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41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 140

CONTENTS

Wednesday, June 13, 2012




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 146 
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NUMBER 140 
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1st SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayers


[Statements by Members]

  (1405)  

[English]

    It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led today by the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.
    [Members sang the national anthem]

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, I had the enormous honour earlier today to meet with Bonnie and Gord Johnston of Sundre, Alberta. They came to Ottawa to plead with members of Parliament to remember that when a pipeline leaks it is not just the environment that is devastated, it is families and it is lives.
    Gord Johnston grew up on the 23 hectares where his family lives on the banks of the Red Deer River. Their beautiful river became a flood of oil that has now contaminated their entire property. Bonnie and Gord were in tears as they pleaded with members of Parliament to bear in mind what happens when environmental regulations are weakened.
    In their own words, and they asked me to convey this today, they said, “Please, Mr. Prime Minister, you need to stop and think. The environment is where we live”.

Cellular Towers

    Mr. Speaker, cellular telephones and cellular telephone antennae emit radio frequency electromagnetic radiation that the World Health Organization has classified as possibly carcinogenic. That is why Apple and RIM warn their customers to not touch BlackBerrys and iPhones during a call and to keep these devices at least 15 millimetres from their bodies. Health Canada tells parents to reduce children's EMR exposure with shorter telephone calls, hands-free devices and text messaging, because children are more sensitive.
    The people of Oakville do not want cellular antennae that broadcast electromagnetic radiation located near their homes, schools, daycare centres or health care facilities. We have good coverage for phone calls and do not need cellular towers everywhere to broadcast hockey games to hand-held devices in every room.
    Rogers and Telus are working with local residents, but Bell Canada has placed powerful antennae 11 metres from a child's bedroom and over the heads of our firefighters and refuses to move them. This is intolerable. I would tell the president of Bell Canada, Mr. George Cope, to tear down those antennae.

[Translation]

Les Grands Rangs Co-operative

    Mr. Speaker, Thursday, June 14 will mark the official opening of the grocery and deli of the Les Grands Rangs co-operative on Saint-Joseph Street, in the heart of the Saint-Roch neighbourhood, in the riding of Québec.
    The original idea was to create a model for building bridges between rural and urban areas, and between producers and consumers. The co-operative's mission is to bring together various artisan producers of local agrifood and agroforestry products from the greater Quebec City region and other surrounding regions.
    The new co-operative will allow for knowledge transfer among generations, thus helping to preserve heritage and ensure the future of farming. This networking among producers, users and the public will contribute to socio-economic development, while respecting sustainable development, equity and local traditions, as well as ties to the territory and community.
    Les Grands Rangs co-operative is a powerful symbol for building a local, collective, united economy that respects our environment. Let us celebrate the knowledge of our producers and put some Quebec on your plate.

  (1410)  

[English]

Canada-Russia Relations

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Russia. It was also the 22nd anniversary of Russia Day when the declaration declaring Russia state sovereignty was signed in 1990.
    I am proud to speak to the enormous contributions Russians have made to our country. Over half a million Russians have chosen Canada as their home. As the representative of the riding with the largest number of Russian speaking people in Canada, I have had the privilege to participate in the richness, complexity and beauty of the Russian culture first-hand.
    On the commercial front, our bilateral relationship means jobs for Canadians. Just last wee, our Minister of International Trade led a successful trade mission to Moscow and St. Petersburg with a delegation of Canadian companies with an eye to increasing the $2.7 billion worth of bilateral trade that currently exists between our two countries.
    We all know that trade means jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, which we on this side of the House are committed to. I wish our Russian friends Pozdravliau S Dnem Nezavisimosti.

International Year of Co-operatives

    Mr. Speaker, Corporate Knights is a respected quarterly magazine which, for 11 years, has been publishing the list of best 50 corporate citizens of Canada. To do so, it uses 11 indicators that measure social and environmental performance and corporate governance.
    The top three companies this year are Le Groupe Desjardins, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union and the Co-operators Group. It is fitting that in this, the International Year of Co-operatives, the three leading corporate citizens in Canada are co-ops.

[Translation]

    Monique Leroux, the chair of the board, president and CEO of Le Groupe Desjardins, had this to say, “This speaks volumes about our 'cooperative DNA'. As organizations, we’re rooted in our communities, dedicated to our people and the environment, and managed with a view to long-term development.”

[English]

    As well, all three companies are led by women: Monique Leroux for Desjardins; Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity; and Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of the Co-operators Group Limited.
    Here also, the co-ops are truly leading the way.

Personal Achievements

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the achievements of two remarkable constituents from my riding of Etobicoke Centre. The first is Johann Fisch, who has, for the past 30 years, planted a tree in Broadacres Park on Earth Day. In 2004, he incorporated his organization, Open Flag Planet Earth, whose objectives are to educate the public on the preserving the environment and to host an open house in green space annually.
    I admire and I congratulate Johann on his commitment to the environment.
    I also congratulate Brittany MacLean, a grade 12 student in Etobicoke Centre. On March 27, Brittany competed in Canada's Olympic trials and won the 400-metre freestyle event. Her time of 4 minutes and 6.8 seconds not only broke her personal best but also beat the Canadian record, which has stood since 2005. Most remarkably, her win qualified her for the London Olympics. I look forward to cheering her on this summer.
    I congratulate both Johanne and Brittany on their personal achievements. I am proud of the exceptional residents who call Etobicoke Centre their home and whom I have the honour to represent.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, we know there are skill shortages in this country and yet the government has hit the delete button on about 300,000 skilled worker applications. It is shoddy public administration, economic mismanagement and is callous.
     It has also prompted a number of visits to my office from constituents, including one whose sister and family have been in the queue since 2006. She wrote to me stating, “As a landed immigrant and now a proud Canadian Citizen, I am absolutely devastated to hear about the proposal of handing back my sister's application...[along] with their future dreams and opportunities of a better life for themselves and their children in Canada.
    “I cannot believe it has come to this...this is not the Canada we immigrated to. I am left with a heavy heart and an emptiness in the pit of my stomach, and the deep sadness for why I chose to come to Canada and call it home. This is not what Canada stands for”.
    Indeed, it is not.

Child Health Initiatives

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to an important organization that helps raise awareness for the health of Canadian children and youth, the sandbox project.
    The main goal of this charity is to make Canada the healthiest place on earth for a child to grow up in. With a focus on anti-obesity strategies, injury prevention, children's mental health and the environment, the Sandbox project's ambitious but achievable goal is to make measurable progress against these health issues through collaboration.
    In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of child health initiatives, today this organization has the world's largest sandbox here in Ottawa. Elementary school students from across Ottawa were joined by ministers, members of Parliament, NGOs, as well as industry, media and academic leaders to participate in sandcastle building. It was a great event. I especially thank my fellow members of this House who came out and generously gave of their time to participate in this event.
     I encourage every member to learn more about this organization at sandboxproject.ca. I know the health and well-being of Canada's children and youth is an important priority for every member of Parliament as this generation represents our future.

  (1415)  

Trinidad and Tobago

    Mr. Speaker, I stand before this House to congratulate the nation of Trinidad and Tobago on its 50th anniversary of independence. Trinidad and Tobago over the years has developed a great relationship with Canada.
    Recently, our Governor General, His Excellency David Johnston, was in Trinidad and Tobago to officially convey good wishes on behalf of the people of Canada. While he was there, he shared his great wisdom by addressing the faculty of the University of the West Indies.
    Canada is privileged to have a community of people who are of Trinidadian descent, some of whom live in my riding of Don Valley East. I am also pleased to say that my riding of Don Valley East has benefited from their hard work, dedication and contributions to Canada.
     I ask all members of this House to join me in congratulating His Excellency Phillip Buxo, the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago, and his delegation on this 50th anniversary. May the future bring growth and prosperity to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, today all members of this House will begin voting on amendments put forward by New Democrat colleagues and other opposition members of this House to delete sections from and to attempt to stop this grossly undemocratic Conservative Trojan Horse budget bill.
    People from across this country and in my riding of Surrey North are outraged that the Conservatives are trying to sneak through hundreds of sweeping changes, including cutting OAS, environmental assessment and fish habitat protection.
    This is an attack on democracy that is masquerading as a budget bill. I know people are outraged because, unlike the Conservatives, the New Democrats went out and listened to the concerns of the Canadians, and they are speaking out in incredible numbers against this bill. We are fighting on their behalf inside and outside of the House.
    Today I am asking Conservative members to do the right thing and vote to respect the will of Canadians and the basic principles of democracy.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly condemns the attacks Sunday on churches in Plateau and Borno states, Nigeria, where at least six people were killed and many more were injured. The terrorist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for both attacks. We are deeply saddened to see that Nigerians gathering to practise their faith have again become the target of terrorist acts.
    The Minister of Foreign Affairs recently met with his Nigerian counterpart to reaffirm that Canada stands in solidarity with the government and people of Nigeria in their fight against terrorism. Canada urges all people in Nigeria to work with the Nigerian government to counter extremism and terrorism, and bring to justice those responsible for these reprehensible crimes.
    Last, we pray for the safety of all innocent Nigerian women, men and children. God bless Nigeria and God bless Canada.

[Translation]

Pay Equity

    Mr. Speaker, as chair of the NDP women's caucus, today, I would like to express our deep indignation over the disastrous consequences that Bill C-38, a real Trojan Horse, will have in many areas of gender equality in Canada.
    Cuts to old age security and employment insurance and the elimination of the Canadian Women's Health Network and the National Aboriginal Health Organization will have a greater impact on women than on men.
    Equality is not a priority for this government. Clause 602 of Bill C-38 eliminates federal contractors' obligation to respect pay equity. This will have serious consequences for women's access to employment.
    I am proud that the NDP continues to work for Canadian women so that gender equality is not just wishful thinking but a reality.

[English]

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, our government has a plan to keep Canada's economic recovery on track. Unfortunately, the NDP has opposed and attempted to delay that plan at every turn. Sadly, this comes as no surprise from a party that is anti-jobs, anti-trade and anti-economic growth.
     NDP members have opposed our pro-trade plan by voting against free trade agreements that we have brought before this House. They also, shamefully, sent an anti-trade delegation to the U.S. to advocate against Canadian jobs. The NDP's anti-jobs and anti-growth views were further revealed when the NDP leader called Canada's resource industries a disease.
    When will the NDP members realize that they should be standing with us to support jobs and economic growth instead of against Canadian jobs?

  (1420)  

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to commend the National Assembly of Quebec on its unanimous motion commemorating the 180th anniversary of a law.

[Translation]

    This law, which was passed unanimously, granted Jews equality and complete political and religious emancipation.

[English]

    This move to grant Quebec Jews full civil and political equality was one of the first of its kind, arising out the case of Ezekiel Hart, a Jew from Trois-Rivières elected to l'Assemblée nationale, but twice prevented from sitting solely because of his faith.

[Translation]

    We must always remember our history, our heritage and the fight for equality.

[English]

    The 1832 emancipation of Quebec's Jews was a landmark step in the struggle for freedom and justice for all.

[Translation]

    This was a significant milestone in the fight for minority and human rights.

[English]

    I invite all members of the House to join me in celebrating his most historic occasion.

[Translation]

    We remember.

[English]

International Co-operation

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to draw attention to the recent release of CIDA's Development for Results 2010-11 report.
    This report contains compelling stories that highlight our government's results in developing countries and speak to the value Canadians share in making a difference in the lives of those who count on, and benefit from, Canada's support. These results include building or renovating 110 health facilities in Sudan, treating more than 17,000 children against AIDS in Mozambique, helping to feed 11 million people affected by famine in East Africa, giving one million Tanzanians access to credit, helping train 1,000 teachers in Colombia, and delivering hot meals to 400,000 boys and girls in Haiti.
    I encourage my colleagues and citizens in all corners of the country to read the moving stories in Development for Results 2010-11 to find out exactly how Canada's aid is making a real difference.

Conservative Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, Conservative backbenchers are slowly falling out of favour with the PMO. They dare to speak the truth. The Trojan Horse budget bill is dividing their caucus.
    A couple of weeks ago, the member for Kootenay—Columbia told constituents that the massive bill should be divided. Now, we find out that the member for Dufferin—Caledon is trying to get an environmental assessment for the proposed megaquarry in his riding, but the Minister of the Environment has shot him and his constituents down.
    Whether it is because of an environmental assessment, cuts to OAS, EI, food safety or any of the other attacks, Canadians want this Trojan Horse budget bill stopped.
    We salute these two brave Conservative backbenchers. We hope the PMO will allow them to speak their minds and represent their constituents. When the voting starts, we hope they will back up their words with action and vote with their hearts.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Economic action plan 2012 is the next step in our plan to create jobs across this great country.
    Tonight, as we vote into the early hours of the morning on our economic action plan, I urge the opposition members to put aside the interests of their big union bosses and activist allies and think about the priorities that matter most to Canadians. They should put aside their parliamentary games and focus on growth for our economy. The lengthy voting tonight will bring to an end a sad chapter of ineffectiveness for the opposition: no witness to back up their opinions at committee, failing to even show up and blocking the passage of an important bill.
    The opposition members should put away their ineffective games and support Canada's economic action plan 2012, a plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Syria

    Mr. Speaker, we have all witnessed the atrocities committed against the Syrian people by the Assad regime, which is now carrying out targeted attacks on children.

  (1425)  

[English]

    Can the Prime Minister update Canadians on diplomatic efforts undertaken in response to the Syrian crisis, especially diplomatic efforts toward Russia, which remains a key Syrian ally?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question.
    The actions of the Syrian regime and the violence against its own citizens are completely unacceptable.

[English]

    We have been working very hard, Mr. Speaker, as you know, with our allies to impose binding sanctions with other United Nations actors through the UN Arab League peace initiative. We encourage all to work together to implement that initiative. We encourage Russia and others to join with us to apply binding sanctions against what is a murderous regime. This is unacceptable to Canadians and, I believe, to the broader international community.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Let us get back to the mammoth budget bill. Today, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy released a scathing report on the Conservatives' failure to take action on climate change.
    The report is clear: Canada will not meet its greenhouse gas reductions target and, by not taking action now, the Conservatives will force future generations to pay a high price.
    Is the real reason why the Prime Minister is dismantling the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy that it is doing its job well and condemning the Conservative government's failures in environmental policy?
     Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, I note that the report indicates that the government made considerable progress last year with respect to its targets.
    There are obviously other actions to be considered. However, the reality is that emissions in Canada were increasing rapidly when this government came to power. Today, however, our greenhouse gas emissions are declining. We intend to continue down this path.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has already admitted that his Trojan Horse budget will be used to slash funding for any group that has the gall to disagree with Conservative policy. That apparently includes the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy because it gives him facts that contradict the decisions he has already made.
    Last year, the Supreme Court had to order the Prime Minister to practise fact-based decision making, not decision-based fact making. Why does he keep getting it wrong?
    Mr. Speaker, as the report notes, the Government of Canada has made increased progress toward its commitments to the actions it has undertaken over the past year. The government will look at additional actions. The reality, as I said before, is that when this government came to office, the emissions of greenhouse gases were increasing rapidly. Under this government, emissions of greenhouse gases have actually begun to decline and this government has done that while our economy continues to grow. We have every intention of continuing down this path.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are dismantling employment insurance without even consulting those who contribute to it.
    Thousands of women already have a hard time accessing EI. Two out of three women who lose their jobs are not eligible for employment insurance, and the Conservatives' Trojan Horse is only going to make matters worse.
    When will the Conservatives start consulting workers instead of attacking them?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority is job creation, economic growth and getting Canadians back to work. The government is making improvements to the EI program to ensure that it is fair, continues to meet the needs of Canadians and is responsive to local labour market demands both now and in the future.
    As we know, we are facing unprecedented labour skill shortages. It will be critical that we work directly with Canadians to make sure they have access to available jobs.

Employment Equity

    Mr. Speaker, this budget does not put people back to work. It cuts jobs, cuts growth and hurts seasonal industries.
    This budget bill also quietly deletes employment equity rules for federal contractors, provisions brought in by the Mulroney government. These rules are not a problem for bidders, yet Conservatives are recklessly dismantling a program that helps businesses tackle discrimination.
    Why is the Prime Minister using a Trojan Horse budget bill to go after some of the most vulnerable Canadians? Why would he do that?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the federal contractors program is actually being strengthened by our actions.
    What we are doing is we are actually making it a contractual obligation with the federal government to ensure that contractors have employment equity plans if they want to do business with us. I think that is an excellent change.
    The hon. member for Toronto Centre.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Federal-Provincial Relations

    Mr. Speaker, now they love me!
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Bob Rae: I have a question for the Prime Minister.
    When the Atlantic premiers met a couple of weeks ago, they expressed strong concern about the impact of federal legislation on their jurisdiction. When the western premiers met, they called for a national energy strategy, something they felt was lacking with respect to the federal government.
    I would like to ask the Prime Minister, in light of the fragile economic situation to which he refers so often, does he not think it is finally time to call the first ministers of this country together to develop a national plan for our economy to get this country moving and to stop the divisiveness and lack of consultation—
    The Right Hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, of course this government consults regularly across the country, not just with provincial premiers but with all affected Canadians.
    There were literally hundreds of consultations done in preparation for this year's economic action plan. I believe the fact that we do those kinds of consultations explains why the economic policies of this government have been so strongly supported by Canadians and have shown such good results for the Canadian economy.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must admit that the Atlantic premiers are quite concerned about the problems with Bill C-38. The western premiers have called for some strategies as well.
    Does the Prime Minister not see the contradiction here? He goes to Europe demanding fiscal co-operation between the European countries, but when it comes to Canada, he refuses to even meet face-to-face with this country's premiers.
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary. As I just said, we consult regularly across the country, not just with provincial premiers but also with people who represent the public interest. This government obviously respects provincial jurisdictions. One of the results of these consultations is the superior performance of Canada's economy.

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary has admitted that he wrote a cheque for $21,000 prior to the election to a company called the Holinshed Research Group. He has also admitted that in the middle of the election campaign, an invoice was changed to lower the amount so that it would be underneath the election expenses of his campaign. The records now show that at least 630 hours of calls took place, which have not been explained or justified.
    The member who is heckling me now is the member who promised just a couple of days ago to reveal all, that he would answer all the contradictions.
    I would like to ask the Prime Minister if he has the answer to these questions.
    Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the hon. member for Peterborough has submitted all of his information to Elections Canada.
    In fact, that report was certified several years ago. The member of Parliament not only won that election but has since won a subsequent election. He serves his constituents and this House honourably, and I think we all should treat each other with a little more consideration than that.

  (1435)  

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, hidden in the Conservatives' outrageous budget bill is the rejection of foreign skilled workers who have played by the rules and waited in line. Conservative mismanagement, on top of Liberal mismanagement, has left a huge backlog of applicants. How many of them are doctors? How many are skilled tradespeople? Now, we will never know, because the Conservative budget bill simply rejects them all, sight unseen.
    Will the minister reverse this reckless and unfair decision?
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. When this government came to office in 2006, it inherited from the Liberals a backlog of immigration cases, with 840,000 people waiting for up to eight years in the system. That is absolutely true.
    In 2008, we brought forward amendments to the immigration act to allow us to begin to reduce those backlogs. The Liberals and the NDP voted against those amendments. Had we not adopted those amendments in 2008, the backlog would now be 1.5 million cases, with people waiting for up to 15 years. Thanks to the actions in this budget, in Bill C-38, we will have a just-in-time immigration system.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP will always vote against the Conservatives' irresponsible budgets. These changes should have been debated independently from the budget measures.
    The people who wish to immigrate here followed the rules. They put their lives on hold, believing, as they should, that Canada would process their applications in a fair and equitable manner. However, under clause 707 of Bill C-38, exactly the opposite will happen.
    Instead of wiping out tens of thousands of applications with the stroke of a pen, will the minister agree to withdraw this clause from the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, no, absolutely not, because if we were to follow the NDP's policy, the processing times for immigration cases would go from eight years to 10, 12 or 15 years. That is completely irresponsible. Canada needs an effective immigration system, one that can match new immigrants with the jobs that are available. Our reforms to the economic immigration system will increase income and employment levels among newcomers.
    We want a system that works well for the Canadian economy and for newcomers.

[English]

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, without any consultation, without any facts and without any consideration for what happens to people and their families, the Conservatives' Trojan Horse budget bill is pulling the rug out from under Canadians who have worked hard and played by the rules.
    Many Canadian seniors are already living in poverty because the Conservatives have refused to invest properly in OAS and GIS. However, instead of trying to better serve seniors, they are actually making things much worse.
    Why this attack on tomorrow's seniors?
    Mr. Speaker, just to state again, there will be no reduction in seniors' pensions.
    Just this week, the OECD released its “Pensions Outlook 2012”, which urges countries to make the necessary changes to ensure long-term sustainability of these retirement plans. I will quote the Secretary-General of the OECD:
    Bold action is required. Breaking down the barriers that stop older people from working beyond traditional retirement ages will be a necessity to ensure that our children and grand-children can enjoy an adequate pension at the end of their working life.
    We are taking action to create sustainable programs. I ask the NDP why it has never supported—
    Order, please.
    The hon. member for Hochelaga.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Conservatives are saying, old age security has a proven track record. It is a viable system.
    Maybe the Conservatives do not realize this, but for tens of thousands of low-income seniors, this program is the difference between living in dignity and living in poverty.
    If the Conservatives' math is so reliable, then why are they unable to justify their decision to start stealing money from seniors in 2023, and not 2030 or 2050?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me state once again, there will be no reductions in seniors' pensions.
    In order to ensure the sustainability of OAS in the future, we are increasing the age from 65 to 67 over a gradual period of time, from 2023 to 2029. Our government is committed to sustainable social programs and a secure retirement for all Canadians.
    Once again, I ask the NDP, why is it that we on this side of the House support sustainable social programs for this and future generations, and it does not?

  (1440)  

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP respects Canadian seniors, and that is why we will not vote in favour of the budget.
    The environment commissioner said that with Bill C-38, there would be only 20 to 30 federal environmental assessments a year.
    These irresponsible cuts will allow pipelines to cross our rivers with virtually no safeguards. Canadians are already carrying the weight of $7 billion in environmental debt.
    Why add to the environmental debt of future generations? Why are the Conservatives so irresponsible?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is from a colleague who did not even bother to attend the committee.
    Our goal in this government is to strengthen world-class protection of the environment, even as we make Canada the most attractive country in the world for resource investment and development. We will implement a policy of one proposal, one review in clearly defined time periods. We will strengthen environmental protection. We will make reviews of resource projects more predictable. We will reduce duplication. We will enhance consultations with aboriginal Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, there are Conservative MPs who have actually read Bill C-38 and understand its implications. The hon. members for Wellington—Halton Hills and Dufferin—Caledon have demanded full environmental assessments for the Dufferin County megaquarry. They say that their constituents deserve no less than full environmental assessments.
    We agree. In fact, we say that all Canadians have the right to full environmental assessments for these projects, all of them. However, these Conservative MPs will be forced tonight to vote for a bill that guts assessments.
    Why are they increasing environmental risks? Why are they being so irresponsible to Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the project my colleague referred to is undergoing an environmental assessment under the responsible authority of the Government of Ontario.
    At this point my officials have advised me that none of the triggers required to spark a federal intervention have been, or are likely to be, tripped.

[Translation]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives do not take anything seriously, not even the Elections Canada investigation of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister's election return.
    Yesterday, my colleague from Nepean—Carleton kept handing us the same insipid line about how all of the documents were turned over and how everything else was made up.
    Yesterday evening, we learned that the individual in question, the member for Peterborough, was still turning over new information. It seems that not everything has been revealed after all.
    We are simply asking the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister to do the right thing while this matter is under investigation. When will he step down?
    The hon. member turned all of the documents over to Elections Canada nearly four years ago. He has won another election since then. Elections Canada has not asked him for any more information.
    The New Democrats should be more open and transparent about telling Canadians how much union money they have accepted illegally and how much of that money they have paid back.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I love the political musings of the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton. I really do. I think he would make a great Republican blogger.
    Unfortunately, he makes a pretty lousy defence attorney, because he needs to get his story straight with his client. Yesterday and today he said that all of the documents have been provided. Yesterday the hon. member for Peterborough came forward and said that the $21,000 bill from Holinshed was not a real bill, just an invoice.
    We are dealing with serious allegations. Will the hon. member stand up, fire his defence attorney and tell this House that he has been compromised? He needs to step down until this investigation is complete.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, not only has the hon. member given all the information required of a filing over to Elections Canada, not only have those filings been audited and verified by Elections Canada, not only has another election passed since that time, but he has also not even been contacted by Elections Canada in search of additional information.
    By contrast, he has taken the stance that the NDP should come clean on the illegal union donations for which it was caught and for which it had to plead guilty. Now all that we ask is for the leader of the NDP to rise, explain how much illegal money his party took, and how much it gave back.
    Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, I have to keep Band-Aids on my ankles from the partisan ankle-biter trying to change the channel. What we have here—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. I do not think referring to each other in that manner is helpful to the debate. I will ask the member to get to his question without using that type of characteristic.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday you thought it was okay, but I will accept your judgment on this.
    What we are dealing with is a $21,000 bill that the Conservatives claim is a non-bill. Around this bill, we have personal cheques, cancelled cheques and refunded cheques. We have an investigation, lawsuits and court files. These are serious issues.
    I ask the member for Peterborough to do the right thing and stand up and say that he will step down while this investigation is under way. That is what he needs to do.
    Mr. Speaker, all I ask is for that hon. member to stop gnawing on his own ankles and join with me in an effort to raise the level of discourse around here.
     We on this side of the House are focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, no matter how hard the opposition members try to distract from that economic agenda. Tonight, they have a chance to join with us and do what Canadians actually care about, and that is to keep taxes and debt low, to keep the economy strong and to build on the 750,000 net new jobs we have already created.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians care about the environment too. Albertans are grappling with up to a half a million litres of crude oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline, which experts say may never be cleaned up.
     Gord and Bonnie Johnston watched their waterfront property become a lake of oil. They are now living in a hotel wondering what to do next. Fifty years ago, when this pipeline was built, there was no effective environmental assessment in place, and now we see the consequences.
    Will the Prime Minister explain personally to Mr. and Mrs. Johnston just why he is using Bill C-38 to unravel decades of work to improve environmental safeguards and results?
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the spill referred to by my colleague, the lead agency is the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board. Environment Canada officials are standing by to provide advice, but to this point we have not.
    However, to my colleague's point, through economic action plan 2012, which we will vote on tonight, our government will increase funding for pipeline safety by over $13 million. We also provide, through responsible resource development, more frequent pipeline inspections.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, if we really want to improve our assessment process, we need more scientists at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Instead, the government decimated the agency and transferred its responsibilities to the National Energy Board, but this kind of work is not in the board's bailiwick. Then the government cut the board off at the knees so that pipelines could be built without appropriate assessments meant to protect the natural resources that communities depend on.
    Why will the government not split up the indigestible mishmash that is Bill C-38 so that these environmental reforms can receive the parliamentary consideration they deserve?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the responsible resource development plan and our legislation to support it will enhance, in a very significant way, environmental protection. There are $160 million going into environmental protection to enhance maritime safety and pipeline safety, as the hon. member knows very well.

  (1450)  

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is rubbing his hands as he advances his “fend for yourself” destruction plan. However, for seasonal workers, seniors and working families, the PM's smile is far more menacing than comforting. His plan would rip moneys from the hands of seniors and would attack the EI benefits of seasonal workers, while funnelling money into jets and expensive orange juice for high-rolling ministers.
     Why is it that the economic distraction plan 2012 can only be successful if the poor and vulnerable are thrown under the Conservative campaign bus?
    Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority is the economy, long-term prosperity and ensuring that Canadians have a job. We have created 760,000 net new jobs since the economic recession began.
    At the same time, we do recognize that there are Canadians who have difficulty finding work. That is why we are better connecting Canadians through these substantive changes that we are making to the employment insurance program as well as others so we can ensure Canadians are connected to jobs in their local areas with their qualifications. They can therefore have a successful future.

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety usually loves scoring political points at the expense of victims of crime, but yesterday, we learned that, to him, not all victims are equal. Imagine. He tried to change the wording of the RCMP's apology to victims of serial killer Robert Pickton in order to ensure that someone other than the RCMP can be blamed for the botched investigation.
    Why is the minister acting so shamefully regarding one of the most horrific cases in Canada's legal history?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not need to take any lessons from NDP members who have consistently voted against victims' rights in the House.
     I am the minister in the House responsible for the RCMP and to all Canadians. We work with the RCMP to ensure that its communications are appropriate in all circumstances. I have no reason to question the RCMP's conclusion that an apology was appropriate.
    For our part, our government is taking action to stand up for victims and to give police officers the tools they need to do their jobs. I wish the NDP would do it just once.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister's actions are shameful. It is right and important that the government apologize to the victims of this tragedy and their families for the botched investigation and dismissal they experienced.
    For too long these women were ignored, shut out and silenced. It is a fact that the RCMP could have done more. The RCMP has acknowledged that.
    Will the minister acknowledge his political interference was callous and demeaning? Will he now apologize?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it quite amazing that the NDP is constantly asking me to take responsibility for the RCMP and to ensure that I do my job. That is exactly what I have done.
    As I have indicated, I have no reason to question the RCMP's conclusion that an apology was appropriate. The apology was clear. It was sent out by the RCMP.
    I want to get back to that member's failure to stand up for victims. She has been in the House for over a decade and has done nothing for victims.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the case of Corporal Stuart Langridge at the Military Police Complaints Commission is a litany of failure by the Department of National Defence.
    The family was not told about the existence of his suicide note for 14 months. Corporal Langridge put himself in to psychiatric care, but was not allowed to remain there even when he said he was considering suicide. He was put onto menial cleanup duty when he should have been on suicide watch.
    Why has the minister chosen to intervene to stop documents from going to the commission?
    It is untrue, Mr. Speaker. As always, the member once again is trying to insert himself and politicize a serious investigation and process that is under way. The Military Police Complaints Commission has received nothing but co-operation and compensation from this government with respect to this matter to get to the bottom of what really is a tragedy.
    It is for that reason that I met with Corporal Langridge's mother and that we have been supportive of this process throughout. This process is now well under way. It is going to come to a conclusion. It will be instructive for the military as we go forward.
     I wish the hon. member would simply let that process work and stop trying to politicize a very tragic case.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure why the minister would avoid acknowledging he is stopping documents from going to the commission and other documents are heavily censored. The commission counsel knows it. The Fynes family knows it. The minister's own lawyers know it. Has the Fynes family not suffered enough?
    A board of inquiry done by DND and presented to the family blamed the death of Corporal Langridge on his own mother. Why is the minister holding documents back from the commission? Is he afraid of more facts coming to light?
    Mr. Speaker, that is completely false and vexatious evidence now being presented by the member in the House of Commons on an ongoing process that has been funded, now well over $3 million, to ensure the process is fair.
    Why is information not being given? It is something called the Supreme Court of Canada, which has ruled repeatedly on the issue of solicitor-client privilege, which the member knows full well, yet he chooses to be mendacious, to stand in the House of Commons and give false information in an ongoing process.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, later today the House will begin voting on legislation to implement economic action 2012. This important and necessary legislation takes long-term responsible steps to ensure Canada's finances are sustainable and support jobs and economic growth.
    Around the world, Canadians see the negative economic and social consequences of countries that delay and defer necessary reforms. Canada simply cannot afford to delay action.
    Could the Minister of Finance please underline for Canadians and the House the importance of Bill C-38 and economic action plan 2012?
    Mr. Speaker, economic action plan 2012 is about taking responsible and necessary steps to keep Canada in a position of strength in the global economy today and into the future. It is about ensuring that there are more jobs, ensuring that we can help spur economic growth, ensuring that we have sound public finances and ensuring that we can get back to balanced budgets. This is responsible, necessary and will make Canada's economy stronger.

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives cannot seem to agree whether linguistic duality is important to them or not. Agents of Parliament must be able to communicate in both English and French. It is necessary if they are to provide oversight for over 300 members of Parliament. It is an important part of our tradition and it is something of which the New Democrats are very proud.
     However, Conservatives continue to give official languages lip service. Canadians deserve to be served in the language of their choice. Will the Conservative government agree with our proposal to ensure that all officers of Parliament are bilingual?
    Mr. Speaker, our engagement with regard to official languages is without precedent. Our road map for linguistic duality has gained praise. Actually, the New Democratic Party is talking out of both sides of its mouth on this subject.
    The NDP has unilingual anglophone members of Parliament from majority francophone ridings. It has critics for official languages who are unilingual. In fact, two of its three deputy leaders in the House of Commons are unilingual anglophone.
    If NDP members want to preach to others about bilingual standards, perhaps they ought to hold themselves to their own standards.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we had to introduce Bill C-419 to ensure that our officers of Parliament are bilingual because the Conservatives appointed a unilingual anglophone Auditor General.
    It should be fairly simple. In Canada, we have two official languages: French and English.
    Although he is a Conservative, the hon. member for Beauce understands why this was important. However, some members of the Conservative caucus still do not get it.
    Will the government vote in favour of Bill C-419, yes or no?
     Mr. Speaker, as I just mentioned, our policies, engagement and investments with regard to official languages are without precedent. With regard to the government's commitment when it comes to bills, we will continue to protect both official languages across the country and within the federal government.
     It is the NDP that is two-faced on this issue with its unilingual anglophone members of Parliament in francophone ridings. They are the ones talking out of both sides of their mouths. We, the federal government, are responsibly representing both official languages in all our commitments.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has decided that the Conservatives do not care about French culture in the Prairies.
    We recently learned that the Franco-Manitoban newspaper La Liberté is in serious financial trouble. The minister says that there are no cuts, only changes. In reality, La Liberté will lose 50% of its funding under the publications assistance program.
    If that is not a cut, what is it exactly?
    Mr. Speaker, the envelope has not been eliminated. Subsidies for this publication are based on a formula. The agreement remains intact. We made changes to the formula three years ago. Why has the member done nothing for francophones in her region in the past three years since we changed the formula?
    Mr. Speaker, instead of insulting the opposition, I would like the minister to listen to the residents of Saint Boniface and the francophones from western Canada on this matter.
    In fact, there is some concern even within his own caucus. None other than the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, who is all too familiar with the art of making cuts, wrote to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to implore him to reverse his decision.
    The hon. member for Saint Boniface has said that La Liberté will be getting just 50% of the money it was allocated. She is concerned that the Conservatives are killing this newspaper.
    Is that what the Conservative government wants its legacy to be?
    Mr. Speaker, that is ridiculous. The investments are based on a formula. The decision was not made by the minister or the government. The investments are based on a formula that was designed and developed by the department three years ago. In future, changes to the formula will no doubt be considered, provided those changes will help us do things better.
    Why does the NDP constantly vote against our official languages action plans and against our commitments to protect francophone publications outside Quebec? Why has the hon. member not done anything in years for the francophones in her riding?

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, while the member for Peterborough was under scrutiny, he told his constituents and local media that he would be coming forth with his records. Unfortunately, he has not fulfilled this promise. We all know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister rightfully owes his constituents and Elections Canada an explanation, but they are not getting it.
    Will the Prime Minister force his parliamentary secretary to step aside and take action toward reducing the cloud of Conservative corruption that hangs over the government?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has already submitted his elections filings. It was almost four years ago. He has since fought a second election campaign and he has not heard anything from Elections Canada suggesting that there is a problem with any of the audited and verified filings that he has already submitted.
    The real issue is that members of the Liberal Party, like their friends in the NDP, are voting against an economic action plan that has already helped to create 700,000 net new jobs, that is growing the economy, that will help us become one of the only countries in the world to balance our budget without raising taxes.
    Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the government has traded in its old ethics spokesperson and has a used one out for a test drive.
    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport gained experience at political polling while he owned 3D Contact and did work for some 24 Conservative candidates in the 2006 election.
    Could the member explain to us how he paid $21,000 in during the pre-writ period and reported only $1,500 out during the election period? We have all seen this in and out scheme before.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for yet another thoughtful and mature question here on the floor of the House of Commons.
    The hon. member for Peterborough has followed all of the rules. He has submitted the documents. They have been audited and verified. He has not heard anything to the contrary from Elections Canada. He has conducted himself honourably in the House and on behalf of his constituents. That is something which not all members of the opposition can say for themselves.

  (1505)  

VIA Rail

    Mr. Speaker, a Conservative leak has revealed that drastic cuts to VIA Rail will be coming later this month. Conservatives are waiting until Parliament's summer break before letting Canadians know the truth. Travel from Toronto to Vancouver will be cut to only two trains a week. There will be cuts to services in southern Ontario and cuts to service from Halifax to Montreal.
    Will the Conservative government make these cuts public before we vote on their Trojan Horse job-killing budget bill?
    Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail regularly reviews its operations and makes changes where they make sense. We continue to work with VIA Rail to ensure economically efficient passenger rail for Canadians.
    We will be voting tonight. I wonder if the members across the way could ask themselves why they want to send billions of dollars over to Europe, to countries that do not manage their funds properly, and not focus on Canada.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is just another empty answer, yet it was a simple question. Will the Conservatives make the announcement before—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order.
    The hon. member for Trois-Rivières.
    Mr. Speaker, I think this is a simple question. Will the Conservatives make the announcement before the House rises for the summer?
    The service cuts that my colleague mentioned are not the only ones. Rail service between Montreal and Halifax will be offered only two days a week in the winter, instead of the current six possible departures. The trains that serve the people of Rimouski, Rivière-du-Loup and all of eastern Quebec are being cut. Not only does this sabotage a mode of transportation that is practical, environmentally friendly, safe and historic in Canada, but it will also undermine regional economies even more.
    Are these cuts just another way to force the regions to pay for the Conservatives' ideological cuts?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this government has made unprecedented investments in VIA Rail, almost $1 billion since we have come to power. We have built infrastructure and we will focus on jobs and improve on service for passengers. From time to time, VIA does review its scheduling to ensure that taxpayers and passengers get the best service for their investment.
    Again, I wish the NDP would look at the world view and instead of advocating for billions of dollars for Europe—
    The hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians can count on our government to ensure that our streets and communities are kept safe and that our correctional system actually corrects criminal behaviour. Since being elected in 2006, we have taken strong action to do just that, from the Truth in Sentencing Act. to ending the faint hope clause, to eliminating record suspensions for serious criminals.
    Would the Minister of Public Safety please give the House an update on how our government is improving victims' rights and strengthening offender accountability?
    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is fulfilling our promise to keep our streets and communities safe. Today, several measures from the Safe Streets and Communities Act have come into force, including enshrining the rights of victims to appear at parole hearings, ensuring our correctional system actually corrects behaviour by rewarding good behaviour and punishing the bad, and giving police officers the power to arrest offenders who appear to be violating their parole conditions. Shockingly, the NDP again voted against rights for victims.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    The minister is sensitive to bilingualism because he has learned that it is important to speak and understand both languages in the House. I have done exactly the same thing. Now officers of Parliament must be bilingual.
    Does he agree that they should be bilingual when hired, when appointed by Parliament? Yes or no? That is what we want the minister to tell us.
    Certainly, Mr. Speaker, it is a very important asset for all government appointees. We will continue to take this approach in the future.
    We will also keep working on our action plan for official languages, not just here on the Hill, but across Canada, to protect both official languages in all regions of the country.
    Last week, I started a series of round tables in the regions to talk to people at the grassroots level. We want to know how to promote French and English in the regions.

  (1510)  

[English]

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the First Nations Information Governance Centre has issued a report that paints a bleak picture of living conditions for first nations people. Almost one out of four first nations adults lives in overcrowded houses, half live in homes with mildew, and one out of five reduces the size of his or her meals simply because there is not enough food.

[Translation]

    The worst thing is that these problems have gotten worse since the Conservatives came to power.

[English]

    Will the government finally admit there is a problem and actually do something about first nations living conditions?
    Mr. Speaker, we continue to work to improve the quality of life and the economic prosperity of aboriginal peoples. We had a meeting with the first nations chiefs at the historic Crown-First Nations Gathering to discuss shared priorities and explore new ways of working together. We are building the foundations for economic and social success. Concrete actions are being taken on education, economic development, housing, child and family services, access to safe drinking water, and matrimonial real property.

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, in a recent survey conducted by Thomas Reuters Foundation involving 63 global experts from five continents, Canada was ranked as the best place to be a woman among the G20 nations.
    This was based on key indicators of health, education, justice, access to resources and freedom from violence, trafficking and slavery.
    Could the Minister for Status of Women tell this House what the government is doing to make Canada an even better place for women and girls?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for all the great work she is doing on behalf of women across Canada.
    These 63 global experts from five continents recognize that our efforts to promote gender equality, to safeguard women and girls against violence and exploitation, and to ensure their access to health care are what make Canada a great country for women.
    Women in Canada can count on our government to continue our efforts in that respect. We have increased funding for women to its highest level ever, funding over 500 projects now to end violence against women across Canada.
    We will continue to fight for women's economic opportunities, their safety, their political participation and equality.

[Translation]

Government Subsidies

    Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-38, the Conservative government continues to muzzle anyone who has the misfortune of saying or thinking something that contradicts the Prime Minister's Office.
    After attacking scientists, the Conservatives are now attacking civil society groups.
    Environmental groups are not the only ones being put through the wringer. It is happening to other groups that are politically active, fighting to eliminate poverty or demand better housing, for example.
    Why are the Conservatives so intent on going after all the groups that contradict them, instead of learning from their experience? Is this the Prime Minister's vision of democracy—starving anyone who says what he does not want to hear?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, but what he said is untrue.

[English]

    We are calling on all of our colleagues across the floor to stand tonight and support a piece of legislation which, among other things, includes responsible resource development.
    One way or the other, I can assure my colleague that the government will prevail, that the environment will be better protected, and that Canadians will be better served in terms of protecting jobs and the economy.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, in Bill C-38, by eliminating the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and putting strict limits on the number of environmental assessments, the Conservatives are playing along with the oil companies and looking to accelerate pipeline approvals and oil sands development.
    In an open letter to the Prime Minister, more than 100 environmental lawyers criticized this approach and cautioned that it could lead to many more legal battles.
    Since it is not too late, does the government plan on withdrawing the provisions that are detrimental to the environment, as called for by the vast majority of Quebeckers and the Bloc Québécois?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the short answer to my colleague is no. Our responsible resource development legislation in fact strengthens the environmental assessment process at the same time as it strengthens Canada's position in a highly competitive global economy to attract investment and to create jobs.
    Tonight as we sit through the long hours voting on a number of unnecessary amendments, my colleague should bear that in mind and think very carefully about balancing protection of the environment and the creation of jobs.

  (1515)  

House of Commons

    I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Board of Internal Economy on the administration of the House of Commons.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

[English]

In Memoriam--1972 Munich Olympics Athletes

    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all parties, and I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That the House offer its support for a moment of silence to be held at the 2012 London Olympics in memory of those killed 40 years ago in the tragic terrorist events of the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: 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)


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Firearms Act

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the proposed firearms information regulations regarding non-restricted firearms in accordance with section 118 of the Firearms Act.
     I am proposing these regulations to ensure that there will not be a long gun registry by the back door and that Parliament will be respected, as well as to ensure that the leader of the NDP will not be able to use data collected by CFOs to attack the rights of law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters through recreating the long gun registry, as he has promised to do should he ever get the chance.

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 47 petitions.

[Translation]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association respecting its participation in the second round of the French presidential election, held in Paris, France, from May 3 to 6, 2012.

[English]

Terminator Seeds Ban Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce a bill I had reintroduced in previous Parliaments, an act to prohibit the planting, cultivation, release, sale and importation of seeds incorporating or altered by variety-genetic use restriction technologies, V-GURTs, also called “terminator technologies”.
    As members probably know, in 2006 the UN upheld the moratorium on terminator seed technology. This technology allows genetically engineered plants to produce sterile seeds at harvest. Unfortunately Canada, along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, attempted to undermine this moratorium, but they were not successful.
    Adoption of this legislation will ensure that Canada takes a firm stand against this devastating technology.

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

  (1520)  

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Government Operations and Estimates  

    Mr. Speaker, I move that the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, presented on November 23, 2011, be concurred in.
    I would like to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

[English]

    This refers to the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, and it involves government support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
    I think we all know that small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial role in our economy. They account for something like 98% of all firms, 60% of all jobs, and 70% of all net new jobs, so anything government can do to support small and medium-sized enterprises is very positive and helpful.

[Translation]

    We decided to examine two cases and we questioned witnesses to determine whether these programs were good or bad, whether they should be renewed and whether they should be changed in any way.

[English]

    One of these items that we examined was the Canadian innovation commercialization program. This was a program designed for small and medium-sized enterprises, whereby they could put bids in for government support to help fund their innovation, and then their innovation would be examined and commented on by government departments.
    We had a number of witnesses both from within the government and outside the government, and the general consensus was that this program was a success. It was helping Canadian small companies to innovate, be successful and improve productivity.
    The program was to run for two years. In our committee report, we recommended that this program be made permanent. The government, in its answer, gave a somewhat ambiguous reply, but we then learned in the budget that the government had indeed cancelled the program.
    It is ironic that the government should have cancelled the program, because just today a new OECD report came out on the Canadian economy, and the primary recommendation was that Canada had to do something and get its act together to deal with our very lacklustre performance in the areas of productivity and innovation.
    This program that the government killed was precisely designed to help small businesses be more productive and innovative. All of the witnesses said that this program was having success, and yet the government chose to kill it.
    As I have said before, often there have to be some reductions in government expenditures. We on the Liberal side do not object to that, but when the Conservatives focus their cuts on science, on Statistics Canada, on knowledge-generating, innovation-generating activities of government, then we certainly take exception to that.
    Canada's productivity has lagged since 2002, I believe, which is a long period of time. It is actually lower today than it was 10 years ago.
    All kinds of new programs and new activities should be considered to improve Canada's very dismal productivity and innovation performance. The fact that the government chose to eliminate one of the more successful programs in this area is certainly not good news for Canadian innovators and Canadian small businesses in general.
    The second case that we examined was the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises.
    Government can be very difficult to understand for a small company without massive numbers of employees, particularly in the area of procurement. The idea of this agency is that it could help small and medium-sized businesses have access to government procurement. Government procurement, as we have heard in recent weeks, has been a total flop in certain areas, as in the case of the F-35s, but it involves billions of dollars.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    It is important that small and medium-sized businesses have access to these programs since it is difficult for them to obtain all the required information. It is important that a government program help these businesses find the information and participate in government procurement.

[English]

    I know from my time in government that often these procurements are very large. An effort is made to bundle the smaller components to make them into a bigger contract.
    Again we heard from stakeholders that this program was a success. We heard that there were certain things that could be done to improve it, but that over time the agency had been increasing the number of companies benefiting from its activities and increasing the amount of procurement going to the smaller companies.

[Translation]

    The committee report was unanimously concurred in. All political parties agreed. We are disappointed that the government cancelled the first program that I talked about because, in this day and age, Canada needs more innovation and productivity, as the OECD said today.
    By cancelling this program, the government is negatively affecting the productivity and innovation of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat aghast at what the hon. member for Markham—Unionville just said about the Canadian innovation and commercialization program being abolished.
    I will read from the budget itself: “Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes...[an additional] $95 million over three years, starting in 2013–14, and $40 million per year thereafter to make the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program permanent and to add a military procurement component.”
    Perhaps the member for Markham—Unionville did not read the budget. It states right there that it is to be made permanent. I was part of that committee and was delighted to work with that member to make that recommendation.
    Did the member read the budget, and does he have any comments to make to correct his statement that the program has been abolished?
    Mr. Speaker, I do remember doing the report, and I also enjoyed working with the hon. member on that report.
    I would have to go back and consult with my colleagues. It seems I may have been misinformed on this issue, but I will check.
    Mr. Speaker, there have been a litany of actions on the part of the government that have been difficult for small and medium-sized businesses and very few to benefit small and medium-sized businesses.
    One of the recent initiatives that retailers tell us is harmful is that the doubling of duty-free shopping has not been accompanied by the removal of duty on those goods when they are purchased by retailers in Canada. As a result, they are now at a huge disadvantage, as a lot more people will be going across and spending their dollars in the United States instead of through retailers in Canada.
    Can the member tell us if there is anything in this budget that is positive for small businesses?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Vancouver Quadra does a lot of work involving small business. She is our critic in that area. She raises a very good example in relation to this new measure that allows Canadians to buy more south of the border.
     I know that many retailers, particularly those with operations relatively close to the border, are suffering immensely from this move and have the potential to suffer more, so I certainly would agree with her that this measure is not good for small business.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member is an economist and knows a bit about finance. He sits on the finance committee and is the former finance critic.
    The government always boasts about being able to introduce certain tax reductions. All it has done to boost productivity, as the member's speech was focused on productivity, was to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance. However, companies have been asking for it to be extended it for longer periods of time, because the purchase of large machinery and equipment requires a four- or five-year commitment down the line. I wonder if the member is in agreement with this.
    As well, the government is boastful about reducing taxes, but what we have actually seen is an increase in unemployment premiums, an increase in income tax rates in the first years of this government and increases in all kinds of other hidden taxes. I am wondering if that adds anything to productivity.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with my colleague that the government keeps talking about cutting taxes and has cut a few, but it never tells us when it raises taxes.
    I remember that the government raised the income tax rate back in 2006, but claimed that it had actually cut it. The income tax form that every Canadian filled out made it abundantly clear that the rate had gone up, not down. The government did not seem to know the difference between up and down.
    I think the EI premium hike that started at the beginning of the year was $600 million, if I remember the figure correctly, and EI premiums, as we all know, are a tax on jobs. The government chose to increase the tax on jobs to the tune of $600 million. All of the experts agreed that premiums should be raised far more gradually, over a longer period of time, and not increased at this time of what the Prime Minister calls a “fragile economy”.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on this particular issue.
    For the most part, the government has been fairly negligent in dealing with an industry that is critically important to all Canadians. When I talk about industry, I am referring to small and medium-sized businesses, the entrepreneurs who, ultimately, many would argue, are the backbone of our economy. The amount of contributions to future potential job growth that is within those small and medium-sized businesses is phenomenal. When the government does not take this industry responsibly as an issue, we lose opportunities.
    I want to focus on that because we had a report that the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates brought forward. The hon. member for Markham—Unionville is quite familiar with that report as he is one of the co-chairs of the committee. The report details the importance of procurement. The Government of Canada spends billions of dollars every year on procurement and on a number of contracts. There is a very vital and important role for small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs to be engaged in those procurement contracts.
    We want to emphasize just how important that is to the government. We, in the Liberal Party, have acknowledged it. Years ago, we set up frameworks to ensure that small businesses would have the opportunity to get engaged in those procurement contracts. We look forward to seeing a more progressive government that will ultimately see small and medium-sized businesses more engaged.
    I will cite a couple of specific examples. I could talk about the F-35 and military procurement and the manner in which the government has made a mess of the whole procurement process. For example, why was there no tendering process for the F-35? To what degree could we have ensured there would have been bundled small contracts incorporated into these larger contracts when government issues billions of taxpayers' dollars on one procurement?
    Those are the types of things we need to look at and give good and detailed diligence to. There is a great deal of merit to breaking up these larger contracts that are bundled into one.
    There are industries across Canada. I have had the opportunity to tour a couple of facilities in Winnipeg where mobile military tracks built are built. These are very small components. Those are bundled into a larger contract. These are good quality jobs. Those are the types of things that we need to be very much cognizant of.
    That is why even in government expenditures, the amount of dollars we spend every year on these procurements, there is a vital and important role these small and medium-sized businesses play. We in the Liberal Party have acknowledged that role. We want to encourage the government to review the budget process it has been entering into over the last number of years, which has denied many of these small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to legitimately participate, thereby losing millions of dollars or potential contracts, which prevents jobs from being created. The government needs to approach it in a much more open-minded way.
    I think of Winnipeg's garment industry. I had a wonderful tour of Peerless Garments Limited. Peerless has been one of many different businesses in Winnipeg that has used government procurement contracts to sustain good quality jobs in the city of Winnipeg. It has done that and it has been very effective.

  (1535)  

    I could talk about Peerless, StandardAero or the aerospace industry as a whole. We can see that in the relatively smaller communities like Winnipeg, compared to Toronto, Mississauga, Montreal, Vancouver or Calgary, and then we have many of the medium-sized cities such as Edmonton, Halifax and St. John's, but all of these communities should have the ability to compete for some of those government contracts.
    There has been some progress. For years the Martin and Chrétien government talked about how important the Internet was. I can recall having discussions with the former president of the Treasury Board, Reg Alcock, on how important he thought it was for procurement contracts to be done on the Internet because that technology would be better able to provide opportunities for all small and medium-sized businesses to participate in government contracts.
    At the end of the day, the more aggressive and committed the Government of Canada is at widening the field and ensuring that these small and medium-sized businesses are in a position to compete for those tendered contracts, the better for the taxpayer and the better for the economy itself.
    We need to look at the technology that is there. It is very real today and the opportunity is greater today than it ever has been because of that technology. However, we need to go beyond that. There are many different minority groups, whether they be professional women running businesses or the many different ethnic minority groups that may not be as familiar with the government contract process. What can we do to enhance and encourage their involvement in the process?
    One of the things I would suggest is to have seminars. We see some of that happening today through the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, and that is a great thing to see, but we can never see enough of that because, at the end of the day, if we can get more people interested in participating in the process and get more businesses interested and aware of the number of contracts that are on the Internet the better we will be.
    A great Internet site is buyandsell.ca. When I click into that site I can see how many hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of potential contracts are there. We need to ensure t there is a very strong educational component that engages small and medium-sized businesses. We need to challenge our chambers of commerce from coast to coast to coast to come up with ideas to ensure those community businesses are aware of the types of contracts that the Government of Canada is engaged in and encourage their participation.
    If we do that, then I believe at the end of the day there will be more jobs created for Canada, more opportunities and better quality products. We believe that the government needs to work with the stakeholders to engage both small and medium-sized businesses. I think that is critically important to our economy and all of us would do well to give more attention to that issue.
    Having said that, I move:
    That the House do now adjourn.

  (1540)  

     Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Call in the members.

  (1620)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 283)

YEAS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Ashton
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Benskin
Blanchette
Boivin
Borg
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Byrne
Caron
Charlton
Chisholm
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Cleary
Coderre
Comartin
Cotler
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Fortin
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
Mai
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Patry
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rae
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Sullivan
Thibeault
Trudeau
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 118

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Hoeppner
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Obhrai
Oda
Oliver
Opitz
Paradis
Payne
Penashue
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 159

PAIRED

Nil

     I declare the motion defeated.

[English]

    There are now five minutes of questions and comments for the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    The hon. member for Vancouver—Quadra.
    Mr. Speaker, could we stop the clock until people have cleared the room?
    Could all hon. members who are leaving the chamber please do so, so that we might continue and move the agenda forward expeditiously?
    The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.
    Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the comments of my colleague from Winnipeg North, who clearly has a lot of experience in supporting small- and medium-size enterprises in his community and province. He is passionate on the subject.
    I note that a recent study by the Procurement Ombudsman revealed that while some data are being collected about government procurement, there is a lot of missing data and that the data that are collected are not being used.
    Measurement and data collection are key to being able to improve a system and to wider participation in government procurement. Businesses have been asking the government to address the issue for more than six years, saying that there is not proper measurement and not proper evaluation of procurement. Both are key to participation by small- and medium-size business.
    Could my colleague tell us how this lack of data and measurement might impact small and medium businesses in the new Canadian community?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver Quadra demonstrates, just as I indicated in my speech, that the government has dropped the ball in not recognizing the important role it can play in government procurement. Information is gold and we must have the information there in order to make the types of decisions necessary. Whether it is the role of an ombudsman or an opposition member, at the end of the day we want the information to be in the right hands so that more small- and medium-size businesses will be engaged in the whole area of government procurement.
    As I tried to illustrate before, having more small- and medium-size businesses engaged in the procurement process equates to more jobs and better quality products. Every Canadian will win in that situation. That is the type of support we want to see and Liberal Party is encouraging the government to take action on that.

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend for Winnipeg North indicated his alleged support for small business. There is significant support for small- and medium-size businesses in the next phase of the government's economic action plan. For example, there is the doubling of resources for IRAP, which will have a significantly positive impact on high-tech companies in my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo, and there is $400 million for a venture capital fund, again providing capital for companies with high growth potential.
     Earlier my colleague from Etobicoke—Lakeshore clearly indicated that the Canadian innovation and commercialization program would be made permanent despite the intervention of our colleague across the floor. Now that we know that the CICP will be made permanent, will the Liberal Party vote in favour of our budget this evening?
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting for a Conservative to say that we in the Liberal Party only have alleged concern for small- and medium-size businesses when in fact it was the Liberal Party of Canada that led the charge to ensure that small- and medium-size businesses were a part of the government agenda. It was the Liberal Party of Canada last fall that said this was about jobs, jobs, jobs, and we recognized the important role that small- and medium-size businesses play in ensuring that those jobs will be there. Instead, we saw the government bring in a budget document that I would argue does not deliver what is necessary for those small- and medium-size businesses to prosper and to be able to generate the—
    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I realize and recognize that a member is supposed to bring a point of order to the floor of the chamber at the moment he or she realizes there could be an infraction or something of that nature. During the vote, a serious issue was brought to my attention and there needs to be some clarification by the Speaker and possibly the clerks for the simple reason that I am anticipating that we could be going into a series of important votes. Here, all members of the House recognize the importance of being fully engaged in voting.
    I feel that this is the most appropriate time for me to raise this issue, for the simple reason that we need to get guidance from the Clerk.
    There are two components to it. The first one is with regard to the process or procedure for an individual member of Parliament when there is, let us say, a series of four or five votes. What is the proper procedure for a member to exit and possibly have to miss one vote in order to be able to—

  (1630)  

    Order, please.
    The hon. member has risen on a point of order, but rather than raising a point of order he is asking for clarification of the rules. I would suggest that the rules, the Standing Orders of the House, are available here at the table. If members would like to refresh themselves on the rules related to votes, these are available to all members and obviously will be applied appropriately by the Chair.
    The hon. member for Toronto Centre rising on the same point of order?

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I have a different point of order that I would like to raise.
    Since question period, I have had an opportunity to reflect on an exchange that took place between the Minister of National Defence and the member for St. John's East. Since the minister is here, perhaps he could comment on this.
    In the course of his answer to the member for St. John's East, he accused the member for St. John's East of something called “mendaciousness”. I am a very up-to-date guy, having now had an opportunity to look up the word “mendacious”. I want people to know that mendacious, according to the dictionary, means “lying, untruthful, false, untrue”, and it goes on and on. Going through the dictionary there are many other examples in which it is very clear that mendacious means “given to lying, as in a mendacious child”; “untruthful”; “intentionally untrue”; and that a “mendacious statement” means “false, not in accordance with the fact or reality, as in giving false testimony under oath”.
    My point is that the Minister of National Defence, in using a somewhat fancier word than perhaps we are used to hearing in the House, and certainly from that side of the House, in any event—
    He had to look it up, not us.
    I had to look it up. I am not ashamed of having to look it up.
    I say to the hon. member, my good friend from Chatham, that he should look a few things up from time to time. It might do him some good.
    The minister is standing up, Mr. Speaker, but I have not yet concluded my remarks. I know the minister has a habit of standing up long before—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto Centre has risen on a point of order and he is correct that he can make that point, but it is not up to individual members to determine when their time on the floor is completed. That is for the Chair to determine.
    If the member for Toronto Centre could quickly summarize his point, I believe the Minister of National Defence is prepared to respond to that.
    Mr. Speaker, I will do my best. If people would stop interrupting, it would be easier for me to respond. All I am saying is that—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Bob Rae: This is worse than a caucus meeting, Mr. Speaker.
    I would just say to my colleague, I know that he would not want to be using unparliamentary language and would not want to accuse another member of lying, even if he uses a fancy word to make that point.
    Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member is a Rhodes scholar. I am surprised that he had to look that word up, but he has acknowledged that he did.
    The word mendacious, I understand, may in fact be unparliamentary, so I withdraw the word.
    The Chair appreciates the intervention by the Minister of National Defence and will consider this matter closed.
    The hon. member for Bourassa is rising on the same point of order?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, therefore we must add the word “mendacious” to the list of unparliamentary words. Every time we hear this word, the speaker can stand up and call the member to order.

[English]

    The hon. minister has withdrawn his comment.
    Mr. Speaker, all I am asking is that since that word is unparliamentary it should now be on the list, so that any time we hear it the Speaker will have to stand up and put the member in order.

  (1635)  

    We will leave this matter in the hands of the Speaker.
    The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake on a different point of order?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind all members that you stood twice to put the question. It says in Standing Order 16(1):
    When the Speaker is putting a question, no Member shall enter, walk out of or across the House, or make any noise or disturbance.
    I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you recognize that the delaying tactics being put forward by the Liberals right now are completely out of order and you should put the question.
    In fact, I was in the process of informing the House that it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, National Defence; the hon. member for York South—Weston, Air Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to thank the member for Toronto Centre for raising the point of order, and thank the minister for withdrawing the comment. At least he was far more sincere than his withdrawal yesterday.

Committees of the House

Government Operations and Estimates  

[Routine Proceedings]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): 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 Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:
    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the vote be deferred until after duty hours tomorrow.
    A recorded division on the motion stands deferred until the time of adjournment tomorrow.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I realize I am relatively new to the House. I appreciate the fact that the government House leader went to the head of the table and asked for the vote to be deferred until tomorrow. I want to get clarification in terms of how that rule—
    Order, please. When we get to the point of a recorded division, the chief government whip or the chief opposition whip can ask unilaterally to have that vote deferred until the end of the next sitting day of the House.
    Once again, I would remind all hon. members, if they are unclear on the rules of this place or the Standing Orders, it is not appropriate in each case to stand for an explanation under the guise of a point of order, but rather they may go to the lobby and someone there will be able to assist them with that matter.

Petitions

Abortion  

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents in my riding, I rise to present a petition that asks the House of Commons to quickly enact legislation to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.

  (1640)  

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.
    With respect to the first petition, there is a project afoot to develop a megaquarry north of Toronto, in Melancthon County. This quarry would be big enough to swallow up 60% of my riding and deep enough to bury a 20-storey building. This megaquarry would sit atop a complex watershed and threaten to poison the drinking water of about one million Canadians. The farmland that it would take out of production produces about half the potatoes eaten in the GTA each year.
    This is an issue that brings into stark relief the challenge of sustainable urban development. I am, therefore, happy to table in the House a petition calling upon the Government of Canada to conduct an environmental assessment of this megaquarry development.
    May this petition, and the next one I will present, serve as a last-minute reminder of what a tragic disservice the government proposes to visit, not only on Canadians, but on our Earth, with the anti-environmental provisions of Bill C-38.
     I am honoured to table my second petition from citizens in and around my riding.
    The petitioners are deeply concerned with the current perilous trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and the rapidly closing window to avert dangerous global warming in a socially responsible manner.
    Among other things, the petitioners call upon this Parliament, in concert with provinces and territories, to create and implement a science-based and innovative Canadian energy strategy that would position Canada as a world leader on climate change solutions.
    Before I go to the next hon. member, I would remind all hon. members to keep their explanation brief. There appear to be many people who would like to present petitions in the 15 minutes.
    The hon. member for Nickel Belt.

[Translation]

International Co-operation  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by hundreds of people in Sturgeon Falls, West Nipissing and Verner. The preamble is too long and therefore I will read only the last sentences.
     We call on Parliament to adopt the following policy goals:
    Demonstrate international responsibility by re-committing Canada to contribute 0.7% of GDP to Official Development Assistance;
    Prioritize responsive funding to those NGOs that Canadians support and which have seen their funding cut by CIDA;
    In the spirit of global solidarity, provide in full the funding of $49.2 million requested by D&P over the next five years.

[English]

Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to table four petitions from people all across my riding, places like Alexandria, Bourget, Hammond, Curran, Pendleton, Plantagenet, St-Eugène, Vankleek Hill.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to review Canada's 400-year-old definition of a human being, which says that a child does not become a human being until the moment of complete birth. This is contrary to modern science.
    I would also like to point that on the Hill there was a demonstration of about 20,000 Canadians supporting this type of motion.

International Co-operation  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from hundreds of concerned Guelph residents on the need to implement recommendations designed to retool our international aid commitments through an expert panel, focused implementation and making CIDA projects more open and transparent.

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition from many residents from Terrace Bay, Neebing, Schreiber, Ear Falls and Thunder Bay.
    The petitioners are deeply concerned with the recent closure of the Thunder Bay blood plasma clinic, the only dedicated blood plasma clinic in all of Canada. They point out that an increase in costly U.S. blood plasma imports may put our supply at risk since it is from paid donors. They note that FDA-approved infected plasma product exported in the 1980s led to thousands of lives lost.

  (1645)  

Aboriginal Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from the residents of Thunder Bay, Shuniah, Markdale, Jacques and Fort William First Nation.
    The petitioners petition the House to reinstate funding cut from aboriginal health and health research undertaken by the National Aboriginal Health Organization, First Nations Statistical Institute, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Métis National Council, the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. They note that the cuts would undermine health outcomes for aboriginal people in Canada and will cost more in health spending in the long run.

Abortion  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from northeastern B.C..
    The petitioners note that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion and that Canada's Supreme Court has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation.
    Therefore, the petitioners call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

[Translation]

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, the petition I am presenting concerns old age security. It states:
    We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Parliament of Canada to maintain funding for the OAS and make the requisite investments in the guaranteed income supplement to lift every senior out of poverty.
    It is a pleasure and an honour for me to submit this petition.

[English]

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, I have 12 petitions in which members of the metro Vancouver community call upon the government to maintain the current retirement age for old age security benefits.
    The petitioners from Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, north Vancouver, Vancouver, my riding of Vancouver Quadra and many other communities in metro Vancouver point out that over half of old age security recipients earn less than $25,000 a year, that this two year delay will cost up to $30,000 per person over two-years for those with the lowest incomes and that single women will be disproportionately affected by the change.
    The petitioners call upon the government to remove the two-year increase from Bill C-38 to ensure that we do not increase income inequality with this measure.

Nuclear Weapons  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions.
     The first petitioner is signed by 58 constituents from southwestern Ontario. The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to issue an invitation to international states to gather in Canada to begin discussions needed for a global ban on nuclear weapons.

Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from about 150 residents from southwestern Ontario. The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian law as a human being by amending section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence.

Public Transit  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from constituents in my riding.
    The petitioners are concerned about the failure of governments to invest in public transit, in particular in electric public transit, given that the WHO has today declared that diesel exhaust is of the same calibre and has the same carcinogenic effect as asbestos and arsenic.
    The petitioners suggest that the Government of Canada enact a national public transit strategy seeking to involve all levels of government in developing and planning a funding strategy to provide fast, affordable and accessible public transit across Canada.

Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.
    The first petition is signed by members of my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo pertaining to Bill C-31.

Dental Mercury  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls upon the Canadian government to take a global leadership role in recommending the phase-out of dental mercury.

Fisheries Act  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from thousands of Canadians.
    The petitioners call upon the Conservative government to keep section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act as it is currently written with its emphasis on habitat protection. They believe that the weakening of habitat protection in section 35 of the Fisheries Act will negatively impact Canada's water quality, the environment and the fisheries.
    The petitioners also want to bring to the attention of the House that it is critical that any changes to the Fisheries Act not jeopardize the ecosystems on which we and future generations depend simply to provide short-term profits.

[Translation]

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by voters. It reads as follows:
    We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:
     WHEREAS the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as the national public broadcaster, plays an important role in reflecting Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions
    WHEREAS, in our current media environment, public broadcasting is an essential promoter and defender of Canadian culture, in both French and English
    WHEREAS Canadians should continue to have access to Canadian stories and Canadian content and media should provide vibrant and rewarding new avenues for expression by Canadian artists
    WHEREAS Canada requires a broadcaster that reflects the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities
    WHEREAS Canadians can benefit from a shared national consciousness and identity
    WHEREAS the public broadcasters, Radio Canada and CBC, have a crucial role to play in achieving these objectives
    WHEREAS the CBC requires steady funding to maintain national, regional and local programming, including news coverage and services to linguistic minorities throughout Canada—
    I will leave it at that, but there is more.

  (1650)  

International Co-operation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition signed by many people from Sherbrooke who are upset the Development and Peace organization has seen its budget reduced by three-quarters. These cuts will result in almost $35 million less in matching government monies for Development and Peace over the next five years. This organization was supporting over 250 partners in about 40 different countries.
    CIDA’s new agreement designates funds for a mere seven countries, only one of which is in Africa. Development and Peace has already had to reduce financial support to 32 partner groups in the Global South. And funding for 48 other countries will likely have to be cut completely. Furthermore, 15 staff positions have been lost in Canada.
    In the interests of international solidarity, the petitioners are calling on the government to fully restore the $49.2 million in funding to Development and Peace.

[English]

Public Transit  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions.
    The first petition is from petitioners calling on the federal government to enact a national public transit strategy. Their reason behind this is because Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a national public transit strategy. It is estimated that over the next five years, there will be an $18 billion gap in transit infrastructure needs.
    The petitioners are calling for a transit strategy that would provide a permanent investment plan to support public transit that is fast, reliable, accessible and affordable. They are calling for different levels of government to work together to provide sustainable, predictable, long-term and adequate funding for public transit. They also call for accountability measures to ensure that all governments work together to increase access to public transit.

Motor Vehicle Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from cyclists and pedestrians who are concerned about very large trucks in big cities. The petitioners are concerned that Canada does not have a requirement for side guards on large trucks and trailers. The coroner, in 1998, looking into the death of a Toronto cyclist, found that large vehicles were involved in 37% of collisions resulting in cyclist fatalities.
    Therefore, the petitions recommend that Transport Canada look into the feasibility of mandating large trucks to have side guards—
    Order. A few minutes ago I had urged all hon. members to present their petitions quickly so that their colleagues would have time. Presenting petitions, there are a few seconds left for the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising to present two petitions.
    The first petition is on the subject of the importance of stable, affordable, long-term funding for our national public broadcaster. It is signed primarily by residents of the Toronto area, but also by some from British Columbia.
    These petitioners call for stable, long-term funding for the CBC, a call we have heard from many petitioners before.

  (1655)  

The Budget  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is signed by nearly 600 people from almost every province in Canada.
    These written petitions resonate with the over 58,000 signatures that were revealed earlier today by the group Avaaz.
    These petitioners from my riding, Mayne Island, North Saanich, Sidney, as well as from other places within British Columbia, Ottawa, Montreal, Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton, virtually coast to coast, from almost every province, call on this House of Commons to reject Bill C-38. They are calling on the current Privy Council officers to withdraw the parts of the bill that have nothing to do with the budget so that parliamentarians can do their job and vote on a budget implementation bill without voting to destroy environmental laws.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 634 and 638.

[Text]

Question No. 634--
Hon. Wayne Easter:
     With regard to funding assistance by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC): (a) what is the total funding assistance, of any kind, that the CCC provided to Canadian businesses operating in Cuba during each of the fiscal years from 2000 to 2011; (b) what were the names of each of the Canadian companies doing business in Cuba for the period from 2000 to 2011 that received CCC funding or financial assistance of any kind; and (c) over the same time period, what was the specific nature of the commercial activities in each case being funded or financed, in whole or in part, by the CCC?
Hon. Ed Fast (Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to questions (a), (b) and (c), during each of the fiscal years from 2000 to 2011, Canadian Commercial Corporation, CCC, did not provide funding or financial assistance to Canadian businesses operating in Cuba.
    In Cuba, CCC enters into a contract with a foreign government entity for the purchase of products and services from Canada and, in turn, enters into a contract with a Canadian supplier to fulfill the obligations of the foreign government contract. As part of the method of payment of this contract, CCC pays the Canadian supplier for the invoiced value of the goods provided and extends payment to the Cuban purchaser of goods, who then pays CCC within a certain number of days, as specified in the contract.
Question No. 638--
Mr. Dany Morin:
     With respect to cuts to the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program for First Nations and Inuit outlined in Budget 2012: (a) what is the breakdown of expected savings for each department, agency and organization for fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017; (b) what programs and services are expected to be cut; and (c) how many jobs will be lost?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), implementing operational efficiencies as described below will deliver expected savings for the non-insured health benefits program of $6.7 million in 2012-13, $10.6 million in 2013-14 and $11.3 million in 2014-15 and ongoing.
    With regard to (b), while looking for potential savings, the priority was to protect front-line health services for first nations and Inuit communities. As a result, opportunities to create efficiencies were identified in non-service delivery areas and through simplification of internal operational processes and structures, such as reducing and restructuring the size of the first nations and Inuit health branch headquarters office to better support regional offices and their focus on front-line service delivery to communities. As these areas identified for savings did not deliver health care services to communities, no direct services will be affected.
    Services provided to first nations and Inuit through the non-insured health benefits program, such as prescription drug coverage and dental care, will not be reduced. By simplifying internal processes, Health Canada will make the non-insured health benefits program more sustainable.
    With respect to the non-insured health benefits program, all savings identified are based on internal administrative, operational and policy changes that will not negatively impact access to benefits for eligible first nations and Inuit clients of the program. For example, Health Canada will gradually centralize review and processing of dental health claims and improve the coordination of benefits where clients have third party insurance coverage.
    With regard to (c), simplifying internal processes and structures will eliminate five positions.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 626 to 633 inclusive, and 635 to 637 inclusive could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 626--
Ms. Charmaine Borg:
     Regarding the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and digital television: (a) how many complaints has the CRTC received about the transition to digital television; and (b) how many people no longer have access to television since the transition to digital television, based on the CRTC’s estimates?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 627--
Ms. Christine Moore:
     With regard to all contracts issued by each department, agency and crown corporation to Xe services since January 1, 2011, what is the: (a) description of the contents of the order; (b) date of payment; (c) total amount awarded; and (d) event reason for purchase?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 628--
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre:
     With regard to private security contracts for each department and crown corporation, for each year since 2007: (a) what is the name of the providing company; (b) what is the cost of the contract, (c) what are the terms of the contract, including (i) hours of security provided, (ii) cost per hour of security, (iii) other costs, (iv) any other stipulations of contracts; (d) what was the location of security use; (e) what is the budgetary line where expense is accounted for; and (f) was this contract open for competition or sole-sourced?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 629--
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre:
     With regard to Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston’s Regional Treatment Centre and the Leclerc Institution, for each facility: (a) what are the current occupation levels of inmates; (b) what are the current employment levels, broken down by (i) title, (ii) salary; (c) what is the current plan for the transfer of inmates, including (i) location(s) of potential transfers, (ii) cost of transfers of inmates; (d) what will be done with the existing facilities; and (e) has the potential purchase of public prisons been the subject of any reports or studies, and, if yes, what are the (i) dates, (ii) authors, (iii) names of the documents?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 630--
Mr. Matthew Dubé:
     With regard to spending by the government, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Privy Council Office on promotional items for each year since 2007: (a) by vendor name, how much was spent on (i) hockey pucks, (ii) golf balls, (iii) sports jerseys, (iv) plastic wrist bands; (b) what was the total amount spent by each department and office; (c) what are the dates of each contract awarded; and (d) were these contracts open competitions?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 631--
Mr. Matthew Dubé:
    With regard to all contracts issued by each department, agency and Crown corporation to MPrinthouse (7332319 Canada) since January 1, 2009: (a) what was the content of the order; (b) what was the date of payment; (c) what was the total amount awarded; (d) what was the event or reason for purchase; and (e) were these contracts open competitions?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 632--
Mr. Matthew Dubé:
     With regard to all contracts issued by each department, agency and Crown corporation to Marketeks (6066356 Canada) since January 1, 2009: (a) what was the content of the order; (b) what was the date of payment; (c) what was the total amount awarded; (d) what was the event or reason for purchase; and (e) were these contracts open competitions?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 633--
Mr. Matthew Dubé:
     With regard to all contracts issued by each department, agency and Crown corporation to Wavertree (3252906 Canada) since January 1, 2009: (a) what was the content of the order; (b) what was the date of payment; (c) what was total amount awarded; (d) what was the event or reason for purchase; and (e) were these contracts open competitions?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 635--
Ms. Libby Davies:
     What is the total amount of government funding allocated within the constituency of Vancouver East during the fiscal year 2011-2012, broken down, (i) by department or agency, (ii) for each department or agency, by initiative or project?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 636--
Ms. Libby Davies:
     With regard to Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, within the Health Portfolio: (a) with respect to Health Canada, (i) where will positions be cut, by branch and by division, (ii) which programs will be cut or eliminated, (iii) of programs cut or terminated, how many of these programs provide services to Canada’s Aboriginal, Inuit, or Métis peoples; and (b) with respect to Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB), (i) where will jobs be cut, by division, (ii) which programs will be cut or eliminated, (iii) what is the process and average timeline for a medication price review, (iv) will this process or timeline be changed due to funding cuts?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 637--
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay:
     With regard to the Atlantic Groundfish Licence Retirement Program (AGLRP): (a) has the government handed out payments to all 752 of the former fishers who were involved in the Victor White v. Canada federal court case; (b) if not, how many of the 752 remain to be paid; (c) what is the total number of members of the AGLRP who were not involved in the court case but who had requested reassessment or similar measures before the case went to court and had their decisions delayed as a result, and does the government plan to make payments to these people similar to those payments made to the fishers involved in the court case; and (d) what correspondence containing erroneous tax advice did the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) send to AGLRP members, (i) on what dates were these letters sent, (ii) to what regions were they sent, (iii) what is the total number of individuals who received these letters?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Motions for Papers

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Privilege

Bill C-38  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, the other day the official opposition raised a question of privilege of great importance. We indicated then that we would like to be able to respond to it. All Canadians would be concerned about what is taking place in the House of Commons. I will take this opportunity to get on the record why it is so critically important that the Speaker take into consideration what the House Leader of the Official Opposition has put on the record in this particular question of privilege.
    As I am sure many members of the House recall, it is all related to Bill C-38. This bill would have a significant and profound impact on the lives of all Canadians. I want to express our concerns related to the question of privilege. This is probably the most opportune time to do so.
    I take the issue very seriously. I have had many years to address important process questions inside the chamber. I, for one, believe in process. It is a critically important component of our democratic system to be able to stand in my place and express what I think is perhaps in the minds of many a boring issue, dealing with process. The Conservative government, likely more than any government before it, has been very negligent on the whole issue of process. So I want to share with the government some of my concerns.
    We need to recognize that we are really talking about information. We have all heard the expression “information is gold”. It is critically important it is that we as legislators have access to information.
    Over the years, I have met with a lot of youth. When I was over at the Manitoba legislature, young people would come down. Here, a lot of youth come and meet with their local members of Parliament to talk about what the politicians do in these buildings. When we reflect on the question of privilege that the House Leader of the Official Opposition brought to the floor the other day, it is important that we put into perspective what it is that we are telling people outside of this wonderful room. What we are really talking about is the rights of individual members of Parliament. We have to do what we can to protect those rights.
    Over the years I have talked to hundreds, possibly thousands, of students and I often tell them that we do three things—

  (1700)  

    Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg North has risen to comment on a question of privilege that has been brought in this place and other points of order have been raised.
    I would like to remind all hon. members that the process by which the chamber hears questions of privilege and points of order is a serious one. It is important that all hon. members have the opportunity to rise and address those issues when they are brought forward. Having said that, it is not the purpose of this process that hon. members can rise under the suggestion of a point of order or a question of privilege and speak indefinitely.
    This question of privilege has been discussed and points have been brought forward. If the hon. member has a point to make or any new information to bring before the House, that would be welcome. It is not the right of the member to speak indefinitely by providing simple commentary on the matter before the House
    I would encourage the hon. member for Winnipeg North to get to the point and to bring forward his information so that the Speaker can consider it.
    The hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, I presume on the same point.
    Mr. Speaker, I trust that I did not misinterpret your comments. Obviously the member for Winnipeg North is addressing the very important question of privilege that was brought up by the House leader of the opposition. I think explaining our concern and commenting on it sometimes requires some illustration to explain exactly what we feel needs to be said about that question of privilege.
    Before I go to the other hon. member on the same point, I would agree with the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie that members need to be given the latitude to make their points and add new information. I was merely cautioning the member that it does not translate into the right to speak indefinitely. All hon. members are urged to make their point and to bring new information before the House if they have it, so that the Chair can take that into consideration when a decision is made on something as important as a question of privilege.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I think this is a critical issue.
     I have been attentive to this debate. I have already made my submissions on the substantive question of privilege and do not intend to enter into that again. I have had my opportunity. However, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley made his point in an approximately 20-minute statement of argument around that question of privilege. I responded briefly. Now the Liberal Party in the House has chosen this moment to provide its guidance.
     The Speaker has not yet ruled on that question of privilege. Falling back on parliamentary tradition, it seems to me that this is akin to what we would have in the British Commonwealth tradition of natural justice. One must allow all parties, in a timely fashion, to put forward their argumentation.
    I agree that it would not be appropriate to talk forever. On the other hand, I think it is awkward for the Speaker to comment on the quality of a presentation until the hon. member for an official party of this House has concluded his or her remarks. This is not to criticize you, Mr. Speaker--I never would--but I think it is an important point.

  (1705)  

    I would simply remind all hon. members that any time a question of privilege is brought forward in this place it is an important matter. The House leader for the official opposition has made this question of privilege and it is under consideration. Absolutely, members have the opportunity to add comment.
    The chair did not cut off the member for Winnipeg North but merely wished to point out that the ability to speak to a question of privilege is not indefinite. I was urging him to make his point, to present new information and to move forward with this as expeditiously as possible.
    The hon. member for Bourassa.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege of sitting in this House for the past 15 years. I truly hope that your ruling will not set a dangerous precedent.
    Some members deliver their speeches off the cuff. Other members read their speeches.
    There is sometimes an impression that when members read their texts, we can measure their time better and there is a beginning and an end. Just because my colleague is speaking off the cuff does not mean that he should be cut off.
    It would be more judicious and more respectful to pay attention and to allow my colleague to express his point of view. I do not wish to give the impression that, here, in this cradle of democracy, a member can be cut off, especially when it is a point of privilege and not a point of order. When a question of privilege is raised, members should be allowed enough time to fully express their points of view.

[English]

    The Chair appreciates the input and advice offered by all hon. members of this place. As I said before, the Chair did not cut off the hon. member for Winnipeg North, but merely asked him to move expeditiously.
    With that, if the hon. member for Winnipeg North would like to continue with his address to this question of privilege, he has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your comments and interjection.
    I want to assure all members that in my experience through the years I have come to recognize that privileges are important. The reason so much attention is given to and a lot of discretion is allowed when a question of privilege is raised is so the member who raises the issue feels comfortable enough to adequately express what he or she believes is important to say. That is the spirit in which I raised point today.
    I was present when the NDP House leader raised the privilege. I have had the opportunity to listen to many speeches regarding Bill C-38 and issues related to privilege.
    The timing of my standing right now is critically important. Mr. Speaker, you have the power to make a difference in terms of what is going to happen over the next period of time. The Liberal Party as an entity, from what I understand, has not had the opportunity to express its thoughts on the privilege which the New Democratic Party member brought forward.
    In the best way that I can, I will try to keep my comments short and concise, but I want to make sure that people understand why I feel it is so important and where I am coming from in regard to addressing this issue.
    First and foremost, all members of Parliament have an important responsibility. Our constituents want to know that we are doing our job. Part of that job is what takes place on the floor of the House of Commons. We do our job in many different ways.
    The privilege to which the member made reference is in regard to information that we have not been able to access. Not having access to information seriously impacts on our ability as members of Parliament to make good decisions.
    The public has a great deal of interest in what we do inside the House. I always like to cut it down to two or three things. One of those things is the budget.
    The Government of Canada spends a lot of money, in excess of $250 billion. As parliamentarians we have a responsibility to try to understand the kind of money that is being spent. We also need to be able to obtain information that the government has talked about in putting together its budget to present to the House. I could give a specific example in terms of my own critic portfolio. It is a relatively small expenditure, but it is an important expenditure which has a profound impact. That is why I say information is critically important. We ask the government to provide numbers and to tell us what type of offices are going to be closed down. We ask what impact it is going to have in terms of tax dollars.

  (1710)  

    There have been some significant changes in immigration. I want to cite a specific one. The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism made an announcement not that long ago, in which he said that the government wants to deal with the immigration backlog. In wanting to deal with the immigration backlog, he referred to skilled workers. He said that workers who had applied through the skilled workers program prior to 2008 were going to be deleted from the data banks. The government has put money aside that ultimately is going to be used to reimburse the landing and processing fees.
    In looking at that, we say that we are debating a very important bill on the budget and we need specific information related to that. How do we know that the numbers mentioned by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism actually represent adequate compensation for those individuals? One could argue, as I have, that particular policy announcement was a cruel thing to have done, but at the end of the day, if we read the budget bill that we are expected to vote on intelligently, we need to have some very important information, and I am not convinced that information has been provided to us.
    Let me use the example of someone from the Philippines who five years ago put in an application. According to this budget bill, the government is going to return that person's application fee and processing fee or landing fee. I am not 100% sure, but is important information to have. The government, with the passing of this budget bill, is going to be reimbursing those fees. If we look into it more deeply—

  (1715)  

    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the Speaker has told the member that this is supposed to be relevant to the question of privilege. It seems that the member is getting into the budget debate. I wonder if he understands that he is still speaking to a question of privilege. Just to keep him on track, I am curious to know if he has that in mind when making his statement now.
    An hon. member: Point or order.
    Before I go to the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, at the time the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River rose, I was also rising to interrupt.
    I would like to provide all hon. members with some guidance in terms of the way in which a point of order or question of privilege ought to be raised. I will quote from House of Commons Procedure and Practice, by O'Brien and Bosc, page 143, related to the initial discussion of points raised. It states:
    A Member recognized on a question of privilege is expected to be brief and concise in explaining the event which has given rise to the question of privilege and the reasons why consideration of the event complained of should be given precedence over other House business.
    It goes on to state on page 144:
    The Speaker will hear the Member and may permit others who are directly implicated in the matter to intervene. In instances where more than one Member is involved in a question of privilege, the Speaker may postpone discussion until all concerned Members can be present in the House. The Speaker also has the discretion to seek the advice of other Members to help him or her in determining whether there is prima facie a matter of privilege involved which would warrant giving the matter priority of consideration over other House business. When satisfied, the Speaker will terminate the discussion.
    I bring this to the House's attention. Before I go to the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel and back ultimately to the member for Winnipeg North, I will remind all hon. members that in the case of a question of privilege, the floor is not the members' until they choose to stop. The Speaker has the right to terminate that discussion if the Speaker feels that relevant points that have not been previously raised have not been brought forward. That is left to the judgment of the Speaker.
    On a point of order, the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.
    Mr. Speaker, my interventions usually do not last very long, so I will make it quick. On the point of order by the member opposite from B.C., I am not sure if he understands what the question of privilege is. The member for Winnipeg North is responding on behalf of the Liberal Party.
    As the member for Bourassa mentioned, just because the member does not speak from prepared notes and has a time limit of 5, 10, 15 minutes or half an hour, he is going to make a point.
    I have the question of privilege by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He has easily made four or five points and spoken about two acts. To make a comment on each and every one of those points is going to take over two or three hours. The member, I think, is going to speak for another five minutes. I think we should allow him to make his point. We are talking about something that is timely. We are about to vote on a budget bill that is over 500 pages long and affects over 70 acts. We do not have all the proper information. Parties on this side of the House are asking for information. The points have been relevant and I think it has to be put on the record.
    With all due respect, I think the member for Winnipeg North should be given the time--
    The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has suggested that the hon. member for Winnipeg North, who in this case is speaking on behalf of the Liberal caucus and wishes to put forward the position of the caucus ought to be given reasonable time. The Chair agrees that reasonable time should be provided. The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has suggested that if the hon. member for Winnipeg North had five more minutes, that would be sufficient. I am willing to take that suggestion. If the hon. member for Winnipeg North could complete his remarks in five minutes, I think that would be reasonable.
    I thank the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his advice on that matter.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, the member from B.C.—
    Order. The discussion from the Chair is not to do with what the hon. Conservative member from B.C. raised, but is rather on the question of privilege itself. If the member could restrict his comments to that, it would be greatly appreciated by the Chair.
    The hon. member for Bourassa on a point of order.

  (1720)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have too much respect for you to say that you are easily influenced. However, it seems to me that the tone changed after the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons whispered in your ear.
    As an MP, I think that if the official opposition has the right to raise a point of order, the Liberal Party of Canada has the right to respond appropriately. I find that attitude unacceptable. The member for Winnipeg North is in the right in this case. We are all equal. When we have something to say, we rise. The question of privilege is important because it applies to all members. I would not want anyone to have fewer rights than anyone else just because someone whispered in someone else's ear.
    The official opposition had the right to raise its point of order in the appropriate way, and this is not about holding up a stopwatch and timing five, six or seven minutes. If the member can raise a point of order, he is fully within his rights to do so. We have to be careful not to provoke anyone. Even if they have a serious cough, they have to last the night. They should be careful and look after themselves right away.
    The Liberal Party has as much right as any other party to express all its points of view. This is not a question of 5, 10 or 15 minutes. They all have the right to express their views, and so do we, because we belong to a party in the House, too.

[English]

    The Chair would like to clarify for all hon. members, including the member for Bourassa, that this Chair is not influenced by individual members, and if the hon. member for Bourassa is suggesting otherwise, that is a serious accusation. If that is the point that is being made, that point needs to be made clearly.
    It is quite clear that several minutes ago I pointed out to the hon. member for Winnipeg North that the right to speak in response to a question of privilege is essential and is respected in this place, but that does not mean that any member rising on a question of privilege has unlimited time on the floor.
    Just a moment ago, the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel pointed out that the hon. member for Winnipeg North was speaking on behalf of the Liberal caucus, that he was making important points and that he thought it reasonable that if the hon. member for Winnipeg North was given an additional five minutes, he could make those arguments. I was in agreement with that and was at the point of giving the floor back to the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    The hon. member for Bourassa.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for this House and for the Chair. I started by simply saying that I have a huge amount of respect for you and I think you do an outstanding job.
    However, that is why I was wondering, because I am very sure that you are not influenced. That is why I said that since the official opposition had given its opinion, standard practice is to allow my colleague a full chance to express himself. This is not a filibuster. As it is a question of privilege, the member for Winnipeg North should have the right to express himself.
    With all due respect, I just wanted to share some of my 15 years of experience—that is not nothing—because I have seen all kinds of things. I know that the member for Winnipeg North is acting in good faith. We should give him the time to fully express his opinion because that is the point of a question of privilege.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, maybe I misspoke in offering five minutes. It was just a gesture of compromise. The member for Winnipeg North spoke for five minutes and was interrupted on two occasions. I would like it if the members opposite would not interrupt, because once a member has the flow going it does not make sense to start over again.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North rose at 4:57 p.m., which was fully 28 minutes ago, of which I would presume about 18 or 20 minutes was from the member.
     I would like to point out to all hon. members that the Chair has not cut off the hon. member for Winnipeg North but has merely pointed out two things: first, that his time to address his point of privilege is not unlimited, and second, as I pointed out in the rules and will read again, “When satisfied, the Speaker will terminate the discussion”. This is to clarify that the Speaker does have the right to terminate this discussion whether an hon. member feels he or she is finished or not.
    With that, I would give the hon. member five minutes to quickly make his summary at which point I would ask him to complete his remarks so that the House can move along with its business.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

  (1725)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat disruptive in the sense that one tries to expand upon what one thinks is the core issue and then there are interruptions that come from the government side. I appreciate that there is some sensitivity, but I can honestly say that if the member from B.C. had listened closely to what I was citing as an example, the member would have heard how very relevant it is to the privilege that was raised by the NDP House leader. The privilege is all about information. It is about the rights of all members, not just opposition members. Believe it or not, there are even some Conservative backbenchers who would no doubt share the same opinion that I would have in regard to the importance of having information in order to make good decisions.
    The example that I was giving in this budget document is that we are not talking about $10 million, we are talking about $100-plus million. These are tax dollars that are being allocated to provide compensation for those individuals who put in an application to become skilled workers to fill many of the jobs that we are unable to fill here in Canada. The Minister of Immigration made that decision.
    I believe there is information that is critical for us to know. The immigration file is not alone. For example, does the government realize that those individuals who put in the application also would have paid for immigration services back home, consultant fees and so forth? It was not just a hard cost. Are they being fairly compensated?
    I understand that now there is a possibility of a class action lawsuit against the government. We need to know that kind of information. We just need to look at the F-35. We know the government knew it had completely different figures and it sat on those numbers.
    Parliamentarians of all political stripes need to understand just how important it is that we have access to that information. The NDP House leader stood in his place and argued that we are being denied that access. If we are being denied that access, how is it possible for us to make the decisions that are so critically important to all Canadians.
    If we look at Beauchesne's Sixth Edition—
    Order, please. As I read a few minutes ago, the Speaker will hear from members and others relating to a question of privilege. Again I will quote from the book, ”When satisfied, the Speaker will terminate the discussion”.
    At this point, the Chair is calling orders of the day.
    The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier on a point of order.

Access to Information  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question of privilege, for which I gave notice at the request of the Speaker.
    Mr. Speaker, you may recall that, on Tuesday of last week, I rose on a question of privilege about not being able to receive information that allows me to do my work. I indicated at the time, if that information would be forthcoming before the weekend because I had to attend a convention, that the point would be moot.
    An hour after I rose in the House to raise a question of privilege, my office did get a phone call to set up a briefing. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, that I had not at the time identified, nor will I now, which department, because my objective was not to be critical, aggressive or to be an attack the minister. It was only to seek and obtain information that is allowed to be obtained by all members of Parliament. The briefing was held on the Thursday, so that point is moot.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know how much time I have before you cut me off, but there is a much broader—

  (1730)  

    Order, please. The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier is rising on a point of order and he will be allowed to continue after the vote.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Study on Income Inequality

    The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion.
    It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 315 under private members' business.
    Call in the members.

  (1810)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 284)

YEAS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Ashton
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Benoit
Benskin
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Breitkreuz
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Bruinooge
Butt
Byrne
Caron
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chong
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Coderre
Comartin
Côté
Cotler
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Fortin
Freeman
Fry
Galipeau
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goldring
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hassainia
Hiebert
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Julian
Karygiannis
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
Lizon
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mourani
Mulcair
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Patry
Payne
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rae
Rafferty
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Sorenson
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Tilson
Toet
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trudeau
Turmel
Valeriote
Vellacott
Warawa
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)

Total: -- 161

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Bernier
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Clement
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hillyer
Hoback
Hoeppner
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Obhrai
Oda
Oliver
Opitz
Paradis
Penashue
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Toews
Trottier
Truppe
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warkentin
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Yelich
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 138

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

  (1815)  

[English]

Search and Rescue

    The House resumed from June 11 consideration of the motion.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 314.

  (1820)  

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

(Division No. 285)

YEAS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Ashton
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Byrne
Caron
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Cleary
Coderre
Comartin
Côté
Cotler
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Fortin
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hassainia
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Julian
Karygiannis
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mourani
Mulcair
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Patry
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rae
Rafferty
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Toone
Tremblay
Trudeau
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 138

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Hoeppner
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Obhrai
Oda
Oliver
Opitz
Paradis
Payne
Penashue
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 163

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

[Translation]

Corrections and Conditional Release Act

    The House resumed from June 12 consideration of the motion that Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants), as reported with amendment from the committee, be concurred in.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in Bill C-293 at report stage under private members' business.

  (1830)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 286)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Bélanger
Bennett
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brison
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Byrne
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Coderre
Cotler
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Fry
Galipeau
Gallant
Garneau
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Hoeppner
Holder
Hsu
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lamoureux
Lauzon
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McCallum
McColeman
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Murray
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Obhrai
Oda
Oliver
Opitz
Pacetti
Paradis
Payne
Penashue
Poilievre
Preston
Rae
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Schellenberger
Seeback
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
St-Denis
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Trudeau
Truppe
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 194

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Angus
Ashton
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bellavance
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brosseau
Caron
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Fortin
Freeman
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hassainia
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Julian
Kellway
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Papillon
Patry
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rafferty
Ravignat
Raynault
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Savoie
Scott
Sellah
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Toone
Tremblay
Turmel

Total: -- 107

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    Mr. Speaker, I understand from the member for Trinity—Spadina that there have been discussions and there is unanimous agreement for the following motion: that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the hour for private members' business today be cancelled and the order for the resumption at second reading of Bill C-305, an act to establish a national public transit strategy, be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.
    Is there unanimous consent for this?
    Some hon. members: Yes
    Some hon. members: No
    The Speaker: There is no consent.
    It being 6:33, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

[Translation]

National Public Transit Strategy Act

    The House resumed from October 26, 2011, consideration of the motion that Bill C-305, An Act to establish a National Public Transit Strategy, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina's bill to establish a national public transit strategy.

[English]

    The rising economic cost of congestion and traffic delays, under-financed transportation networks close to their capacity limits, and our growing population all point to one thing, that in order to move Canada forward we need a national public transit strategy.
    The gap between available funding and infrastructure needs is growing and our communities need reliable and sustainable federal investment in public transit. This bill would secure a permanent investment plan for public transit and innovation research, thereby creating the predictability and stability in funding that lower levels of government need in order to take action.
    I was at the FCM conference a few weeks ago, where I kept hearing over and over again from mayors that what they needed was plan-based, long-term and predictable funding.

[Translation]

    Canadians living in rural communities have different transportation needs than those living in urban centres. I am proud to see that my colleague's bill, Bill C-305, responds to the needs of Canadians living in rural areas.
    My riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel is made up of 42 municipalities, the vast majority of which are small communities far from urban centres. The lack of public transportation is a major problem for these people who live outside the larger urban centres and who are cut off from necessary services if they do not have access to a vehicle. This makes getting to work too costly and sometimes even impossible.
    My colleague's bill also makes planning possible across the different modes of transportation. A number of excellent public transit projects are being implemented in Canada. This plan would make it possible to ensure that these projects are completed effectively and efficiently and that they work together.

  (1835)  

[English]

    The bill would mean better public transit, which is vital to the movement of people and has immeasurable social, environmental, economic and health benefits. Investment in public transit creates jobs, fuels economic growth, contributes to clean air, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, decreases congestion and reduces the pressure for more roads.

[Translation]

    Transportation in rural communities is a matter of health and fairness. Last fall, during a meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Carolyn Kolebaba, the vice-president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, was passionate about how a public transit strategy extended to rural areas could help reduce poverty and greatly improve life for people who cannot afford to own a vehicle. A good public transit service would allow them to participate fully in the life of their community.
    What is more, there is currently a health crisis in my riding. There are truly very few health professionals available to serve the remote communities. We are seeing that in Argenteuil, where eight doctors have left the health and social service centre in the past few months. According to the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, in 1991, 14.9% of Canadian doctors were working in rural regions. However, by 1999, that number had plummetted to 0.79% and it is estimated that it will continue to drop to 0.53% by 2021.
    In the meantime, the population across Canada is aging and my riding is no exception. Access to public transit is an important solution for providing seniors with access to the health care system, at a time when they might no longer have access to a car of their own.
    People with reduced mobility also frequently rely on public transit for their work and community life and in rural areas their needs are pressing. Transportation can make the difference between their isolation and dependence on loved ones, and their independent and healthy involvement in their community.
    The lack of public transit is also an obstacle for young people who want to pursue higher education.
    These young people should not have to choose between leaving their home regions to pursue higher education and abandoning their studies to remain in their regions.
    In my riding, for instance, many students who complete their studies at the Polyvalente Lavigne high school want to study at the Cégep de St-Jérôme. Since transportation is currently very expensive, the RCM is doing everything it can to serve those students, but the RCM needs a lot more support in order to ensure that these students have access to transportation.
    The Papineau region is facing the same problem: students are going to Gatineau to study at the UQO. The same thing is happening in the Mirabel region: students are going to study in Montreal. These young people need public transit so they can live at home and still make ends meet.
    An effective public transit system, whether by bus or by train for longer distances, would not be an extravagant indulgence. Indeed, it would be an excellent way to keep the lifeblood of our rural areas where it belongs.
    This bill can help everyone in my riding in several ways. For instance, a high percentage of workers from the city of Mirabel commute every day between Mirabel and Montreal.
    We know the government has studies in its possession showing that daily commuting and traffic have a negative impact on workers and on the environment.
    According to a Statistics Canada study done in 2001, approximately 4.8 million workers in Canada, or one-third of all workers, cross municipal boundaries to go to work. Another study done by Statistics Canada in 2010 shows that, for many workers, commuting daily to and from work is a major source of stress and frustration. It is also a waste of time and a waste of potential productivity for them or of time that these workers could have spent at home with their children.
    Traffic congestion is a major problem that reduces productivity and, by contributing to pollution, endangers public health. However, there is a simple and accessible solution to reduce workers' stress and solve the environmental problem caused by all this inefficient travel: an affordable, practical and efficient public transit system.
    Public transit is not just a solution for public health, for greater fairness and for the protection of the environment; it is also the solution to a major economic problem.
    According to a 2006 Transport Canada study, the annual cost to Canadians of chronic congestion in urban and peri-urban regions is somewhere between $2.3 billion and $3.7 billion. These figures are from 2002. The problem of traffic congestion has only gotten worse since. Over 90% of the congestion costs relate to the time lost by drivers and their passengers.
    We cannot let workers get stuck in traffic for hours every day. And we cannot ignore this issue by dumping it onto the provinces and municipalities, as this government is doing.
    What we have before us is a good bill, both from a collective and an individual point of view.
    I am going to conclude by congratulating the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina on this important legislation to promote public transit. I also want to thank the Speaker for giving me the opportunity to address this issue.
    I hope all hon. members will support Bill C-305.

  (1840)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand to talk about this wonderful bill, a bill to establish a national public transit strategy.
    My riding has 200 communities and it is about as rural as can be, maybe not as rural as some other members ridings, but certainly the vast majority of ridings.
    It is somewhat ironic that I am talking about a national transit strategy when a lot of the big spending would be on subway systems. The nearest subway system to my riding is in Boston, Massachusetts.
    I do believe in the importance of the bill. Whether it is in Montreal, Toronto, or the SkyTrain in Vancouver, public transit and mass transit in this situation, like the subway or the SkyTrain, is beneficial to the nation.
    There are several aspects of the bill that I appreciate fully. It will help to encourage dialogue about large cities and urban centres. It gives us the opportunity to discuss just how people will be moved around at a time when cities are expanding, like the greater Toronto area, where millions of people are set to arrive by 2020. Vancouver and Montreal are both going to expand. In places such as St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, or even Halifax, the transit system, primarily bus, or in the case of St. John's the metro bus, the infrastructure is there.
    Public transit improves the environment because people can be moved into one vehicle. It also helps people who live in poverty and who are unable to find transportation of their own, either a car or motorcycle. Insurance costs are high and fuel costs are rising. Something like this would help alleviate poverty in a major way.
    What I see is a bill that has a national dialogue about who we are. It takes stock of what we have thus far when it comes to infrastructure and builds and improves upon that.
    I have lived in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. In each and every city I took advantage of the transit system. It was an advantage for me because I did not have a vehicle because I could not afford one, especially living in Vancouver. I was able to avail myself of the transit system there namely, the SkyTrain and the bus system to get to work.
    Several aspects of the bill will improve the conversation in our country in addition to eventually improving the infrastructure situation.
    Municipalities struggle. My hon. colleague mentioned earlier the FCM meeting that was held in Saskatchewan. Right now there is a funding deficit. Many municipalities, small or large, are now in a situation where they want to renew a fiscal framework with the provinces.
    As members would know, municipalities are creations of the provinces. The Constitution recognizes two levels of government, federal and provincial. The provincial government, through its own municipal affairs department, looks after municipalities.
    Only 8¢ of the average tax dollar winds its way through to municipal coffers. Imagine a city the size of Toronto, or even a mid-size city like Halifax, having to support a transit system primarily through its revenue from 8¢ of the tax dollar. That is not a substantial amount of money. This is what the FCM is talking about.
    This bill provides us with the opportunity to have a discussion about transit and the strategies for each and every municipality. It would be a pan-national conversation. We could discuss options such as direct subsidies to individuals through the tax code or direct subsidies to the municipalities themselves.
    We talk quite a bit about the gas revenue, which is shared with municipalities through the provinces. This initiative was started in 2005. A portion of the gas tax revenue or the excise tax is given to the municipalities and a lot of that goes to transit. Investing in public transit infrastructure benefits the people of Canada. Better public transit would result in cleaner, more productive cities and communities in which people could access the jobs and services that would be needed for economic growth.

  (1845)  

    Is it not ironic that in the budget we will vote on tonight, Bill C-38, are employment insurance reforms. One of the issues at play is the government trying to hook up people with full-time work within an hour's drive. That would be highly problematic in rural areas, especially with respect seasonal industries. Some people have said that EI recipients could go from the fish plant and work in tourism to help to expand it. However, according to the philosophy of what the government is putting in place when it comes to EI reforms, they cannot go from one seasonal industry to another unless it is expanded by a couple of weeks. Even still, the government is looking to have people work all year round. It wants to ensure that people do not become repeat users of EI, which is very problematic when it comes to seasonal work.
    One of the solutions to employment is that people have to be within an hour's drive. If they are in a situation where they are offered a job that is less than an hour away and they do not have a vehicle in a rural area, forget it, it just will not work. However, in an urban area they have to look at investing in a monthly