreover, this necessitates energy that should not have to be expended like this.
    The best example in this regard is the mad cow issue. If the necessary flexibility had been there, things could have been different a long time ago for Quebec, even by merely recognizing that, in our province, we had a traceability system that should have exempted us from the ban that resulted from the discovery of the mad cow disease. Indeed, in Quebec we were already able to identify sick animals and to determine their origin. Therefore, the impact of the problem could have been confined and we could have avoided turning this into a world issue that adversely affected all producers in Quebec and Canada.
    The federal government administration should also be less concentrated. The staff reductions of recent years were made in the regions, in the areas where the links were the weakest. This way the powers and the personnel that is left is now concentrated in Ottawa. The result of this is that the government's vision of what regional development should be is somewhat disconnected from the reality. Also, when the government began to enjoy surpluses, it created a number of jobs, but it is Ottawa that benefited.
    We would like for the programs—if they are maintained—to be more regionally based and for there to be truer decentralization of powers in order to ensure that decisions apply to each of our regions of the country.
    The federal government must also bring capital spending back to an acceptable level and substantially increase the regional development budget of Quebec, which is three times lower than in the Maritimes. Accordingly, the money available could be paid to Quebec and the amounts paid have to be much higher.
    Our fellow citizens have noticed that the federal government has a $9 billion surplus. Meanwhile, they also notice that it is very difficult to get the money necessary to stimulate research and development in our regions and to ensure that our small businesses have access to programs to help them be competitive in the new global reality.
    Accelerating and simplifying operational modes is needed to make companies competitive and to have products in the appropriate niche markets so that we can assume our responsibilities and maintain and develop employment rather than have a defensive policy like the one we have now. People in the textile sector are being told, “We will give just $25 million, nothing more. Deal with the influx of products from China, India and Pakistan and fend for yourself because we cannot help you any more than we already are right now”.

  (1025)  

    When people hear that, and then on the other hand, see the Minister of Finance announce a $9 billion surplus, they think that it is basically as if someone had decided to pay off their mortgage in five years and starve their family just to pay it off as soon as possible. Here too there are signs that the federal government has not assumed its responsibilities with regard to regional development.
    The fact that there has been no indepth reform of the employment insurance plan is the most obvious sign of its lack of sensitivity. The Bloc Québécois arrived here in 1993. At that time the Liberals promised a real reform of the employment insurance plan. Mr. Chrétien made that promise during the Liberal leadership campaign when he said that there would be positive reforms for the unemployed. There is even a letter confirming it. As soon as he came to power, he did just the opposite: he tightened the screws, restricted eligibility and deprived the regions of a regional development tool, a tool to stabilize economic activities that is no longer there.
    Without having compensation programs to jump start the regional economy, at the same time they closed down a source of reinvestment in the region that was very helpful and made it possible to maintain the social covenant between the resource regions of Quebec and Canada and central Canada. In the past, industrialization occurred mostly in urban centres, and resource regions had employment insurance to compensate for the fact that they lived off seasonal employment.
    The federal government's lack of sensitivity in this respect cost it dearly during the past four elections and yet it still has not heard the message that it should carry out a real reform of the employment insurance plan. It is easy to understand why people are concerned when they are told that a new agency will be created under the authority of the Minister for Regional Development, who will no longer necessarily have to reinvest in the regions that need it the most but will be able to choose the regions that he will develop. That way the agency will reach conclusions that will not be in the best interest of Quebec's economic development.
    When this bill is referred to committee, if it is passed by the majority in this House, it will have to be changed entirely to at least ensure that the current situations do not deteriorate. We must bring back the fact that the vocation may be limited and ensure that it will apply to Quebec regions that need particular assistance, as was provided in the current act. We must ensure that there is no partisanship, in order to promote the development of economic activities in our regions.
    We are now living an economic reality that is totally different from what it was 10 years ago. The whole manufacturing sector is facing an extraordinary challenge. We see this particularly in my region, for example, Montmagny, where we have experienced major closures. Currently, many businesses have difficulty remaining competitive with other countries of the world. It looks like the federal government does not adapt quickly enough to these new realities. It is always behind.
    The bill before us will not ensure that the government's action will allow businesses to continue to compete, to move forward and to maintain their jobs. It is important that parliamentarians in this House are aware that we must decide whether or not the federal government is to continue to intervene in the way that it has in the past, with the results that we know. The auditor general herself raised major issues on the effectiveness of the current department.
    The fact that the government brings us today this type of bill does not appear to me as the best way to intervene in order to help regional economic development in Quebec. This is why the Bloc Québécois, at this stage, will vote against the bill. Indeed, it goes entirely against Quebec's development objectives. It is not the proper tool to promote harmonious development in Quebec or to face new world competition.

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, there are considerable contradictions in my colleague's comments, so many that it is dizzying. He says that Bill C-9 is going to end up disconnecting us from the regions, whereas Canada Economic Development, with its 14 regions, is all over Quebec.
    We have taken strategic regional initiatives in conjunction with the local people in order to ensure that the programs in place will meet the need. That is what Economic Development does, and will continue to do under the new legislation.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Claude Drouin: I would ask the hon. Bloc member to listen to me, as I have listened. The hon. member could do likewise on the other side.
    This is important; this bill gives greater autonomy. We have committed to doubling Canada Economic Development budgets within five years, for what we want to do, and we do it well.
    The hon. member referred to the CLDs, and there are the CFDCs, or community futures development corporations. With these, the local people are working with Canada Economic Development to meet the needs of the people and the regions, paying particular attention to regions with specific problems. This is important.
    From the other side of the House, the Bloc side, we are hearing that this is an international problem and hence a federal responsibility, and we ought to be putting programs in place. I am thinking about softwood lumber. Then they are telling us that it needs to be transferred to Quebec and they will deal with it. Yet if it is an international matter, then they will be asking us what the federal level is doing about it, and we are powerless to intervene.
    They seem to be two totally opposite stances here, and I find it a bit mind-boggling. The Bloc Québécois member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou got it in the neck, as the public told him that they wanted Canada Economic Development and pointed out the Bloc's position. The people of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean—not a particularly federalist area—say that they want Canada Economic Development to remain because it works with the community and with the Government of Quebec. Everyone works together to meet the needs of the people.
    I think the Bloc Québécois members ought to have another look at their positions, look at what can be done, and work along with us to ensure that economic development is addressed in the spirit of harmony in our regions. That is what the people need.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, we will start by speaking of regional economic strategies. In the Montmagny area, 600 employees were laid off by the Whirlpool plant, last year. I wrote to the industry minister who, at that time, was also regional economic development minister and who is now intergovernmental affairs minister, to ask her to put in place such a strategy. I have yet to get an answer.
    After the election, I called her again. Still no answer. I think we deserved such an intervention in our area, having lost 600 jobs, but it never happened. Nothing positive was done.
    Something else occurred. A survey of business people, of customers who do business with regional economic development was conducted. The results obtained from the Quebec federation of independent businesses show that 60% of the respondents preferred tax credits in terms of regional intervention. Effectively, we saw in the past that interventions were motivated more by partisan choices that by anything else.
    For those who own a small-or a medium-sized business, and where that creates undue competition, this situation is unacceptable.
    Here is the most important element. You have given the example of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. It is obvious that Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean still needs help. It is a region that has been hit severely. However, with the bill introduced by the federal government, the agency will no longer devote its energy to the most disadvantaged regions. This priority is being eliminated, and the minister will decide what regions will be designated. I think that in this case people are right to worry and to ask questions.
    The people who live in the regions facing financial difficulties try everything possible to make a go of it. They want to be sure to keep all the lifelines, and that is easy to understand. The message sent by the federal government must also be clear in this respect. The fact that that bill puts an end to the possibility of focusing on the regions that are worst off, which is an advantage, is certainly not a good thing for the industry.
     Let us talk about community futures development corporations. In each community, people serving on management boards are the ones who try their best given the prevailing conditions. They have to conclude agreements with the CLDs in order to avoid the complications arising from the existence of two systems.
    I am not casting doubt on the efficiency of the people working in the CFDCs. I am saying that we have a system in which two governments are intervening in a sector where a single one would be a lot more efficient.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin this intervention, as I have before, by thanking the interpreters who work in those little glass booths. Without them, as a unilingual Canadian, I would be unable to understand about what the member had talked. I so appreciate their work.
    I listened very carefully to the very articulate member from the Bloc. He mentioned that it would be perhaps better to have a reduction in taxation levels so their businesses could compete with one another. I got from that an undercurrent. I would ask, why should the federal government be in Quebec or any province picking winners and losers?
     Bill C-9 would give the minister the right to plan, implement, direct and manage programs and projects or offer services to improve the economic environment in Quebec, including programs, projects and services, supports to business associations, conferences, studies, consultations, trade shows, demonstration products and market research. It gives the government the right to collect and disseminate data. The federal government is really good at running a data bank. We learned that with the gun control system.
    Here is another one. The Liberals can pick to whom they want to give a loan and for whom they want to guarantee the repayment. I love this one, they can make grants and contributions. If those words do not throw up a red flag, especially in the province of Quebec, I would be very surprised.
    I could go on and on, but I am not giving a speech. Surely, the member would rather say that the federal government should get out of picking winners and losers in Quebec and let Quebec entrepreneurs fend for themselves on an equal and level playing field.

  (1040)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments, but I would like to point out that the statistics I spoke of were taken from the study done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The study found that 60% of those surveyed favour tax credits over the federal government's current method of intervention through the Economic Development Agency of Canada.
    I am not criticizing the government's interventions, but I would say that this statistic leads us to conclude that businesspeople, who are the clients, are not satisfied with the way things are being handled. Intervention may well be necessary, therefore, and everyone has always agreed that it is the government's responsibility to intervene. However, the way in which it does so has been deemed unacceptable. Basically, this bill, which has been introduced and debated, leads us to question this principle. Is this the best way to go? The Bloc Québécois says no.
    I would like to add some information about an earlier question. Let me say a few words about that. I am being told, “But you want us to deal with the softwood lumber issue”. This matter is within federal jurisdiction over international trade. It is the federal government that led us to the front line, and we agreed to confront the Americans under its leadership. The problem is, that once the companies agreed to fight, they were left to fend for themselves with the lumber crisis. The unemployed also had to manage with fewer weeks' employment. We condemn the federal government for not living up to this part of the agreement.
    As a matter of fact, we are asking the federal government to make sure that when it decides to fight over some international issue, it supports its partners properly. Two years ago, when it was decided to open our market to textiles from less developed countries, the government should have provided programs to help our own industry survive. Our attitude towards less developed countries is excellent, but, on the other side the predicament our clothing and textile industries are in is the federal government's responsibility. It should make sure we can adjust to changing markets as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Ultimately, this is not a regional development issue. It is a matter of the sense of responsibility of the federal government. It should assume its responsibilities. This is what we find fault with.
    As concerns regional development per se, I will repeat what I said at the outset, and I will conclude with this. Over the last 25 years, especially in the Gaspé, the present government has been proven that Canadian federalism does not work.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, although the NDP supports Bill C-9 in principle, there is a missed opportunity with the bill. I believe my colleague from the Bloc spoke very eloquently around some of the challenges the bill does not address.
    We need very strong policies that support regional development and we need a federal government that sets a framework to allow communities to determine their destiny. One thing we know about effective community economic development is that it builds long term community capacity and fosters the integration of not only economic but social and environmental activities.
    The intention of community economic development is individual and community self-reliance through collaborative action, capacity building and returning control of business enterprises, capital, labour and other resources to communities. This fact often gets lost in the discussion of economic development. We will notice that many references to economic development omit communities. The social and environmental activity is so critical and it should be included in that discussion.
    There are some basic tools around community economic development that the bill does not address, and the discussion is not taking place in the larger capacity. Community economic development talks about capacity building and making more with less in communities. It talks about making money circulate within communities before it leaves communities. It talks about import replacement, which means making things within our communities instead of bringing them in from outside. It talks about making brand new products within our communities.
    We need targeted long term policies that promote and support domestic economies. We need to talk about financing. We need meaningful funds for job creation so when we are hit with things like softwood lumber, we can look to community economic development within our communities. We need effective community development corporations so decisions are made in the communities which will bring about that kind of job creation that we know is so critical. We need to support downtown development authorities. We need loan funds for a full range of entrepreneurs.
    We also need to effectively promote buy local strategies, which includes government procurement. Therefore, when we have federal government agencies in local communities, they need to have a development strategy on buying local. We need tax incentives that support buying local. We need meaningful skills and business training that supports community economic development. The bill does not address any of that. I would hope at the committee level we have that kind of discussion on building our local economy.
    Part of this discussion should be about environmental responsibilities in terms of green businesses. This can include tax incentives, government retrofit, attraction and retention of business strategies and energy conservation. We also need targeted subsidies and funding so we can get what we measure, and that is supporting local business.
    Research and development funds are not easily accessible for local communities either. We need community supported agriculture. My community in Nanaimo--Cowichan is a good example. We need to talk about local strategies that not only support agri-business and agri-tourism, but support buying local as well. We need to reclaim our communities and grow them without sacrificing liveability.
    Community economic development also needs to include a small business policy. I will talk about British Columbia for a moment. In British Columbia nearly half of all jobs in 2003 were generated by small business. Yet we do not have an effective strategy in community economic development that looks at growing small business.
    It is a myth about foreign trade. Currently only 20% of our GDP is foreign trade. Yet we have this focus on foreign trade that ignores 80% of our GDP. In 2002 Statistics Canada said that 80% of Canadian exports were accounted for by 4% of Canadian companies. Where is the support for our small local businesses when those kinds of statistics do not bear the kind of subsidies that are out there? We need an industrial policy that adequately addresses the needs of small business, which not only talks about small business retention, but includes small business expansion and development of new small businesses.
    Another thing that is not adequately addressed in our economic development policy are the issues around rural communities. The definition of a rural community is community of less than 50,000 people. Many of our small rural communities have populations of 1,000, 5,000 to 10,000. Policies that cover rural communities of 50,000 do not address the needs of small communities of 1,000.
    This is where community economic development is even more critical so people have a choice about remaining within their communities rather than having to move to big urban centres. Studies have indicated that rural communities are critical for the survival of the larger urban centres.
    In conclusion, although we support the bill in principle, I would urge the committee to have the comprehensive discussion that is required around meaningful community economic development which will allow our small communities to remain viable and liveable.

  (1045)  

    

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to explain why we are opposing Bill C-9, an act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. I will also speak to the reality of socio-economic development in the regions of Quebec.
    Why are we opposing Bill C-9? This bill establishes a department for regional development. For Quebeckers, this is a new form of duplication and federal infringement which does not meet the needs of local communities. As a matter of fact, the government's bill would place the development of the regions of Quebec under the discretion of the federal minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
    This bill clearly identifies all the regions of Quebec as areas in which the federal government is responsible for development. Yet, Quebec already has a regional development department responsible for planning, organizing and coordinating development activities through CREs, the Conseils régionaux des élus, which replaced CRDs, CLDs, CFDCs and many other local programs and agencies. RCMs are also playing an increasingly important role in terms of local and community economic development. Therefore, we have a number of players. We have a large development structure which meets the needs of our communities. Why fix what is not broken?
    Under the Constitution, Quebec is responsible for most areas pertaining to the development of regions. The fact that there are three levels of government with different development goals has made it difficult, in recent years, to have a common vision for regional development and consistent local development practices. As you know, these three levels are the federal, the provincial and the municipal governments.
    Many years have passed—I, for one, have been involved in local development for several years—and many consultation meetings were held before all the stakeholders and agencies in one region could know and understand each other and their respective goals, whether at the federal, provincial or even municipal level.
    The decentralization of powers to citizens, a new local development strategy implemented about 20 years ago, has been very successful. Over time, every organization faced with the same socio-economic issues in our areas have managed to develop a shared vision for action in their communities. It was not easy at first. We had the CFDCs, which had their own local development policies and practices and which were under federal direction. We had the LDBs which were under provincial direction. Finally, the RCMs arrived, with their direction often coming from municipal institutions. There were months of consensus building before all these people built a shared vision for the development of their territories.
    It has now been realized. The tools are there. What we now lack is money to support the various local community initiatives. Bill C-9 is disrupting this cohesion, this consensus built along the way among stakeholders and organizations. This bill introduces new rules that are not wanted in Quebec.
    What we want is for the federal government to respect Quebec's jurisdiction and expertise and to adapt its federal programs to the reality of the regions. The federal government should adapt its policies to the reality of Quebec regions, and not the other way around, as is currently the case.
    Allow me to give a few examples. Federal programs are often aimed at large cities, and thus exclude regional participation. The strategic infrastructure fund is a good example since its objective is to fund projects of such magnitude that small rural municipalities are excluded.

  (1050)  

    In this regard, the Quebec government adopted in December 2001 a national rural policy to support the development of the Quebec rural communities.
    Instead of creating yet another new institution, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, and investing in new institutions, should the federal government not simply transfer money to Quebec, and invest for example in these rural development funds that support initiatives called rural pacts? These projects lack funds. The federal government could simply transfer money to these institutions because they do have a lot of projects. The socio-economic development structures already exist. The addition of new structures is not a solution.
    Moreover, if the federal government wants to support regional development, often referred to as local development, it could start by supporting the introduction of a new infrastructure program for municipalities and providing them with better financial support. Our small rural municipalities are having a very hard time renovating their water and sewage systems and their infrastructure. We really need a good infrastructure policy. This would help to promote regional and municipal development.
    Furthermore, it could also overhaul employment insurance, because the regions have paid heavily as a result of decisions made by the Liberal government. This government's EI policies have excluded a significant portion of rural populations and led to an exodus of young people to major urban centres as a result of cuts to EI and the inaction of the federal government with regard to its EI policies.
    A good EI policy, adapted to seasonal workers, could be part of a federal intervention and would doubtless be more successful than Bill C-9, which simply duplicates Quebec's regional policy.
    Cuts to EI have swelled the exodus of young people, as I mentioned, in addition to causing recruitment problems for companies providing seasonal employment. As for these EI cuts, when people ended up with 15 weeks of EI benefits in one summer or one winter, they had to go on welfare. Instead of turning to welfare, some people are moving to the major urban centres, which creates a void in rural areas. This contradicts a regional development policy. I suggest that the federal government begin addressing these issues before developing a so-called regional development policy.
    Since Ottawa is suddenly interested in the fate of the regions, it needs to know that EI reform is a concrete way to help them climb out of the poverty into which it plunged them.
    As for the $428 million allocated to the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, that money should be transferred to Quebec, because the Quebec government already has a regional development policy. The creation of a federal department would only perpetuate this duplication. The regions need assistance, not quarrels between Quebec and Canada.
    In short, this new legislation is a clear step backward for the regions of Quebec dealing with troubled economic growth, declining population and devitalization. This bill, which does not include any new funding, is therefore just one more exercise in nation building by a federal government that, after the 1995 referendum, decided to invest in areas under Quebec jurisdiction and raise its profile in Quebec by using its massive surpluses and its spending power to do so.
    The Liberal government must resolve the fiscal imbalance if it truly wants to meet the real needs of the regions of Quebec.

  (1055)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I was not planning on speaking to this bill. However, as speeches have been made, I have been listening and looking at the bill. I have a number of things that we should seriously question with respect to Bill C-9.
     I find it absolutely atrocious that the Liberal government has gone ahead and implemented this whole program without parliamentary approval. We find under this Prime Minister the same illness that we had under the previous Prime Minister, Mr. Chrétien. Parliament is just an annoyance. It is just something that has to go through.
    The government has actually had this agency in place for two years. For two years it has had budgets in the estimates of around half a billion dollars per year. It has been doing it without parliamentary approval. It has come here now and expecting Parliament to just rubber stamp what it is already doing. In a sense, we are in fact rubber stamping it and I think we probably have no choice. The thing is already being done.
    It would be unwise for us to be against this particular bill because of the turmoil that it would cause for all the people who are employed in this program and in the work that they are doing in Quebec. Yet, at the same time, the sequence is wrong. We ought to hold the Liberal government accountable for its arrogance and for its presumptions.
    I have huge problems, when I read in this bill, as I mentioned in one of my interventions earlier, about the government's ability to make grants and contributions. What a scandal that is. I cannot believe that the Bloc are actually favouring this bill because it is obvious that the Government of Canada, as long as the Liberals are in power, will simply be picking its Liberal friends to start businesses. Look at what happened in the former Prime Minister's riding, where his friends got money, grants and guaranteed loans in order to build a hotel in which the former Prime Minister himself had a financial interest.
    That is the type of thing we invite when we have this kind of agency instead of having it at arm's length. I look at, for example, the powers of the minister. In this bill, the minister can totally control who gets the money and guaranteed loans. I am concerned about the fact that the minister may make regulations, which means the minister in charge who is part of the prime ministerial team. He can do that in order to exploit the opportunities for improvements in employment as identified in a designated area, as well as regulations specially applicable to that area or community which may be made under the authority of this section that vary from regulations of general application to Quebec.
    We have the federal government looking at a specific region in a province, and having the right and the power to override other regulations, and to make grants, contributions and advertisements. All these grants and contributions have been such a scandal in the previous government's administration.
    I am deeply concerned about the fact that the government is now seeking parliamentary approval for what it is already doing and giving it additional powers over what it already has in terms of interfering and picking economic winners and losers. I just cannot see that for the long run and in the broad perspective of our country that this is a good thing to do. I needed to get that off my chest.

  (1100)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-9, following my colleagues in the Bloc. As was mentioned earlier, the Bloc will oppose this bill for various reasons. I would like to highlight some of them.
    This is a bill that proposes to create the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. This may seem a bit odd but, actually, past federal experience in the regions of Quebec has not always been successful, far from it. One need only look at unemployment numbers in the regions. It is an appalling disaster.
    Would Bill C-9 do anything particular for Quebec? Not at all. From whatever angle one looks at it, it simply creates a federal department and results in a new duplication. We certainly do not need an additional federal structure in Quebec, far from it.
    When we consider the bill in detail, we see, for instance, the duties of the new responsible minister, the one who would get a limousine. This might indeed be the intent behind the bill, to add an extra limousine for a minister. We do not need another federal department.
    When one looks closely at the minister's powers, they are vague and far-ranging. Nor does the bill provide for an integrated federal strategy in the regions. By contrast, what we in the Bloc have been saying is that regions first and foremost need an integrated development strategy, but only Quebec is in a position to put one into place.

  (1105)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know that I cannot refer to the presence or absence of members so I will not, but I think it appropriate that we have a Liberal minister in the House and also at least one Liberal member. I therefore call for quorum.
    Call in the members.
    And the count having been taken:
    The Deputy Speaker: I see 20 members here. We will resume debate. The hon. member for Louis-Hébert.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I also thank my Conservative colleague for having drawn the attention of the House to the insufficient number of Liberal members at this moment. We will be able to continue with Bill C-9.
    As I was saying before the interruption, only Quebec can create this integrated government structure that is referred to in the bill on regional development.
    You see what the scenario is now. Two half governments are involved here. Neither Quebec nor Ottawa have the resources to ensure regional development now. So we have two half governments that are involved in half development programs and only achieving--we have to be honest here--half results. This does not work very well at the regional level.
    The way this bill is worded, this would involve two government levels and it would once again infringe upon Quebec's jurisdiction. But above all, in the regions of Quebec, one level of government would have the effect of cancelling out what the other government is doing. The forces would cancel each other out instead of complementing each other
    I come from the national capital area. I am talking about Quebec City's, of course. Believe it or not, in that area, which is not that far from major centres—it is a major urban centre—we have the same distressing problem as in remote areas. Even though there is a minister supposedly responsible for the Quebec City area, federal money does not even reach it.
    Imagine people in the Gaspé or the Laurentians, such as my colleagues here,or in other Quebec regions. Federal money does not come back. When it does, it is always with strings attached and all kind of conditions to make sure the regions are dependant on the federal government. Bill C-9 would continue in the same vein, namely exploit the weakness and vulnerability of the regions.
    If Ottawa finally decides to show interest in Quebec's regions, it should start by looking after its own responsibilities. That is were it should start. We in the Bloc believe that instead of introducing a new bill, the federal government should do a number of very basic things.
    First, it should respect Quebec's jurisdictions. The government seems to have trouble understanding that, but it might do so by starting by respecting local consultation bodies. We are well equipped in this regard in Quebec. They already exist. Why not give them better tools and make sure Canada Economic Development works properly? There is already an agency that should do that. It does not take one more limo. It is not needed in Quebec.
    First, federal programs should be tailored to the needs of the regions. My colleagues mentioned earlier the need to re-establish funding for new infrastructure programs. There is also federal capital spending. That would be a good start, a good indication of the government's good faith.
    It should not forget either to support employment insurance reform. When we talk about a reform we are not talking only about lowering or raising EI contributions. We are talking about reform. The regions are particularity hard hit by unemployment, which is very high.
    Some realities are not the same from one region to the next, but all the regions of Quebec suffer the same great pain. In the Gaspé, seasonal workers are penalized by employment insurance rules. In other regions the problems are different. Life is not the same in Montreal as in Vancouver or Toronto.
    The small regions need support. That support does not come from creating a department, on the contrary, it will come from taking the current structures and freeing up the money that is not getting through to Quebec's regions.
    Moreover, the last thing we need is more fighting between Quebec City and Ottawa over structural issues, including a new department that would only increase bureaucracy. In the Bloc Québécois we are very sensitive to the reality of the regions. We listen to the dialogue; we listen to the people telling us that things are not going well.
    It is not enough to wave a magic wand, to appear and say here is a bill and—abracadabra—a new department comes in to save the regions from the poor conditions in which they have been imprisoned. They have not been imprisoning themselves in these conditions.

  (1110)  

    They are going through terrible situations in terms of employment, resources and access. There are as we speak some regions of Quebec that do not even have high speed Internet access. Since telecommunications are in the federal domain, why is it that in 2004 there are regions of Quebec that are not yet connected?
    We need some practical action much more than a bill to create a department. It does not take a rocket scientist to think of that. It is just a matter of finding the resources that already exist.
    It must be understood that creating a new department will increase the weight of the bureaucracy. Moreover, there will be risks of duplication. It is true that the bill is based on similar initiatives in Canada's western provinces. Western Economic Diversification, or WD, operates quite successfully in the west. I have lived in Manitoba, and I am proud to say so, and I have seen it operating well.
    At this time, however, we see that the provincial agencies have had their own legislation since 1988. They are well governed provincially.
    The federal government must be reminded of its obligation to respect Quebec's jurisdiction, since Quebec must become and remain the architect of regional development.
    Mr. Speaker, my riding, La Pointe-de-l'Île, has a nice name. This riding is on the most easterly point of the Island of Montreal—yes, it is an island—along the river. You should come and see it. It is quite beautiful and the people there are very proud of this new name because it sets them apart.
    The riding has a chamber of commerce and the La Pointe-de-l'Île school board. The name is a contraction of Longue-Pointe, describing the geography of this part of the riding, and the tip of the island, which makes La Pointe-de-l'Île.
    I have no choice but to rise to speak to Bill C-9, which sets out to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and to establish a department to run that agency.
    For many years—I am from the greater Montreal area—politically speaking, I have taken an interest in what has been happening in this sad saga in the relationship between the federal government and Quebec—Quebec is named specifically in this bill—in terms of this issue of regional development.
    I must confess I miss the days of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. During that time an agreement was negotiated whereby Quebec got money from the federal government and it was Quebec that decided how to use it.
    A lot has changed since then. My colleagues have said so and I will say it in another way. Not only is an agency being established supposedly for the economic development of Canada for the regions of Quebec, but the mandate specifically states that the minister must work on developing an integrated policy.
    There is something absolutely absurd in saying that the regional development of Canada for Quebec has to be diversified or should be diversified within an integrated policy of Canada. Only Quebec can integrate diversification of its various regions. Why the determination to prevent Quebec from developing itself and to deny it the means to do so, all the while boasting about the merits of federalism? Indeed, my Quebec colleagues are truly very patient.
    Around the time when I was elected to this place and appointed critic for human resources development, the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec), or FORD-Q, set up by the Conservatives was replaced by a new department called Canada Economic Development. The hon. members heard right; only in government appropriations did the word “Quebec” appear.
    On the department's letterhead and in all our contacts with the department's head—I think that a secretary of state was in charge of CED at the time—“for Quebec Regions” was in brackets. It was established around the time we came to this House in 1993, before the near victory in the 1995 referendum.

  (1115)  

    That is pretty incredible: to name a department responsible for regional development Canada Economic Development. Over the years, it became necessary to add a reference to Quebec in the department's name and, as a result, the letterhead will once again have to be changed, like a whole lot of other things. I wonder how much it costs each time. The new name will be Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. I am sure that, if etymologists or literature experts were asked to study the meaning of this expression, they would find it twisted, to say the least.
    This goes to show that the federal government is unable to recognize that, without the fiscal imbalance, Quebec would have sufficient resources. Quebec is not only perfectly able to develop its own economy, but it is also in an infinitely better position to do so with no one else to interfere. We have to realize that, with the mandate given to the minister under the bill, this agency will take the definition of two development strategies even further.
    I have heard members opposite say that they have worked with local communities. The local communities need money. That is why they have to work with the federal representative. Are the projects suited to their region, as compared to Quebec as a whole, though? No one can tell us.
    One thing is for certain: there are two infrastructures, two administrations, two groups of people working separately on Quebec's regional development, one trying to integrate its work with what is being done within Quebec and the other trying to integrate it with what is going on across Canada. No enterprise can succeed with two different development strategies.
    This reminds me a bit of what is being done in terms of international development. Countries all want visibility in that area, some more than others. Canada is particularly hungry for visibility. It wants its image, its logo, its flag on a huge number of projects that will never lead to development regardless of the money invested in them. That is not how development was brought about in the areas where it was successfully carried out. God knows development is needed in the regions.
    Unfortunately, regions also fall victim to the government's hunger for visibility. Of course, with Quebec taking its future into its own hands, our colleagues opposite felt the urge to show how essential they are and to increase their visibility, by brandishing their little flags at every opportunity they have.
    It is indeed unfortunate because the young people who are leaving the regions as well as those who remain in the regions where fewer services are provided both need development. What they do not need is quarrels and duplication in development strategies which can only ensure one thing: no regional development whatsoever.

  (1120)  

[English]

     Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And more than five members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:
    The Deputy Speaker: I have been requested by the government whip to defer the vote until 3 p.m.

[Translation]

Department of Social Development Act

    The House resumed from December 6, consideration of the motion that Bill C-22, an act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend and repeal certain related Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise and speak to this bill, not because I or my party support the principle or the decision to establish this department. Indeed, I wish to indicate what, in my view, is missing in this process of creation and division of existing departments in the field of regional development, of creating things that nobody is asking for.
     I must confess my disappointment with a number of laws. I am a newcomer in this House and I am a little disappointed with the parliamentary agenda that looks more like red tape, or, if I may say so, like liberal tape, than substantive debates on bills that are supposed to help Canadians and Quebeckers.
    Thus, instead of having laws that allow the government to use its incredibly large surpluses that are hidden in foundations and budget estimates, or in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, departments are being created, then divided and civil servants are moved around. That is always done,and above all, in jurisdictions that do not belong to the federal government, but to the government of Quebec or other provinces. Such is the case with the famous Department of Social Development.
    Before getting into politics, I wondered how I would look at the issues and what my perspective would be. I told myself that I would read each piece of legislation presented to us and try to determine if it is good for children and if it can improve their living conditions.
    As we know, there are more than one million Canadians, and a similar proportion in Quebec--unfortunately the situation is no different in that respect—of children living in poverty. In fact, this number is growing constantly. At one point, we had some degree of control over child poverty, but it seems this kind of poverty has been increasing in recent years.
    Will this bill really help? Will this division, the creation of a new structure within another structure, help in the fight against child poverty? I very much doubt it.
    Various programs will come under the responsibility of this new department if it is created. We hope it will not be, because we do not see how it will improve conditions for people.
    In another life, I worked a great deal with community organizations. Under the bill before us, the department will be responsible for the volunteer and community sector. I remember the frenzy, when community groups were constantly forced to apply for grants, often for reasons of visibility. This required a lot of energy on the part of volunteers or of those who were somewhat pompously called permanent members of community organizations and volunteers—I was one of them—and whose main feature was in fact that they were not “permanent” and that they were in a precarious situation.
    How much energy is spent by these groups in trying to be included in a system of programs to get a few dollars? What these groups need is a clear policy of recognition. The Quebec government is trying to give them such a policy, but it often does not have the means to do that. These groups need a policy that gives them recognition and a permanent status to be able to serve people and provide services to the community.
    Instead, they must bend over backwards to comply with the objectives of federal department programs that have more to do with ensuring visibility for the minister than with giving real resources to people.
    This is one example among many others that do not directly relate to this department's responsibility. Hon. members will understand that, as the Bloc Québécois critic on housing, I take this issue very seriously.
    Therefore, since 1993, the federal government has been talking about giving back full responsibility to the provinces, including Quebec, for housing, so they can set housing policies.
    This is 2004, almost 2005—Christmas is approaching—and that transfer has still not been made. This transfer will have very strong consequences, but because it has not happened, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in this case, is no longer investing in the cooperative or non-profit housing sector, since this responsibility will soon be transferred. All this duplication, all these approaches by the federal government have direct consequences on people's lives and we have to admit that the consequences are not good.

  (1125)  

    We see measures that, on the face of it, may seem interesting. We looked at the child tax benefit. Once again, we have seen that there is a measure, but it is a measure that ensures that a certain group of very poor people will have to pay more. There are many different mechanisms in the income tax legislation.
    In the case of people with the lowest incomes, because of Quebec's $5 day care system, now at $7, the government has $70 million in taxes that it can draw on. Normally, those taxes should have been used for the benefit of those families who are losing $70 million because of a measure that supposedly was taken to help them. They are the neediest.
    So, we see that this duplication has a direct cost to the poorest members of society. This desire to create departments, to label all assistance, to say that this centralizing government in Ottawa is good and nice to the people, causes major problems for the people it is supposed to serve.
    Consequently, the creation of a Department of Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec, a Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and a Department of Social Development does not seem to me to create tangible values for people. All this does not bring one cent more, it only creates confusion, a desire for visibility and a quest for centralizing power.
    Do we move ahead in terms of equity, of resource sharing, of relieving the debt of the provinces through adequate transfers? No, we are not going in that direction, we are moving in the opposite direction. This is too bad and it saddens me, so soon before Christmas, to know that there are people who count on a government that would adopt measures on their behalf. They realize that the government helps itself first, serves its visibility, its structures, its public service, its mandarins, but does not serve the people who pay the income tax, people who hope for something better. It makes me sad.
    There is a host of examples, and to think that this department will be in charge of national standards in the area of day care centres under the Canadian day care centres program.This program will impose standards on all provinces, and eventually on Quebec, while Quebec has been the leader in this field. It is a leadership that turns out to be very costly for Quebec.
    The federal government has saved a billion dollars since the introduction of $5 day care centres, now at a cost of $7. This is a billion dollars that the government does not have to pay out in tax credits to families.
    With this amount, if there had been full compensation, would we have been able to better serve patients in hospitals? The answer is yes. Would we have been able to use that money to put books in libraries? Yes, we could have. When Quebec helps its children, it also enables the federal government to save a billion dollars and this government, well aware of that, does nothing to compensate this injustice, does nothing to transfer this money.
    During the election, the government promised that an agreement had been signed, but that agreement was not worth the paper on which it was written. This is a scandal. That agreement still has not been put on the table. This is why people sometimes become cynical about politics.
    As a new politician, this situation really saddens me.

  (1130)  

    I am very sad to see so much energy being spent to create new structures, to look for visibility, to make intrusions and to create new departments in areas that are clearly under Quebec's jurisdiction. We put so much energy into playing partisan politics and waving the flag to get more visibility. This energy could be used to provide better government, to better distribute wealth, to work better and more efficiently in our own areas of jurisdiction.
    Instead of that, we create communities departments and regional development departments for Quebec and we expand the Health department. In short, we are doing a lot but doing it badly, in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Meanwhile, we are doing very little, and doing it poorly, in our own areas of jurisdiction.
    If I may digress for just a moment, today again, I was looking at the evidence given by the sailors of the Chicoutimi who, while looking at the rusted submarines in which they were to sail, said “They will not force us to sail in that.” Until we have our own country, this is an area of federal jurisdiction, and this so-called competence is rather a shameful incompetence on the part of the federal government.
    However, the government is eager to create structures, minor visibility programs, interfere in jurisdictions outside its own. It does so right in the throne speech and in legislation before the House.
    I would like to support this legislation. I would like to be enthusiastic about various legislative measures supporting it. I would like to consider in the House legislation to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development. It would be interesting, as long as that legislation respects the responsibilities of the provinces and Quebec.
    However, I am forced to admit that the most interesting things I have experienced in the political arena to date are the opposition motions. I am talking about the work of the Bloc Québécois and also the NDP, in some instances, particularly the motion limiting trans fats. That is something that directly concerns public health. It would not have come from the government. There have been many bills; I worked on Bill C-15, to protect migratory birds, but I wonder if it is a joke and if we will have the means to implement it.
    Once again, an amendment by the opposition was necessary to implement, beyond the appearance of establishing significant fines, minimum fines for those shamelessly dumping petroleum products. For the first time in Canada, we have implemented significant minimum fines in environmental legislation. This did not come for this government. It is not really concerned with reality, but more with appearances.
    In closing, I want to say that I will oppose, as will my colleagues, the creation of this Department of Social Development. We believe that the federal government must recognize once and for all that Quebec, although its leeway has been considerably reduced by the fiscal imbalance, has still managed to implement internationally renowned quality programs.
    The Bloc Québécois will never agree to the creation of a department that not only has the mandate to duplicate and copy Quebec's avant-garde policies, but that also prevents Quebec from fully developing these policies. It is not about visibility, but about respect for the integrity, security and health of individuals.
    We must always ask if this legislation serves the public or the structure. Unfortunately, this government is telling us that it is the latter.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, if there are questions or comments I will give up my turn. If not, I would like to continue the debate.
    We are now at the question and comment period. The hon. member for Windsor West.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-22, the Department of Social Development Act.
    This is the creation of a special department that we are interested in pursuing as New Democrats. We wish to see whether or not we can fulfill a strong mandate of Canadians to have social development as part of our economic strategy.
    I was pleased to participate in my past life with a number of different movements and not for profit organizations that had some access to government programs, which successfully led to changing people's lives. I would like to reference a few of them because I think Bill C-22 might provide that opportunity. I use the word might because I do have some hesitation.
    The only concern I have in moving to the next stage is that this particular department could at the end of the day become a leftovers department. If the government does not truly believe in the mandate of the department and the effect that it could have on people and the social economy, it might not get the budgetary support that is required to make sure things could be fulfilled.
     I want to define specifically the department's responsibility. Social Development Canada will have responsibility for children and families, persons with disabilities, seniors, caregivers, the voluntary sector and the social economy.
    Those elements are very important, not only in terms of how they can affect individuals and their lives in either turning things around or improving them significantly through services that then lead to greater steps, but they are also very much a part of our economy.
    Our voluntary sector, which is a huge sector that does wonderful work, has a lot of great professionals who often go with less pay. They actually need higher accountability in some respects than in other jurisdictions because they do not have the resources to make mistakes. I, fortunately, participated in my employment field at the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities--

  (1140)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize to my colleague. I just wanted to know whether we were at the question and comment period or whether we were resuming debate.
    We are resuming debate.
    If that is the case, I had asked to speak.
    If we were at questions and comments I could give up my turn. However, since we are resuming debate, I would like to say that I had asked to speak.
    Yes, but the problem is that speakers must alternate, and the NDP had taken the floor in this debate.
    The hon. member for Windsor West.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, I want to resume by noting that in my prior work experience I worked for the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities. We worked quite well with Human Resources Development Canada at that time. I particularly would like to note Yvonne Renaud and Irene Kent, two wonderful public servants who helped to participate in creating the opportunities fund for our area.
    The opportunities fund is a good example to show how, if the government does have political will to push an issue forward and appropriate resources are put there, we actually can change lives. More important, we can also even the playing field for people who have traditionally had a lot of barriers put in front of them in regard to being able to reach their fullest potential in Canadian society.
    The opportunities fund was an initiative to help persons with disabilities find employment or start a business. What was interesting about this approach, and I do give the government of the day credit for it, is that the government actually did go down to the grassroots levels and talk to all the different associations and groups related to persons with disabilities. We were asked whether we wanted to apply for individual funding or look at a special program that encompassed all of us. We worked with Essex and Kent counties so we covered a lot of geography in southern Ontario. To start with, we had over 20 organizations serving persons with disabilities.
    What we were able to come up with, through negotiations with public servants who did their due diligence and also up the line, was support to create two programs.
     One program assisted persons to use an incentive program to maximize their opportunities to take advantage of employment opportunities and get employment. The employer got a small dividend to assist a person with a disability get into the employment stream. That would dissipate over time and the person would be taken on as a full time employee. We had a lot of accountability built into the model. The hours were provided first, we checked to make sure that full and gainful employment was happening and then the incentive would follow. That then would dissipate over time as this permanent employment was fixed.
     It was a good opportunity for some flexibility at the local level in being able to assist people to actually get to the positions and for them to be effective as individuals, marketing themselves to employers to get positions. We ran a program out of APPD called “Equal Ability”, in which we assisted people in doing that.
    At the beginning, there was also a small program to assist persons with disabilities in starting their own businesses. I am proud to say that some of those businesses are still operating today, several years later. Brian Fitzsimmons, for example, is one of our former clients who was very much involved in creating a disc jockey service that now has gone into a full-fledged business. He has now had an opportunity to start a family. This is someone who, before this program, wanted to chase after a dream and had the capabilities to do so, but he needed the structure in place just to help give that push.
    Therefore, when we create this agency it is very important to have an understanding that this should be for the facilitation of the not for profit sector. If we get into a mandate that is going to be very constrained, with no flexibility, what we are going to see is the lessening of local involvement and also the elimination of solutions that would otherwise seem palatable to local people and also to local organizations.
    I give some credit to the Bloc for being concerned about this interfering in terms of provincial jurisdiction. I think there is some merit there. That is why it is very important for this structure to have not only the provincial flexibility but also the regional flexibility, so we can deal with these social issues in ways that are very important to those local communities and so local problem solving will be influential.
    Similarly, following that, I had a chance to work for the Multicultural Council as a youth coordinator. It was a very good program. I would once again like to mention Yvonne Renaud, who helped set it up, as well as Glen Shuba. Once again, those two individuals were very influential at the local level in facilitating the local not for profit sector in being able to bid or to be part of a practice to acquire a Youth Service Canada project. We had over 90% success ratios with those projects in regard to getting young people off the streets and either back to employment or to school.
    The problem we had with these programs, which a lot of not for profit organizations are facing with the way the government is handling its initiatives right now, was a lack of sustainability. What the government is requesting from the not for profit sector is unreasonable in the sense that it wants them to get partners, it provides little operational support for ongoing funding, and there are also very short windows. One ends up doing a lot of research, which is fine, and a lot of partner building, which is fine, but the problem is that the programs complete themselves far too quickly and the renewal process is very difficult.
     So even when we have those high degrees of success ratios and greater accountability than many private sector organizations as well as government sector organizations, because there is such a limited pool of resources available, it is right down to the penny and it is very bureaucratic to renew those successful programs.

  (1145)  

    Therefore, my colleagues in the New Democratic Party and I are interested in seeing how this is going to evolve in terms of the actual policies related to the new organization. If the social development Canada act leads to a larger bureaucratic structure that has no connection to and is not going to address the big issues that not for profits are facing or the sustainability of funding for the programs Social Development Canada wants to roll out, then we really will not have done much anyway. That is really important, because we have had very successful programs.
    For example, on the homelessness issue in our community we put together a number of initiatives with partners and groups. It was not enough and it still is not enough to deal with the problems we have in my constituency in Windsor and Essex County. Our local groups have done the research and have been very supportive, but due to the way the program has been rolled out we actually had funding delayed, so that announcements and things came later and passed into the area where people were vulnerable in the wintertime.
    Those were inappropriate measures when we first rolled out that program. That type of stuff has to stop. There has to be greater sustainability and there have to be more resources available.
    I think it is important to look at this context of our social policy and framework as an opportunity to seize the improvement of Canadians' lives. Once again, that has to be done with the prioritization of this department. If it is not provided with the appropriate resources or if it is just going to get the leftovers at the end of the day, then it is not going to be able to fulfill its mandate.
    We are looking at very significant opportunities to help different individuals move forward. For example, I know that the environment and some of our Kyoto commitments today provide wonderful opportunities for retraining and also for new employment for some of these different groups and organizations that traditionally have had difficulty in finding employment. That is the type of ingenuity we are going to need.
    I would like to point out that it is very important for us to look at some of the categories that the department is going to work on. This is very significant in terms of where the Canadian economy is going and also our demographics.
    One of the issues is seniors. This country has yet to address seniors' issues. This is very significant in terms of what is happening to our seniors right now. They have fixed disposable incomes. In Ontario, for example, many municipalities have had to raise property taxes because of downloading by the provincial and federal governments. That really squeezes people on fixed incomes. If their property values have risen as well during that time their taxation would have increased. They really get pinched. As well, oil and home heating costs have gone up, as have insurance costs.
     All of those things have really pressed on seniors' disposable incomes, let alone drug costs and health care. We now have a huge population that is moving into the category of vulnerable seniors. The proposed act is also going to have involvement with caregivers. There is another opportunity to alleviate some of the burden on our system if we actually are going to be proactive on it.
    However, once again I have seen very little from the government in regard to dealing with those issues and, more important, in regard to tying together all the things necessary to ensure that the disposable income is there for seniors. It is going to be very important to ensure that we have a full-fledged plan. I am not yet convinced that there is the realization of our aging population.
    One of the things I am getting support on is my private member's bill to eliminate the notice of compliance, the automatic injunction, for the drug companies. Without any type of evidence whatsoever, without providing anything, the drug companies can get this. After 20 years, they are supposed to have the generic for a drug available for the market, but after 20 years and without any proof they can get an automatic stay for 24 months at a minimum. That prevents another drug from getting into the market, it raises the price of pharmaceuticals and seniors get pinched again.
    Are these issues going to be discussed? Is there going to be the mandate for the government to deal with the complications on a broader range of issues? Will the government actually roll out the programs that are going to be sustainable and comprehensive enough to deal with the issues? I have some reservations about that.
    At the beginning of my speech, I mentioned the issue of disabilities and my past personal experience with that. It will be interesting to see if this legislation is going to lead to a mandate to create a very upfront and accountable persons with disabilities act that will be effective for Canadians, one that is going to bring us up to standard with the United States and provide for greater rights and access. It also relates to other seniors' issues because mobility and the way we actually go about inclusion in our society are related to an aging population. As people age, they acquire different types of disabilities.

  (1150)  

    Last, I do want to touch briefly on child care. We New Democrats feel that this is very much a part of our social economy. The member for Sault Ste. Marie has been working on the file very diligently for us. He got out in the summertime to start his campaign across Canada. He started to consult with people.
    We believe this is a great opportunity to have the demonstration of an effective program for Canada, a program that will provide some improvements for women and children in our country especially and that also will be very much an important part of our industrial strategy. This has been played out by other OECD nations that have taken advantage of providing better day care to move their economies forward.
    I will conclude by saying that I do have some reservations on how the government is going to prioritize the department. That is a big thing, which I am going to be watching. Aside from that, it does leave us with the opportunity to be able to discuss very serious issues that need to be changed for our social economy.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question of my hon. colleague opposite, the member for Windsor West.
    Does he not believe, as the Bloc believes, that this bill to establish the Department of Social Development directly interferes in provincial jurisdictions?
    I want him to make a few comments about this because we believe this is strictly a provincial jurisdiction.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we believe it is appropriate for the government to be looking at this as a national strategy, but in my context I was validating some of the concerns that the member is expressing in terms of provincial jurisdiction. That is why I specifically focused a lot of time on some of the regional elements I have experienced. I believe the same thing would apply for Quebec. I think that is very important, because to be successful this agency will need to have the ability to communicate effectively and have empowerment for the local communities.
    I think it is a very valid concern that is being expressed, because if it is detached or if it is done as a broad brush above Canada with programs and services that are very much silos, then it will be dysfunctional. It will not address the concerns being expressed by the Bloc or by me and I think many other Canadians. As for our social problems, although we may have many things in common, sometimes the solutions to those problems are very diverse and very localized.
    I think this also provides us with an opportunity to deal with some of the worst issues of provincial jurisdiction, which are actually very harmful. I point out Ontario's clawing back of the national child care benefit from persons who were receiving social assistance. That was deplorable. It is an example of how sometimes there has to be an oversight of the federal jurisdiction on things that are supposed to be happening for those most impoverished.
    That was one of the worst things the provincial government in Ontario was a part of, in both my former municipal and now my federal experience. This bill may give us an opportunity to tackle that issue. If the government is not going to do it from the forefront on the cabinet side, perhaps through the committee and the oversight through this department there might be political pressure from those people who want to see changes for clawbacks that are unacceptable. They might be able to get changes.
    The question is well put in terms of concerns. I think there is a role for a national government here, but if the structure is such that it does not involve regions and also if it does not have the required flexibility, then the new changes will be for naught.

  (1155)  

    Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
    And more than five members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:
    The Deputy Speaker: The chief government whip has asked that the recorded division on the motion be deferred until 3:00 p.m. today.

[Translation]

Remote Sensing Space Systems Act

Hon. Joseph Volpe (for the Minister of Foreign Affairs)  
     moved that Bill C-25, an act governing the operation of remote sensing space systems, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise for the first time to speak at second reading of the bill on remote sensing space systems.

[English]

    On Tuesday, November 23 the Government of Canada introduced legislation to regulate the operation of remote sensing space systems, satellites that can take detailed pictures of the earth and objects upon its surface.
    Today I will explain why the proposed remote sensing space systems act is so important to Canada, to Canadians and to our friends abroad, both in terms of our own security and our international partnerships.
    Members know that Canada became a world leader in remote sensing of the earth from outer space when it launched in 1995 its first remote sensing satellite system, the government operated RADARSAT-1.
    A myriad of civilian applications for remote sensing satellites have since been developed in Canada. These include, for example, those for managing natural resources, monitoring the environment, and providing coastal surveillance and ice mapping services. Today Canadians service about 15% of the world's satellite-derived remote sensing market. Remote sensing contributes a meaningful portion of the annual $2 billion space industry.
    In its 10th year of operation, RADARSAT-1 is still the most capable civilian synthetic aperture radar satellite in orbit. When RADARSAT-2, an even more capable Canadian system is launched by private owners and operators, it will move us that much further ahead of the competition. This proposed legislation seeks to maintain that Canadian leadership position.
    At the beginning of the space age, when every launch of a satellite could result either in its noble ascent into space or its ignoble return to earth, only governments could afford such risky and costly adventures and activities. Remote sensing or imaging satellites were first developed and built in government laboratories. Leading edge development was done, for the most part, in secrecy.
    Today however the exploration of space is rapidly becoming the exploitation of space. Wonderful achievements lie within the reach of private citizens, individual and corporate. These innovators can tap into vast stockpiles of commercially available technology based on expenditure of private financial capital. As a result, high performance remote sensing satellite data is widely available today, even more precise and useful than the data produced by the military reconnaissance satellites that helped to maintain the peace during the Cold War.
    The security environment today has likewise changed in many different ways. Once, for example, the two rival superpowers observed each other using satellites in outer space. Today Canadians face new asymmetric threats from enemies that might seek to use the commercial availability of satellite imagery. Our security system for satellites must evolve in response to such developments.
    Furthermore, Canada is a nation that relies on international cooperation to fill the space ambitions of its government and its private citizens. To help the Canadian private sector continue to pursue these important ambitions, a transparent regulatory regime is essential to securing access to sensitive technology and launch services. Gaining access to such technology and services often requires government guarantees to the supplier nation. The remote sensing space systems act will allow the government to provide these security guarantees to the benefit of Canadian business engage in activities of strategic value to our nation.
    Let me introduce the contents of the bill for all members present. The remote sensing space systems act establishes a regulatory regime for remote sensing satellites, the facilities used to operate them, and the data and products produced by them. The regime licenses the operator of a remote sensing satellite system in Canada as well as Canadian operators who operate such systems outside of Canada.
    The act, plus the regulations and licences issued pursuant to it, will set out conditions permitting the fullest beneficial uses of such satellites and the data they produce. At the same time, they will ensure that such operations are not injurious to our national security, harmful to the defence of Canada, or prejudicial to the safety of Canadian forces. We will also want to ensure that they will not be deleterious to Canada's conduct of international relations or at least inconsistent with Canada's international obligations.
    The act requires licensees to make adequate provision for the protection of the environment and public safety through a disposal plan for the satellite at the end of its operational life. This plan is particularly important in protecting persons and property when satellites leave the earth's orbit. This approach will also help us to sustain our access to increasingly crowded orbits by reducing the chance of creating potentially dangerous space debris.
    The operation of remote sensing space systems is inherently international in scope. Foreign partners may seek to participate in the operation of a Canadian licensed system. The proposed act makes provision for them to do so, but only in ways that promote and protect, and are consistent with Canada's security, defence and foreign policy interests. This is carried out by setting conditions for a licensee in the conduct of certain sensitive activities.
    This act is consequently good for Canadian jobs at home, for trade in services abroad, and for building profitable relationships with our international partners overseas. It is important to note that the act does not reach down to touch customers of the licensee. This liberates those who legally receive data or products to enhance such products for their own use or to produce value-added products for subsequent re-sale.

  (1200)  

     This was done by design and with purpose. The myriad end-users of such data do not wish to be burdened and do not need to be burdened by unnecessary regulation.
    Canada's security, defence and foreign policy interests do not require us to so burden them, as long as the flow of data and products are controlled by the licensee. This way we can permit the fullest access to the high value data and products produced by our cutting edge satellites. That is good for small and medium enterprises in Canada, and for market penetration abroad.
    The bill also establishes means to enforce the act effectively and efficiently. Powers are established for inspectors to perform audits to ensure that satellite operations and data protection plans approved under the licence are being carried out. Compliance provisions are predicated largely on a system of administrative monetary penalties prescribed by regulation. To make the act more user-friendly, however, the bill also contains a new feature, namely, compliance agreements.
    I will explain this. Should a licensee be given notice of a violation by an enforcement officer, it has the option to enter into an agreement to bring operations into compliance, in lieu of paying the penalty and without admitting a violation. In this way, the proposed act would encourage a licensee to continuously improve the security of its operations with investments rather than pay fines for violations.
    Rarely does a regulatory regime accord so well with the business models and practices of the industry being regulated. The government is committed to smart regulation and the bill is a leading example of that very precise commitment.
    The act would also grant certain special powers to certain ministers under emergency circumstances. The first such power covers the interruption of normal service. The second involves invoking priority access overriding normal service.
    The government can foresee the need to interrupt or restrict a provision of data or products under urgent conditions. It is, for example, prudent not to permit adversaries to use our own systems against the men, women, equipment and facilities of our Canadian Forces acting in our defence. Consequently, the Minister of National Defence is granted the ability under the proposed act to order the interruption of services for the defence of Canada or to protect Canadian Forces at home or abroad.
    Similarly, the foreign affairs minister is granted powers under the act to interrupt normal service when a continuation of operation by a licensed system would be injurious to Canada's conduct of international relations. For example, should the defence provisions of the NATO charter be invoked, the Minister of Foreign Affairs would have the necessary authority to assist in the protection of NATO forces. The use of these special powers is expected to be a rare event and can only be exercised by ministers of foreign affairs and national defence.
    The United States of America has had similar powers available to it since 1992 under its landsat remote sensing act, but has never once invoked them. Prudence dictates, however, that such powers be available to the Government of Canada in a time of need.
    The ordering of priority access service to satellite data is the reverse side of an order interrupting normal service. This power enables certain ministers or their deputies to “jump the order queue” at times when it is necessary to support a government response to emergencies or other urgent circumstances. The Ministers of National Defence, Foreign Affairs and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness are granted these special powers under the proposed act.
    Of particular value is the ability of priority access to assist in emergency preparedness or critical infrastructure protection. It is important to stress that the government would use regular commercial services to fulfill its needs where possible, even during crises, but it is wise to keep powers in reserve, to guarantee the availability of imagery when emergency so demands.
    With that introduction, I call on all my colleagues to pass the legislation and thereby authorize the implementation of these prudent and balanced measures. When high performance remote sensing satellites can produce data of military significance, the need for a reasonable degree of regulation to protect our own interests here in Canada is patently clear.
    We have a responsibility to ensure that these capabilities do not harm our own security, defence or foreign policy interests, and those shared with our allies.

  (1205)  

    At the same time, however, I want to ensure that members understand the purpose of the bill. It is to modernize. We hope that our thinking on this bill will continue to be productive and will not interfere with the interests of the private sector while understanding the realities of the world in which we live.

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the hon. member's remarks about this bill.
    We are not denying the importance of legislating in this area. In fact, with increasing aerospace traffic, we believe now is the time to act. Furthermore, the government needs to put a bit of order in all of this and, more importantly, provide itself with legislative support in this area.
    Nevertheless, I do not see anything in this bill on provincial jurisdictions. Let me explain.
    The bill contains a number of worthwhile items, such as the management of natural resources, farm products, and environmental disasters. These are three fields under provincial jurisdiction. We know that provinces and governments can go through private companies with commercial satellite systems to obtain data.
    However, I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to explain how this bill respects provincial jurisdiction. For example, could the Government of Quebec or the Government of Ontario access this data if satellite monitoring took place on their territory, and, more importantly, within areas, as I have just pointed out, clearly under provincial jurisdiction?
    Are there provisions in the bill that deal with this matter? If not, is the minister open to ensuring, during consideration of the bill, that provinces have access to this data, if this data is collected on their territory and within areas of provincial jurisdiction?
    Mr. Speaker, the proposed regulations would only affect a national, or federal, area of jurisdiction. As for satellites, their operation will be regulated because, as I explained earlier, the government transferred their ownership to the private sector.
    I thank the hon. member for his question.
    Six years ago, the federal government owned those satellites. In just a matter of a few years, they were transferred to the private sector. Because of this transfer, we have to make changes and ensure that the spinoffs of RADARSAT-2 are not used contrary to public or defence interest, as I have already explained.

[English]

    As it relates to provincial jurisdiction, telecommunications is indeed a federal responsibility. If, however, the owners of the satellite are entered into civil arrangements through business, then of course this does fall into provincial jurisdiction. That is not something that this bill treats, nor should it treat. Federal jurisdiction over the skies is well understood and well based in constitutional law as being a matter which is a federal jurisdiction exclusively.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-25 entitled an Act governing the operation of remote sensing spacesystems.
    Space is a very popular issue these days. It is being raised today thanks to this bill governing the operation of remote sensing space systems that are, in fact, commercially owned.
    First, I would inform the House that the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of a bill dealing with this issue. It is a very complex issue, with various levels of difficulty. I recognize that the government and the various departments involved tried to do their homework here, but from our point of view, in the opposition, this bills raises some concerns. In fact, this is the first bill of its kind since I was elected to this House. I do not believe we have had any other bill before the House regulating the operation of devices, equipment and satellites in space. I think we are considering such a bill for the first time in Canada because a commercially owned satellite will be launched by the end of 2005 or in early 2006.
    We know that, in the United States, there have been debates in the Congress and in the Senate for a number of years. However, I was interested in reading a fact that I think may also be of interest to viewers or readers. Until 1983, it was practically impossible for the Americans, who already wanted to ensure their pre-eminence in space, to think that satellites, including remote sensing satellites, could be privately owned. Knowledge and use of space were so linked to the national role of defence or pre-eminence that it was the American government that had to capture it or settle there.
    However, at the time when other countries had sent commercial satellites into space, and the United States had also started to try to reduce the deficit, specifically under Bill Clinton, they began to let high resolution commercial satellites be developed. Until then, there were commercial satellites, but not high resolution ones. We find ourselves with RADARSAT-2, a high resolution commercial satellite.
    We appreciate the fact that the Canadian government was also reluctant. The drafting of the bill clearly indicates to us that the government feels responsible, in some way, for the use of these satellites that might still play a “military or defence” role. I read, for example, that during the Gulf war, French satellites that were selling images to both sides suddenly withdrew these images, because they were playing a role in the war. There is nothing to prevent us from thinking that this could happen again.

  (1215)  

    This explains the difficult balance found in the bill between the national prerogatives of security and defence and commercial freedom, despite the government's desire to plan for the basics.
    This is one of the reasons why I told you that we supported the adoption of an act. However, we are waiting with great interest to see what the committee has done because that will help us better understand how these responsibilities can work on the national, security and foreign affairs levels, and at the same time control a commercial use. And I have still not talked about the provinces.
    I will give you an example of the powers the government wants to have. Clause 10(1) says:
    The Minister may on the Minister’s own initiative, if the Minister is satisfied that the amendment is desirable, having regard to national security, the defence of Canada, the safety of Canadian Forces, Canada’s conduct of international relations, Canada’s international obligations and any prescribed factors, amend a licence with respect to any condition--
    A little further, clause 13(1) says that the minister may, on the minister's own initiative, and I quote:
    The Minister may make an order requiring a person whose licence is suspended or cancelled or has expired to take any measures related to the operation of the remote sensing space system that the Minister considers advisable--
    Clause 14(1) says:
    The Minister may make an order requiring a licensee to interrupt or restrict, for the period specified in the order, any operation, including the provision of any service--
    However, at the end of the day, it does not really make itself accountable for the costs this could generate. So, I suppose that companies will want to take action and say, “Yes, but if we are forced to interrupt our operations and not proceed with orders, we will have to be compensated accordingly.”
    The fact is that I have sought to show that there will be a need to check this whole aspect of using satellites that are allowed to be operated as commercial satellites for national purposes of security and defence.
    The second aspect one wonders about has to do with the priority access that the government gives itself. Allow me to read an excerpt to explain what I mean.
    By the way, I know that the parliamentary secretary has certainly read and studied the bill. However, he knows that its reading will not be easy, nor its interpretation. So, let me give you a little idea.
    Subclause 8(4) of the bill reads as follows:
    Every licence is subject to the conditions referred to in subsections (5) to (7), any prescribed conditions and the following conditions:
    I now move on to paragraph c). It is worth reading because it is important, including for provinces:
    
    c) that raw data and remote sensing products from the system about the territory of any country—but not including data or products that have been enhanced or to which some value has been added—be made available to the government of that country within a reasonable time, on reasonable terms and for so long as the data or products have not been disposed of, but subject to any licence conditions under subsection (6) or (7) applicable to their communication or provision;

  (1220)  

    I would like to say to the hon. parliamentary secretary that we can understand that all is not perfectly clear. But what is clear is that any raw data and remote sensing products collected by the owners of satellite systems—we can think of RADARSAT-2—that are images taken over the territory of another country will have to be made available to the government of that country for so long as they have not been disposed of.
    Let me put the question to the hon. parliamentary secretary. If this is how it is for territory subject to remote sensing, why would it not be the same for the territory of provinces? I think that this is an important question, and we say yes. Very good reasons will have to be put forward to convince us otherwise.
    Let me continue to show how complex this bill is. The government's own press release of November 23 states:
    Canadian remote sensing satellites provide important information on the distribution of groundwater, minerals and oil and gas deposits, oceanography, cartography, geology, hydrology, agriculture, forestry and disaster response and mitigation.
    The areas listed are, in large part, areas of provincial jurisdiction. There are even some governed by provincial legislation. So, the satellites could provide information for sale to private buyers, who could use this information to defend themselves against a provincial government that does not have the same data. Or else, the province would have to buy everything, which makes no sense. There is a very practical problem here.
    I repeat that this is what the release says. We know that the main areas where these images and data will be collected are areas of provincial jurisdiction. Now, moving from security purposes to commercial purposes.
    The release reads further:
    Natural resource industries currently make use of satellite images to monitor crops and forest growth and to gain information about groundwater, minerals and oil and gas deposits.
    I was thinking of Hydro-Québec's retention basins, that they have always wanted to keep secret. From what I understand, these high-definition images could expose the secret, without Hydro-Québec even knowing.

  (1225)  

    You will understand that we are at the questioning stage, but we need to take time on it. Fortunately we know that RADARSAT will be not launched before the end of 2005. However, since this will be the first time there will be regulations governing such a situation, we will need to really sit down and decide what to do.
    There is one dimension that is not affected in the least, though it seems to me that it could be. The bill has been created on the occasion of the launching of RADARSAT-2, yet I understand that this is not the only thing it will cover. It will certainly be of use to other private entrepreneurs who would like to get into this field.
    Even if this is remote sensing equipment, coupling infrared with this improved definition could provide them with images that would start to involve personal information, and there is nothing on this in the bill. An answer to that question will certainly be needed.
    While we are dealing with space, we also need to look at the international aspect of these commercial remote sensing satellites. My clever researcher has found a text for me on the Foreign Affairs site, one that is most interesting, although it is indicated that the views are those of the author alone. This is a paper on the legal aspects of satellites and remote sensing.
    The author portrays the situation by putting countries in three groups. The first group is made of only one country, the United States, which is way ahead of everybody else and is expected to have 1,000 commercial satellites in space within 10 years. Therefore, space defence will become even more important to them.
    The second group is made up of countries like France, some member states of the European Union, India and China that have evolved technologically and might collectively, if not individually, use all their powers in the areas of space and remote sensing.
    And then there are the so-called rogue states that are interested in upsetting the order that we want to institute there. Based on this, the author, Mr. Salin, comes up with the following proposal:
    For now, it is interesting to note that a club of about ten countries control high resolution remote sensing. They include the United States, Russia, France, Canada, Japan, China, Israel and India.
    I remind the House that the United States is in the first group. He continues:
    It is still possible to try to get them to reach an agreement governing the further development of this market in everyone's interest.
    He suggests:
    Canada could play a leadership role and take advantage of its friendly relations with all of these countries.
    He adds:
    We could have an agreement, like the one banning anti-personnel landmines, that would govern the commercialization of high resolution images so that it follows some rules...
    I see that my time is up and, since we are no longer the official opposition, I will yield the floor to my hon. colleague.

  (1230)  

    I think I have explained why we are in favour of some kind of legislation, but we will have a lot of questions to ask in committee. Lastly, we will wait until third reading to take a general position on this bill.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member, who also is Bloc critic for foreign affairs. She is quite able and she has obviously raised several questions to advance this matter before the committee. Her remarks are laudable. I must stress, yet again, that we will respond in adequate fashion to the member's concerns.
    I would like to say and stress something regarding our remarks in relation to the provision of information to foreign countries. It is simply because we have a lot of ties with other countries. We have signed agreements with them under which we have an obligation to share information.
    As to provincial jurisdictions, the other member of the Bloc already asked me that question a while ago. I stressed to him that when it concerns the provinces—because it has to do with commercialization when it is a question of the private sector—they still have an ability to find and get the answers that they want. However, we have no responsibilities when it comes to other countries.

[English]

    Let me be perfectly clear on this. Canada has a number of treaty obligations with other nations as a satellite may pass over and inadvertently, for whatever reason, take pictures of another nation. We will of course share that with another nation.
    While the hon. member will have some very valid questions to ask at the committee concerning the prospect of pictures being taken of something that falls within provincial jurisdiction, it could even fall within municipal jurisdiction depending on the circumstances.
    I think we have done this already with respect to RADARSAT-1. There is already usage. There is custom. There is convention. This bill is really to deal with macro issues, international issues and defence issues, particularly in light of the fact that we have privatized the sector. I take the hon. member's point that these are important questions which we will have to debate and work with each other on at committee.

[Translation]

    I am obviously awaiting the answer and I will pass it on to the Bloc member. There is also the matter of privacy. It is understood that this does not affect the question of the privacy of people in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to say to the parliamentary secretary that of course Canada has agreements with other countries, and from these agreements certain obligations arise. Still, it seems to me that the provinces, which are the parts of this country, can expect Canada to recognize that it also has obligations with respect to the provincial administrations.
    I am not satisfied to hear that with RADARSAT-1 there were certain conventions and habits. From now on, it will not be the government that manages and operates it, and these issues must be clarified in the interest of the provinces. It must not be forgotten that RADARSAT-2, as I understand it, is technologically more advanced than RADARSAT-1.
    Therefore, the data could be even more strategic for the provinces because then we are getting into the commercial aspect.

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, we will certainly have an opportunity to discuss the subject of commercialization.

[English]

    Commercialization of this product will allow us an opportunity to work with the provinces cooperatively.
    Satellite technology, as we all know, works above the earth. It works in terms of being able to move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It would be ultra vires, to say the least, not to recognize it is profound, distinct, federal, national, but that is not to say that we will not work with the provinces.
    Another thing I want to point out for the hon. member is with regard to her concern about the private use of data produced. She referred to this earlier. I want her to know that it will not regulate per se the private use of data. The legislation licenses the operator of the remote sensing satellite to protect the security and of course our foreign policy and defence issues that I raised a little earlier. It will not, however, apply to how end users make use of satellite data and images and create value added products.
    Therefore, it really does not fall into the domain of privacy or to a great extent into the area that she is concerned about, provincial jurisdiction. We could probably get a better clarification at committee. I look forward to that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, nothing in this bill has anything to do with what the parliamentary secretary just said. We will certainly have a lot of work to do in committee to show that.
    This is, in fact, the first time we have had to deal with a device that has military capacities and international capabilities. It will be managed by a private owner, but the government wants to regulate it so that it does not contravene its international commitments, and also so that it is not at odds with what would be good for national defence and security.
    Nevertheless, let us not forget that we have lavished praise on it as a commercial device. Therefore, we must see how the provinces will fare in these circumstances.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, in addressing the legislation, it is fascinating that we can even reflect on the level of technology at which we are looking, and everything else that can be comprehended and apprehended by the legislation. A few short years ago it would be beyond comprehension to think about legislation that would govern satellites in space taking pictures of our movements. We are seeing an amazing progression of technology unfolding right before our eyes.
    It is not the owner of satellite systems who first got the idea that altitude would give a vantage point to somebody who wanted to survey the land. I am sure every time prehistoric man and woman got to a hilltop or climbed a tree to look around, there were reasons for that. They wanted to literally get the lie of the land. Maybe they were looking for movement of various herds of animals that would provide their food supply. They might have been looking for water. They might have on top of to see if any of their enemies were around.
    The idea itself is as old as humankind, but the technology is so incredibly advanced. We have satellite systems that literally map out to the most minute detail of the earth's surface, of Canada's surface. We have satellite systems involved in hydrology. They can predict, with great ability, the various water masses that are both above and below ground. Satellites can spot a certain type of rust or blemish on a stock of wheat in a field. It is amazing that can be picked up from outer space. It is amazing that we can monitor the movements of people, machines and other things which could be either a threat or a benefit. Yet there are cautions that go with it, and quite rightly.
    As we understand, in June of 2000 an agreement was forged between Canada and the United States related to the operation of remote satellite systems. The agreement predicated and prefaced the legislation that we are looking at today. There are some legitimate concerns governments have in the interests of and on behalf of their citizens, related to satellites and remote sensing systems.
    First and foremost, the official opposition has always said and maintained that the primary role of government is the safety and security of its citizens. We think about defence, security and safety, and this should be a primary role in this legislation. We have made the case many times that we feel the government has fallen down in the area of providing necessary safety and security for its citizens, especially over the last few years as it relates to international terrorism.
    We are encouraged on the one hand that the government has stated this is a primary purpose of the legislation. I will not question its sincerity of that. We recognize there is a legitimate role. For the legitimate concerns of safety and national defence, the government needs to know who is looking at our people, who is scanning the nation, what they are coming up with and what kind of capabilities are up there. From that point of view, we support, in general, the direction of the legislation.
    There is very clear recognition that Canada is a world leader in the development of satellite sensing systems. We should be very proud of the technology it has developed commercially. We are out in front. That means, not just scientific advancement for issues related to Canada, but it means high-tech, long term employment opportunity for our citizens. It also brings to bear the necessity for proper education systems, especially post-secondary and post-graduate secondary, where these items can be taught and explored so the technology can continue to be develop.
    We do not want the legislation to in any way hinder Canada's foremost role internationally in developing the commercial side of this area. I specifically refer to the CRTC, an organization which in the view of many Canadians has gone far beyond its boundaries in whatever legitimate purpose it may have. Some have argued, and I would argue this from time to time, that this has had a negative effect on commercial development in the broadcasting arena in Canada. We do not want to see the government taking its legitimate concerns related to safety and security of national defence and broaden that, particularly because of this government's insatiable desire to control every aspect of the lives of its citizens. We do not want that creeping into its legitimate role in terms of national defence. We will be watching that closely. Yes, there is a legitimate role, but we do not want an outer space CRTC type of organization cropping up by virtue of this legislation, which is going to stifle some tremendous commercial developments that have taken place because of the private sector. That is a caution.

  (1245)  

    I also do not see in the legislation a clear explanation of whether this is retroactive or whether it will cover systems already in space. There are incumbent costs to any system or any infrastructure that is built according to a certain regulatory regime, at one point in time. When another more advanced and perhaps more invasive regulatory regime is imposed on those systems, there is a well known principle in law that is generally followed. If a building is constructed according to certain building guidelines, it is not subject to the full weight of new guidelines upon new construction. We would hope that general principle of retroactivity would apply to systems already out there. We do not see that specifically addressed, and we will watch for it in the legislation.
    One topic that is on the minds of Canadians, and we hear it discussed at length in this assembly, is the whole question of missile defence. Are we seeing a stealth approach to some hidden agenda item that the government may have related to missile defence? It was only a few months ago that government ministers were coming out strongly in favour of continental missile defence. The present Minister of National Defence, when he was minister of foreign affairs, boldly declared several months ago that the government was moving ahead with missile defence. He not only said moving ahead, but there was not going to be debate in Parliament on that. That acceptance of its own democratic deficit astounded many of us. As the official opposition we reacted to this and demanded that the government bring in a full discussion related to continental missile defence in the House so we would know all the facts.
    We want some reflection from government members and ultimately from the minister on the legislation. What bearing, if any, does the legislation have on missile defence? Will it be seen as a proactive legislative lever? Will it be seen as something that would be restrictive? We want the government to come clean on what appears to be a hidden agenda on its part on this issue.
    There is the matter of the individual privacy of citizens. I am somewhat uncomfortable with the parliamentary secretary's response to a good question put to him by my colleague. From his comments, it seems there will be a hands-off approach when it comes to the dissemination of information that is gathered about individual citizens. We want a little more comfort than that. As we move toward the committee stage, we want to know that dissemination of information will be something the bill not only contemplates, but takes a look in terms of the rights of citizens.
    I was talking recently with a representative from an allied source about intelligence services. The individual shared with me the incredible capability of these satellites. I am not talking sub-stratospheric; I am talking outer space. They can literally read a licence number on a car. If they can read a licence number, they can probably read a newspaper headline. Who knows what else they can do? There has to be some cautionary note in the legislation regarding the dissemination of information on private citizens. We will look to some further discussion on that, and hopefully some guidance and some insights from the government.
    Then there is the element of costs. Research I have done to this point suggests a cost of $1.3 million. Eight to nine government individuals across a number of departments will be involved in monitoring the legislation. I am sure other systems will be in place for some of the broader application. The only reason I am a bit nervous of that is in 2001 the then justice minister told us that a different type of registry, a gun registry, would not be just revenue neutral, but the fees would cover the cost of the whole program. The federal government itself admits that the cost of that program has run over $1 billion. I think it says $1,000,055,000. The Auditor General has suggested it is more than that because the compliance costs of that program were in the hundreds of millions. It is really upward in the area of $2 billion, and still running rampant.

  (1250)  

    When I hear the regulatory costs of the legislation will be $1.3 million, I cannot share the same exuberance for some kind of assessment. It seems like a low amount, quite honestly. I am delighted if that is all it is, but we will also ask the government to be very clear on that and what the possible escalators will be to those costs. This seems to be a fairly minimal amount to regulate something as sophisticated as satellite systems in space.
    Those are our observations. In general we support the principle of the legislation. I hope we will be able to continue to do this, and our ability to do that will depend on the degree to which these questions are answered.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. critic for the Conservative Party for his comments with respect to second reading of this bill. He has raised a number of important issues, which I am sure we will have an opportunity to debate in committee, and ask officials to provide a comfort level to all members of Parliament.
    The first issue which he raised of concern over was ballistic missile defence. I know there are some who have likened this initiative to BMD. This satellite is a remote sensing satellite. It is not a satellite that observes trajectories above the earth on whether missiles are moving in one direction or another. I want to dispel the myth that has somehow permeated certain individuals who believe it is. I want to give assurance to the House that it has nothing to do with that issue.
    On the subject of BMD, I too, like the hon. member, am looking forward to a very healthy debate on this issue. I would also offer, as I have done to his representative on the committee, an opportunity for a briefing, which the Conservative Party has not taken up at this point. We would certainly like to offer an opportunity to discuss this matter more fully.
    On the issue of privacy, there is no question of privacy. This legislation gives regulatory effect to those who should be licensed. The hon. member has perhaps spoken to this issue more frequently than any member in the House of Commons. On the subject of terrorism, we do not want clients who might use the information for heinous, distasteful, questionable and harmful ends. I think the hon. member would agree with that. It will not affect the privacy of Canadians, but we need to have a modicum of understanding of why the information is being used through commercial means.
    Finally, on the subject of costing, the hon. member can be assured that we will give a costing. We all want to ensure that it is consistent with the modalities that the private sector expects, while taking into consideration the public's interest.
    I realize there is not really a question there, but it may provide the member an opportunity to further comment on other areas that he thinks will be helpful to ensure that the bill passes.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the reasoned response from my colleague. First, I have a comment and then I will ask a question.
    We have availed ourselves of briefing opportunities with staff of the departments involved in this. They have been very good about giving us information for which we have asked. I wanted to clarify that. The member has offered some official briefing sessions also, and that is much appreciated. It appears as though the government is being forthright on this.
    Has the member heard any discussion about data that might be shared from these systems with our Norad involvement? We are talking about being able to survey an entire continent. Is he aware of any discussion that would have beneficial implications or applications related to our Norad responsibilities?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member what he feels about the sanction mechanisms that we find in clauses 23 to 45. These sanction mechanisms seems quite generous since the penalties are not very serious. For example, maximum fines are $250,000, while maximum imprisonment is 18 months.
    Moreover, these clauses provide for a defence of due diligence, which makes it possible to avoid a certain number of offences. Consequently, in terms of sanctions, this approach is based more on warnings than on penalization.
    In fact, currently, private companies and the government are very close partners. Since the government is more or less the main client of these private companies, is there not some danger in terms of the protection of both privacy and the entire bill?

  (1300)  

    Madam Speaker, indeed, this is a very important question. Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers to the questions and I myself have many questions to ask the government.
    It would be important in the future that we work together with other members to analyze our questions, in order to determine whether we share certain views as representatives of our constituents. It would be good to think about such a presentation.
    At this stage in the debate, I would prefer to determine the government's position so we can then discuss it in this House. It would be important that we understand the intent of this bill. Then we could discuss the good questions that were just raised in this regard.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to respond to the request of the hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla relating to Norad. I can tell the hon. member that there is no formal relationship between RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 with respect to Norad because that really deals with air defence issues, air missiles and so on, which is linked to the first point I made on BMD.
    However there could be, and have been in the past, relationships with NATO which deals with our partnership with other nations in terms of defence as well as clients who will work from time to time, as our satellite is used, for NATO initiatives. I just wanted to give the hon. member an assurance that it is not for Norad but in fact for NATO if anything.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased this afternoon to have an opportunity to participate in the second reading of Bill C-25, an act governing the operation of remote sensing space systems. The short title, which also seems like a mouthful, is the remote sensing space systems act.
    Although there may be some different perspectives in different corners of the House on exactly what we are dealing with here and what the potential is for good or for the opposite of good, there probably is agreement among all members that it is truly astounding, and it probably makes sense to acknowledge this, that we have such legislation to deal with such a matter.
    I am not the only one in the House who can say this but I am old enough to realize that if someone had tried to talk about this, even in my university days, I would not have known what on earth they were talking about. In fact, the very existence of the kinds of satellites that are now hurtling around in the atmosphere would just simply not have been understood or even imagined. There is something a bit daunting and a bit sobering about the responsibility that falls to 308 members of Parliament to now get their heads around legislation to regulate remote sensing space systems. I want to read directly from the summary of the bill. It states:
--to ensure that their operation is neither injurious to national security, to the defence of Canada, to the safety of Canadian Forces or to Canada’s conduct of international relations nor inconsistent with Canada’s international obligations.
    We are grappling with a very sobering responsibility.
    I want to say at the outset that it would be the intention of my colleagues, the New Democratic Party caucus, to vote for the bill to go to committee. However it is equally our intention to comb through every single dotted i and crossed t of the bill and utilize the best expertise available, the broadest input possible from Canadians, to ensure we fully understand in precisely what way the bill can and will be used to serve those, on the surface of it, very laudable aims and objectives.
    One of the reasons I think every member of the House needs to take this responsibility seriously is that we have seen over the last couple of years, in the name of “security”, truly terrifying things to which the government's legislation has now committed us and in which we are embroiled, to our national shame, and to the detriment of what anybody could remotely think of security in the real sense of the word.
    I do not actually know who said this but I think it expresses very strongly the apprehensions, concerns and fears that a great many Canadians have, with good reason these days, to remind ourselves that a nation that seeks security through abandoning human rights is bound to end up achieving neither.
    What we have watched happen over the last several years in the name of security clearly turned a deaf ear to the prophetic warning of Barbara Lee, the Afro-American congresswoman. In the aftermath of 9/11, when the American president divided the world into us and them and said, “You are either with Osama bin Laden or you are with George Bush”, as if there were no other choices to be made, the world instantly became a less safe place and highly polarized. The advice of Barbara Lee was that in our attempt to defeat terrorism we should not become the evil we deplore. This advice needs to be taken seriously by each and every one of us every single day and every waking moment.
    Having said that, being an optimist and always taking my responsibility seriously, we have to ensure the legislation is a positive instrument of public policy and not something draconian or even unintentionally something vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, distortion and so on. I think an important starting point is to understand absolutely, not only the legitimacy of the legislation but why we need such legislation. Sometimes we stand in our place and say that we feel that even the purpose of the legislation that is being pursued is not a legitimate one and we would not vote for it to even go to second reading.

  (1305)  

    Legislation is a source of pride and we should remind ourselves that Canada is a world leader in remote sensing satellite technology. We do not introduce legislation for the sole and express purpose of ensuring that Canada remains a world leader, but that it can be an important byproduct and in turn can spell future opportunities and challenges for Canada as a whole, for Canadian scientists to contribute toward peaceful and positive purposes for which this technology is earmarked or directed.
    However let us also be mindful that there is the potential for such legislation, primarily because of its vagueness, to go off the rails. Many Canadians, and I would include New Democrat members of Parliament among those Canadians, are deeply worried over the potential for this legislation becoming the cloak or the cover for something very different from its intended purposes.
    I say that not meaning to accuse any individual member of Parliament of having such intent because he or she votes for the legislation. We will vote for the legislation to go to committee but, because of what can happen in the carrying out of the government's agenda on a parallel track, we could find that the advancing of the missile defence agenda creeps in and overtakes the intended purpose of the legislation that is now before us.
    Let me go back to the face value of what this act is about. It would establish a licensing regime for remote sensing space systems and provide for restrictions of the distribution of data gathered by means of them. I want to add my voice to the concerns we have heard about the privacy of Canadians and the potential use of their data. The bill states that there will be appropriate restrictions and I think we need to hear more about that.
    I listened to the parliamentary secretary's response to a question that we raised concerning the application of the Privacy Act, but I am still worried. I hope he will take the opportunity to elaborate further on that . It sounds as if we may have some real homework to do in terms of plugging some serious holes to ensure this proposed act will not lead to the invasion of privacy without proper protections.
    I believe I understood the parliamentary secretary to say, and I will happily withdraw my words if I have misunderstood him, or the sense of the response was, that yes we are sensitive to privacy concerns, but that we had to remember that this was now a privatized operation, that it was in the commercial domain and that there was only so much we could do about it.
    The first obvious response to that is that if the privacy concerns of Canadians cannot be absolutely assured and protected, then what in the name of heavens would we be doing agreeing to a commercialized privately operated operation for RADARSAT without that being an absolute condition. Perhaps the parliamentary secretary could provide some further assurance on that issue.
    The summary of the bill goes on to state:
--the enactment gives special powers to the Government of Canada concerning priority access to remote sensing services and the interruption of such services.

  (1310)  

    The devil can be in the details.
    Whether or not the kinds of powers that the bill assigns to government and the responsibilities of government in handling RADARSAT-2 are what they need to be will provide the answer as to whether it can be assured that there are protections that the legislation will in fact be used for its intended purpose. We do not want it to be exploited and to find that this is actually dragging us through a back door into a possible future participation in ballistic missile defence.
    Canadians in greater and greater numbers are making it clear they want absolutely nothing to do with participation in Bush's missile defence initiative. It is becoming more clear that Canadians are saying no to Canadian participation in missile defence, but are saying yes to our federal government and Parliament providing leadership. Canadians want us to persuade Bush to say no to the militarization of space, the weaponization of space that is inherently built in to the missile defence trajectory that the U.S. government is now launched on.
    For anyone who doubts that, the biggest mouthpieces for the Bush administration's policy are the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Those organizations have been on the front lines, in much the same way that the Fraser Institute and the C.D. Howe Institute have deliberately driven the evolution of the reform-alliance, and now no longer progressive conservative party. The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute have had a major influence over foreign policy choices in general and the military agenda in particular of the Bush administration. They have been trumpeting missile defence.
    Yesterday a spokesperson for the Heritage Foundation appeared before the foreign affairs committee. His testimony will be in the committee Hansard and it is important that people familiarize themselves with it. He said that from the perspective of the Heritage Foundation the issue of weaponization of space and the concerns about the possible militarization of space are ill-founded because, according to him, both are already true. We already have the militarization of space. As we speak, the weaponization of space is beginning to happen. It is not some distant concern.
    The previous Liberal cabinet minister who was defeated, David Pratt, used to say, “I do not know why the NDP, why progressives in this country, why people who feel we should be investing in peace and not escalation of war, keep raising militarization of space as if it is a real concern”. For one thing, $200 billion has already been spent in missile defence evolution. Every year we can look at the U.S. budgets and we can see the allocation of resources, $10 billion this year alone, to further develop the weaponization of space.
    David Pratt would say that nothing is going to happen on that front until at least the year 2010. What kind of timeline is that? What kind of vision is that? What kind of horizon of planning for the future protection of the human race is that?
    I do not want to go too far afield in this but we need to face reality. The government either does not know where it is going on this matter, in which case it is high time it did, or it knows exactly where it wants to go on this and it is walking a tightrope that has a lot more to do with its own immediate electoral fortunes than it has to do with the kind of broad concern about what kind of leadership Canada is going to provide to the world to make sure we do not get on course to the weaponization of space.

  (1315)  

    Witness after witness appeared before the foreign affairs committee. It is hoped that there are Liberal members of Parliament who read the committee Hansard because hardly any of them are ever there to hear what is being said in regard to these matters. I find that deeply disturbing because I know there are a lot of Liberals who are very concerned at any possibility that they would be attached to a government that would plunge us into Bush's missile defence. However, there does not seem to be much of a presence in terms of expressing concern or of eliciting information and so on.
    I want to say one other thing before I deal with a few of the specific concerns about the bill. Those who think it is paranoid to be concerned that this legislation might morph into something that was never intended should think about the anti-terrorism measures that were brought in with Bill C-36. They should think about, in the name of security, the kind of security certificates that are being issued today that absolutely trash human rights, trample civil rights, suspend the rule of law, suspend assumption of innocence, suspend any meaningful legal process. People's lives are being destroyed and are being held in abeyance but they face no charges and have no way to get out of that legal nightmare. Let us be careful that we do not pass legislation that gives powers that we cannot actually deal with in the regulations.
    Coming back to the issue of ownership and use, let us be clear that this commercially owned satellite, RADARSAT-2, is billed by its manufacturer, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, as incorporating state of the art technology featuring the most advanced commercially available radar imagery in the world. I think that is true. We need to applaud that.
    We need to be sure that that incredible capability is used for constructive, peaceful purposes. This means we need to take up the challenge to become world leaders even more so in verification matters as they relate to the development of weapons and armaments. Let us make sure that we do not redirect that kind of technology into areas that go against Canadian values and against the promises given.
    Let us also be clear that Canadian taxpayers have funded approximately 75% of the development of this satellite. This is another reason that we have to have a major say around the assurances about how it is used and that the regulatory mechanism for doing it has to be used stringently.
    It is important to note that RADARSAT International has sold imagery from RADARSAT-1 to the U.S. military in the past. Some of this information may have been used by the United States in its war in Iraq, a war in which Canada did not want to participate and a war in which we have no assurance we were not in fact complicit by having sold information to the U.S. military that aided and abetted the war in Iraq.
    We need ironclad assurances about any possible future use of this legislation. It is very worrisome that the government saw the obvious link that one can make to the use of RADARSAT-2 as part of the U.S. ballistic missile defence system. The very first words out of departmental officials were to assure us that there is no connection between RADARSAT-2 and missile defence.

  (1320)  

    We need to make sure that those are not just empty assurances. We need to make sure that the provisions in the regulations and the actual content of the legislation is such that there is an ironclad guarantee that that is not what ends up happening to be the real use, if not even at this point the intended use, of RADARSAT-2 in the legislation that is now before us.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Halifax for staying on topic and speaking so readily to the issue of the bill at hand.
    I share her concerns with respect to privacy. For the record I want to make sure it is perfectly clear that the remote sensing satellites expected to be licensed under the proposed act are unlikely to possess sufficient performance capabilities to generate privacy concerns.
    Should any future technology provide law enforcement agencies with imagery capabilities against which a reasonable expectation of privacy would exist, prior judicial authorization should be required.
    I also want to assure the hon. member that our government is firmly committed to protecting the rights of persons afforded under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms against any unreasonable searches. It is important that the hon. member understand from a privacy perspective that we too of course would be vigilant. However, this does not have the technology to do what is perceived to be a concern as it relates to privacy.
    I assure the hon. member that I know the distinction given my intervention on the FLIR decision, which was to accord with the Supreme Court of Canada to reverse the position on the forward looking infrared camera. I know and understand the distinction between what was said at the Superior Court of Ontario which was wrong, which turned out to be upended by the Supreme Court of Canada nine to nothing. I will take that kind of affirmation for my efforts any day.
    I want to point out to the hon. member, as I said to other colleagues earlier, that the BMD satellites observe missiles in flight or on trajectories above the earth. Remote sensing satellites do not.
    We can have the debate on BMD any time. The hon. member will know that I had a very thriving debate with her leader on Sunday. When given the facts, Canadians will arrive at the need to balance our sovereignty needs with the issues of security on BMD. They will make that decision through parliamentarians.
    We will not be moved by those who believe that somehow this is the escalation of the arms race. Canada believes very strongly in the notion of prevention and protection as well. If missiles are going to fly above our territory, we want to know what is going on. We want to be at the table. We want to ensure that those missiles and the debris, whether it be chemical or warheads, does not fall on Canadians.
    Every Canadian knows that North Korea attempted to do this. The mission failed. It wound up halfway over the Pacific Ocean. These are hard facts. Several nations, such as Iran, have refused to become part of the non-proliferation treaty. We saw what happened in New York in 2001. We know that it has cost Canadians $10 million to protect our security at the borders from that kind of attack.
    I look forward to the hon. member's participation on this very important issue at committee. We will have an opportunity, as we are now, to deal with issues along the lines of proliferation and arms treaties and arms control. The foreign affairs committee is looking into that. I hope the points that we have made about privacy are ones which will meet with the hon. member's satisfaction.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, I think it is fair enough in debate to take a bit of a jab about whether I stayed entirely on topic in my comments about the bill, but let me jab back to say that I am not taking the parliamentary secretary's comments too seriously because I actually believe he knows that these comments are absolutely relevant to the debate we are having about this bill and that there is absolutely and unquestionably the potential for this.
     We do not need to have a suspicious mind or suffer from paranoia to be concerned about the possibility that the stated purpose of the bill, the capability we have to become, more and more, players with regard to satellite operations and then whatever else happens from there, is real. It is the question we face.
    I heard the parliamentary secretary. Now of course he has me worried, because I heard him do a bit of a rah-rah about how we really have to be concerned about what North Korea might do and we have to be very concerned about what we know Iran is already up to.
    It is very clear, with all due respect, that when members of the House invoke those kinds of issues, a lot of people brace themselves to hear what follows, because that is the Bush line on all of this, which is that we therefore need to be part of missile defence because, boy, that is the only way we can defend ourselves.
    Let me say this about yesterday afternoon just before the foreign affairs committee meeting. It is a shame that some members of the committee were not even there to hear the testimony, but I ask members to please go to the committee Hansard. Retired Ambassador Jonathan Dean, who has a distinguished record in the military and a distinguished record in diplomacy around non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and around peace negotiations, pleaded with us as Canadians concerned about doing the right thing.
    He pleaded with us to recognize that yes, there are real threats and concerns that North Korea poses and that Iran poses, but the wrong response to that, exactly the opposite response to what is needed, would be to sign on to missile defence, because not only is missile defence distracting and diverting enormous resources into building up this escalation of its own U.S. weaponry, but it is also distracting from the real things that need to be done.
    Really, it was one of the most helpful things in his testimony when he pointed out how shocking it is that people are neglecting to do what needs to be done to actually deal effectively and a lot more cheaply with the developments in North Korea and Iran. That is exactly the point. It is not because those are wrong-headed concerns. It is because the response is not a solution; they are the wrong solutions.
    Again let me say that when this legislation comes before committee it is going to be very important for us to look at every single word and what it means, and to look at every single provision in terms of whether the protections against potential abuse are what they need to be.
    I want to say further that since what this kind of debate leads to is either an argument for “yes, we need to be in the game”, which gets us straight onto that conveyor belt to missile defence and the weaponization of space, as Lloyd Axworthy, a former foreign affairs minister in this Liberal government, described it, or we take seriously what are the real, effective alternatives that need to be pursued. We need to do our homework on those things.
    One of the things that has been very encouraging in the testimony before the foreign affairs committee, and frankly by the witnesses who appeared at the parliamentary network against nuclear weapons as well, is that there are practical, concrete, specific things that we need to be doing. It should be a sobering reminder.
    The parliamentary secretary has taken the opportunity to say that these satellites are out there so let us not put our heads in the sand and let us talk about what kind of satellite we have and what kind of environment it is.
    Two things have been raised before the committee again and again. One is that there is already a problem with debris out there, which is threatening satellites.

  (1330)  

    Second, and I will finish with this, it should be sobering for us to realize that we are talking about 800 satellites, of which RADARSAT-2 would be one, and 100 of those 800 satellites are American satellites dedicated exclusively for military purposes.
     Let us be clear about the environment in which we now are talking about advancing RADARSAT-2 and let us ensure that the regulatory mechanisms around it are going to truly advance and protect not only Canadians' interests but the global citizens of the world, because that is who is affected by what goes on out there in space with satellites and whatever other horrible things may follow.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-25.
    However, before I begin my remarks, I simply have to address some of the completely fallacious, false and untrue comments made by the NDP member. She is completely wrong to suggest even for a moment to the Canadian public that Bill C-25 has anything to do with ballistic missile defence, the weaponization of space or star wars. Those are three completely distinct issues and completely distinct situations. For her information, and she should know this, BMD is not star wars. BMD is not the weaponization of space. This bill has nothing whatsoever to do with either of those things.
    I also have a question to ask the member. We have threats in this world and the milk of human kindness does not flow through the veins of some people. The people we are talking about are individuals who have the capability of launching ballistic missiles in this world. We wish it were not so, but that is the case, as my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has mentioned. We have a responsibility and a duty above all others to engage in the protection of the Canadian people. That is a responsibility we will not shirk.
    On this particular bill it is a pleasure for me to speak on behalf of the Minister of National Defence in regard to enacting this legislation that refers to remote sensing space systems in Canada. I am sure that my hon. colleagues would agree that we have been very successful in taking advantage of opportunities presented by space technologies. From Canadarm's role in the construction of the international space station to our astronauts' participation in several space shuttle missions, Canada is widely recognized as a leader in this area.
    An important part of our space activities, of course, has been observing the earth using remote sensing satellites, like RADARSAT-1, which we have operated for nearly a decade, and RADARSAT-2, which will be operational in late 2005 or 2006.
     Satellite images serve Canada in many ways. For example, this is an invaluable tool for emergency preparedness and disaster response. These satellites are used to facilitate the safe navigation of our coastal waters by ensuring that we have an accurate measurement of sea ice and the tracking of icebergs.
    The Department of National Defence and our Canadian Forces use this satellite imagery to protect our sovereignty and our security day in and day out.
    These satellites will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in understanding what is happening to our remote and coastal regions and consequently will be an active participant in securing our security and sovereignty.
    For example, DND and the armed forces are, in cooperation with other government departments, currently engaged in an initiative called Polar Epsilon. Under this initiative, Canada's RADARSAT-2 satellite and other sensors will provide all-weather day and night surveillance of Canada's Arctic and ocean approaches.
    The emphasis will be on generating information in remote areas where we really do not have any other capability of watching these areas. Increasingly, satellites are a critical part of our defence capabilities, and because effective surveillance of our territories and its approaches are of vital importance, it is important that we pass this bill forthwith. I am certain the defence planners are looking at the essential capabilities, particularly when it comes to our ongoing defence review, which should be coming in front of the committee in short order. Of course, with opportunity comes responsibility. The same capabilities that are becoming so useful to so many could also threaten our own security and defence interests.
    If I may, I would also like to take a few moments to speak of the importance of this bill to the ability of our Canadian Forces to respond in a factual and effective fashion to our security needs.
    The bill provides a means for our government to help ensure that those who might harm our interests cannot use images taken from our own satellites against us. I would remind my hon. colleagues that it is possible today for anyone with a credit card and Internet access to buy satellite images of striking clarity. I do not think I need to elaborate on what could happen if our adversaries got hold of critical information, particularly as it relates to our defence operations.

  (1335)  

[Translation]

    This is why the Government of Canada, following the example of our most trusted allies, took on the responsibility of issuing licences for exporting remote sensing satellites and regulating the distribution of satellite images.
    Of course, the government has no intention of interfering in the enforcement of these responsibilities, nor is it seeking to limit commercial gains from satellites.
    

[English]

    A number of government departments and agencies have worked diligently to respect the rights of Canadians and to strike a balance between Canada's defence, security and foreign policy interests and the maintenance of an important sector of Canada's industries. Let me give an example of how this would work in real terms.
    The Department of National Defence would support the Minister of Foreign Affairs in licensing remote sensing satellites by providing advice on the potential impact of the satellite images on our security. DND would also provide threat assessments as the Minister of Foreign Affairs reviews agreements between the operators of remote sensing satellites and those who operate receiving stations on the ground or who want to sell images they produce.
    Last, should it become clear that images from our satellites pose a threat to Canada, the Canadian Forces or our allies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the national defence department could temporarily prevent a satellite from taking pictures of a specific area at a particular resolution. This is called shutter control and it can be invoked, but only under specific conditions to prevent the disclosure of information that could harm our interests or those of our allies.
    I would stress that it is only the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs who can actually invoke this clause. I would also point out that the United States has this very same clause in its legislation and has never used it.
    A second objective of our bill is to help ensure that the government has access to satellite imagery in emergency situations. In such cases, the legislation would give government requests for satellite images priority over other requests. The Canadian Forces, for example, might need a quick assessment and view, and they would get this information.
    It is clear that the bill will help the government protect Canada's most fundamental interests, including sovereignty and security. It is clear that the government has done its homework in ensuring that the bill is a balanced one.
    I will end by reminding my colleagues that Canada is far from alone in working to ensure that satellites are not used for the wrong purposes. Our friends in the United States have had similar legislation in place for over a decade. In 2000 Canada and the U.S. agreed that both countries would establish controls on remote sensing satellites, facilitating cooperation in Canada's RADARSAT-2 program. Several other countries are coming to similar conclusions about the unfettered distribution of satellite imagery.
    I hope that this bill receives quick passage in the House and Parliament. To those who believe for a moment that this bill has anything to do with ballistic missile defence or with the so-called star wars program or the weaponization of space, it has nothing to do with either of those situations. I would emphasize for clarity that ballistic missile defence, the so-called star wars and the weaponization of space are entirely different situations.
    The government has made it very clear that Canada is firmly against the weaponization of space. It is something that the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have made abundantly clear time and time again. I want to assure the members of the public who are watching that this is a position we will not stray from.

  (1340)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased with the presentation by our colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence. At last we are getting a military angle on the bill we have before us. He raised a number of interesting points about which I might like to hear more from him.
    We have no objection to the fact that, from a military point of view, there could be surveillance of locations that are hard to monitor at the present time, and that this could be done by satellite. However, when he tells us that only the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Foreign Affairs can decide where the national interests of Canada lie, this is starting to put a restriction on who can decide what is important for Canada and what is not.
    I would also like to see a connection made with NORAD. One of their arguments as to why we should be in favour of the missile defence shield is that they have contacts with NORAD that they do not want to lose.
    Is he telling us that the information collected by the U.S. satellites now at NORAD is not being shared with Canada? Or, the opposite side of that coin, can he tell us whether the information that is going to be gathered militarily will be passed on to our American friends?
    I do not have the agreement with me, but according to my notes, on June 16, 2000 there was a reference to an agreement with the United States on the type of bill that ought to be presented to us now.
    So I would like to hear his explanation of the relationship between Canada, NORAD and the United States, and on the importance of these satellites in passing on that information in terms of the bill we have before us today. Has he received any information from NORAD in connection with the concerns he raised about remote regions?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, let me talk about the responsibility of the Minister of National Defence. The member somehow suggested that there was a problem with the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Foreign Affairs making decisions in the interests of the security of Canada when operations were taking place abroad. He also suggested that the divulgence of sensing information that might show sensitive security operations taking place should somehow be allowed in the general public.
    Both ministers have a responsibility to our troops that are abroad to ensure that their security is not compromised. If that information was allowed in the general public, then obviously our enemies could use that information against our own troops. Are we going to compromise that? Absolutely not. We make no apologies for ensuring that our troops are going to be safe and the responsibility of the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, indeed our government, is going to be just that.
    Both those ministers, who are privy to top secret information by virtue of their positions, are going to make decisions based on that information. They have a role and a responsibility to ensure that information that could somehow be used against our troops does not get out in the public and is not used against them.
    They have the responsibility and the duty, and the right, quite frankly, to turn off that information if that information can be taken and put into a public venue that can be used against our people, or our allies for that matter. We will not allow that to happen.
    With respect to NORAD, we have been with the United States in NORAD for a very long time. That relationship is a good one. It has worked to our mutual benefit. I want to emphasize to the member, and he knows this, that if a government has one responsibility above all others, it is the duty and the responsibility to protect its civilians. All other responsibilities fall below that.
     We are a part of NORAD because it is integral to our ability to protect our civilians, our country and our people. We will continue to be a part of that and we will continue to work with the United States in the defence of our continent, and in the defence of our mutual citizens.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, I will try not to be too distracted by the howls of protest and the gush of assurances that this has absolutely nothing to do with missile defence. It was pretty predictable that we would hear that from the member. In fact, I feel a bit unnerved by this kind of “thou dost protest too much”.
     Forgive us if we are not fully assured by those words. In our view, there is not enough in the legislation itself that makes that absolutely clear. We are going to be looking at it very closely from that point of view. The Liberal record of broken promises is so long that if we typed out those promises and held them end to end, the tickertape of unkept promises would probably be enough to stretch all the way from here right up to where RADARSAT-1 is now orbiting overhead, so pardon us for not being completely reassured.
    I want to specifically speak to the vagueness of the language in Bill C-25 in its current form. Under the application section of Bill C-25, the bill gives the minister permission to “modify” application of the act, that is, to exempt individuals and organizations from any provision of the act if:
(a) the exemption is neither injurious to national security, to the defence of Canada, to the safety of Canadian Forces or to Canada’s conduct of international relations nor inconsistent with Canada’s international obligations--
    The parliamentary secretary has been absolutely verbose in saying that this has nothing to do with missile defence, nor would it ever. However, in the act it says that the minister has permission to modify application of the act if he deems it. What if the Minister of National Defence deems it, in Canada's interests, necessary to sign on to ballistic missile defence and then we find that this act can be modified accordingly?
    We have as well a provision for another thing the minister has permission to modify. It is that adequate provision will be made for the protection of the environment, public health, and the safety of persons and property. In other words, the minister has the ability to modify the act to deal with those issues, but where is the definition that would give assurances as to how that is defined? How do we define whether those provisions are adequate? Are there clear regulations that can actually measure what that means? Do our international obligations under Kyoto apply to the provisions in Bill C-25? They are supposed to protect our environment, but could be changed arbitrarily if the minister deems this to be in our interests, and so on.
    The parliamentary secretary will know that, in developing RADARSAT-2, the Canadian Space Agency contributed almost $100,000 toward the $150,000 CSA contract awarded to Lockheed Martin Canada for the development of applications in preparation for RADARSAT-2, specifically the earth observation satellite.

  (1350)  

    He will know that it is Lockheed Martin Canada which will in fact evaluate the capabilities technology for target detection and recognition surveillance. I do not have to tell the minister that Lockheed Martin is very closely associated with the U.S. defence sector and has had huge contracts with the sector.
    If the minister decides to modify the provisions of the act, why would he not understand that there would be concerns, with Lockheed Martin so totally and so closely tied to the U.S. defence industry, about the possibility we would end up becoming a handmaiden to U.S. defence policy?
    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence has less than 30 seconds.
    In 30 seconds or less, Madam Speaker, the member as an NDP member may have a problem with the Liberal government, but it is the NDP that destroyed my province of British Columbia and Ontario, so she should not forget that.
    On the issue of this bill, I cannot believe that the member would be so naive as to have a problem with countries being prepared to look at the detection of threats in their airspace. Countries do that as a responsibility to their citizens, to protect them.
    I also cannot believe that she has a problem with the Minister of National Defence making decisions in the interests of our troops and our country based on the top security information that he has. If that is the case, it is a good thing that the NDP is in opposition, because heaven forbid if this country ever had it as the government.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I must admit I find that the world has changed a lot. I come from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which has a very strong military tradition. I have always seen young people at the military base who wanted to become soldiers, and students who were preparing to become officers in the Canadian army.
    I remember the 1970s, when I worked there as a student. The world was much different then. At the time, there were people who had to wear uniforms to face enemies who were also in uniforms. The situation has changed completely, because now our enemies do not wear uniforms. Nor do they announce themselves. We cannot negotiate with them and say, “In order to avoid a possible conflict, we should meet on a number of occasions. We should establish a diplomatic corps to try to solve the issue peacefully”. This is not how things are done today. Not only do our enemies not wear uniforms, they also hit us when we do not expect it. Just think of the World Trade Center, for example.
    First, as a young student, I never would have thought that some day I would become a member of Parliament, because I was rather uncomfortable with political authority. When we are younger, we are more aggressive and ready to challenge established authority. Much to my surprise, I am now a member of Parliament, but I still try to maintain some of that questioning attitude. The world is changing so quickly that it is important to look at events with a kind of candid or fresh look, because now we are making decision here.
    Also, I would certainly never have thought that some day, as members of Parliament and legislators, we would have to vote on legislation dealing with how to manage and regulate the use of satellites in space. So, the world has changed tremendously, and today we must assume our responsibilities.
    If you were to ask the Bloc Québécois right now if it is important to regulate traffic in space and the way private companies can exercise their economic power in space, the answer would be yes, of course. We certainly agree with that point. But we have reservations. I know I will not have time to finish my speech. We will also have to talk about caution, because we do not agree with giving our full blessing and saying, “If it is only commercial, it is fine.”
    The parliamentary secretary for national defence has given us signals that we really ought to be cautious. Why are we discussing this bill here, today, at a time when we are fully engaged in a debate on the missile defence shield, with respect to which satellites will have a significant role to play, and with respect to which we know that the Americans consider space the final frontier?
    If we look at trends in human history, we realize that we have dominated this planet more and more over time. Certainly those who ruled the seas once dominated the planet. Just a few countries from western Europe—England, France, Spain—were the nations that ruled the seas until the Americans took over after the second world war. In fact, the starting point for their dominance was the sea. There were also many different nations who have dominated on the land, going back into history and prehistory. There has also been domination of the air. Airplanes became a very important instrument of war in military tactics.
    Now we know that the Americans want to take the next step. It can be seen in all their documents. Whether studies come from the Pentagon or the American Secretary of State, they converge in one direction: American domination on land, on the sea and in the air must now be expanded into space. That is where we must be cautious.
    There is already legislation on land and sea. There is also legislation governing the economy—people cannot just do whatever they want. Governments are there to ensure that everything is regulated. I think that is where we need to focus our efforts.

  (1355)  

    Some very important points have already been raised on matters such as privacy protection, but what we in the Bloc Québécois are concerned about is the issue of jurisdiction.
    The bill refers to areas under provincial jurisdiction such as natural resource management, agricultural land management, and natural disasters. These are all matters of provincial jurisdiction and we find that point has been overlooked in the bill.
    In conclusion, I hope that all my colleagues will stay here after the vote today in order to hear the end of my speech.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[S. O. 31]

  (1400)  

[English]

Canadian Association of Broadcasters

    Madam Speaker, from November 28 to November 30, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters met in Ottawa for their 78th annual convention.
     Some 600 of the country's most senior private radio, television and specialty and pay services broadcasters attended the convention that had as its theme, “Private Broadcasting: Putting Canada First”. Topics of discussion ranged from cultural diversity issues to the future of local programming in Canada.
    During their two days of meetings, they participated in activities that centred on the role of broadcasters in promoting Canada's identity.
    I am pleased to congratulate the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and its members on a successful and well attended 78th annual meeting.

Fisheries

    Madam Speaker, if fish were trees, the government sat idly by while one-quarter of the Fraser River basin was clear cut this summer.
    In July and August approximately two million sockeye disappeared from the Fraser River between Mission and the upriver spawning grounds. This disaster will cost the British Columbia economy between $170 million and $500 million in 2008. Why? Because there will be no fishery in 2008, the next year in the cycle. There will be no commercial fishery, no sport fishery and no food, social and ceremonial fishery for natives. It will be 2020 before things return to normal.
    What has been the government's response? It has put a Liberal friend in charge of the normal regular post-season review, and hopes the issue will go away.
    What the industry and the people of British Columbia want is a judicial inquiry into the management of the fishery this past summer.

Animal Rights

    Madam Speaker, the debate over animal cruelty legislation has persisted since 1999. I agree that Bill C-22, introduced in the 3rd session of the 37th Parliament, effectively addressed the concerns of stakeholders on both sides of the debate.
    Bill C-22 was the culmination of extensive negotiations and concessions on all sides. It would be a mistake to complicate matters by introducing substantially different legislation after this consensus has already been achieved.
    The bill now has support from most major groups reflecting both animal welfare and animal industry perspectives. I hope to see the reintroduction of this legislation in the House at the earliest possible opportunity.

[Translation]

International Volunteer Day

    Madam Speaker, last Sunday was International Volunteer Day. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a young man in my riding who stands above the crowd for his involvement with disabled people who do not qualify for government programs or plans and who are not covered by personal or group insurance.
    Stéphane Braney, a resident of Lachute, is very familiar with this situation since he too has experienced it. On July 22, 1994, an accident in the family pool left Stéphane Braney a quadriplegic and changed his life forever.
    This has not stopped him from being actively involved. He created the Stéphane Braney Foundation, which raises funds to help meet the needs of many disabled people so that they can enjoy a certain quality of life.
    I rise to thank Stéphane Braney for his courage and his hard work in defending the cause of disabled people.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to acknowledge the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the United Nations General Assembly this session.
    For many years, Canadian voting practices on resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been lagging behind our balanced policy. This disconnect threatened our credibility as an honest broker in the region. It also placed our practice at odds with our policies.
    Today, I would like to acknowledge the important beginning the government made by changing our votes on three unhelpful anti-Israeli resolutions in New York. Conduciveness to peace has to be the yardstick for these resolutions, and merit has to determine our vote.
    Again, I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on their leadership to ensure that Canada's foreign policy toward the region is balanced both in word and in implementation.

Infrastructure

    Madam Speaker, the Okanagan and Nickel Valleys have been experiencing incredible growth in the last few years. Anybody who has visited those areas would understand why. We are talking about the jewel of B.C.'s interior, ample opportunities for people and every reason for understanding why people would want to go there to raise their families and realize their hopes and dreams.
    That growth has brought incredible infrastructure costs under virtually every mayor and council in the region. Logan Lake, Merritt, Westbank/Westside, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton, Naramata, Kaleden, Okanagan Falls and other areas in the constituency face huge infrastructure costs every day.
    It is time for the government to step up to the plate and follow through with its commitment to our request to see federal gas tax dollars returned to the people and to the areas where they are needed most. It is time to stop hoarding our money and get it back to the people.

  (1405)  

Dartmouth Choral Society

    Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday the Dartmouth Choral Society continued its 50th year celebrations with its annual Christmas concert. The society was founded 50 years ago. It is the longest running continuous community choir in Atlantic Canada, and certainly one of the best.
    Today the choir consists of 70 voices, individuals, married couples and two-generation family members, and is ably directed by Mr. Shawn Whynot with Pamela Burton as accompanist.
    The choral society is an important part of the community of Dartmouth. It receives revenues through membership fees, fundraising and paid performances. It uses profits to support local charities, such as Feed Others of Dartmouth.
    At this time of year music takes on an even more special meaning for us. We particularly appreciate great organizations like the Dartmouth Choral Society.

[Translation]

Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, some honours are very well deserved. A case in point is Prosper Dionne, the coordinator of the Drummondville subchapter of the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada, who has won the Laura Cole Volunteer of the Year Award for all of Canada.
    In its quarterly newsletter, the foundation wrote:
    You are truly an incredible role model and have helped to make thousands of children’s wishes come true!
    Over the past 15 years, in Drummondville, Prosper Dionne and his team have made the wishes of 57 children with life-threatening diseases come true. Of these 57 children, 14 have now passed away. Confronted with sadness on a daily basis, Mr. Dionne prefers to remember the good side of his work with the foundation and the joy it has brought him.
    Prosper, who dreams of bringing all his little angels together around the same table, let us join our voices to express our deepest gratitude to him who has such a talent for putting a bit of magic into the lives of sick children and their parents.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Mr. Speaker, this morning, the coalition of mayors of municipalities affected by the closure of RCMP detachments in Quebec appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
    First, I want to congratulate the mayors on the quality of the report they presented. They clearly demonstrated the threat posed by removing the RCMP from our regions, a concern that is shared by the Quebec Liberal caucus, as well as many of our colleagues in this House.
    The decision to close the RCMP regional detachments in Quebec needs to be reconsidered. We cannot allow our regions to be vulnerable to crime. Let me quote an except from the mayors' report:
    Criminals and organized crime have no regional, municipal or other boundaries and they do not need consultation studies or to testify before committees in order to act. They are wherever we are, seeking the weak link. Let us not allow them to take over our territory, because you can be sure they will take it, if they have not already done so.
    Let us act while there is still time.

[English]

Agriculture

    Mr. Speaker, farmers across Canada agree on one thing, and that is the CAIS program does not work and it needs a major overhaul.
    In my opinion, the most compelling evidence of the failure of CAIS is the fact that most farmers have not even bothered to sign up for the program yet, almost three years after it was first introduced. In Kawartha Lakes, where I come from, it has been reported that just 47 out of several hundred farmers have opened CAIS accounts.
     If CAIS is as great as the Liberals say, why have more farmers not signed up for it? There are only two possible answers to that question. Either farmers are making a mistake because they do not understand what is good for them, or this really is a lousy program that farmers rightly understand is of little value to them.
    In my opinion, I would say the farmers are right.
    If the Liberals really want to make CAIS work, they should not rest until a majority of farmers deem it worth their while to sign up for an overhauled CAIS program. It is time for the government to stop proclaiming the virtues of an obviously flawed program and get on with the job of fixing it.

[Translation]

Polyvalente A.M. Sormany

    Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the opportunity to meet two groups of students at the Polyvalente A.M. Sormany, in Edmunston, New Brunswick, to discuss with them my role as member of Parliament and the role of the government. I can attest to the interest these young people have in Canadian politics.
    The questions asked by these students were surprisingly relevant, and I am convinced that such meetings should take place more frequently to stimulate the interest of young Canadians in Canadian politics.
    I wish to thank teacher Simon Nadeau and his students for inviting me to their class. I hope that this experience proved as profitable for them as it was for me.

  (1410)  

[English]

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, this past weekend in Sault Ste. Marie I attended a remarkable meeting at St. Matthew's Anglican Church. It was part of a national women's peace building tour hosted by KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. This meeting shone a light on the devastating effects of conflict on human rights, with a particular emphasis on the impact war has on women.
    Elizabeth Majok from the New Sudan Council of Churches spoke of the harm done to the Sudanese people, first by Talisman and now by Chinese companies taking jobs from her fellow countrymen in the oil fields. She made it clear that the Canadian government must exercise greater leadership at the United Nations to influence the international community. Any peace agreement must affirm the principles of human rights, justice, self-determination, pluralism, as well as address the root causes of the different conflicts in Sudan.
    I have petitions, with 3,000 signatures, that make these points. I will be tabling them in the House next week.

Firearms Registry

     Mr. Speaker, the federal gun registry will not be fully operational until 2007, 12 years after it was approved by Parliament and with a price tag of over $1 billion, representing cost overruns of nearly 7,000%, ranking the gun registry as one of the biggest Liberal lies in a long list of others.
    A constituent of mine recently contacted me to inform me that while he was asked to pay to renew his licence, friends and family members were being given free renewals. Apparently, the government thinks it is fair to charge some Canadians for something while it lets others do it for free. If nothing else, government programs should at least be equally applied.
    It is time for the government to admit that it was wrong to implement this registry, that it was wrong to spend more than a billion dollars on it and that it is willing to work with this side of the House to find solutions to gun violence that will work for Canadians.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, even though the Minister of the Environment appealed the decision on the Bennett toxic waste incinerator in Belledune, no moratorium was imposed on the plant's operations.
    How can the minister try to make us believe that an environmental impact assessment of the potential transborder effects of this project is necessary and justified, when no stoppage of operations was ordered?
    The Minister of the Environment has all the necessary powers to ask the court for an injunction to prevent tests from being conducted at that plant until the Federal Court of Appeal issues its ruling. Moreover, the federal government could invoke the Fisheries Act and close the plant for the period that it deems necessary, so as to proceed with an environmental impact study.
    People in eastern Quebec and New Brunswick are urging the government to act responsibly regarding this issue, and they are demanding nothing less than a moratorium.

[English]

Conservative Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, one year ago this month the members of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Parties voted overwhelmingly to unite and provide Canadians with a real alternative to this tired, old, corrupt, crooked, fraudulent, shady, deceitful, pathetic and wretched Liberal government.
    From coast to coast to coast, Canadians demanded a united Conservative Party. In true bridge building fashion, the Leader of the Opposition and the deputy leader of the Conservative Party invited all Canadians to support our new party and bring good government back to Canada.
    In one year, the new Conservative Party has accomplished a great deal. We have 99 MPs and we are on the cusp of forming government.
    The Conservative Party will become the natural governing party for Canadians in the generations to come. Thank goodness for the Conservative Party. God keep our land glorious and Liberal free.

  (1415)  

Volunteerism

    Mr. Speaker, in 1979 the United Nations officially named December 5 as International Volunteer Day, a day to recognize and celebrate volunteers around the world for their contributions and dedication.
    Recent figures indicated that more than 6.5 million Canadians volunteered just over two billion hours of their time to charitable and voluntary organizations in the past year. This is the equivalent of one million full time jobs.
    Clearly, without these committed volunteers, organizations such as the United Way, chambers of commerce and arts councils would be unable to provide the valuable and varied services they do.
    In communities large and small, volunteers put their time and effort into making life better for themselves and those around them. I ask my fellow parliamentarians to join me in recognizing those volunteers from across this great land.

[Translation]

Cercle des artistes peintres et sculpteurs du Québec

    Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to Mireille Forget, a resident of Laval, who received the Médaille de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec. Ms. Forget was given this award in recognition of her work as president of the Cercle des artistes peintres et sculpteurs du Québec.
    Ms. Forget has promoted cultural diversity for 20 years, without any financial assistance from the government. This Cercle is an association that gives artists the opportunity to exhibit their work, participate in workshops, conferences and competitions, and travel.
    Ms. Forget has already received international recognition with a Médaille de l'Assemblée nationale de la République française in 1998. She has also won numerous awards and distinctions in France, Spain and Japan.
    She works with dedication to help artists from Quebec and Laval gain international recognition and allow Quebec culture to take its place on the international stage.
    Congratulations to Mireille Forget.

[English]

Fisheries

    Mr. Speaker, it has come to our attention that there is the possibility that a company called Aqua Bounty from Prince Edward Island may be applying to the minister and the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food through CFIA for permission to commercially sell genetically modified fish, or what we call genetically engineered fish.
    We would like to send a message to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Agriculture that if indeed this is correct, which we believe it is, we will be the first country in the world to have this. We simply cannot allow that type of activity in our aquaculture or commercial sectors.
    We would like to send a warning, a clear warning, a shot across the bow of the Liberal ship: do not allow genetically engineered or genetically modified fish to enter the commercial market in Canada.

Oral Question Period

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, reports today suggest that the immigration minister was funnelling illegal proxy donations through a campaign worker, but apparently she says that in breaking the election law she did nothing wrong.
    We have had the stripper program defended, queue jumping, failing to report a deportee, and business done at strip clubs. How many rules does the minister have to break before the Prime Minister fires her?
    Mr. Speaker, very clearly the preamble to the question of the Leader of the Opposition has no basis in fact. I understand that the minister, having learned of this donation, forthwith took the steps that were required. She has notified Elections Canada and she has returned the donation.
    Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting move, except that this morning her spokespeople were saying there was nothing wrong with actually getting the donation.
    We learned today that the minister's right-hand man met with more than one strip club owner, with multiple strip club owners, doing immigration business at strip clubs. Since I assume it is not standard practice for chiefs of staff to make house calls, has the Prime Minister inquired of the immigration minister as to why her chief of staff would be doing government business at a strip club?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition ought to support the role of the independent Ethics Commissioner who reports to Parliament. The minister has referred this matter to the Ethics Commissioner, who is looking into it and will make a full report, at her request.
    Mr. Speaker, what I think we would all support would be some leadership from the Prime Minister.
    From the London Times to Ireland's Telegraph to CNN, the international community is laughing at the Prime Minister and his immigration minister. The immigration minister is making an international embarrassment of this department. When is the Prime Minister going to show the required leadership and just fire the minister?

  (1420)  

    First of all, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, the minister of immigration, has done a very good job in restructuring the department. She has done a tremendous job in opening up this country to immigration across the country. She is working very hard on resettlement. What the hon. minister is doing is making sure that this is a country that is open to immigrants, unlike many of the countries cited in the hon. member's question.
    Mr. Speaker, a minister's job is to serve the people of Canada. Instead, the immigration minister was serving her own political interests and doing special favours for her political supporters. The Liberals are trying to ignore this unethical conduct even though it is staring them in the face.
     The public demands principled leadership and they want the problem corrected. Instead, the Prime Minister dithers and delays. When will the Prime Minister do the right thing and fire this minister?
    Mr. Speaker, the minister has restructured her department. She has opened up this country to much greater immigration. She is putting more officers into the field. She is working very hard on the question of resettlement. That is the job of the immigration minister, that is what she is doing, and I support her.
    Mr. Speaker, this is about what the immigration minister is doing wrong. Not only Canadians but now the international community wonder why the Liberal government makes no effort to protect our country's reputation and remove a minister under a serious ethical cloud.
    Questions about the integrity and fairness of Canada's immigration system have already been reported in England, Ireland, South Africa, the U.S. and Romania. The Prime Minister has a duty to protect our country's reputation from disgrace. Why does the Prime Minister not remove the minister?
    Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member does not support the role of the independent Ethics Commissioner, let her stand up in this House and say that. The fact is that we created an independent office for that very reason. It was so that in fact partisanship would not enter into these kinds of discussions. Now let the independent Ethics Commissioner do his job.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, not only did the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration push through a resident permit for a person who had worked on her election campaign; not only did she approve a questionable federal program; but, she received a $5,000 donation to her campaign from a front man, which is clearly illegal.
    Considering the weight of the allegations that are accumulating, will the Prime Minister ask for the resignation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or will he continue to throw caution to the winds?
    Mr. Speaker, as soon as the minister was informed of this donation she acted with complete transparency, reported it to Elections Canada, and returned the donation. That is why I support her.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has at least one thing in common with former Prime Minister Chrétien: he is giving the minister his support the way his predecessor gave Alfonso Gagliano his unconditional support.
    The minister is embarrassing the government and discrediting its institutions. The Prime Minister is not a man of decision, but a man of hesitation.
    Therefore, I ask the minister herself to act responsibly for once, and do the only honourable thing she can do: resign.
    Mr. Speaker, why does the leader of the Bloc Québécois refuse to accept the fact that there is an independent ethics commissioner looking into this matter? That is the commissioner's role. I think we should let him do his work.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was mixed up in questionable activities and is now the subject of serious allegations regarding a $5,000 contribution to her election fund, possibly for services rendered.
    Given that her department's client base is not always familiar with how things are done in Canada, does the minister not consider that she is sending the wrong message to newcomers about how to go about doing things here and that her presence at the helm of the department has become a very heavy liability to the government?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me respond to the hon. member very clearly. Immigration is extremely important in this country, and at no time did I do anything that was unethical or immoral. There was a clerical error made by my campaign staff--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    We will have order. If this persists, I will stand here until it ends and we will lose question after question and answer after answer. The minister has the floor.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I will resume the conversation. As I was saying, there was a clerical error made by a volunteer. A receipt has been issued and the cheque has been returned.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, every week I meet newcomers in difficulty, people who need our help, who are expecting help from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Yet, she is delaying meeting them.
    Does the minister not consider that she has failed in her duties by putting her own interests, her campaign staff and the financing of her election coffers before the needs of these people? This is a very poor choice of priorities, which shows that she is out of place as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is not the fact at all. Our office, in spite of the challenges we have been facing in the last several weeks, has continued to function very well. We continue to review all requests for humanitarian and compassionate grounds on the merits of every single case that we are looking at, including the ones that the hon. member has brought to my attention.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, we learned that the Prime Minister is going to go off to China to lobby the Chinese on the environment. My question is for the Prime Minister.
     What gives the Prime Minister the right to lobby anybody on the environment? The OECD rated Canada in last place. There was a red book filled with promises on the environment that were broken. There are people headed to emergency rooms after smog days; they cannot breathe in Canada. Where does the Prime Minister derive any right to go to China and lecture anyone?
     Mr. Speaker, this happens to be the country that has set aside an unprecedented amount of money to invest in environmental technologies. This happens to be the country that has essentially said that development and leading the world in environmental technologies is one of our principal objectives. This happens to be the country that, working with our municipalities, has put in place an unprecedented series of municipal funds, green funds, that are working very well.
    I would suggest to the hon. member that he ought to take a look at what the municipalities in this country are doing. He might learn something.
    Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating. Even former Liberal environment ministers are embarrassed by the government's performance. Let us face it.
    I want to get this straight. The Prime Minister is going to lecture the Chinese about the environment but, at the same time, he is going to allow the Chinese government to buy Canada's oil. What does he think they are going to do with it? They are going to burn it at unprecedented rates.
    Does accelerating climate--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. I cannot hear the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth. There is no need for this noise and interruption. The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth has the floor and we will hear his question.
    Mr. Speaker, why is the Prime Minister going to become a cheerleader for the sell-off of our oil so that the Chinese government can burn it and produce more pollution?
    Mr. Speaker, when one talks about the investment in environmental technologies, one is talking about renewable energies such as wind power, toward which this country is putting a very large amount of money. We are talking about the development of fuel cells, in which this country is one of the leaders. We are talking about the research into clean coal energy, in which this country is a leader.
     However I am delighted for that great perceptive insight into the use of oil by the leader of the NDP.

  (1430)  

Air Transportation Security

    Mr. Speaker, a recent U.S. homeland security bulletin states that terrorist groups have utilized police or military uniforms to mask their identities and achieve closer access to their targets without arousing suspicion.
    Unlike our American neighbours, the Minister of Transport is treating the loss of over 1,100 CATSA uniform items as insignificant. He stated, “We're talking about maybe a dog eating a shoe or something like that. We have no report of any security breach”.
    When will the minister take his head out of the sand, treat this matter seriously and call for an RCMP investigation?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the hon. member that I took my responsibility because the day after I saw the report, the next morning, I called in the president of CATSA. We had a report by yesterday that was made public. Now we are sure that all the items are going to be accounted for. There was never any security breach under that program.

[Translation]

    I must say to the hon. member that there was no security problem and no robbery reported and, thus, the RCMP does not need to get involved.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the minister heard about this on the CBC. This is no time for complacency on the part of the minister.
    He says that the CATSA badges were not stolen but rather that they fell off the security uniforms because of insufficient Velcro. We are talking about 1,100 security items.
     When will the government provide us with a comprehensive record of every lost item, whether it is a badge, a patch or a uniform? Has the department taken the step of cancelling access to those individuals who lost those items? Where are they, Mr. Minister?
    The hon. member for Central Nova knows that he is not to address other members. He is to address the Chair. He has had plenty of experience in this and this is a reprimand.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is exaggerating when he says 1,100 security items. There are 689 tags with just first names on them. We are talking about pants, belts and shoes. Each uniform comprises 20 separate items. Someone lost a full uniform in a residential fire, so should we dismiss him for that?

[English]

Sponsorship Program

    Mr. Speaker, when the sponsorship scandal broke, the Prime Minister promised to be “totally transparent”, but yesterday the Minister of Public Works hedged a little. He said:
    It is entirely appropriate for the government to take from those documents only those items or phrases that pertain specifically to the sponsorship issue and make those available to the Gomery commission.
    Selective truth telling does not quite meet the test of transparency.
     Why will the Liberals not be fully honest with the Gomery inquiry, table all the documents and just allow him to do his work?
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the government is being totally transparent and open with the Gomery commission. We have provided cabinet documents back to 1994 that pertain to the sponsorship program.
    Beyond that, as I said yesterday, there will be some documents that discuss a range of public policy items and it is only appropriate and consistent with the commitment by the government to comply and to provide the information to Justice Gomery on the sponsorship program, not to provide cabinet documents beyond that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, for a brief moment we thought the Prime Minister was being sincere when he promised more openness and integrity in the quest for truth in the sponsorship scandal.
    But cover-ups and secrecy have been standard since the new Minister of Public Works and Government Services took control of the information. The Liberals are both judge and judged.
    When will the minister and comply, in good faith, with the requests of the Gomery Commission?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, providing cabinet confidence documents is an extraordinary step and is completely consistent with the openness and transparency of the government. It is one of the reasons that the Information Commissioner has lauded the Prime Minister and congratulated the government for its openness, transparency and accountability.
     We are proud to cooperate with the Gomery commission and not to play politics like the opposition is doing. We are proud to let Justice Gomery do his work and provide all the information to Justice Gomery that is relevant to the sponsorship program. I wish the opposition would be as respectful of the work that Justice Gomery is doing.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, while announcing, yesterday, a slight decrease in employment insurance premiums, the government refused to make substantial improvements to EI to help people who lose their jobs.
    Given the Prime Minister's repeated promises with regard to employment insurance, should the first act of this government not have been a proposal to substantially improve premiums, in order to help women, young people and seasonal workers who have been excluded from the plan by the Liberal government since 1993?
    Mr. Speaker, I was expecting the hon. member to extend his congratulations because we reduced premiums, and that was what all Canadians wanted.
    However, with regard to changes to EI, we must respect the fact that a House committee will table a report in a few days. We are waiting for the report.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister did not respect the work of the House, since he already cut premiums. The cut in premiums represents only one dollar per month, so it is a drop in the ocean.
    Instead of working to destroy EI, will the minister not finally recognize that, if the $300 million this cut is costing had instead been used to improve eligibility for benefits, it would have enabled thousands of additional families to benefit, thereby reducing the poverty in which they live?
    Mr. Speaker, we need to look at the results of government policy over the past 10 years. The unemployment rate in Quebec, for example, dropped from 11.5% to 8.3%. This year, we have already created more jobs than in the past, including 59,000 in Quebec alone.
    In my opinion, the best employment insurance is a job, employment. The government, which is creating numerous jobs, deserves to be congratulated.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Mr. Speaker, today, following up on a motion by the Bloc Québécois, the mayors of municipalities affected by the closure of RCMP detachments in Quebec are asking the government to intervene and stop this.
    Will the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness at last face up to her responsibilities and require the RCMP to continue to provide services in all these regional locations? It is a matter of serving the public. It is a matter of border safety. It is a matter of public safety.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP is concerned about public safety which is why, on a regular basis around the country, it makes decisions regarding redeployment in order to work in the most effective ways, particularly in the case of Quebec with the Sûreté du Québec. I think the hon. member is aware that the deployment of RCMP officers is an operational matter and that it would be inappropriate for me to intervene.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the minister is being a bit hasty in shrugging off responsibility for these closures and service cutbacks. She seems not to recall the past mistakes in connection with the airports and national ports.
    How can she just slough off this responsibility when we know that the RCMP plays an essential role in protecting our borders, fighting organized crime and providing security in Aboriginal communities?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP is aware of that fight against organized crime which is why, as I understand it, the force in Quebec made the operational decision to redeploy its officers so it could be more effective in that fight against organized crime.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration cannot keep hiding. Canadians need to know that we have a minister who is accountable and who plays by the rules.
    However, today we learned that the minister accepted a donation that was funneled through one of her campaign workers. She knew that this was an illegal donation. She only returned it because she got caught.
    When will the minister do the honourable thing and step down?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, a clerical error was made in the name of who received the receipt. Once that was brought to my attention, the receipt was cancelled and the cheque was returned.
    Mr. Speaker, the government says that the sponsorship scandal was an administrative error too.
    How many rules does the minister think she can break? Her own staff member was quoted today as acknowledging that two people donated money to the campaign but that just one received the receipt. That is against the law.
    Will the minister finally be accountable? Will the minister do the right thing and resign?
    Mr. Speaker, we learned from the media, not from the minister, of another case of the immigration minister sending her top aide to a strip club to discuss bringing more exotic dancers into the country. The minister appears more interested in strippers than in reducing family reunification waiting times or recognizing foreign academic credentials. She sends her senior adviser to spend more time doing business in strip clubs than visiting hospitals to discuss the shortage of doctors.
    The immigration minister has no credibility left. When will she resign?
    Mr. Speaker, let me repeat probably the same answer I gave the hon. member last week. I am quite proud of my role as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. I continue to work hard on these cases. If there is an opportunity to work with the opposition members on moving forward into the 21st century with a new immigration system and on streamlining our refugee reform, I certainly welcome their help.
    Mr. Speaker, while the immigration minister has been preoccupied with strippers, the waiting period for family reunification class has increased to over 53 months. The arbitrary rejection of spouses applying to join husbands or wives in Canada has been undermining families.
    The minister's mismanagement of her department and her preferential treatment for strippers is compromising the credibility and integrity of the immigration system. When will the Prime Minister fire the minister?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said on numerous occasions today and last week, given the job that the minister is doing in the immigration department, the restructuring, the opening of this country, working on resettlement and working on funding for English or French as a second language, I support the minister.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, I have just informed the Minister of Health about the existence of a flyer about Internet pharmacies advertising to doctors the following, “We are looking for licensed doctors living in Canada. Are you interested in making $100,000 to $135,000 U.S. per year for signing Internet prescriptions?”
    Is enough not enough? When will the minister contact his provincial counterparts and tell them to put some order into this thing, along with the medical profession, or otherwise order it himself?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very important question. I wrote to the provincial ministers several weeks ago. I believe that the College of Pharmacists and the College of Physicians and Surgeons across the country need to do their jobs. This is an absolutely unethical and unprofessional practice. It must stop; otherwise we will put a stop to it.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the subcommittee on the employment insurance fund has met with workers calling for more generous benefits and more flexible eligibility criteria. The Conservatives are merely calling for lower contributions. Yesterday, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development announced a 3¢ decrease in EI contributions.
    My question is for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. Would the minister rather listen to the recommendations of the Conservatives, who want only a cut in contributions, or to the parliamentary subcommittee examining this matter, which knows what the workers, union representatives and employers want?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we listen to them both. Neither one is excluded. We are also awaiting the opinion of the Auditor General, who has said the system needs to be better balanced. We are taking action now because the economy is doing very well. As the hon. member is aware, there are far more Canadians contributing to the economy, even in his riding and his province.

[English]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.
    Yesterday we learned in the other place that apparently the government has no intention of keeping its election promise and throne speech promise to provide 5,000 more troops for peacekeeping, at least not in the foreseeable future.
    I ask the Minister of National Defence, why are the Liberals breaking this promise and do they intend to break the promise on the expansion of the reserves as well?
    Mr. Speaker, the government has made it clear that it intends to increase the regular forces by 5,000 and to increase the reserves by 3,000. We always made it clear that this would require additional funds for the department. The Prime Minister has made it clear that when the budget comes, we will be getting funds to enable us to do this.
    The admiral, yesterday in his testimony, made it very clear that this cannot be done overnight. The hon. member will appreciate that. We are laying out a timeframe, the ministry is getting ready and we look forward to recruiting these people. This is a responsible way to go. We are increasing our armed forces to be a better source for Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, as part of an election ploy, the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party promised to add 5,000 regulars and 3,000 reserves to the military. A few weeks ago the chief of defence staff said it would take the department five to six years to recruit the soldiers. Yesterday the vice chief reconfirmed this embarrassing timeframe and said that the military simply does not have the money to recruit, train, equip and house the soldiers.
    Is the government prepared to break another election promise, or will it provide the funds needed to recruit the soldiers now?
    Mr. Speaker, the answer to the hon. member's question is similar to the one I gave last time. If he waits for the budget, he will see the funding and then he can make his decision as to whether an election promise has been broken or not.
    I can assure hon. members in this House that the Prime Minister and I and other members on this side are working hard to improve our armed forces, and we will do that.
    Mr. Speaker, during the last election the government said it would increase the military without having any idea how it could be done, how it would be used and how it would be funded. This weekend the Prime Minister told CNN, “We are going to be increasing our troop level substantially, both our regulars and reserves. We are in the process of getting that underway”. Yet the number two in the military said it just is not so. Who are we to believe?
    Mr. Speaker, the vice chief of the defence staff made it very clear that we are examining the way in which we can go about this. The Prime Minister himself made it very clear that this is an important priority for our government. We will be getting the funding and moving ahead on this. The military is very excited about this prospect. I hope the hon. members will be as excited as we go ahead and build a 21st century military that responds to the needs of Canadians.

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister just announced that he is doing a stopover in Libya to shake hands with President Gadhafi. President Gadhafi just announced that he is cancelling the scheduled visit of the group, Human Rights Watch, which was supposed to be there for three weeks to investigate ongoing human rights violations in Libya.
    Will the Prime Minister be in Libya longer than he was in Sudan? When he is there, will he specifically ask President Gadhafi to lift the ban on Human Rights Watch so they can do their work?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister never misses an opportunity to promote human rights. He has respect for human rights on every trip that he involves himself in.
    I am confident that when he goes to Libya, it will be precisely to strengthen the process in which Libya has been engaged over the last few years and where we have noticed an improvement.
    This is precisely to strengthen the process in which Libya has engaged and where more needs to be done.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister just missed an opportunity to answer a direct question.
    Last week the human rights subcommittee right here in the House of Commons heard disturbing evidence from a variety of representatives of religious groups suffering extreme persecution in a number of countries around the world: Christians in Pakistan, Falun Gong in China, Buddhists in Tibet, and many others.
    As the Prime Minister is meeting with many of these dictators, will he specifically speak up for the persecuted people within those regimes? Will he make the case for religious freedom? Other freedoms will follow if they have religious freedom.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, in fact in a speech last night I indicated that in virtually every country that I have gone where there are questions of human rights violations, or where in fact there are restrictions on freedom of religion, I have raised the issue. That is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy. It is certainly an integral part of Canadian values which this government reflects.
    The answer to the hon. member's question, which I think is very well taken, is yes, I will raise it in Libya and I will raise it in every other country where that is a problem.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment recognizes that the implementation plan to reduce greenhouse gases will be delayed. Following the minister's admission, we now have a better understanding of the comments made in Australia by deputy minister Anderson, when he said that Canada would not achieve even two thirds of its objectives on greenhouse gas reduction.
    How could the Minister of the Environment downplay the deputy minister's comments last week, when he himself confirmed them through the admission that he made yesterday?
    Mr. Speaker, the member is not quoting me accurately. I never said that. On the contrary, the Kyoto action plan has been in effect since 2002. In the Speech from the Throne, we made a commitment to strengthen and closely monitor it.
    Climate change is a new phenomenon. We are constantly learning more on how to deal with it. Canadians have already invested $3.7 billion, at the federal level alone, to deal with this issue.
    We have had a very active plan for renewable energy and we will continue to have one.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister said he was prepared to sign an agreement with Quebec. However, he continues to give priority to oil companies and the automobile industry by taking a sectoral approach.
    If the minister is serious when he says that we must be fair and set targets that are both rigorous and fair, what is he waiting for to give full control to Quebec over its territory, by signing a territorial approach with the province?
    Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that we will have many opportunities to work with the Quebec government which, unlike others, believes in Canada. It knows that Canada has a critical role to play on this planet.
    Indeed, Canada is not only one of the first countries affected by climate change, as we can see in the northern part of the country, it also has the necessary expertise to succeed. If there is a country that can get all the others to work together to solve the serious problem that climate change represents for mankind, it is definitely Canada.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, a recently declassified RCMP document indicates that some 600 women, many just girls, are lured into Canada's illicit sex trade each year. It is estimated that reporting only identifies one in ten women so victimized.
    Against this dismal backdrop, the minister of immigration has been providing incentives to foreign women to apply as exotic dancers, leaving them extremely vulnerable to further exploitation.
    When is the government going to get serious about Canada's illicit sex trade and take action to stop the exploitation of these most vulnerable women and children?
     Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question because we have characterized the question of trafficking in women and children as being the global slave trade. With respect to that global slave trade, which is the fastest rising criminal industry, we have organized our policy around prevention, around protection of victims and with respect to prosecution, of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Textile and Clothing Industry

    Mr. Speaker, on two occasions the Minister of Finance has guaranteed to us that a decision will be made on duty remissions for the apparel industry. Time marches on. The deadline is only days away.
    Will the minister sign the duty remission orders, or is his Christmas gift to the Canadian apparel industry workers a pink slip?
    Mr. Speaker, my officials and I continue to work on the details of our proposal.
    I had the distinct opportunity yesterday in Guelph and in Cambridge to meet with owners of some of the plants and many of the workers in some plants located in that part of Ontario.
    I want to assure them, together with members of our caucus, that the solution to this issue which has been promised before the end of the year will indeed be forthcoming.

  (1455)  

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the government's veterans independence program has been providing home care, housekeeping and groundskeeping services for veterans for two decades.
    Last year the program was extended to provide these services to surviving primary caregivers for life. Unfortunately many deserving widows were left out because of the time of death of their veteran.
    What is the government doing to ensure that widows of veterans who died in long term care facilities or who died prior to 1990 are treated fairly and are given the groundskeeping services they need to stay in their homes?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his timely question.
    Today the government is taking an important step to further recognize the efforts and the sacrifice of primary caregivers for veterans.
    We are extending VIP housekeeping and groundskeeping services for life to an additional 4,000 surviving eligible caregivers of veterans who were themselves receiving VIP services since the program began in 1981.

Agriculture

    Mr. Speaker, most people agree that one meaningful way to measure the success of a new government program is to look at the take-up rate. For example if 70% or 80% of intended recipients take up a new program, this suggests people know about it, want it and believe it is in their best interest to sign up for it.
    By this standard the CAIS program is a complete failure. In Kawartha Lakes it is reported that just 47 out of hundreds of farmers have signed up for CAIS.
    Why does the minister continue to defend the CAIS program when it has so obviously failed the vast majority of Canadian farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, I suspect that those producers who today have received almost half a billion dollars in CAIS payments would totally disagree with the hon. member.
    We have worked very diligently with the industry and we have worked very diligently with producers to make sure that we take any actions that we need to so that this program can be delivered in an efficient and timely manner.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are wondering if the Liberal government is taking their safety and well-being to heart when they travel abroad. How many dramatic situations will it take to sensitize this government to the problems faced by Canadian travellers?
    Yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded flippantly to the Royer family's request. Does he intend to finally contact them, and what resources does he plan to make available to them?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that the government takes very seriously the plight of Canadian citizens travelling around the world when they find themselves in situations as difficult as Nicolas Royer's current situation.
    I have stressed how closely the Canadian ambassador in Lima, Geneviève des Rivières, and all her staff, as well as our officials here in Ottawa, are working together with the Peruvian authorities, who are also trying very hard to find Nicolas Royer. Hydro-Québec is also doing its share with a helicopter that has been searching for the young man since yesterday. I can assure the House that we are taking a great interest in this situation.
    Mr. Speaker, despite the government's reassuring statements, the Royer family continues to worry about Nicolas, who disappeared on November 27. His father is critical of the attitude of the Department of National Defence, which he described as pitiful. “They could not even tell me where to find dry food for the expedition”, he commented.
    How can the Minister of National Defence explain that, despite the urgency of the situation, he has not yet authorized military people from Valcartier to go to Peru and help with the search operations?
    Mr. Speaker, I understand that some service people from Valcartier have volunteered for this task. That is a personal decision, however. They have to assess the danger, if they want to take it on.
    My department and the Department of Foreign Affairs are working closely together with the Royer family to find this young man. But it is up to individual Canadian citizens to decide for themselves if they want to go or not. Obviously, for our part, we will not prevent anyone from going.

  (1500)  

[English]

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the minister responsible for the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation.
    This past week, the minister was in Cape Breton to make an announcement in the Northside Industrial Park which will see Keata PharmEng, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, establish an operation on Cape Breton Island.
    In light of the debate that is taking place today in this House, with Bill C-9, on the importance of regional economic development, could the minister explain to the House the importance of investments such as this one to the economy of Cape Breton?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton—Canso is quite right. I was in Cape Breton last weekend with my two Cape Breton colleagues and with Premier Hamm and his cabinet to announce loans funding for Keata Pharmaceuticals that will result in over 175 well-paid jobs for the people of Cape Breton. Keata joins companies such as Tesma, CB Castings and EDS, which understand the benefits and value of investing in the people of Cape Breton.
     Our government is also providing funds for a new training program in biotechnology and pharmaceutical technology at the University College of Cape Breton, which will assist the youth to stay--
    The hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie.

Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister in speaking to labour leaders last week said that he needed the private sector to deliver the promised national child care program. The Minister of Social Development knows from the research and the OECD report that for profit equals poor quality.
    He and the provincial ministers committed to the principle of quality. Will he commit today to a not for profit delivery system to ensure that this principle is met?
    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, we want to create a national child care system based on the best principles. We have made a start. We want to pursue the best and most promising ways to create this national system, based on the quad principles. I might add that the best system that exists now in Canada, in Quebec, provides both private and for profit care.

Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Loyola Sullivan, Minister of Finance for Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Honourable Cecil Clarke, Minister of Energy for Nova Scotia.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Government Orders

[Supply]

[English]

Supply

Opposition Motion--Agriculture  

    The House resumed from December 2 consideration of the motion.
     It being 3:03 p.m., pursuant to order made Thursday, December 2, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the hon. member for Montcalm relating to the business of supply.
    Call in the members.

  (1515)  

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

(Division No. 20)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)
André
Angus
Bachand
Batters
Bellavance
Benoit
Bergeron
Bezan
Bigras
Blaikie
Blais
Boire
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boulianne
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Broadbent
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brunelle
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casey
Casson
Chatters
Chong
Christopherson
Clavet
Comartin
Côté
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cummins
Davies
Day
Demers
Deschamps
Desjarlais
Desrochers
Devolin
Doyle
Duceppe
Duncan
Epp
Faille
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Fletcher
Forseth
Gagnon (Québec)
Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)
Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godin
Goldring
Goodyear
Gouk
Grewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harrison
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Johnston
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)
Lauzon
Lavallée
Layton
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Marceau
Mark
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
McDonough
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
O'Connor
Oda
Pallister
Paquette
Penson
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon
Poilievre
Poirier-Rivard
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Scheer
Schellenberger
Schmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Siksay
Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)
Skelton
Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul)
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Hilaire
Stinson
Stoffer
Stronach
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Loan
Vellacott
Vincent
Warawa
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
White
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 164

NAYS

Members

Adams
Alcock
Anderson (Victoria)
Augustine
Bagnell
Bains
Bakopanos
Barnes
Bélanger
Bell
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Blondin-Andrew
Boivin
Bonin
Boshcoff
Boudria
Bradshaw
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Bulte
Cannis
Carr
Carroll
Catterall
Chamberlain
Chan
Coderre
Comuzzi
Cotler
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
DeVillers
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Drouin
Dryden
Easter
Efford
Emerson
Folco
Fontana
Frulla
Fry
Gallaway
Godbout
Godfrey
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Hubbard
Ianno
Jennings
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Khan
Lapierre (Outremont)
Lastewka
LeBlanc
Lee
Longfield
MacAulay
Macklin
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLellan
McTeague
Minna
Mitchell
Murphy
Neville
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
Owen
Pacetti
Paradis
Patry
Peterson
Pettigrew
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)
Powers
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Saada
Savage
Savoy
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Silva
Simard (Saint Boniface)
Simms
Smith (Pontiac)
St. Amand
St. Denis
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Torsney
Valeri
Valley
Volpe
Wappel
Wilfert
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 125

PAIRED

Members

Cleary
Eyking
O'Brien (Labrador)
Sauvageau

Total: -- 4

    I declare the motion carried.

Canada Education Savings Act

     The House resumed from December 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, an act to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education savings, be read the third time and passed.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-5.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the House were to agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that the members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting in favour, except those members who would like to be registered as voting otherwise.
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 21)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Adams
Alcock
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson (Victoria)
Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)
André
Augustine
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Bakopanos
Barnes
Batters
Bélanger
Bell
Bellavance
Bennett
Benoit
Bergeron
Bevilacqua
Bezan
Bigras
Blais
Blondin-Andrew
Boire
Boivin
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Boudria
Boulianne
Bourgeois
Bradshaw
Breitkreuz
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brunelle
Bulte
Cannis
Cardin
Carr
Carrie
Carrier
Carroll
Casey
Casson
Catterall
Chamberlain
Chan
Chatters
Chong
Clavet
Coderre
Comuzzi
Côté
Cotler
Crête
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cummins
Cuzner
D'Amours
Day
Demers
Deschamps
Desrochers
DeVillers
Devolin
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Doyle
Drouin
Dryden
Duceppe
Duncan
Easter
Efford
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Fletcher
Folco
Fontana
Forseth
Frulla
Fry
Gagnon (Québec)
Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)
Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)
Gallant
Gallaway
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godbout
Godfrey
Goldring
Goodale
Goodyear
Gouk
Graham
Grewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)
Guarnieri
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harrison
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Holland
Hubbard
Ianno
Jaffer
Jean
Jennings
Johnston
Kadis
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lapierre (Outremont)
Lapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)
Lastewka
Lauzon
Lavallée
LeBlanc
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Longfield
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Macklin
Malhi
Maloney
Marceau
Mark
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLellan
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Minna
Mitchell
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Murphy
Myers
Neville
Nicholson
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Connor
Oda
Owen
Pacetti
Pallister
Paquette
Paradis
Patry
Penson
Perron
Peterson
Pettigrew
Phinney
Picard (Drummond)
Pickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)
Plamondon
Poilievre
Poirier-Rivard
Powers
Prentice
Preston
Proulx
Rajotte
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Saada
Savage
Savoy
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schellenberger
Schmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Scott
Sgro
Silva
Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)
Simard (Saint Boniface)
Simms
Skelton
Smith (Pontiac)
Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul)
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Hilaire
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stinson
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Toews
Tonks
Torsney
Trost
Tweed
Ur
Valeri
Valley
Van Loan
Vellacott
Vincent
Volpe
Wappel
Warawa
Watson
White
Wilfert
Williams
Wrzesnewskyj
Yelich
Zed

Total: -- 273

NAYS

Members

Angus
Blaikie
Broadbent
Christopherson
Comartin
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Davies
Desjarlais
Godin
Julian
Layton
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
McDonough
Siksay
Stoffer
Wasylycia-Leis

Total: -- 19

PAIRED

Members

Cleary
Eyking
O'Brien (Labrador)
Sauvageau

Total: -- 4

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

[English]

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act

    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-14.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 22)

YEAS

Members

Adams
Alcock
Anderson (Victoria)
André
Angus
Augustine
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Bakopanos
Barnes
Bélanger
Bell
Bellavance
Bennett
Bergeron
Bevilacqua
Bigras
Blaikie
Blais
Blondin-Andrew
Boire
Boivin
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Boudria
Boulianne
Bourgeois
Bradshaw
Brison
Broadbent
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Bulte
Cannis
Cardin
Carr
Carrier
Carroll
Catterall
Chamberlain
Chan
Christopherson
Clavet
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Côté
Cotler
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Demers
Deschamps
Desjarlais
Desrochers
DeVillers
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Drouin
Dryden
Duceppe
Easter
Efford
Emerson
Faille
Folco
Fontana
Frulla
Fry
Gagnon (Québec)
Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)
Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)
Gallaway
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godbout
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Guay
Guimond
Holland
Hubbard
Ianno
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Khan
Kotto
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lapierre (Outremont)
Lapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)
Lastewka
Lavallée
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Longfield
Loubier
MacAulay
Macklin
Malhi
Maloney
Marceau
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLellan
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Minna
Mitchell
Murphy
Myers
Neville
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
Owen
Pacetti
Paquette
Paradis
Patry
Perron
Peterson
Pettigrew
Phinney
Picard (Drummond)
Pickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)
Plamondon
Poirier-Rivard
Powers
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Saada
Savage
Savoy
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)
Simard (Saint Boniface)
Simms
Smith (Pontiac)
St-Hilaire
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Torsney
Ur
Valeri
Valley
Vincent
Volpe
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 198

NAYS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands)
Batters
Benoit
Bezan
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Carrie
Casey
Casson
Chatters
Chong
Cummins
Day
Devolin
Doyle
Duncan
Epp
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Fletcher
Forseth
Gallant
Goldring
Goodyear
Gouk
Grewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harrison
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Johnston
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lauzon
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mark
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
O'Connor
Oda
Pallister
Penson
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Scheer
Schellenberger
Schmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Skelton
Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul)
Solberg
Sorenson
Stinson
Stronach
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Loan
Vellacott
Warawa
Watson
White
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 94

PAIRED

Members

Cleary
Eyking
O'Brien (Labrador)
Sauvageau

Total: -- 4

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

  (1540)  

[English]

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, an act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at seconding reading stage of Bill C-9.
     Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that the members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting in favour, except for those members who would like to be registered as voting otherwise.
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Speaker, Conservative members present this afternoon are in support the motion, unless directed by their constituents to vote otherwise. I would like to note that the hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands is absent in the House.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois are voting against this motion.
    Mr. Speaker, the members of the New Democratic Party are voting in favour of this motion.
    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 23)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Adams
Alcock
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson (Victoria)
Angus
Augustine
Bagnell
Bains
Bakopanos
Barnes
Batters
Bélanger
Bell
Bennett
Benoit
Bevilacqua
Bezan
Blaikie
Blondin-Andrew
Boivin
Bonin
Boshcoff
Boudria
Bradshaw
Breitkreuz
Brison
Broadbent
Brown (Oakville)
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Bulte
Cannis
Carr
Carrie
Carroll
Casey
Casson
Catterall
Chamberlain
Chan
Chatters
Chong
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Cotler
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cummins
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Day
Desjarlais
DeVillers
Devolin
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Doyle
Drouin
Dryden
Duncan
Easter
Efford
Emerson
Epp
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Fletcher
Folco
Fontana
Forseth
Frulla
Fry
Gallant
Gallaway
Godbout
Godfrey
Godin
Goldring
Goodale
Goodyear
Gouk
Graham
Grewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)
Guarnieri
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harrison
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Holland
Hubbard
Ianno
Jaffer
Jean
Jennings
Johnston
Julian
Kadis
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lapierre (Outremont)
Lastewka
Lauzon
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Longfield
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Macklin
Malhi
Maloney
Mark
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLellan
McTeague
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Minna
Mitchell
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Murphy
Myers
Neville
Nicholson
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Connor
Oda
Owen
Pacetti
Pallister
Paradis
Patry
Penson
Peterson
Pettigrew
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)
Poilievre
Powers
Prentice
Preston
Proulx
Rajotte
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Saada
Savage
Savoy
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schellenberger
Schmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard (Saint Boniface)
Simms
Skelton
Smith (Pontiac)
Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul)
Solberg
Sorenson
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stinson
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Toews
Tonks
Torsney
Trost
Tweed
Ur
Valeri
Valley
Van Loan
Vellacott
Volpe
Wappel
Warawa
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
White
Wilfert
Williams
Wrzesnewskyj
Yelich
Zed

Total: -- 240

NAYS

Members

André
Bachand
Bellavance
Bergeron
Bigras
Blais
Boire
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boulianne
Bourgeois
Brunelle
Cardin
Carrier
Clavet
Côté
Crête
Demers
Deschamps
Desrochers
Duceppe
Faille
Gagnon (Québec)
Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)
Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)
Gaudet
Gauthier
Guay
Guimond
Kotto
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)
Lavallée
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Marceau
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Paquette
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon
Poirier-Rivard
Roy
Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)
St-Hilaire
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Vincent

Total: -- 51

PAIRED

Members

Cleary
Eyking
O'Brien (Labrador)
Sauvageau

Total: -- 4

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

[English]

Department of Social Development Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-22, an act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-22.
    Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose you seek unanimous consent that the members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting in favour, except those members who would like to be registered as having voted otherwise.

[Translation]

     Is there unanimous consent of the House to proceed as indicated?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Conservative members present in the House this afternoon are in support of the motion, unless directed by their constituents to vote otherwise.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois are voting against this motion.

[English]

    Members of the NDP vote yes on the motion.

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 24)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Adams
Alcock
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson (Victoria)
Angus
Augustine
Bagnell
Bains
Bakopanos
Barnes
Batters
Bélanger
Bell
Bennett
Benoit
Bevilacqua
Bezan
Blaikie
Blondin-Andrew
Boivin
Bonin
Boshcoff
Boudria
Bradshaw
Breitkreuz
Brison
Broadbent
Brown (Oakville)
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Bulte
Cannis
Carr
Carrie
Carroll
Casey
Casson
Catterall
Chamberlain
Chan
Chatters
Chong
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Cotler
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cummins
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Day
Desjarlais
DeVillers
Devolin
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Doyle
Drouin
Dryden
Duncan
Easter
Efford
Emerson
Epp
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Fletcher
Folco
Fontana
Forseth
Frulla
Fry
Gallant
Gallaway
Godbout
Godfrey
Godin
Goldring
Goodale
Goodyear
Gouk
Graham
Grewal (Newton—North Delta)
Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells)
Guarnieri
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harrison
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Holland
Hubbard
Ianno
Jaffer
Jean
Jennings
Johnston
Julian
Kadis
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lapierre (Outremont)
Lastewka
Lauzon
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Longfield
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Macklin
Malhi
Maloney
Mark
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLellan
McTeague
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Minna
Mitchell
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Murphy
Myers
Neville
Nicholson
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Connor
Oda
Owen
Pacetti
Pallister
Paradis
Patry
Penson
Peterson
Pettigrew
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham-Kent—Essex)
Poilievre
Powers
Prentice
Preston
Proulx
Rajotte
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Saada
Savage
Savoy
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schellenberger
Schmidt (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard (Saint Boniface)
Simms
Skelton
Smith (Pontiac)
Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul)
Solberg
Sorenson
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stinson
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Toews
Tonks
Torsney
Trost
Tweed
Ur
Valeri
Valley
Van Loan
Vellacott
Volpe
Wappel
Warawa
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
White
Wilfert
Williams
Wrzesnewskyj
Yelich
Zed

Total: -- 240

NAYS

Members

André
Bachand
Bellavance
Bergeron
Bigras
Blais
Boire
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boulianne
Bourgeois
Brunelle
Cardin
Carrier
Clavet
Côté
Crête
Demers
Deschamps
Desrochers
Duceppe
Faille
Gagnon (Québec)
Gagnon (Saint-Maurice—Champlain)
Gagnon (Jonquière—Alma)
Gaudet
Gauthier
Guay
Guimond
Kotto
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lapierre (Lévis—Bellechasse)
Lavallée
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Marceau
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Paquette
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon
Poirier-Rivard
Roy
Simard (Beauport—Limoilou)
St-Hilaire
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Vincent

Total: -- 51

PAIRED

Members

Cleary
Eyking
O'Brien (Labrador)
Sauvageau

Total: -- 4

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

[English]

Ways and Means

Motion No. 2  

    Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties and you would find that there is consent to deem ways and means Motion No. 2 carried on division.
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

  (1545)  

     moved that a ways and means motion to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004, be concurred in.
    An hon. member: On division.
     I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded divisions government orders will be extended by 40 minutes.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish to seek unanimous consent to return to presenting reports from committees to enable me to present the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I believe if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for that.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the preliminary report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Miramichi and Acadie—Bathurst.
    The committee was informed that the members of these ridings had no objections to the recommendations in the preliminary report. The representatives of the officially recognized parties in the House of Commons indicated that they had no objections either.

Government Orders

[Government Orders ]

[Translation]

Remote Sensing Space Systems Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-25, an act governing the operation of remote sensing space systems, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Prior to oral question period, the hon. member for Saint-Jean had the floor and he has 14 minutes remaining to complete his remarks.
    Order. Would members please take their conversations outside.
    The hon. member for Saint-Jean.
    Mr. Speaker, I will not go so far as to say it is unpleasant but it does break one's stride a bit to have to stop a speech and then resume it later. In order to get back into it, I will go over what I have said so far.
    I said that this was a very different world than the one we lived in thirty years ago. First of all I would never have thought I would end up as an MP, and second that we would be discussing a bill relating to legislating satellites.
    The world may have changed, but I think that we need to fulfill our responsibilities by legislating on this. I also said that there is legislation already in place for everything on earth, land and sea, so it is important for parliamentarians and the various governments on this planet to ensure that there is some degree of stability and order in the development of international trade.
    We are now into the development of space commerce. Indeed, any group of shareholders can reach an agreement with NASA or the French to put satellites into orbit. We know there are currently about 800 satellites orbiting around the earth. Consequently, I think that the time has come for Canada, among other countries, to say that we need a legal foundation for these remote sensing satellites. That is the intent of the bill before us today.
    However, before question period, I also pointed out that there is an element of caution. Indeed, it is strange that at the time when this bill is being introduced, there is extensive discussion on the missile defence system. We will have to see whether there are possible links with this. We are concerned about that. Consequently, we will have to ensure in committee that these satellites are only for commercial purposes.
    There is somewhat a paradox in Bill C-25. Indeed, the ministers of national defence and foreign affairs can intervene concerning signals and the disposal of data. They may suspend signals or have priority access, that is, have precedence on the commercial aspect for reasons of state.
    Let me get back to the heart of the matter. The government has decided to solve the issue by establishing a licensing regime. I think it is the best way to go. As you know, satellites are used these days for several purposes. In my riding, at the old military college, I had the opportunity to look at very detailed photos taken by military satellites. We could see a lot of things in the Parc des Laurentides. In a photo taken hundreds of kilometres away, we could see campers lighting a fire.
    So, we absolutely need to regulate this area. To do so, the government has chosen to issue licences. I think that is appropriate. It gives us some control on how the process will work and on who will deliver the licences. The bill also specifies who will have to comply with the new legislation.
    On that issue, some of my hon. colleagues and I have reservations about potential privacy breaches. Once the bill is referred to the committee, it would only be fair to have the privacy commissioner come before the committee and ask him if the bill could invade the privacy of Canadians. We need to find out if the government's intentions are clear on this issue.
    We have seen a certain carelessness at that level, a certain laxness concerning the protection of privacy. I am referring among other things to the notorious antiterrorism bill, where it seemed to us, in the Bloc, that matters of national significance were prevailing over the privacy of people. There has been a lot of criticism on that score.
    With the evolution of the bills before us, we might leave too much to one side the question of people's privacy. I feel that the Privacy Commissioner would be a good witness for the consideration of the bill at second reading.
    There is the whole question of introducing mechanisms for licences. I was saying a while ago as well that we should provide for the possibility of temporarily interrupting the remote sensing system. I understand that and it is altogether legitimate on the part of the government. Indeed, a commercial company could hold rights over a sensing satellite passing over troops in an operational theatre. In taking photographs for other reasons, it might inadvertently pick up the movement of troops and other things.
    I think that there is indeed a problem. It is important to mention it in the bill and to state that we can temporarily interrupt remote sensing if, for instance, it jeopardizes military operations in which Canada or its allies are involved. I think this is important.
    There is also priority access in case of need.

  (1550)  

    Similarly, if a commercial remote sensing satellite were to fly over a theatre of operations and that was needed for the purpose of national defence, I believe the satellite should be used to see what is going on. It would be justified.
    There are provisions prohibiting the transfer of operations outside Canada. I believe it is important that the whole question of following up and processing data as well as marketing, both regarding international affairs and national defence, should not be managed by people outside Canada. They should not start operating here and then move elsewhere for commercial reasons.
    It would create problems since it is harder to control what is going on outside Canada and there could be the danger of some slippage.
    The minister will be able to delegate some of his powers. In the absence of the minister, there will be provision for the deputy minister to make decisions. However, that raises concerns and we have some reservations about the bill.
    I have already mentioned the issue of privacy. I would like to digress a while to speak about national defence. I am concerned that the Minister of National Defence could decide on his own what is in the national interest and would have the power to interrupt communications or override a satellite. We should consider the possibility of having the governor in council, the cabinet, make this kind of decision.
    I do not see these decisions as urgent. If there is a need for a decision, there is nothing to prevent the government from calling a meeting of the cabinet—ministers meet every week anyway—and to ask for its authorization before going ahead.
    We also have reservations regarding the fact that a single minister using his discretionary powers, taking into account his reading of the various elements around him and future events, could make such an important decision.
    Second, there is a huge difference between commercial satellites and military satellites. However, this is not mentioned in the bill. It only talks about commercial satellites. There is a difference in terms of detection since a military satellite can detect objects as small as a tiny land mine from several hundred kilometres above the earth. The resolution is extremely high.
    The remote sensing system for commercial satellites is less precise, but it is starting to improve. We are talking about one to three metres here. Vehicles, planes or troop movements could be detected by these satellites. So, I think it is important that a distinction is made between the two.
    We also find it a bit odd that, with all the talk these days about the missile defence shield, this type of bill has been introduced in the House. Perhaps there is more to this bill than meets the eye. Debate on this bill is at the second reading stage and, while we support the general principle of the bill, it will have to be studied and its implications carefully considered.
    Could these satellites have military uses? For example, could Canada be asked to participate in some way with NORAD or the agency that will oversee the missile defence shield?

  (1555)  

    I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence say no earlier, but you can never be too careful. Some things in our world that were not created for military purposes are now being used to this end.
    With its long tradition of pacifism, Canada should not involve itself in the missile defence plan. I do not want to spend too long on this topic, since the Bloc's position on this is clear.
    We want to ensure that this bill does not give the government or the Minister of National Defence too much control over these satellites, so they could use them for purposes other than that intended in the bill.
    A while ago, I asked the parliamentary secretary a question. I do not understand how the Minister of National Defence can intervene to forbid anything or assert priority over a commercial aspect, when a network of treaties binds Canada and the United States. That is something we will have to look into.
    During the committee's deliberations, I will ask about access to the satellites. Certainly there is access to the NORAD satellite, because Canada is a co-chair at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. I know they are very advanced down there. In 30 seconds they can see a missile being launched anywhere on the planet. In five minutes they can calculate its trajectory and its route going into space.
    Are there any agreements between Canada and the United States concerning access to these satellites? Does our military have access to the American satellites, of which more than 100 are used for military purposes?
    Can our American friends make marketing contracts affecting Canadian satellites planned for space that will probably have some legal basis in this bill? Will the shareholders of these satellites be able to send data to our American friends and vice versa? If they are allowed access to Canadian data from these satellites, will Canadians also be allowed access to data from American satellites?
    Commercialization is another important aspect. The present discussion is about commercial satellites, held by private interests, but the primary clients of these companies are governments.
    I want to serve notice that during second-reading debate we will often raise jurisdictional issues. Is it right that things are being detected above the territory of Quebec or other provinces? Will the provinces automatically have access to the data if this happens to them? These are things we will be watching for.
    In general, we are in favour of this bill at second reading. However, we will be examining the points I have mentioned very carefully. I think we will have very interesting discussions during the work in committee.
    We intend to call witnesses who will be very helpful to us. This is a new field and the members of Parliament sitting on this committee will need some assistance from people who know much more than we do about this subject.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make sure that the member knows that, even if I appreciate his comments to move this bill forward, I hope to have the opportunity to hear him and his colleagues from the Bloc at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
    I would also like to emphasize to the member that there are other advantages to this satellite. We see the ice melting, particularly in the Arctic. That has environmental consequences. In addition, this measure will help us monitor ecological aspects. Of course, this will also touch on some commercialization aspects.
    However, we must stop thinking that this bill will have an impact on privacy or that it will be used for harmful purposes. I would not want to leave the House under the impression that this bill has defence or anti-ballistic purposes; instead, it has more valuable purposes, humanitarian purposes, namely understanding the drought we have in some areas of our country, as well as ecological repercussions elsewhere.
    I am therefore asking the member to take into consideration the fact that the bill that we are proposing sets the tone for a better technological reality. However, the technological aims and objectives will also improve knowledge of our country and of the world we live in.
    Given our intention of supporting the Kyoto Protocol, it is very important to be up-to-date so that we can not only solve problems that might exist, but also know exactly where we stand now. This would help us ensure that we have a better overview of our country as is is now, particularly in terms of peace
    Madam Speaker, there are two points I want to make.
    First, earlier, I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence say, during his speech, that this type of satellite could be very important for the surveillance of our remote regions.
    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs now argues that the satellites would be used for very peaceful purposes, such as monitoring the environment, climate change, and so on. However, it seems to me that I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence just say that they would also be used to provide surveillance of remote areas and Canada's Arctic coasts.
    Therefore, they would not be used solely for meteorological and agricultural purposes, but also for military purposes. We want to restrain their use for military purposes and find out just how far we will go in that area.
    What will we do with these data afterwards? Will they be released to someone else? Will the Americans be able to get their hands on them? These are all questions we want to address in committee.
    The second thing that I wanted to say as well to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs concerns the entire question of jurisdiction. This lets me raise this question of jurisdiction.
    The government says it wants to study natural resources management. I presume that it wants to examine the state of the forests, for example, to see whether there are pests that are destroying our forests and what we can do to stop this. I agree with that.
    As for the management of agricultural products, I have seen remote sensing at the agricultural research centre in Saint-Jean. This was on pest species. Satellite images could perhaps provide a means to fight them, and it would have been impossible to know that without the images coming from a satellite. It is the same for environmental disasters. We are able to predict them, and once the disaster has happened, we can develop an action plan with these satellites.
    I want to remind the parliamentary secretary that these are provincial jurisdictions. Consequently, I am not talking about an agreement. However, I agree that the federal government has jurisdiction in space. When matters under provincial jurisdiction are going to be examined from space, there needs to be some intergovernmental relationship there somewhere.
    For example, if this satellite looks at Quebec forests to try to assess the damage caused by a pest, will Quebec be able to have this data? Since this is a provincial jurisdiction, it will often be Quebec that remedies the situation or provides the means to fight this pest.
    The data should not remain with the Government of Canada, especially if provincial jurisdictions are affected from space. This issue should be discussed further.

  (1605)  

    Madam Speaker, I am certain that the purpose of this bill is to clarify the use of the best technologies solely in the interest of our country, whether at the provincial or municipal levels or for commercial reasons.
    Obviously exchanges of information will be possible, but this bill proposes a regulatory system to ensure that the people who gain access have valid reasons for doing so. I do not want to forget the purpose of the bill. I understand the hon. member's concern, but we must also take into consideration that when a satellite takes a picture of our country or any other place there is no division or separation, especially in terms of the disastrous problems that he mentioned earlier.
    Furthermore, if a ship from another country is in the Hans Island region, which is Canadian territory, we still do not have the resources for immediate surveillance. It is very important on a national and international level to ensure that we know who is there and why they are there.
    I think it would be not only cost-effective, but worthwhile to use this knowledge not necessarily for military purposes but for defence reasons, in order to ensure that the entire territory of our country is protected.
    Another consideration is to learn whether our troops—who might be in Haiti or Afghanistan—are safe or facing some threat. We want to know that the people with access to this information have the proper authority and that they are not using it for harmful purposes.
    Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirms what the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of National Defence has said. The satellites are not only being used for ecological or climate surveillance purposes. They are also used for military purposes.
    The Bloc Quebecois has always been very prudent in matters of national defence. I remind the parliamentary secretary that the bill before us states, time and again, that the Minister of National Defence has a role to play, whether to control the satellites or to stop the signals where necessary.
    We will want to encompass and especially limit the role of the Department of National Defence. We will have to hear from the experts in the field. It is important for us. It is unequivocally an area of federal jurisdiction. Of course, the federal government is under no obligation to consult with any province on military matters.
    However, in our capacity as legislators in Ottawa coming from that part of the country known as Quebec, we are very glad that these benchmarks do not intrude too much on areas under Quebec jurisdiction. Whenever we talk about Quebec defence and jurisdictions, we do have the right to call in experts during committee study to ask them if they think that this is acceptable.
    We have the same situation with the Privacy Commissioner. After the events of September 11, we are always concerned that the rights of citizens could be ignored in bills for the sake of collective interests or interests other than privacy. We have always been very prudent in that regard. We will continue to be prudent.
    It will be an excellent thing to do when the bill is referred to committee.

  (1610)  

[English]

     Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-25, the remote sensing space systems bill. I will begin by picking up where the hon. member left off, and that is to remind the House that there are national security implications with respect to the use of satellites. I would like to speak a little more directly to the natural security implications and address some of the important economic and ecological implications around the regulation that is provided through the remote sensing bill.
    In tabling the legislation, we are recognizing that Canada has become a force in the highly competitive global niche market of earth observation. It is a major component of Canada's high tech sector and there are, in my region alone in the national capital region, over 1,500 high tech companies, many of which have provided contributions to this very area of remote sensing.
    The Government of Canada is committed to using state of the art earth observation satellites, sensors and technology to monitor and manage our crops, forests, oceans and other natural resources. Many of which, we do not even know exist because they have not necessarily been catalogued or form part of any inventory.
    These satellites and technology are intended to, for example, monitor climate change as the impacts of climate change are felt on the fragile ecosystem in Canada's far north. These technologies are helping our scientists learn more about our planet. They are providing the government with important information, policy and decision making information.
    Through the legislation, we are also acknowledging that space based remote sensing is a critical resource that is helping the Government of Canada ensure the safety and security of Canadians while asserting the sovereignty of our nation from coast to coast to coast. Government departments and agencies are using remote sensing to aggressively monitor and catch polluters, for example, in our coastal waters.
    Orbiting some 800 kilometres above the earth, operating day and night, in all weather conditions, Canada's satellite, called RADARSAT, is peering through the darkness and the fog to identify offenders, and alert authorities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on the Great Lakes, and on both the east and west coasts of Canada.
    Across the government, departments are working together with the Canadian space program, using space technologies and remote sensing to deliver better services to Canadians faster and more efficiently. A host of government and academic partners are studying wetlands, coastlines, the arctic ice sheet and Canada's forests.
    Extreme dry conditions in British Columbia in the summer of 2003 led to the worst forest fire season on record. More than 2,400 fires consumed over 255,000 hectares of prime Canadian forest. The final cost was a staggering $545 million just to fight the fires and the loss of more than $5 billion worth of lumber to the Canadian forest industry.
    Pilot programs are directing telecommunications and remote sensing resources to mobilize firefighters in real time, dispatching critical resources to save lives, homes, forests and wildlife. In Canada alone, natural disasters in the last 10 years have led to the loss of many lives and caused over $5.5 billion in damages. When the Red River flooded its banks in 1997 and 2000, it forced the evacuation of 28,000 Manitobans.
    Images from space helped monitor the flood conditions. They helped plan and speed rescue operations, and determined damage to local infrastructure like the highways. The data produced by remote sensing satellites is also being used to improve the management of agricultural sustainability. This information could one day help our farmers increase their crop yields and implement better agricultural practices such as zero tillage.
    Advanced remote sensing in the future could help a sector that annually generates exports worth $24 billion, representing about 8.3% of our national GNP. Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Space Agency have launched a study that looks at sea surface, temperatures, currents and other characteristics of our oceans. Space based remote sensing satellites are providing key information to all levels of government, to the fishing sector and aboriginal groups to better manage our marine resources while protecting our ocean and coastal environments. It is not a small and unimportant feat as we strive to implement our oceans management strategy.

  (1615)  

    Other departments are working with the Canadian Space Agency to monitor ice flows, sea ice, glaciers, ice caps and frozen ground in Canada's north. The Canadian Ice Service is one of the largest single users of this data. RADARSAT images are helping the Canadian Coast Guard analyze ice flows, directing ships as they navigate through Canada's ice filled waters.
    We know that earth observation images will provide important information on the sustainable development of our northern resources and the possible impact of such activities on our aboriginal peoples, their communities and their lands.
    Observing our country from space also helps Canada's commitments to the Kyoto agreement by providing the government with critical information. No where is this more obvious than in the environment and sustainable development indicators initiative of the Government of Canada and launched by the Prime Minister when he was the minister of finance in the 2000 budget. He instructed the national round table on the environment and the economy to devise Canada's first suite of environmental and sustainable development indicators, so we could report more accurately to Canadians on the overall health and wealth of our country using measurements other than simply economic measurements.
    We know that the data provided by RADARSAT will be of great assistance as we seek, for example, to report on the extent of Canadian wetlands. It is said that Canada possesses 25% of the planet's wetlands. Wetlands are a perfect water and air filtration system. This kind of data will help us diagnose the extent to which we still possess those wetlands, and to what extent if any we are draining them. This is important as we seek to meet our Kyoto agreement targets.
    Just last week my colleague, the Minister of the Environment, hosted 51 nations that came to Ottawa as part of an international undertaking called GEO, Group on Earth Observation. Canada and these nations are absolutely committed to pooling their space, scientific, and technological expertise and resources to develop a global system of systems that will literally take and monitor the pulse of our planet.
    Canada continues to gain and has gained valuable experience using remote sensing satellites and technologies to provide help way beyond our borders. Canada works with other countries and the United Nations, for example, to provide images from space that could help speed rescue missions and aid mitigating natural disasters like oil spills, earthquakes and landslides around the world. In the last four years the world has called upon space satellites over 60 times to provide critical lifesaving information.
    Canada's remote sensing is assisting developing nations by helping locate sources of drinking water in Africa, for example, and by identifying regions at risk from diseases, such as malaria in Kenya. That is not an insignificant matter as malaria sweeps through sub-Saharan Africa. It is also predicting rice crop yields in the Mekong River Delta in Southeast Asia.
    Designed by the leading Canadian space companies and launched in 1995 with an estimated lifetime of 5 years, RADARSAT-1 has now entered its 10th year of operation. Through a public-private partnership, RADARSAT International and the Canadian Space Agency have built a solid global reputation for Canada in remote sensing.
    RADARSAT International has certified a global network of 24 ground stations and built a market for precision RADARSAT data, serving more than 600 government and commercial clients in more than 60 countries.

  (1620)  

    Today Canada claims fully 15% of the global market for remote sensing products and services. Canada's next generation of remote sensing satellite, RADARSAT-2, is being readied for launch in late 2005. RADARSAT-2 is being assembled and tested not far from here, at Canada's space qualification facility, the David Florida Laboratory at Shirley's Bay. I take this opportunity to invite my esteemed colleagues from all sides of the House to visit the space agency's lab to see RADARSAT-2, a leading edge satellite that will address the needs of government and the growing global commercial market.
    In short, space is a strategic asset for our country. Space and remote sensing are helping our government meet its priorities, especially in areas related to environmental protection, sustainable development, climate change, cities as they grow, and connecting Canadians' security and sovereignty. Space can provide solutions to government policy and service delivery challenges by putting space capability in the hands of our policy advisors and service providers.
    Canada's commitment to leveraging the power and potential of space is positioning Canada as a technology leader among nations. Satellite remote sensing is an important and mature industry that provides Canadians and the world with unmatched tools for monitoring the environment and managing natural resources.
    This legislation provides a very clear regulatory framework in which private remote sensing activities can evolve, a framework which also recognizes the importance of meeting our security concerns and obligations. This remote sensing legislation will also help ensure Canadian companies remain global leaders in remote sensing technology and services, and help them to continue to deliver social and economic benefits to Canada and Canadians.