Skip to main content Start of content

House Publications

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

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication

39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 109

CONTENTS

Tuesday, June 10, 2008





CANADA

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 142 
l
NUMBER 109 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
39th PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Nisga'a Final Agreement

    Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 2005-06 annual report of the Nisga'a Final Agreement.

Westbank First Nations Self-government Agreement

    Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 2005-06 annual report of the Westbank First Nations Self-government Agreement.

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 response to four petitions.

Committees of the House

Environment and Sustainable Development 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in relation to Bill C-469, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (use of phosphorus), requesting an extension.

[Translation]

     Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a), a motion to concur in the report is deemed moved, the question deemed put, and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Wednesday, June 11, 2008, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

[English]

Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, this issue has been raised by constituents and some of the challenges that pensioners face as they move from a working life, being paid every second week, to a pension life that really allocates their pension once a month and after the fact.
    I am pleased to bring this before the House. Hopefully, it will get some support and we will be able to help pensioners as they deal with the rising costs, and it will allow them to enjoy their new life.

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

Canada Labour Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, this enactment would require employers to report information about all accidents, occupational disease, and other hazardous occurrences known to the employer to the Minister of Labour. It would also require the minister to maintain a registry containing all of that information and to make the information available to employees and potential employees for examination.
    This would be very important going forward for workers who have contracted a disease that started perhaps a few years ago. It would be important for workers looking at a workplace to know what might be there that they should be concerned about.
    I am very happy that I am able to table this on behalf of, particularly, the steelworkers of Local 2251 in Sault Ste. Marie, along with my colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre.

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

Committees of the House

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

     moved that the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food presented on Wednesday, May 7, be concurred in.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, a motion was passed by the agriculture and agri-food committee on May 1. Specifically, the motion passed reads as follows:
    The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food calls on the Federal Government to immediately implement an exit strategy for tobacco producers consistent with the most recent proposal they have submitted and that it be reported to the House.
    After the motion was passed on May 1, I asked a question in the House related to this issue and based upon his answer to me, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has made it crystal clear that the government will not accede to the expressed majority wish of the members of the committee. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, in fact, referred to the past motion as a political stunt.
    As the government has made it clear that it does not intend to abide by the clear wish of the all party committee, I am bringing this concurrence motion before the House of Commons and requesting that the motion as passed by the agriculture and agri-food committee be concurred in by the majority of members of the House.
    Tobacco producers have been facing very difficult times for a lengthy period and, truly, they have experienced the proverbial perfect storm. So desperate has the situation been for many producers that some have, most regrettably, taken their own lives. Family members of those farmers who completely gave up hope are obviously reeling from their loss. Other tobacco farmers are barely hanging on and a very difficult situation confronts all tobacco producers, that is, those who are yet left in Canada.
    Communities are coping with the severe economic downturn which has been experienced by tobacco farmers and, by extension, entire communities. I am referring in particular to communities in southwestern Ontario, which have for some decades relied upon a healthy economy generated by the production and sale of tobacco.
    Currently, there are approximately 650 tobacco farmers in Canada, the vast majority of those being in Ontario, specifically southwestern Ontario. It is my understanding that there remains a single tobacco farmer on Prince Edward Island and that a handful yet grow tobacco in Quebec. As I have said, the overwhelming majority are in southwestern Ontario. There are about 1,500 quota owners and they too are facing tremendous economic uncertainty.
    The fair question to be asked is what makes tobacco farmers unique. Obviously, many farmers, manufacturers and Canadians at large are facing economic challenges triggered by the high Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar: competition, for instance, from manufacturing entities in countries such as China, India, Mexico and Brazil, which have become industrialized very quickly; high energy costs; and other factors.
    Tobacco farmers are facing all of those challenges with tobacco being grown in other countries and imported into Canada by manufacturing entities, which are more and more purchasing imported product from other countries and no longer using domestic tobacco as they once did. Again, it is a fair question to ask: What makes the situation facing tobacco farmers unique to the point that they merit an exit strategy?
    When I mention an exit strategy, tobacco producers are not seeking an extravagant payout or buyout from the federal government's general revenue. They well understand that the appropriate mechanism with which to implement an exit strategy is assistance over a period of time, ideally from the taxes generated by the sale of tobacco products. If that were to be the case, then smokers themselves would essentially be assisting tobacco farmers in leaving the industry.
    Simply put, it is not an immediate buyout which tobacco farmers are requesting, though obviously that would not be turned down. Rather, tobacco producers are seeking an exit strategy which will provide them with funds for the next three to five years which will allow them to essentially retire their very heavy debt load.
    Mr. Speaker, you will be aware that the federal government, through the Minister of Public Safety, has recently announced an intention to implement an enforcement strategy which will deal with the issue of illicit or contraband tobacco.

  (1010)  

    In correspondence received from the Minister of Public Safety, he wrote to me that:
--the illicit trade in tobacco products presents a serious threat to public safety and health in Canada.
    The minister is absolutely correct in his observation. He has also appropriately commented that:
    In addition to undermining the Government of Canada's ambitious health objectives, and resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and provincial revenue losses, the contraband tobacco trade damages legitimate business by creating an environment of unfair competition.
    There is no other agricultural sector which faces such competition from any legal competitor. It is estimated that in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec close to 40% of tobacco consumed is contraband or illicit tobacco. This is, as that figure reflects, significant competition faced by tobacco producers; that is, they are facing competition from an illegal competitor which has grabbed almost 40% of the market share.
    No other producers face this level of illegal competition. For instance, although hard working grape growers in Niagara face stiff competition from California, New Zealand and other countries, such competition is legal, as all grapes consumed in Canada to the best of my knowledge have been produced by a grower, domestic or otherwise, who is playing by the rules, who is producing and selling legally a product on which all appropriate taxes have been paid.
    This is in direct contrast with tobacco producers who once again are dealing with very stiff competition from illegal sources.
    Without intending to sound pessimistic and as appropriate as it is for the Minister of Public Safety to begin a study of how to deal with the issue of contraband tobacco, the reality is that such measures, if and when implemented, will not assist tobacco producers for some few years to come.
    Their situation is dire now and needs immediate attention. It is absolutely no answer for the government to say to tobacco producers something like, “Just be patient. We will soon be eliminating contraband tobacco and all will be well again. So just please be patient”.
    That would be naive in the extreme and I cannot imagine a responsible government in the face of the very negative circumstances facing tobacco producers providing that type of response.
    In and of itself the very stiff competition being faced by tobacco farmers from an illegal competitor would be sufficient, even abundant justification for the federal government intervening to implement an exit strategy.
    I should indicate that the province of Ontario for instance is prepared to assist tobacco producers in Ontario and it is prepared to assist to the extent of 40% of the cost of any exit strategy ultimately announced by the federal government. The Government of Ontario well understands the unique and very dire circumstances in which tobacco producers find themselves.
    As I have said, even though the issue of contraband tobacco would be sufficient justification for intervention by the federal government, there is at least one other factor which makes tobacco producers unique; that is, the tremendous revenue generated by so-called sin taxes on the sale of tobacco.
    Although I am stating the obvious and indicating that contraband tobacco escapes such taxes, as the sale of contraband is really all about evading taxes, there are still tremendous moneys realized by the federal government on the sale of tobacco. Some 60% of tobacco consumed in Ontario is still sold legally and about $2 billion is realized annually by the federal government on the sale of tobacco products.
    There is no other commodity which generates such so-called sin taxes for the federal government. The federal government and, by extension, all taxpayers are the beneficiaries of well over $2 billion per year. Simply put, the federal government continues to profit and profit quite handsomely on the sale of tobacco products. Tobacco companies continue to realize significant profits from the sale of tobacco products.
    Those persons involved in the sale of contraband tobacco are presumably realizing very significant profits. So it is not an exaggeration or an overstatement to say that the only sector which is not yielding a profit, significant or otherwise, and is in fact dealing with crushing, devastating financial losses is the sector involving legitimate tobacco growers in Canada.

  (1015)  

    The fact that contraband tobacco now has almost 40% of the market share makes the situation of tobacco farmers unique. The further fact that the federal government receives $2 billion in taxes on an annual basis from the sale of tobacco products also makes the situation of tobacco farmers unique.
    In addition, only a few years ago, tobacco farmers were advised to reinvest in new machinery in order to meet what was anticipated to be a continuing demand for their domestic product. This is exactly what many farmers did and their average debt load is approaching $500,000. The machinery in which they invested, and invested heavily, is not able to be utilized for other commodities, and there is no market for used equipment which is designed for the production of tobacco.
    Canada sits alone in many respects on this issue. Australia and the United States, for instance, have seen fit to implement an exit strategy for their tobacco producers. It is disappointing, to say the least, that the Conservative government has not seen fit to implement a similar exit strategy.
    All that the federal government has done to this point is to suggest to tobacco producers that they try to access existing agricultural programs to help themselves. The current programs are not appropriate for tobacco farmers and I have been advised by tobacco producers and others that the suggestion by the federal government that tobacco farmers access existing programs is completely unhelpful.
     I wish to advise members as to the position of the provincial government. Many months ago, the then minister of agriculture for Ontario, Leona Dombrowsky, stated:
    I have written to [the minister]... Given the challenges facing the sector, I have encouraged the federal government to give serious consideration to the Tobacco Board's proposal for exit assistance.
     Clearly, the Ontario government is prepared to participate in a plan this government endorses.
    As I have indicated, entire communities have been crushed by the significant downturn in the tobacco industry. As the vice-chair of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board, Richard VanMaele, said to the committee some months ago:
    The local communities have based their economies around tobacco and the farmers have supported those communities. The unfortunate part now is that the farmer doesn't have the ability to support the community. The farmer is now in what you'd call survival mode, doing whatever he can to survive to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, it's the local community that's paying the ultimate price, whether stores or charitable organizations, even. You just don't have the dollars to put forward to help benefit your local people.
    The council of the County of Brant, in which county several tobacco farmers reside, unanimously approved a resolution at its January 23, 2007 meeting. This was one year to the day after the current government was elected. The salient portions of the resolution are as follows:
    Whereas the communities within the tobacco-growing regions of southwestern Ontario have now collectively felt the impact of the deterioration of this once strong rural economy;
    And whereas this same deterioration continues to impact our infrastructure, our ability to supply increasing demands on our social system and most importantly, on the local individuals, services and commercial entities that service our population;...
    And whereas the Ontario Flue-cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board has developed, in consultation with and support from the growers that they represent, an “exit strategy” that proposes a responsible, dignified and absolute support mechanism for the individuals and families who have invested their livelihoods in the tobacco industry, and to the communities that their social and economic contributions have historically benefited;
    Therefore be it resolved that, by support of this resolution, the Federal...Government...commit to and implement a full and complete “exit strategy”, similar in principle and objectives to the program introduced by the Ontario Flue-cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board....
    The concern for tobacco producers goes back many months, to the point in time when there was a minister prior to the current minister.
    An identical resolution was endorsed unanimously by the mayors and wardens of communities in Norfolk County, Oxford County, Elgin County and, as I have indicated, Brant County. The resolution was presented to Norfolk County council and was unanimously endorsed.

  (1020)  

    Brian Edwards, very involved with a group known as Tobacco Farmers in Crisis, appeared before the committee months ago and very eloquently and succinctly summarized the problem when he stated:
    There is no requirement right now for a Canadian content, a percentage in the cigarette. Under the tobacco advisory committee, for a number of years there was a working relationship between the companies and the farmers and the government. Now that doesn't work.
    We have an underground economy that has stolen market share from the legal producers, and these companies are reacting to this. If we're not going to get contraband back under control, these companies are going to leave Canada and they're going to leave us, as farmers, abandoned.
    As the chair of the agriculture committee said at a time before he was promoted to his current position as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:
    We've just seen in the news today that Australia has settled. They've done it. Other countries have done it around the world....
    There is a clear recognition and understanding on the part of this minister and this government that other countries have seen fit to implement an exit strategy for their tobacco growers.
    Some Conservative politicians actually understand that something needs to be done on an immediate basis. For instance, Toby Barrett, the member of provincial Parliament representing the riding of Haldimand--Norfolk, said as far back as May 4, 2006, the following:
    The last remaining farmers and their communities in Norfolk, Oxford, Elgin and Brant do need federal and provincial government help to make the transition to a post-tobacco economy. Previously, the federal and provincial governments put up $120 million in tobacco relief, buying out quotas, encouraging new businesses and crops, but now more help is needed as the industry disappears.
    Member of provincial Parliament Toby Barrett went on to say:
    The solution is a full exit plan, as in Australia and the United States. There is no turning back.
    Mr. Barrett said that a little over two years ago.
    A well-regarded reporter with the Expositor, a daily newspaper published in Brantford, has been writing a steady stream of articles about this issue. I would like to quote from an article which Michael-Allan Marion wrote on April 22, 2006:
    Ontario tobacco board officials are breathing a sigh of relief at news that Ottawa is ready to start formal talks on a complete exit strategy for growers.
     Fred Neukamm, chairman of the...Board, said he received a phone call directly from [the] Agriculture Minister...on Wednesday, confirming the department is ready to set up talks.
    Here we are more than two years later and nothing has been done by this government, except to suggest to tobacco producers that they access existing programs.
    At that same time, April 2006, the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the member of Parliament for Haldimand—Norfolk, said:
    The federal government is willing to consider a two-pronged approach. One of these prongs is going forward with a process. That's as far as things have got. That in itself is major progress, especially in this short a time. I'm pleased with the progress so far.
    That is what the minister, the member for Haldimand—Norfolk, said in April 2006. Pleased she might have been with the progress as of April 2006, such as it was, nothing has happened for over two years.
    All of the non-action by the federal government is in direct contrast to its statements, including statements from the current Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The minister was asked at committee earlier this year what he intended to do for tobacco producers. The minister indicated that he would do something sooner rather than later and that we should all stay tuned.
    Since then, we have stayed tuned. The minister has indicated, unfortunately, that there will be no exit strategy for tobacco producers and, once again, that they should look to existing programs.
    During the last election campaign, various Conservative members of Parliament or candidates made it a priority to develop an exit strategy for tobacco farmers. For instance, the member for Haldimand—Norfolk proclaimed the Liberal Party's 2005 tobacco assistance program to be “paltry by international standards”. Presumably, the member was referring to the fact that Canada had not yet implemented a strategy for tobacco farmers commensurate with what had taken place in Australia and the United States.
    It is regrettable that the Conservative government has not, 27 months later, implemented a program that would be commensurate with the programs provided by the governments of Australia and the United States.

  (1025)  

    Lastly, I would like to quote one tobacco farmer who wrote to me:
    We are writing today to explain our desperate situation...We are now unable to grow tobacco because of the current quota situation and the presence of contraband tobacco. We have absolutely no way of servicing that amount of debt.
    I will close there.
    Mr. Speaker, I come from a riding that is a tobacco riding, as does the member for Brant.
    This is an issue that has gone on for many, many years. Could the member for Brant please tell us what the previous government did with respect to contraband, which, equally, has been a problem for a long time?
     As well, I wonder if he could enlighten the House as to what his friends in the Ontario legislature have offered to do for the tobacco farmers.
    Would he also please tell this House and Canadians who are watching who controls the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board and the regulations that it operates under? Which level of government is it?
    He has done a pretty good job of complaining about the lack of action in the last few months, but he has not really talked about the lack of action in the preceding years. Could he please tell the House what he and his party have done on all of those issues previous to this government being formed?

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite, whom I respect, but periodically, of course, and it has happened again this morning, he lapses into that habit of forgetting, I guess, that he is now in government, along with his Conservative colleagues.
     It is some 27 months now that the Conservatives have been in government here in Ottawa and tobacco farmers and producers are yet awaiting an answer from them on the situation, which has gone on for some time.
    With respect to the issue of contraband tobacco, it was a significant problem in 1994 and 1995. The then Liberal government took aggressive steps. Not so many months after those aggressive steps were taken by the then Liberal government, the issue of contraband tobacco certainly left the front burner and was only very peripherally a factor.
    In terms of the Ontario government's position, as I have indicated, the Ontario government is prepared to assist tobacco farmers, prompted by their own members. In fact, even Conservative members of the provincial legislature understand that something needs to be done. The Ontario government has committed to 40% of any exit strategy being funded by the Ontario government, with 60% funding to come from the federal government.
    Again, I want to reiterate that it is not an immediate cash grab, so to speak, that tobacco farmers are requesting or clamouring for. They want a transitional funding program, which will allow them to exit the industry with dignity and with at least much of their debt retired. Many are in the situation that they will have debt with them to the end of their lives. We are asking by way of this motion, and the members of the agriculture committee get it well, for the federal government to actually do something now to help out these farmers.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Brant for his excellent presentation on the plight of the tobacco farmers. It seems that unless the issue involves help for big oil, the government does not seem to care very much.
     The member for Brant mentioned the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who is in a neighbouring riding. I guess she is the minister who really should be pushing politically. Could the member please tell us what the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has done to help with the plight of these people?
    Mr. Speaker, in short, I am not exactly certain what the minister has done. I do know that earlier this year the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food indicated that something would be done sooner rather than later, that we should stay tuned, and that, in so many words, relief for tobacco farmers was on its way. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has not implemented anything by way of an exit strategy.
    In response to my colleague's question as to what the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may have done or may be doing, truly, I cannot responsibly comment on that because she has not spoken lately about this issue.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member's speech. I also listened to his answer to the first question he was asked by my hon. colleague. Quite frankly, he did not answer the question.
    People talk about the military going through a decade of darkness under the former Liberal government. Agriculture went through a decade of darkness with the Liberal government as well. Tobacco growers went through a decade of darkness.
    I want to ask the member directly, once and for all, what did the member's government do for 13 years while tobacco farmers were in terrible trouble? I would like a direct answer, blow by blow. What did the Liberal government do for those people who suffered for 13 long years?

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a message for the member opposite. In case he has forgotten, today is June 10, 2008. You have been in government since January 23, 2006, which is approximately 28 months. The question is, what is going to be done for tobacco producers now?
    If you want to go back to the past, as your party typically wants to do, then let us replay the past. The Liberal government in Ottawa had, in fact, initiated a tobacco assistance program which some tobacco farmers or producers took advantage of. They exited the growing of tobacco with assistance from the federal government. Some parlayed their experience into ginseng and other commodities.
    Simply put, were tobacco farmers assisted by the then Liberal government? Absolutely. It is regrettable they are now not being assisted in any way, shape or form by the current Conservative government.
    I would just remind the hon. member for Brant to address his comments through the chair and not directly at members.
    Are there further questions and comments? Resuming debate. The hon. member for Elgin--Middlesex--London.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join the debate. Many of the tobacco producers whom we are talking about today are my friends, my family, my neighbours. This is an important subject. I am pleased to stand and talk about our government's commitment to ensuring the long term success and prosperity for Canadian farmers, including the farmers in this country's tobacco sector.
    Since taking office just over two years ago, this government has been putting farmers first in every action we take on agriculture. We know when farmers succeed, the whole value chain from the gate to the plate prospers.
    We understand the hardships facing the flue-cured tobacco sector today. I understand them personally. I have many tobacco farmers in my riding.
    On March 31 the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Ontario minister for agriculture, food and rural affairs met with the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board. The goal was to talk about the future of the industry in Ontario. The minister has also met with area mayors to discuss support for communities struggling with tobacco issues.
    I am pleased to point out that I am currently chairing an economic development task force in the five county area of southern Ontario that is addressing the economic needs of that region. Tobacco has been the main industry there for generations. It is waning. It is not as strong as it once was, certainly from what the previous member said from a tobacco grower point of view, but it is not just that. The businesses in communities surrounding this area, the barber shops, the implement dealers, the restaurants are also hurting.
    We have immediately put in place a task force to look at the economic development of the area. There is great support from the mayors and county officials, the economic development officers and all of the chambers of commerce. We have had meetings in fairly rapid succession to put together plans for the economic development of that area.
    Other agriculture sectors in Canada are also suffering difficulties. With this in mind it is only fair that any solution for tobacco producers take into account the needs of the broader agriculture sector.
    The Government of Canada is committed to delivering stable, bankable programs that work for farmers. This includes assistance to Ontario's tobacco growers. Since this government has taken office, existing agriculture programs have delivered almost $20 million in support for the tobacco sector.
    While both provincial and federal governments have been very clear that no new exit program is available to tobacco growers, I would like to outline the hard work under way to help tobacco farmers access existing programs. These programs include ones that provide farmers with financial stability and access to tools, such as business planning, that can help to diversify and identify new opportunities and programs that support community development.
    With the economic development task force that I am currently chairing I have met with many groups on the ground in the five county area of southern Ontario where tobacco has been grown. I am going be a bit of a cheerleader about the entrepreneur situation we have. We have known for years that Canadian farmers are some of the most entrepreneurial people in the world. Some of the ideas that have come out of that sector from an alternative crop point of view and an alternative business point of view have been phenomenal. We are moving them forward.
    The Minister of Agriculture is also looking at ways to make programs work better to respond to the needs of tobacco farmers in transition. Tobacco producers have benefited from programs, which include $400 million to help farmers address cost of production issues, and $600 million to kickstart new farmer accounts through AgriInvest. Tobacco producers continue to benefit from AgriStability, the margin based program which has changed to become more responsive when farmers face income declines.
    Furthermore, the AAFC is taking a fresh look at how the programs we have right now can help tobacco farmers. I was at a meeting this morning with people from the ministry who talked about the new rural initiatives and different programs that we can use to help the tobacco area with economic development.
    Prime Minister Harper recently announced that the province of Ontario will receive--

  (1040)  

    I hate to interrupt the hon. member, but I would ask him to use the member's riding or title, please.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister recently announced that the province of Ontario will receive $358 million through the community development trust. Programs supported by these funds will support: improved productivity and competitiveness; technology development; and training for workers and communities facing challenges in industries such as agriculture, forestry and manufacturing.
    That is exactly what we are talking about here. The community development trust certainly fits across the country in different areas, whether it is forestry or manufacturing. In my area of southern Ontario, it certainly seems that the community development trust fits well into the tobacco area. It is an area with a single industry that is declining. The community development trust could certainly help in that area.
    We are not sitting still when it comes to delivering assistance to Canadian farmers. We will continue to work at identifying practical ways to help tobacco farmers transition to new opportunities to grow their farm businesses. We are working with the provinces and territories on a new plan to make the Canadian agriculture sector not just viable but vibrant.
    Growing forward is a collaborative vision of the sector that is focused on the future. It is a vision for a profitable and innovative sector. It is important that our agriculture be that. It is a vision for a sector that seizes opportunities. It is important that we do that in this case. It is a vision for a sector that responds to market demands and contributes to the health and well-being of Canadians.
    This agreement builds on the best of the agriculture policy framework. It brings our producers the bankable business risk management programs, including the ones I outlined earlier. It builds on the ideas put forward by producers and others who work in the sector.
    The bottom line is that there is tremendous opportunity in agriculture in this country. Certainly, there are areas that have more concerns than others. We will continue to work closely with the Ontario tobacco marketing board, the province of Ontario and manufacturers to address the situation facing our tobacco growers. Our goal is to help build a better future for all Canadian farm families, including those friends and neighbours of mine in Elgin—Middlesex—London.
    Mr. Speaker, I move:
    That this debate do now adjourn.
     Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer): In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer): Call in the members.

  (1125)  

    And the bells having rung
    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 143)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Arthur
Baird
Benoit
Bezan
Blackburn
Blaney
Boucher
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Carrie
Casson
Chong
Clarke
Comuzzi
Cummins
Davidson
Del Mastro
Devolin
Doyle
Dykstra
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Goldring
Goodyear
Grewal
Guergis
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Lemieux
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKenzie
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Paradis
Petit
Poilievre
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Yelich

Total: -- 102

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
André
Angus
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Bélanger
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bellavance
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Bevington
Bigras
Black
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Casey
Charlton
Christopherson
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Dryden
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Fry
Gagnon
Gaudet
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Gravel
Guarnieri
Guimond
Hall Findlay
Holland
Hubbard
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Keeper
Laforest
Laframboise
Lavallée
Layton
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Lussier
MacAulay
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (LaSalle—Émard)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Minna
Mulcair
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Murray
Nadeau
Nash
Neville
Pacetti
Paquette
Patry
Pearson
Perron
Picard
Plamondon
Proulx
Rae
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St-Cyr
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thi Lac
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Vincent
Volpe
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 146

PAIRED

Members

Batters
Bernier
Guay
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Komarnicki
Lalonde
Ouellet
St-Hilaire

Total: -- 8

    I declare the motion lost.

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, the House shall meet at 3:00 p.m. and proceed to Statements by Ministers pursuant to Standing Order 33 to allow the Prime Minister to make a statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools; during this statement, Phil Fontaine, Mary Simon, Clem Chartier, Beverley Jacobs, Pat Brazeau, Mary Moonias, Marguerite Wabano, Sandra Linklater, Crystal Merasty, Peter Irniq, Don Favel and Mike Cachagee shall be permitted on the floor of the House; any scheduled votes on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 shall be deferred to Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.; after Statements by Ministers on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, the House shall adjourn to the next sitting day; and from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, no committees shall meet.
    Does the hon. government House leader have unanimous consent to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer): 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)

Points of Order

Divisions  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. With respect to the vote that was just taken prior to the point of order, I wonder whether the member for Calgary Northeast would want to reconsider his vote in light of the fact that it appeared to me that he took his seat literally two seconds before the roll call vote reached him. He could not have been here for the reading of the motion.
    Yes, Mr. Speaker, I did walk in just as the call was being taken. I would like it noted that I would vote in favour of the motion that my party has supported. I was late in arriving.
    The Chair has taken note of the fact that the hon. member entered the chamber late.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I do not want the member to be recorded as voting because members cannot vote if they are late. I would like to hear the position of the Chair.
    The rules are clear. The Table will reflect the fact that the member entered the chamber late.
    Resuming debate on questions and comments. The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Committees of the House

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, the motion before the House is in the sixth report of the agriculture committee. It raises a very important point about transitioning for the tobacco industry. It would appear that there has been substantial discussion within the committee with regard to this important issue. The member is very involved in committee.
    I am a little concerned that there is no concurrence by the government with regard to the importance of providing a transition strategy, which would appear to be consistent with good governance as has been shown on matters like this. It might be a matter of regional economic development or it may be a strategic initiative where there is an economic impact.
    I wonder if the member would care to clarify the relative importance of dealing with this particular industry at a time of transition.

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has hit one of the nails on the head. The answer is not only about any one piece. There are several pieces to the puzzle and one of them certainly is the economic development of an area that has been strongly hit because its main product is no longer selling as well as it once did.
    The task force that I am chairing on the economic development for the area will be looking at that piece and the growers in the area. The minister has put forward what he is doing for them.
    The answer is not only about the growers. The answer is about the economic development of the area. Barbershop owners, restaurants and implement dealers are all in the same straits.
    The motion put forward continues to repeat over and over again the same solution, that being that only the federal government has it. The minister has been pretty clear. At a meeting with his counterpart, the Ontario minister of agriculture, the minister stated that it is not only about the government fixing this problem but it is also about manufacturers being involved. It is about the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board marketing tobacco and helping sell more of the product.
    On top of that, in the discussion today, we have already talked about two or three of the other problems, one of them being the economic development of the area, or at this moment, what the government is doing to decrease the contraband sale of cigarettes and illegal tobacco products in Canada in order for legal producers and sellers to do what they still do. Tobacco is still a legal product.
    We can take the pressure off on the contraband side. We can do our best on the economic development side. As the minister has clearly stated, we will work hard toward a solution for the producers.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is very involved on this topic. He has been working on a task force in his area, trying to address the needs of the tobacco industry. There is no question it has gone through some really difficult times, and we have looked at a number of different ways of transitioning.
    For 13 long years, the Liberals, when they were in government, did absolutely nothing for the tobacco industry other than ignore it. Now it is about looking at what the future really holds. I know the member has been very involved and has some ideas.
     Does he feel it was fair that the former Liberal government pitted farmer against farmer rather than resolve the entire issue?
    Mr. Speaker, of course not. The answer is never found in conflict, or in pitting one person against the other. The answer is found in working together. That is apparently what the minister and the government have attempted to do. They have tried to put the right people together to make the solution happen. It is not about demanding a solution; it is about working together until we find one. We will never get there by putting one side of this issue against the other.
    I recognize what the member says is true. For a number of years the Liberal government exacerbated the problem by allowing contraband to grow to such an extent that the legal sales of tobacco were lost to the tobacco producers in southern Ontario and that the manufacturers were forced to take other ways to deal with their problems, such as making cigarettes in Mexico instead of in Canada and not buying from our producers.
    These problems can only be solved by us working together, but it is not only about producers. It is about the neighbourhoods in which they live. It is about the economy of all southern Ontario where tobacco is grown.
    Mr. Speaker, for the previous questioner, let us set the record straight. When the previous government was in place, it announced a reduction strategy. It committed itself to that reduction strategy and followed through on it, according to what the tobacco industry requested. However, things changed and the situation for tobacco producers became worse. They realized they needed an exit strategy, given the contraband with which the current government has not dealt. Although Conservatives talk law and order, they have not really dealt with the contraband issue.
    The member chairs the committee. He talks about the whole area, and, yes, that is important. There has to be regional development strategy for that whole area, and we support movement in that way. Specifically, there has to also be an exit strategy for the tobacco industry. It is in this specific area that the government has violated its word. The current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration committed to an exit strategy during the election and the government failed to follow through on that.
    I met with those tobacco producers. Suicides are happening. The life work of people has gone down the drain. Even the lending community made a commitment to come forward this year based on what it thought the government would do.
    Will the government at least keep its word on that specific area related to tobacco producers and commit to the exit strategy, which was about $275 million? Will it do that?

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that we are talking about some serious issues. There have been, as the member mentioned, some serious troubles in the tobacco area, and it is nice that he has gone to talk to the producers. These people are my friends and my neighbours. I do not only go and talk to them, I live with them. In my whole political career, I have spent time talking to tobacco farmers, looking for an answer to this.
    The member mentioned the lending institutions. On a daily basis, I have talked to the bankers on behalf of producers. This is not about us against them. It is not about finding conflict. This is about working together to solve a problem for my friends and my neighbours, which is serious. No one asked for this to happen. We are working very hard. The minister has put together as much of a multi-faceted approach as we can to look at the economic development in the area, the contraband situation to reduce illegal sales, and a strategy for the producers. We continue to look at it from all sides, and we will find the answer for this.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate proposed by the member for Brant. I congratulate him for making sure we had a debate on tobacco. The member for Brant sits on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food, and I know that he truly cares about this issue. This is no doubt why he decided to request a three-hour debate on the subject today.
    I must say that this is not the first time the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food has taken a close look at this topic. It has already held a number of meetings, and recently completely two major reports on input prices and on the labelling of food products in Canada. We will use our remaining committee meetings to work on several issues, including the difficulties facing honey producers. There is also another meeting planned on the crisis tobacco producers are facing. So I think it is worth talking about it here in the House.
    As I was saying, it is very important that we debate the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food on an exit strategy for tobacco producers. In its report, the committee is calling on the federal government to immediately implement an exit strategy for tobacco producers consistent with the most recent proposal they have submitted.
    We know—members have talked about it here in the House during this debate—that certain countries have implemented highly effective exit strategies, notably Australia and the United States, which is a close neighbour. The government would do well to look at what other countries are doing in order to follow their examples and improve on them, if need be, since nothing is perfect.
    Australia and the United States have implemented exit strategies. Here, the government is telling tobacco farmers to take advantage of programs offered by the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. As with many things, when farmers are referred to existing programs, they come up against a brick wall. Why? Because programs have standards; there are criteria and, in many cases, farmers cannot apply these programs to their specific situation. The programs are not 100% appropriate for these problems, and that is the case for tobacco farmers.
    If existing programs did the trick, farmers would certainly not be asking the federal government for assistance, and we would not be spending our time here demanding an exit strategy for them and demanding that they be given assistance, since the programs would suffice. But there is no denying the fact that existing programs do not work for tobacco farmers.
    We have been asking the government for some kind of exit strategy. We have not been asking the government to give money to tobacco farmers so they can keep producing. Nowadays, we all know that tobacco products are bad for people's health. That is not news to anyone. Governments are putting increasing emphasis, and rightly so, on smoking cessation and, therefore, on ceasing tobacco production. For now though, it is still a legal product. For now, tobacco is still being produced around the world in places like China, which has become a huge tobacco producer. One thing is clear though, and that is that fortunately, there are fewer and fewer smokers, particularly in Quebec and Canada, and we hope that trend continues.
    So for tobacco farmers, this is not about continuing to produce and sell tobacco. This is about finding something else to do. From the time farmers decide to stop producing tobacco—they really have no choice—to the time they figure out what else to grow to support their families and their communities, the government has to help them through the transition. Tobacco farmers are asking for help finding an alternative.
    These people invested considerable sums of money a few years ago, and they cannot just start growing something else from one day to the next. As I said, we have to help them make this transition.
    To put a finer point on the issue, I dug out some of the testimony given to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food during the one or two meetings that dealt with problems facing tobacco producers. That was in November 2006. At the time, the committee heard from a person I have met a number of times.

  (1140)  

    As the Bloc Québécois agriculture critic, I meet not only with people from Quebec, but with people from other provinces who want to make us aware of the problems they are facing. Brian Edwards, president of Tobacco Farmers in Crisis, testified before the committee and had this to say, which gives a clear picture of the situation. I quote:
    Why are Canadian tobacco farmers in crisis?
    Tobacco farmers are victims of conflicting government policies on tobacco and a gap in tobacco control policy has put them into debt and economic devastation. Since 2002, tobacco farmers and their families have been in a state of turmoil, brought on by dramatically declining crop sizes, costly mandatory infrastructure investments, rising contraband and an increase in cheaper imported tobacco.
    Despite a still-existing and legal market, they find themselves unable to meet their obligations and are at great risk of losing their farms and their homes.
    At an average age of 58, with average debt loads of $400,000, the significant devaluation of tobacco farming assets, and little or no real employment opportunities elsewhere, many Canadian tobacco farmers risk losing everything they and their families have honestly invested in and worked for over four or five generations.
    Mr. Edwards went on to say this:
    What factors have forced us as tobacco farmers into debt?
    In 2002, the tobacco companies demanded that we do burner conversions to eliminate nitrosamines. This was mandated. We will not buy Canadian tobacco unless you do this. We as tobacco farmers invested over $65 million into burner conversions.
    I am not talking about the 1990s or the 1980s. As recently as the early 2000s, not that long ago, these tobacco producers believed that their industry would survive in the long term or, at least, in the medium term, based on calculations they had done with the blessing of the government at the time. They had been told that if they invested, they could continue growing tobacco and doing good business. We can see the result today, though. The farmers' investments are completely useless and are no longer paying off because nearly all the producers have had to give up growing tobacco. I say nearly all because there are still some producers, of course.
    Other important testimony at that same committee meeting came from Christian Boisjoly, a director of the Office des producteurs de tabac jaune du Québec, which is now known as the Association des producteurs de tabac jaune du Québec. Mr. Boisjoly had this to say:
    We would like to give you a little background on the crisis in the tobacco industry. This crop, which supported three generations of farmers in the Lanaudière, Mauricie and even Outaouais regions and allowed them to amass wealth for themselves, their families and their regions, suffered a dramatic blow in March 2003 when one of the major companies, RBH, in other words, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, suddenly decided to stop buying its tobacco in Quebec. A shock wave hit all tobacco farmers, because two years earlier, RBH, as well as Imperial Tobacco and JTI-MacDonald, had all required the complete conversion of tobacco-drying units. There were 725 units in Quebec—
    This brings us back to the same problem. These major investments were made at the request of the tobacco companies, which, a short time later, simply decided to stop buying tobacco from Quebec. Ontario managed to survive a little longer, but as I said at the beginning of my speech, China came onto the scene, as in many sectors, and made a mint by selling its tobacco to companies. No one can say whether the tobacco is necessarily of the same quality as Canadian and Quebec tobacco, but it was cheaper for the tobacco companies. It was therefore worth it for them to do business with China, even though they had just asked our tobacco farmers here to make major investments, telling them they would have contracts for them. Unfortunately, the companies did not keep their word.
    Mr. Boisjoly concluded part of his testimony with the following:
    As a result of these discussions, the TAAP, Tobacco Adjustment Assistance Program, was introduced. The announcement was made on May 4, 2004 [under the previous government]. The general idea was to offer a lump sum of $67 million dollars, first to Ontario farmers who wanted to get out of tobacco. The federal government purchased their quotas at a reverse auction in the spring of 2005. The objective of the program was chiefly to rationalize the supply for Ontario farmers.

  (1145)  

    Then Mr. Boisjoly speaking on behalf of Quebec farmers, explained the following.
    There were two major problems for Quebec farmers. The first was that we had no say, in other words, we were the victims of an undemocratic, unfair decision. The second was that in our case, there was no talk of rationalizing tobacco production, but rather stopping it altogether.
    That was in 2006 and I can say that Ontario tobacco producers are going through exactly the same thing today, that is they are asking for assistance to stop production. No one here believes that there is a future in tobacco farming.
    In Quebec, the few remaining tobacco producers—there are less than half a dozen—are concentrated mainly in the Lanaudière region. Tobacco is grown primarily for cigarette manufacturers on aboriginal reserves. There are very few other tobacco producers in Quebec these days.
    Naturally, Quebec tobacco farmers support their Ontario counterparts. If this has not been mentioned in this House, then I must do so. I have met these farmers' representatives on many occasions and they have always said that they support Ontario farmers and also those in other provinces, although there are not many and they are mostly concentrated in the same area. However, it is important to note that they want fair compensation if the government were ever to put in place a real exit strategy.
    That has always been the Bloc's focus here, in the House, in committee or at meetings with the minister or the department's representatives. One thing has always been very clear to us: even though tobacco farmers are no longer growing this crop, if the government did end up taking action in this matter and putting in place an exit strategy, we would have to ensure that Quebec producers are not ignored and that they, too, would receive fair compensation.
    I had these meetings particularly when I worked for the hon. member for Joliette, who has done extraordinary work on this file. When I was his assistant here on Parliament Hill, he and I arranged meetings with the producers from Quebec and departmental representatives. We invited the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to a meeting in the riding of Joliette to discuss this specific matter with tobacco producers and other stakeholders. A great deal of work was done to get the government to implement a few measures. Nonetheless, both the producers and the parliamentarians made it quite clear that these programs implemented by the Liberal government did not go far enough. These programs missed the mark, but they did provide some relief.
    We have been working with the tobacco growers of Quebec for years now and we are not going to abandon them.
    Their association changed its name to become the Office des producteurs de tabac jaune du Québec. It is headed up by Gaétan Beaulieu, who works very hard on this issue and I wish to commend him for that. Mr. Beaulieu was co-chair of the round table on tobacco organized by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2003-04. He has followed all negotiations very closely. This round table presented an opportunity to express the level of crisis Quebec and Ontario farmers had reached. The producers from Quebec were asking for a long-term program to solve the tobacco crisis. That was in 2003, and today in 2008, five years later, we are still making the same appeals on their behalf.
    I mentioned the former programs, such as TAAP, the tobacco adjustment assistance program. This program fell short of the expectations expressed by Quebec producers at the round table. Ontario's mechanism for setting the quota price did not take into account the fundamental difference between the quota systems in Quebec and Ontario.
    In July 2004, AGECO presented a very interesting portrait of Quebec tobacco growing operations as well as an evaluation of farmers' financial losses after flue-cured tobacco production was abandoned in Quebec. I have some interesting statistics that I would like to share with the House. And the end of AGECO's report, on page 30, it is mentioned that Quebec farmers have seen the value of their pre-quota assets drop by $17 million, or $1.48 per quota pound.

  (1150)  

    The loss in quota value has been calculated at between $19 million and $31 million. The Association des Producteurs de Tabac Jaune du Quebec estimates that they have lost about $25 million in quota value, which is $2.17 per pound.
    The producers have proposed an exit strategy to end this crisis once and for all. It is vital that the federal government implement such a strategy. I said earlier that there are examples in countries such as Australia and the United States. The tobacco producers have specifically asked that all quotas be bought out, that all Canadian tobacco farmers active since 2002 cease production, and that all quotas be retired.
    Tobacco producers have said why they want to see such a strategy put in place. As a signatory to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the Government of Canada has promised to put an end to the use of tobacco products in Canada. In fact, 80% of all producers will have practically ceased operations this year. Because they are so deeply in debt, they will not be able to do anything else unless a buyout package is introduced. Only then will producers be able to assess viable options for their future and the future of their community. That is one of the reasons such a package should be provided.
    The package would cover tobacco growers in Ontario, where the largest producers in the country are. I am using the present tense, but I should say that Ontario had the largest producers in the country. Out of Canada's 1,100 tobacco producers, 90% are in Ontario. That is why the Conservative member for Brant, who is closely involved in this issue, is speaking today, along with a number of members from Ontario's tobacco-growing region.
    There are also producers in Quebec, as I have said many times. There are also some in Prince Edward Island. Farmers in Quebec and Prince Edward Island should also receive subsidies as part of a tobacco exit strategy.
    Tobacco producers have come to the conclusion that this is the only option for them. Anything other than a full exit strategy would just be a temporary solution that would cause new problems. It is a comprehensive program for governments, farmers, communities and manufacturers, and it also takes into account the requirements of the health, environment, human resources and agriculture departments.
    This exit strategy will enable farmers and our communities to move on to something else when an opportunity arises. This program will give hope to farmers, their families and their communities. This program will reimburse farmers only for what they have invested. This program will enable Canada to fulfill its obligations to farmers under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The producers themselves presented such a plan quite a while ago now. Meetings, round tables and committees have been set up.
    Now, what do we need to do? The solutions are on the table. What are the criteria of such a strategy? What will this exit strategy look like, exactly? How much money will be invested? More discussions are needed. But one thing is no longer in doubt: we need an exit strategy, perhaps based on what is done elsewhere, but especially based on the demands of the tobacco farmers who have shown, for a long time, that they need this assistance. Without it, they experience family problems, which we heard about earlier. People are deciding to end not only their careers, but also their lives. That is very serious. It has gone that far because they have no other options. But one option the government can give them is an exit strategy.

  (1155)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has a concern for the tobacco farmers, as all of us do. He raised some interesting points. The real issue is that this motion does not cut it. It only deals with one aspect of the situation, and he touched on that.
    One thing that is important is that when members of the board talked to us, members from the Conservative Party especially, it was not just about the tobacco producers themselves. They also had concerns about their communities. They also had a huge concern about the contraband. The member for Brant said that problem was fixed in 1994-95, but obviously that did not cut it because now it is the worst it has been in history.
    What we wanted was a complete package, as laid out by the board, that looked at contraband, the municipalities and the communities, and obviously, nobody is talking about the manufacturers. They are the big players in this, or should be. Obviously it is still called the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board and there is the province as well.
    I wonder if the member would comment on the exit strategy that was brought about by the previous Liberal government, better known as the tobacco adjustment assistance program, TAAP. Also, because it is the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board that regulates and legislates the quota and distribution, does he have any comments of where it should fit into the solution?

  (1200)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that the contraband issue is far from being resolved. We see it in the news every now and then. We hear reports every month, if not every week, about how that type of criminal activity is, unfortunately, flourishing. The price of a pack of contraband cigarettes is so low that even smugglers are competing among themselves. They are fighting among themselves because prices have dropped so low. This is exactly the opposite of what is happening with oil. We do not yet have contraband oil, but we certainly have lots of contraband cigarettes.
    The member talked about previous programs that were set up. That is exactly what I was saying in my speech. An effort was made, and programs were suggested to tobacco producers. But I also quoted Gaétan Beaulieu of the Quebec tobacco growers, who said, basically, that the programs were inadequate and did not fix the problem.
    That is why, today, we are appealing to the government once again. The government did sit down with them. Many meetings, round tables and committees were set up. I know that people are working on it, but we need a solution as soon as possible. Of course, I do not know what that solution might be. There are many stakeholders involved.
    The member talked about tobacco manufacturers. He was quite right in saying that they should be involved in this kind of decision. They are still making many billions of dollars in profits. These people should therefore be responsible for getting involved in these kinds of programs. It should not be up to the government alone.
    The manufacturers have plenty of money. They are the ones who asked farmers to make major investments not that long ago, so they should play a part in this discussion. The government, especially the Conservative government, should wake up to what is going on and do something to help these farmers.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his speech. If there is anything else he wants to say, I will give him a chance to do that.
    I just wanted to rise to commend the member for Brant on bringing forward this very important motion. We heard about the tragedies in those families mentioned by our party's agriculture critic. It is very devastating. I certainly am glad that we are having this debate. Does the member want to add anything?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I also congratulated the hon. member for Brant on his work. In committee, he is often the one who tells us about the problems facing tobacco farmers. For that, I commend his determination and the hard work he does in committee, not only regarding tobacco farmers, but concerning all agricultural issues.
     I must point out, however, that we are here today, on this June 10, 2008, to discuss a report that was tabled on November 28, 2006. This demonstrates—and I am repeating this, as I said this earlier—that the work has been done, the meetings have been held, the committees have been struck, the discussions have taken place, and the issues and the problems are well known. Today, on June 10, we are having a three hour debate on this issue, although, really, we have probably discussed all the problems, and the solutions have even been found.
    Indeed, the solution is a real exit strategy for these farmers. As I was saying, what criteria will be involved? How much money will be invested in this file? I know the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is particularly affected by this situation in her riding. She made some campaign promises on this.
    It is now 2008 and it is time to implement those solutions. There are solutions available and the government knows what those solutions are. I have said this and I will say it again: it is time to do something to help those farmers, as called for not only by the hon. member for Brant, but by all members who obviously know that these people need immediate assistance.

  (1205)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the work he has done on the file and for the conversations he has had with many of the same people we have spoken with.
    He mentioned that TAAP did not respond to Quebec's tobacco issues. I agree with him. I do not believe it did. It just responded to Ontario's tobacco issues. It certainly has not brought us to a solution. At that time, it pitted farmer against farmer in a reverse auction strategy. It certainly did not get the job done.
    In his speech, the member mentioned the manufacturers and talked about how they compelled the producers to convert their kilns, their burners, in order to maintain sales. He talked about how the manufacturers at this moment continually are lowering the price offered to Canadian producers and have lowered the amount of tobacco that they now purchase in Canada. We talked about the Canadian manufacturers now buying in other places.
    He also mentioned the American situation and how the American strategy unfolded, but I would remind him that there the manufacturers were also a big part of the solution. The manufacturers were the ones who went to the producers and offered them a solution.
    Today's motion does not even mention the manufacturers being part of the solution. I consider them to be one of the largest parts of the problem, so why are we not asking them to be part of the solution? Why are we pushing for something that is led by just the federal government? The member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex mentioned the provinces too. The province of Ontario has to play a role in this. We cannot do it single-handedly here. We must work together for the solution. I ask the member to help us with that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we cannot disagree because previously, in questions and comments, I told my colleague that, in effect, cigarette manufacturers and tobacco companies have always had a responsibility not only in terms of the health of tobacco users—who were lead to believe, at some point, that cigarettes were not all that harmful—but also with respect to farmers who were asked to invest large amounts of money in order to upgrade. The farmers did this on the manufacturers' recommendation.
    Today the growers find themselves back at square one, with cigarette manufacturers washing their hands of them and, as my colleague pointed out, now buying from somewhere else. They no longer have a problem except that they have abandoned the people with whom they did business for years and years and who had been led to believe, until just recently, that they might continue to do business with them. These people definitely have a responsibility.
    It is a shared responsibility. The provinces must also be part of the solution. What we are asking the federal government today is to do more than just say that it is a shared responsibility. I stated that we have already sat down with these people, we have already had major discussions, round tables, but today, June 10, 2008, we are having a three-hour debate on this subject because the situation has not been resolved. A very simple solution has been suggested by the tobacco farmers and that is an exit strategy.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am surprised and saddened that nothing has been done on this issue to date. Tobacco farmers have been in crisis for a long time, at least since I have been on the job as critic for agriculture.
     We have talked about this in committee and there have been meetings, yet there does not seem to be the political will to solve this problem. These folks are not asking for handouts. They are asking for a strategy to assist them to get out of this industry so they can get on with their lives and contribute, whether it is to the agriculture sector or another sector.
    We must remember, and this was pointed out earlier, that it is not just government that is involved in this. There is industry. There are other stakeholders. However, the lead has to be the federal government's.

[Translation]

    There needs to be some political will. This process is not complicated. It is up to the government to involve industry people and producers in finding a solution.

  (1210)  

[English]

    Before I move on, I would like to say that as early as March of last year I wrote a letter to the minister on behalf of Tobacco Farmers in Crisis. I have been trying to keep the ministers of agriculture informed. Others from various parties have been working hard on this. My colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London spoke to a group of farmers quite some time ago. I hope he will not mind if I quote from this press release, in which he stated:
    “I cannot promise a date for this exit program, but I can tell you that we are working hard to ensure that a strategy will be forthcoming. We understand the plight of tobacco farmers, and all farmers across Canada. This is a government that is made up of Members from predominantly rural ridings [and] if we can't get this done for you, then no one can”...
    “This government recognizes [that] the problem facing the tobacco industry is one that will have to be managed through collaborative efforts of industry, the province of Ontario and various federal departments”.
    I thank my colleague for his statement and I understand that he represents the needs of people in his riding, but in spite of what he and many others would like to see happen, there does not seem to be a movement from the upper echelons of the government to come to a resolution. That is my concern today.
    I am critical of what is happening because I do not think it is right. We see the government moving quickly in other areas where maybe it should not be moving so quickly. I will provide an example.
    One example is the introduction of kernel visual distinguishability, KVD, with the Grain Commission. Industry and others in the field are saying to back off and hold on until at least 2010, until we get something to replace the current way of identifying high quality wheat. Yet the current minister is moving ahead. If he had his way, this probably would have been done yesterday.
    I also have seen this in the whole issue of the Canadian Wheat Board. There is the idea that we can dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board by introducing gag orders. There is the spin campaign that says our farmers are getting less.
    I would like to quote a letter by the chair of the Canadian Wheat Board's board of directors, Mr. Larry Hill, who talks about that very contentious question of who is getting more for wheat, the American farmers or Canadian farmers.
     Because we know there is a gag order on our Canadian Wheat Board and there cannot be a publicity campaign to explain what is happening, it has to resort to letters to the editor from the chairman of the board. In answer to somebody else's letter, the chairman talks about pool returns and states:
    For starters, the current Pool Return Outlook (PRO) speaks for itself; the CWB has been capturing premium prices on sales around the world. For the March 2007-08 PRO, that translates to $8.97 per bushel for No. 1 CWRS 12.5, and $13.09 per bushel for No. 1 CWAD 12.5.
    He went on to say:
--most U.S. producers sold early, before prices rose dramatically. That means that when spot prices were peaking, North Dakota producers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. In fact, prices peaked in the U.S. precisely because no grain could be found.
     U.S. agriculture officials have been quoted for months as saying the average U.S. producer sold most of their wheat and durum early. North Dakota officials have said that the average producer there received about $7 per bushel for durum. It's a fact that the average western Canadian producer is receiving significantly more.
    This is not a debate on the Canadian Wheat Board, but I thought I would bring it up to show that when the minister and the government want to move quickly, they make every effort to do so. We have seen this work positively for the pork and cattle producers. There are some initiatives that we all work together on with the government.

  (1215)  

    However, on this particular issue there seems to be a reluctance, a standstill. As late as April 2, 2008 a press release stated:
    Following a meeting with tobacco growers, provincial officials and tobacco manufacturers on Monday, [the] Federal Agriculture Minister...stated that while his government would help tobacco growers to access programs, “no new exit programs will be available.”
    The reaction was:
    “We are extremely angry and disgusted,” stated Tom McElhone, chairman of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers Marketing Board in a news release.... The news release noted that both levels of government “clearly stated that they had no money or spending authority to put an exit program in place for tobacco farmers at this time.”
    I would once again emphasize that around this place political will is what is necessary to move things along. We often get spin when we talk about food security issues. For example, after the agriculture committee went right across the country last year, it made a number of recommendations dealing with food security that would enhance the Canadian agriculture industry, the buy local campaigns. We were told to back off, that the government had to look at Canada's trade obligations, which seem to trump any initiatives we take here.
    I have before me a motion that was passed in the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, which called upon the federal government to immediately implement an exit strategy for tobacco producers consistent with the most recent proposal they had submitted and that it be reported to the House. What is interesting is that the motion passed, but the members of the government voted against it. I cannot quite understand it. Members of the governing party are in agreement with most people and they are saying that some kind of an exit strategy is needed, yet when it comes to a vote in the committee, some kind of directions are received that they have to vote against it. That does not make sense to me.
    I have a letter written by a gentleman by the name of Errol Povah, president of Airspace Action on Smoking and Health, addressed to the Conservative member of Parliament for Delta—Richmond East, in which he asks the government to do what is right for tobacco farmers. Copies of this letter were sent to 305 MPs.
    Once the industry is not viable and people have invested in it, we have an obligation not only financially, but morally to ensure that these folks have some kind of an exit strategy. I must emphasize once again that we are not saying that they need X number of dollars from government and we have to help them out. What I and others are saying is we need a lead on this from the federal government.
    In the past when there has been a crisis situation, such as in Saskatchewan a year and a half or two years ago with regard to flooding in Porcupine Plain, the federal and provincial governments throw the ball back and forth saying that the other government should start with the assistance. Canadians expect the federal government to take the lead and work with its provincial colleagues to come up with, in this case, an exit strategy for tobacco producers.
    There is the whole issue of contraband. I would like to quote from a letter written to me by Mr. Brian Edwards, president of Tobacco Farmers in Crisis. It is very significant. I and my staff have met with Mr. Edwards and others in his organization on a number of occasions. I have written a number of letters to the Minister of Agriculture following up on my conversations with the folks from Tobacco Farmers in Crisis telling the minister what they are requesting and that I would like to work with the minister to help them out.

  (1220)  

    In this letter he touches upon a letter dated February 11. I should quote that letter in its entirety since I do have a bit of time. He states:
    Thank you for seeing me while I was in Ottawa. As we discussed in our meeting, tobacco contraband is a thorny issue to get a handle on. I would think at this time a new innovative approach is needed from a native viewpoint for success. I am sending you a proposal that has been drafted here in Ontario, by a Native named Troy Montour, and Mark Bannister, and presented to Chief Bill Montour of Six Nations Reserve. It is written from a Native perspective about tobacco control. Chief Montour worked with Grand Chief Phil Fontaine, as his Chief of Staff at the Assembly of First Nations and is a newly elected Chief here at Six Nations. He sees potential and suggested that Mr. Montour present this Draft to the Confederacy Chiefs. This has been done. The Chiefs are in the initial discussions about the approach outlined in the Draft. While in Ottawa, I met with Neil Collishaw of Physicians For A Smoke Free Canada, and learned that a similar discussion has been started at Akwesasne. I am giving all Federal Parties this proposal as a Heads Up. If Native representatives buy in to this idea, we could get contraband back under control. Taxation agreements are already in place out in the Western Provinces where Native Bands collect taxes themselves and decide what they will do with the funds. It is a new approach from a Native perspective on tobacco and they will need our encouragement and advice on how to help themselves and solve contraband issues.
    We continue to press for tobacco transition/exit program for tobacco farmers with few results to date. The financial institutions are acting on tobacco farmers and demanding their money. The 2008 crop size of 21 million pounds at .30 cents per pound less than last year, only amounts to 8% of the owned quota base. It simply won't cash flow for those who don't have debts either. If you need more information about this proposal, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please feel free to discuss and share this with your fellow MPs.

[Translation]

    This letter sums up the problem tobacco producers are facing. It is hard for them to make ends meet and they need an exit strategy. In my opinion, as I have already said a number of times, it is up to the federal government to take the initiative.

[English]

     I have said this in other places and on other areas, but I think it has relevance here, that we are talking about an exit strategy for tobacco farmers. However, we are seeing a hands off approach by the senior government. We are seeing this philosophy, which I know permeates our government in British Columbia and it certainly seems to govern the course of action here, of letting the market decide, privatizing, deregulating. It is a philosophy of hands off, let the market decide and everything will be okay.
    Everything is not okay. It is not right just to let the market decide in the case of tobacco farmers. The government has taken initiatives to help other producers. It has taken the initiative that it is the government's responsibility. It is not right to say that it will not do this or that it will let the province of Ontario or industry do it. It is up to us, the elected officials and the government, which is there to govern, to take the lead on this issue, so that people are not left to the mercy of the open market. We have a responsibility to these farmers to have a transition policy in place.
    I will end by becoming a little philosophical as I pursue this whole issue of hands off or how much government control there is. I submit for the record that our challenge in the 21st century is between those of us who are elected right across this nation, regardless at which level of government, to govern as opposed to being governed by the big multinational corporations, the ones who make those decisions in the boardrooms, the ones who are driving the agenda of British Columbia where slowly day by day we are losing control of our resources, whether it is water or oil and gas. Those corporations that are setting the agenda for the security and prosperity partnership are saying that we as a people do not have a right to debate any of these issues. This hands off approach and letting those corporations get away with that is a crime. We have to take control.
    We can debate the differences in policy between the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal Party and the Green Party, but ultimately we cannot let any party or any one of us take control away from the people. Government has a responsibility to decide. It is not good enough, as I alluded to before, for the government to say that trade obligations do not allow the government to do anything. The Americans do not really care about trade obligations. If something is hurting their farmers, they stand up for them and they look after their interests.
    In closing, I would like to leave some food for thought. That is an interesting phrase. I am starting a tour across Canada next week dealing with this. It is an initiative that our party has undertaken, which I am quite excited about. We are going to be listening to people right across Canada about their concerns with regard to our industry, the control of our food supply and hope to give some direction to the government with regard to a national food policy. We announced that in a press conference a little while ago.
    With that I will close. I am really proud and honoured to have had this opportunity to say a few words on behalf of our tobacco producers.

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member for British Columbia Southern Interior cares about this issue and he has worked on it. He and I have had conversations about tobacco farmers and producers and the area of the country that grows tobacco. He quoted some of my words in his debate. I still agree that those are my words and thoughts.
    The member for Haldimand—Norfolk, myself and other members who represent the tobacco growing areas have to watch if we make promises. In the statement the hon. member read, he said that I promised. If we ever use the words “I promise” as politicians, we will hear those words again some time. Someone will read them back to us, as the member did today.
    I stand behind those words. I promised that I would work hard for the tobacco farmers for a solution to this crisis, as did the member for Haldimand—Norfolk. We continue to do so.
    In his statement the member asked for the same thing, that we work hard to find a solution for tobacco farmers. The reason I am on my feet is the motion before us today asks for only one part of the solution to be put forward, and that is the government solve the problem.
    The member said in his statement that he wanted all the stakeholders, the province and the Tobacco Marketing Board to be involved. He mentioned a good friend, Brian Edwards, from the Tobacco Farmers in Crisis. We need to be involved. The communities, in an economic way, need to be involved. He mentioned at the end, and I agree with him, that the manufacturers needed to be involved. Some of these large corporations have caused a great deal of the problem and they need to be involved in the solution.
    Will the member help us in working together with all those entities to solve this problem, rather than the narrow focused motion that pits one against the other and causes division and does not help solve the problem?

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his support and for taking the initiative in this. I know he feels very passionately about this and is doing his very best.
    When I quoted from the press release, it was not a criticism, and I wanted to get back to him on this. I wanted to show that people from across the political spectrum cared about this issue, especially those members of Parliament whose ridings contained tobacco farming.
    I believe we need to get all stakeholders involved. The motion does not say that. However, the motion has given us a chance to debate the issue once again and to bring it forward. The key is that we are not letting this go. Soon we will have a recess. Hopefully, as a result of this discussion, the government will start providing some direction.
    It is not only up to the federal government. However, and I will repeat this, it is up to our senior government to provide direction, show some leadership and make some tough decisions. If industry says that it does not want to get involved, it is up to our government to tell it, in no uncertain terms, that it has a role in this, as do other governments, and to take the lead.
     I ask the government to work together with all of us, to take the lead and ensure that we finally get a solution to this crisis.
    Mr. Speaker, the question before us is a motion on a report from the committee, specifically the agriculture and agri-food committee, and it has to do with the representations of the tobacco producers who came before committee. They made a request that the committee support their view that there should be an exit strategy for tobacco producers consistent with the proposal.
    There was a motion to report to the House that resolution, and the full Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food passed it to send it here. Therefore, I am a little confused, even though it is true that for every complex problem, there is a simple solution, and it is wrong, we need to have a comprehensive solution for complex problems.
    In regard to the report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, the motion was passed by the committee. The members are saying that the motion does not include all of the possible solutions. The government members, who are speaking against this, voted against this.
    Does the member believe, and I think he does from his speech, that what we wanted to do, in the matter of this concurrence motion, was to send a message to the government to show the mood of the House was that an exit strategy for tobacco producers was part of a comprehensive solution? We wanted to bring it to the government's attention to ensure the proposal of the producers was seriously considered by the government.
    Mr. Speaker, I think we are all on the same page. I was in committee when we voted on the motion. It was passed, and as I mentioned earlier on, but unfortunately the government's side voted against it. Yet we know some members from the government's side feel passionately about this.
     I believe it should involve a comprehensive solution, but the government should take a lead on this. It should bring all the players together so we finally get a solution to this and we do not push it back for more discussions, getting back together in September, having these folks appear again before committee, then writing another letter and having another press conference and another debate.
    Let us show some teeth, some political will and let us solve this problem once and for all.

  (1235)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will ask a very brief question, but before I do that, I would like to mention to the House that the month of June is a month that the Portuguese community in Canada celebrates. Particularly today, June 10, is considered Dia de Camoes, a day in which it celebrates the writings of a poet in the Portuguese community. I thought I would mention that first because is very important, since my riding has the largest Portuguese community in Canada.
    However, outside the parameters of the motion we are currently debating, can the member think of any other solutions that maybe could have been included in the motion, which would have in fact help our tobacco farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, the motion states:
    The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food calls on the Federal Government to immediately implement an exit strategy for tobacco producers consistent with the most recent proposal they have submitted and that it be reported to the House.
    If I remember correctly, it talked about other stakeholders and about bringing in other people. Once again, the motion gives us a chance to bring this issue forward once again and hopefully come to a final solution.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to make a comment, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, about the motion. I am a little concerned that sometimes we pass these motions without properly hearing from all the players. We have the motion on the floor today, but the committee will not hear from tobacco growers and all stakeholders in the industry until Thursday. Therefore, we are getting ahead of ourselves without looking at the entire aspect of what is happening.
     I wish members would be a little more responsible in dealing with motions at committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not really sure what the question was, but he has a point. However, we often deal with items in committee and then a report is done. By the time that happens, had we not had this debate, we would not have had a chance to bring this issue forward before Parliament finished. After having heard the—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Mississauga South.
    Mr. Speaker, today the ordinary proceedings of the House were interrupted during motions in which members have an opportunity to move what is called a concurrence motion in a committee report, and indeed, the member for Brant did move concurrence in the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
     I am on duty today. I had come here prepared to debate Bill C-51 on the naturopathic health products, which is a bill that I have a lot of problems with and I hope to get an opportunity debate it later today.
    However, as the member on duty, one of my responsibilities is to participate in debate if I have something to offer. I want to suggest to members and just offer to them that the first issue I ever dealt with as a parliamentarian was when I became a member of the health committee back in 1994 and tobacco labelling was the study we were dealing with. Following that, there was a significant project on aboriginal issues, not only aboriginal health but other aboriginal activities, and of course this whole issue of contraband came up. So, these issues about tobacco cessation, about the implications to the community, et cetera, have been with us for 15 years, as far as I can see.
    The motion, in fact, is that the committee considered an exit strategy for tobacco producers and agreed to report the following, and what it reported was that the committee calls on the federal government to immediately implement an exit strategy for tobacco producers consistent with the most recent proposal they have submitted. This came from its 29th meeting, which was held in May.
    The testimony actually came back from, I understand, as far back as November 2006. It does not surprise me because this continues to be a challenge not only for the federal government but the provincial government, municipalities, the policing authorities, and the health authorities. It permeates virtually every jurisdiction and probably every aspect of Canadian society. So, it is a pretty important issue.
    I was a little distracted by the argument that the motion the committee had passed and had reported to the House was being criticized because it was not comprehensive.
    As I said earlier in a question, that for every complex problem there is a simple solution, and it is wrong. If we have a complex problem, we do have to have a comprehensive strategy. Quite frankly, it may involve social as well as economic solutions. Sometimes we have factors which influence the things that are going on within our communities, within our agriculture community, our business, no matter what it is, urban, rural or whatever. There are a blend of social and economic factors involved here. It depends on what one's value system is.
    The motion here happens to be a representation on behalf of the tobacco producers. The motion on behalf of the tobacco producers is one that we hope the government understands that without a proper exit strategy for tobacco producers, there could be very significant implications, not only to them but to their communities, municipalities, the province, et cetera, and I will get into that a little bit.
    The concurrence motion in itself is very clear, and that is what we are debating, and I think it is important. It is also relevant that the members would raise that notwithstanding what the producers want, we have to balance that with the other needs, and that is what government is all about. It is about making decisions, and often they are tough decisions. The members know we have had a number of difficulties.
    On Friday, a private member's bill was debated in this place which had to do with providing tax credits to recent graduates who could go into certain designated regions of the country.

  (1240)  

    From a value standpoint, where there is a stress in terms of regional economic development, for example, a financial condition or economic health, we have on many occasions looked to some sort of assistance, whether it be subsidies, grants, or other inducements to facilitate good things to happen. For example, a tax credit would be given to a graduate to allow him or her to go to a community where there was a good job and where they could develop their skills because the employer perhaps could not compete with the salaries of a large urban centre.
    If the proper skill sets are not attracted to some of the communities that are facing a financial crisis or economic duress, those businesses will go down and that will have a ripple effect throughout the community.
    Chances are communities are going to experience things like population decline or higher unemployment. People will start losing their investments because the community will no longer be vibrant and it will not be able to meet all the needs of today's families.
    There is a ripple effect to everything we do. It is almost like a Newton's law in government. For every action there could very well be an equal or opposite reaction. It could be much like the children's game of pick up sticks. Not often, but periodically, if we touch something we move everything and everything in between. We have to take this into account.
    In listening to the debate on this issue, there seems to be one position suggesting that all we need is an exit strategy for tobacco producers and the problem will be solved. That is not the case.
    The motion before us was passed by the agriculture and agri-food committee. The consensus of the committee was that it was important to bring the motion to the House to remind the government of this particular crisis. It is a regional crisis and it has to do with the kinds of things that we would talk about when we talk about regional economic development.
    It is important that we respond and that we be sensitive to the ebbs and flows when we consider what is happening nationally. Resource rich provinces are doing extremely well in the Canadian economy, whereas those provinces with a large manufacturing sector are hurting terribly. This means that Newfoundland has become a have province and Ontario is getting close to being a have not province. This is a very significant change.
    This means that a lot of people are moving to the oil producing provinces like Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland, which are doing extremely well. Their economies are vibrant. If we take that on a smaller scale and look at the communities with tobacco industries, we will find that there is a crisis there. Tobacco producers are feeling the impact. There is not enough work and they are going to have to get out of the business.
    I understand the average age of a tobacco producer right now is something like 58 years, which is fairly deep into one's vibrant working career. It may be difficult for these individuals to find other gainful employment in their community simply because of the nature of the work.
    I also understand that the average debt load of tobacco producers is somewhere around $400,000. When we consider this and the unlikelihood of producers getting another job, it means they may lose their farm. Even worse, they may lose their home. That is the reality of the situation. A lot of investment was made not only in the basic farm equipment but within the industry specific requirements of manufacturers in terms of the burner equipment.
    This is a real crisis situation. I do not believe the committee would have reported it to the House nor would it have been brought forward for debate today for up to three hours if it did not affect people in a number of regions across Canada. To Quebec, this is certainly an important issue as it is in Ontario.

  (1245)  

    As things move on, I have a feeling that there should be a comprehensive strategy. Concurrence motions are not binding on the government. They are to indicate the mood of the House and a sense of the importance of the issue. Members will have a chance to vote on this motion.
    It will tell the stakeholders that the standing committee reported on it. It will tell stakeholders that their intervention was heard, discussed in Parliament, and there was a position taken by one party that was different from another. It tells them where we are on this thing. It gives the government an opportunity to respond. The government may very well respond and maybe we will look to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to make some commentary on the crisis we face.
    An example that has been debated a bit here and an area that I spend a fair bit of time on not only on the health committee but on the finance committee is the issue of contraband, tobacco smuggling and its implications. It is a serious problem and has been going on for a very long period of time. I remember debating the price elasticity and whether, by increasing the price of cigarettes, we could move the problem away. All that would do is cause tobacco to be sold more cheaply through the contraband distribution channels. It would get out there.
    I remember visiting the Micmac reserve. It has a beautiful recreation and social building. Committee members had a tour of that when we were travelling on aboriginal health issues. I was really surprised to go downstairs and see a big lineup of persons in front of someone with a cash box in an enormous room in the basement that was filled with cartons of tobacco in large cardboard boxes.
    The people were there to buy big boxes of cigarettes for distribution. It was pretty clear that this was contraband material. This is probably a way of life, but it is causing difficulty in getting a resolution on some of the issues that the agriculture and agri-food committee have raised.
    I hear members say, “We don't totally disagree. In fact, what we will say is that the motion is kind of silly because it only deals with part of the problem”. That motion was passed by a standing committee and brought to the House. At least the consensus of the committee thought it was important enough to report to the House. As a consequence, that is why we are here.
    This is an important aspect, notwithstanding as I had indicated earlier, that the scheduled business of the day was to continue debate on Bill C-51, the naturopathic health products bill. The surprising revelation yesterday, as a matter of fact, was that the health minister has written to the chair of the health committee to outline seven substantive amendments to that bill even though we are in the middle of second reading. I do not know how that will go. I have a feeling that is a problem to be dealt with.
    In the health committee meetings, when we dealt with the plain packaging of tobacco and putting warning labels on the tobacco products, one of the witnesses was a provincial minister who came before the committee on behalf of his community, I believe it was the area of Smiths Falls. This shows an example of a ripple effect of doing something to change or deal with a health objective and there being a consequence that we were not aware of.

  (1250)  

     This consequence was that in his community there was a major print shop that provided a significant number of jobs in the community. If the recommendations of Health Canada and the Standing Committee on Health were adopted, the printing on tobacco packages would have to be done by a very specialized type of printing called rotogravure, which is a very high end printing process. It requires much different machinery than one would typically be aware of because it has to produce in certain colours and all the range for all of these cigarette packages, et cetera.
    That former provincial minister in Ontario came to fight on behalf of his community. He said he did not really have a problem with the tobacco requirements, but he did not want the requirement for specialized printing because it would have negative consequences for his community.
    We can see, then, that we have to look at the producers. I am not so sure that I am very concerned about what the manufacturers are concerned about. Most of the manufacturers are multinational conglomerates that are in broad-based businesses. I think it would be very difficult to see the implications for them if a region of farmers had to convert their products or get out of the business. They are going to find it somewhere. There is always someone. For that matter, it could be China.
    There are other things that I have not heard yet. We were discussing the tobacco producing side and the alternative crops that could come in. That was also a very important part.
    I know that at the time canola was one of the big ones that was coming forward, because in fact it takes less acreage to produce canola than it does a comparable product. That is one of which I am aware. I am not sure on the science and how things have moved since then, but I know that canola is a very important agricultural crop for Canada. It has a wide variety of uses.
    As the previous speaker said, I think the members have at least a consensus that this is a complex problem. I think they believe that we have to keep our eye on the implications, but not only for the producers, who may have significant debt and who may be of an age where they may not be able to find alternative employment if they lose their farms. We also have to look at the implications for the rest of the community and the municipality.
     What is the municipal impact? What is the economic impact if we lose farms and workers? What are the conditions there? What are the criteria? How do we determine whether there is a significant economic impact? How do we determine whether the principles of regional economic development should kick in? How do we determine what the filter is through which we can determine who can get assistance? What are the criteria for application?
    How do we make sure that all of the stakeholders have a part to play, not just the federal government and not just the provincial government, but the municipalities as well? They have a vested interest in seeing a good outcome.
    I think that is what this debate is about. I think that is the message the government should get, notwithstanding that the motion in itself only deals with the producers. That is why this concurrence motion and debate for a little under three hours are so important. We have these often. We have these debates on very important issues. They are not important to every riding across the country, and we know that, but there are parallels.
     I do not have tobacco producers in my riding. I live in the suburban area of Mississauga, but when I come here, I learn from my committee work, from debate on bills and from my exposure to the debate in the House when the motion comes up. I then see the parallels. I see that these are problems that we need to approach in a consistent fashion, so that all of the stakeholders, no matter what their positions are, will fully understand and accept the wisdom of parliamentarians and how to approach a matter for which it is probably in the best interests of all Canadians to find an appropriate resolution.

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker stated that it is a complex problem chasing a simple solution or a simple problem chasing a complex solution.
     It is all of the above. I attended committee on the day that this was debated. Normally I am not on that committee, but because of my friends and constituents who grow tobacco, I chose to be there. I thought I made a very passionate plea to amend the motion to include some of the complexities that I am talking about now.
     I asked for some of them to be included in the motion. The opposition majority on that committee voted them down and then voted to make the motion read exactly as it is. It is a very simple motion that pits farmers against farmers and solution against solution.
    The member stated some fairly simple solutions for the problem. I agree that there are sometimes very simple solutions to problems. However, he mentioned canola as an alternative crop. We do need some alternative crops, but in the tobacco belt of southern Ontario it is mostly blow sand. It is very sandy soil, so any crop grown there needs to be irrigated.
    Thus, there is the cost of irrigation for those producers. As for growing a crop that someone else down the street can grow from rainfall, the cost of production is way too high.
    While I am on that, I should mention from an agriculture point of view how even the thought of a carbon tax for agriculture producers has them shaking. For agriculture and rural Canada, the extra costs of production from a carbon tax are going to be just horrendous.
    However, let us go back to tobacco instead of talking about what could be wrong with a solution that includes a carbon tax.
    It is a complex problem. That was the history of the motion. The motion does need to be addressed, but there is more to it than that. We have tried to add more to it than this. The opposition has simplified it to how the government will solve all problems of all people. We are saying that this is not case. We are saying that the manufacturers need to be a piece of this, the province needs to be piece of this and the tobacco board needs to be a piece of this. I ask for the member's support on that.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, if we consider that if there were a carbon tax over four years of some 4¢, that would have an impact, I am sure, but when the Conservative government took office the price of gasoline was 65¢ a litre. It is now $1.35 under the government's watch, so there we go. A government has to be responsible for what happens under its watch.
    On the member's question, the concurrence motion is with regard to a resolution that was passed by the committee and came here. I do not think members are opposed to an exit strategy for tobacco producers, but they also are in favour of building the comprehensive solution by other matters. We can raise that. I do not think we have to amend this because this is not binding on the government.
    However, right now this is an opportunity for all members of Parliament to assess whether or not they believe that the tobacco producers, given the facts related to their economic and demographic situation, should be considered for an exit strategy that would be supported by the federal government in conjunction with other jurisdictions as appropriate. If we cannot agree on that, I would be very disappointed.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's words and as usual he had some interesting and very wise comments about the issue. I would tend to agree with him that it is not just an issue of an exit strategy for tobacco farmers.
     He raised a point that is of particular concern to me and that I think is important for all regions of Canada. That is the point about developing, with regions and provinces, comprehensive economic development strategies so that we are not always in a position of crisis and can plan ahead. This is precisely, it seems to me, what the Conservative government is not doing and what the former government perhaps has done on the cheap.
    For example, in western Canada, western economic diversification is now funded on only a by project basis, rather than through working with regions and municipalities and looking at how to best develop their assets in order to look forward and really respond to the needs of the communities.
    Would the member comment on that? What does he think government could do to strengthen that regional economic diversification and development component?
    Mr. Speaker, if we were talking about 1,000 jobs lost at an Oshawa auto manufacturing plant, the member can understand how a regional economic development program could have a better level of success by transitioning the skill set, because it is an area in which skills are transferable.
    In the case of tobacco producers, we are dealing with a very extraordinary situation. For reasons that have been coming down the pike for a long time, and we are still fighting it, it certainly has given the signals to people that we should be transitioning out. I am sure there are going to be people who will ask why they are still growing tobacco when they know there is no future in tobacco.
    However, the reality is that some people cannot get out of it because they have such a high level of debt. As well, with their average age of over 58 years, they do not have a lot of choices. Perhaps it really gets down to whether the criteria are fine tuned enough. There probably is going to be a large number of tobacco producers who do not have a lot of options. They may lose their farms. They may lose their homes. I am not sure that this is the way we want to govern our country.
    Mr. Speaker, the presenter from Mississauga is always eloquent and articulate. I have a quick question for him. He mentioned that he was a former member of the health committee and the finance committee.
    It is not as if tobacco farmers have developed a problem overnight and now we see the agriculture committee addressing it. I understand that I do not have much time, but in terms of the exit strategy, why does it happen at the last minute with the government? Suddenly the government realizes that there is a problem with tobacco farmers, just like we have a problem with the environment and a problem with aboriginals. It takes months and months before there is communication between one department and another.
     Should there not have been a solution presented prior to this situation arising in such a fashion that tobacco farmers actually have to lose their farms or lose their production?

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, the point is well taken. This has not come up at the last minute. As a matter of fact, in the last Parliament, there was a national exit strategy with proposed funding of some $275 million.
    Members will know that governments come and go, but the bureaucracy, particularly the departments, stays the same. The departments are still committed to it, but we would have to study this and find out. It is still there that there should be an exit strategy, but what is clear, since the government voted against this motion at committee and is speaking against it here in debate, is that the government has no interest whatsoever in introducing a tobacco exit strategy for these producers. It has no interest whatsoever.
    It means that the producers should be concerned, because the money is not going to be there, the priority is not there, and the government has not started on it. Even when we raise it for a brief period of some three hours, the government has made it very clear that tobacco producers are on their own. Municipalities with tobacco producers are on their own. Provinces need not worry because the federal government is not going to come to them for any sharing of money. They are on their own.
    I am not sure that Canadians will feel comfortable with a government which feels that people should just keep their money and take care of themselves, a government that does not care if they have a problem.
    Mr. Speaker, if I were a producer sitting out there I can tell members that I would be pretty confused about the message coming from the other side.
    The member just said the whole solution has to be comprehensive with regard to the municipalities, the manufacturers and the tobacco board, yet at committee, the committee members voted against that. That is why the motion is irrelevant. It focuses on only one point.
     It does not bring in the part about what we are sitting with right now, with my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London, who is setting the task force that will bring in what the board asked for, which was that the municipalities, the communities and the manufacturers deal with contraband and deal with the federal and provincial governments.
    I am wondering why the member has changed his tune and has not read what actually has happened through the committee.
    Mr. Speaker, we know that the manufacturers are a big part of the problem. We know that municipalities will be affected. We know that communities will be affected. We know that some of these tobacco producers have serious hardships.
    It is not a matter of what this motion says. It is a matter of whether or not the government needs to be reminded, but even on this small point about being part of a comprehensive solution, the government has said no.

[Translation]

     It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put the question necessary to dispose of the motion before the House.
    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. Royal Galipeau): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): In my opinion, the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): Call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): The vote stands deferred until 3 p.m. this day.

  (1310)  

[English]

Petitions

United States 9/11 Commission Report  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present three petitions.
    The first petition is signed by approximately 500 people from across Canada. The petition points out that scientific and eyewitness evidence shows that the 9/11 commission report is a fraudulent document and that elements within the U.S. government were complicit in the murder of thousands of people on September 11, 2001. The petition points out that this brought Canada into the so-called war on terror that has changed the domestic and foreign policies for the worse and that will have negative consequences for Canada.

Natural Health Products  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from people who are very concerned about what is going to happen with regulations concerning natural health products.
    The petitioners believe that these products are essential to the health and well-being of Canadians and that they not only contribute to the treatment of illness, but also the prevention of illness. Therefore, the petitioners call on the Government of Canada to abandon the proposed cost recovery program of Health Canada that would limit the choices for Canadians.

Animal Transport Regulations  

    Mr. Speaker, my third petition concerns the transportation of animals and points out that the current regulations are outdated and in need of revision.
    The petitioners call on the House of Commons to amend the animal transport regulations under Canada's Health of Animals Act to be consistent with the findings of the European Union scientific committee on animal health and welfare.

Income Trusts  

    Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to present another income trust broken promise petition on behalf of a large number of constituents of Mississauga South.
    The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he did break that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax on income trusts which permanently wiped out $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly of seniors.
    The petitioners therefore call upon the Conservative minority government: first, to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, as was clearly demonstrated at the finance committee hearings; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and third, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Arts and Culture  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by Canadians from Quebec and Ontario, all of whom are concerned about the provisions of Bill C-10 with regard to the film and video tax credit.
    The petitioners demand protection for freedom of expression in Canada and call on the government to take measures to promote and not limit artistic freedom. They note their strong opposition to measures of censorship and their belief that the provisions of Bill C-10 are just that and should be rescinded.
    The petitioners are also concerned that Bill C-10 gives the Minister of Canadian Heritage discretionary power to impose her own subjective judgments concerning artistic content.
    Finally, the petitioners call for objective and transparent program guidelines that support film and video production.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of many Canadians who are asking that the government rescind a provision of Bill C-10 that allows the government to censor film or video productions under some ill-defined, vague criteria. We have all heard of the impact these provisions will have on the film industry, and there are already laws that contain provisions regarding pornography, child pornography, hate propaganda and violent crime.
    These Canadians are asking the government to put in place objective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression when delivering any program intended to support film and video production in Canada.

Asbestos  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition once again from thousands and thousands of Canadians.
    They make the point that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known, and yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. They point out that Canada actually spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and even blocks international efforts to curb its use.
    Therefore, these many petitioners call upon Parliament to ban asbestos in all of its forms, to institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and their communities, to end all government subsidies of asbestos both in Canada and abroad, and to stop blocking other countries that are trying to save their citizens from being exposed to asbestos, and to stop blocking international conventions, such as the Rotterdam Convention, designed to protect workers from exposure to Canadian asbestos.

  (1315)  

Questions on the Order Paper

[Text]

Question No. 209--
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia:
     With regard to funding for the North American Future 2025 Project: (a) has the government provided any direct or indirect funding for the North American Future 2025 Project being conducted under the joint stewardship of the Conference Board of Canada, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the “Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática”; and (b) has the government received any report, from any or all of these parties, following the research they have conducted or consultations they have held, individually or jointly, in connection with the project?
Mrs. Sylvie Boucher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Status of Women, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, in response to a) The Government of Canada has not provided direct or indirect funding for the North American Future 2025 Project being conducted under the joint stewardship of the Conference Board of Canada, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the “Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informatica”.
    In response to b) There are no records in the systems which track correspondence for the Privy Council Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Industry Canada or Environment Canada that indicate any reports on the North American Future 2025 Project were received by the government.

[English]

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Food and Drugs Act

    The House resumed from June 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-51. This bill has caused great concern among my constituents and other Canadians. Many of them are seniors and ailing citizens.
    For several months I have been receiving letter after letter from my constituents regarding their concerns about this bill. They are ordinary Canadians who are worried that they will not be able to get the natural health products that they have been using successfully for years. They are worried that Health Canada will be given police state powers. I have had the opportunity to meet with many of them as well. The bill is alarming people who are not political. A constituent of mine, Johan Ghazali, wrote:
    While I don't also get involved in politics, I am concerned about a new Bill that will affect many Canadians including myself. The Bill in question is Bill C-51 that is being ramped through Parliament without much debate.
    On the surface, C-51 appears to be about protecting the public health, but has many profound and perturbing implications.
    Yesterday we learned in a regular government member's speech that this bill is incomplete. The government will be proposing major amendments to the bill. This proves that the concerns of my constituents are justified.
    I am greatly concerned about the issues raised by my constituents. I am committed to improving the safety and health of Canadians. I support measures which will strengthen the regulatory process to ensure that Canadians are able to access the safest and most effective therapeutic products.
    I firmly believe that Canadians have a fundamental right to have access and choice in treatment options regarding their health. Time after time, the government's policy has been to bring the message from Ottawa to Canadians. The Conservatives are tight-lipped about the information, never saying anything but the Prime Minister's talking points.
    That is not my way of doing things. That is not what my constituents want me to do. My constituents elected me to bring their message to Ottawa. That is what I am doing and it is what I will keep doing.
    We should ensure that this legislation does not further restrict the use, sale and distribution of safe natural health products. We need to balance the controls with the danger. My constituents are telling me that the drugs on the market are not a great risk to the health of Canadians.
    One of my constituents, Ms. Emoke Szijarto, wrote:
--I have been using “natural remedies” since my childhood instead of taking harmful chemicals. My father who is a doctor has prescribed us natural remedies when we were sick and he is a great advocate of using natural things in healing. I learnt from him, and wish to follow it.
    Many more of my constituents use natural health products to improve their well-being, as do many other Canadians. Last Friday I met with a couple in their seventies, Adella and Richard Matthew, who are in good health. They say their vitality comes from the use of these products for the past 30 years, but they are worried. They are worried that they will not be able to get those products anymore. They are worried that they will need prescriptions which would involve a doctor's appointment which is hard to get. They are worried that they will be punished for recommending products to their friends. They are not alone.

  (1320)  

    My constituents Randy and Terri Pope wrote that this bill:
—goes against everything that the average Canadian citizen believes in, such as freedom of choice and freedom of speech. My mother and father were born and raised in this great Country, and I'm sure my mother would roll over in her grave in disgust if she heard of this outrageous proposal. How dare this Government try to control how I decide to care for my health.
    There are many legitimate reasons to use these products. Some of my constituents want to lower the costs of their medication. Others want to avoid unpleasant side effects. Some believe that alternative therapies are simply more effective.
    Another one of my constituents wrote:
    I am a 31 year old male suffering from sever Sudden Onset Arthritis. At it's worst this disease has totally handicapped my mobility. Not satisfied with the solutions offered to me by mainstream North American medication I turned to the recently provincially acknowledged Traditional Chinese Medicine profession and have been receiving treatment...for the past two years. The success of the treatments has been phenomenal in that I am now mobile again....The TCM treatments I have been involved with have none where as the Mainstream solution had many side effects that I was unwilling to live with.
     I support the right to meet these needs with natural drug products.
    There is a great concern that the bill will lump natural health products into the same regulatory regime as drugs and be subject to a higher burden of regulation. It would move them and several others into the same heading and not differentiate between drugs and natural health products.
    I support the rights of consumers to fair and accurate product information. The claims about health benefits made on the packages and in the marketing of these products must be truthful and honest. They must not mislead Canadians. I support efforts to improve enforcement of these principles.
    The government says that it has no intention to permit direct-to-consumer advertising, yet the bill leaves a loophole that could allow pharmaceutical companies to directly advertise drugs to consumers through television, radio and print, as they do in the neighbouring United States of America. This could drive up the health care costs and influence which drugs people take. It would take advertising out of the hands of Parliament. That is a serious concern.
    Finally, my constituents are concerned that tighter regulations would benefit drug companies. Natural health products are one of the few competitors to that large, well-financed industry. Undermining them would benefit their bottom line.
    My constituent, W.R. Blair, is very concerned about these changes. He wrote:
    The language of the Bill is a true reflection of slippery and slimy corporate tactics which should be viewed as criminal conspiracy in my view....
    This dirty stinking backroom deal furthers my belief that corporations have bought and paid for legislative compliance...
    The government needs to assure Canadians that big pharma is not the driving force behind the bill.
    There is work to be done on the existing act. Recent incidents of unsafe food, health and consumer products have underscored the need to modernize the Food and Drugs Act. It was introduced back in the 1950s. I support modernizing the regulatory system. We need to improve the surveillance of these products throughout their life cycle.

  (1325)  

    Yesterday we learned that the government would propose three major amendments in committee to address these serious concerns. To the best of my knowledge, the Conservatives intend to separate natural health products into their own legislative category, make it clear that the regulation of natural health products is separate, clarify the powers of inspectors and set up an advisory committee.
    These are significant amendments, which will dramatically change the treatment of natural health products. This means Health Canada does not have the confidence of any of the government members.
     The government is proposing major changes that are outlined in nothing but a speech. It reminds me of the documentation-free unveiling of its defence strategy all over again.
    It is my understanding that some of the Conservative MPs wrote a letter to the health committee chair outlining the changes. Yet no members from my party have it. This is shocking. All members were elected to represent the interest of their constituents in Parliament. Does the government think some MPs are more equal than others? That is no way to govern in a minority Parliament situation.
    How am I supposed to comment on these improvements when they have not even been drafted yet? We should be debating the real bill. I agree with the member for Mississauga South. If the government is serious, the bill can be withdrawn now, amendments can made and re-submitted to the House so Canadians can have the real bill and we can all have a real debate. I welcome the direction of these amendments and look forward to studying them when they are finished.
     I see some of the members on the Conservative bench laughing about this. In fact, it is a laughing stock. The Minister of Health has written a letter to the health committee and it is not available to all 308 members in the House who have equal representation. It is very important from that perspective.
     Again, I still welcome the direction of these amendments and look forward to studying them when they are finished, or are made public.
    Judy LeBeau, one of my constituents, would welcome them as well. She writes:
    The debate surrounding C-51 is an excellent opportunity for the Government to make good on previous commitments to create a third category for natural health products, which are low risk and have demonstrated benefits for the health and wellbeing of Canadians.
    From the beginning, the government has failed to reach out to the grassroots. It has been clear for months that ordinary Canadians care about the bill. Yet the government ignored their concerns and refused to have a dialogue with regular people. When the government finally put out answers their questions, it did not make it easy to access that information. Even the elderly couple I met with last week could not find it. Even if people find it, these major amendments, which the minister will propose to the committee, will change the intent of the bill and change all the questions and answers on that website. This failure has worsened confusion in the public and scared ailing and wonderful Canadians.

  (1330)  

    I support the right of my constituents to have choice in health treatments. Part of that choice is having access to honest and safe natural products.
    Mr. Speaker, I guess I want to congratulate the hon. member, but I would like to ask him a question. The reason I guess I would like to do that is I was very confused by his speech.
    On one hand, he complained that the government did not go out and speak to people, which we did. That is where the amendments and suggested amendments have come from, because we listened to Canadians and stakeholders. He is wrong, even on some of the things he has said himself.
     Why would the member come to the House of Commons with a speech like that and mislead Canadians? I spoke with the member yesterday. We talked about all the amendments. He now pretends they did not exist and the bill is a bad bill, yet he knows full well that we are at second reading. This is what we do in the House of Commons. This is where we have debate with members participating. This is where we come up with ideas to make the bills better.
    I do not understand the logic that it is somehow wrong to amend a bill. We have proposed certain amendments that will alleviate all the concerns the member has raised in his speech. The member knew that before presenting his speech. I am curious why the member would stand in the House and mislead Canadians in such a fashion.
    Mr. Speaker, the question of the member for Cambridge is exactly where I wanted to go. I asked the member for a copy of the letter so I could see the amendments. In response he told me that he did not have the letter from the minister to the health committee.
    How do we know whether those amendments even exist? We have to assume it. This is exactly the problem with the government. It is very tight-lipped. If it were so open and so honest, then it should share those amendments right here.
    The right thing to do is to withdraw the bill and then bring forward the amendments. We should bring the real bill into the House so members can have a real debate on it. It is not only us. My constituents should be able to look at the amendments and make comments on them.
    The exact policy of the government is that it does not want to share the information with the grassroots.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three short questions and comments.
    First, for the experts on the bill who are watching, as I said in my previous speech, it is very important for one of my constituents that Empowerplus continues to be legally available. I hope they would confirm to me by email or some other means that it is the case.
    Second, the member for Cambridge, with whom I mostly agree on this bill, has to understand that the reason the members have asked to consider the bill before second reading is there are so many amendments both by the government and others. The experience we have had in the past is when we get to second reading, we cannot change things that much.
    We had an example in one committee where something was changed in a clause from year to two years and the Conservative chair of the committee ruled it out of order, it was too much change. Therefore, we can understand people's hesitancy and why they would prefer the bill to go to committee before second reading.
    A question I have for the member is from one of my constituents, Drew. It is very short, but it reflects a concern about which other constituents have also written. He says:
    I would not be writing this letter if this bill had no “teeth”, but unfortunately (under section 23) it gives government agents unprecedented power to search, confiscate and prosecute people....
    Does the member have any comments on the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Yukon for his work on this bill, for his speech in the House yesterday, and for his commitment to his constituents.
    When it comes to enforcement, many of my constituents are fearful that inspectors will be able to go into their bedrooms and kitchens to find these drugs. They will be put in jail and face a big fine.
    We are looking for a third category where we can have legislation instead of regulation, so it is clearly defined by Parliament. Inspectors need to have clear direction from Parliament. This is a concern of constituents in Yukon and also a concern of my constituents in Newton--North Delta.
    Mr. Speaker, it has always been my understanding, as a member of Parliament, that when one votes in favour of a bill at second reading, one is voting on the principles of that bill. We expect that the bill will be sent to committee where committee members can work on the details, and work on minor adjustments to the bill to make those principles work. If the amendments are substantive, then the principles are being changed.
    In this case the minister has stated both inside and outside the House and at committee that natural health products were not at play in the bill. He said that nothing in this legislation would change the rules for natural health products: the availability, the choice. But I understand from members opposite that the minister now wants to put forward some amendments that would deal specifically with natural health products where they are not involved in the bill now. That is changing the principles of the bill.
    I believe that it would be respectful of the House if the minister withdrew the bill, made the relevant amendments, and put the bill forward, so that all members could do an adequate study, receive advice from the Library of Parliament, receive advice from interest groups and professionals prior to our debate at second reading, and well in advance of it going to committee where we would make those moderate modifications.
    Does the member not find this to be contemptuous of Parliament? Does he not find it to be disrespectful that members would abuse their privileges in this way?

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have had many discussions with the member for West Nova. He was very kind every time I spoke to him about my constituents' concerns. We had a very open discussion.
    The question that he raises is exactly what I meant in my speech. The member for Cambridge had explicit information that we did not have and our constituents did not have. Those amendments would change the intent of the bill.
    The member for West Nova said the same thing. It would be better for the minister to withdraw the bill, put the amendments into the bill, and let the bill come back to the House, so that Canadians and parliamentarians could have a real look at it. Parliamentarians could then have an open and transparent debate on the bill to bring out the truth--
    You would not understand it, if I wrote it for you.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Cambridge can grumble about whatever he wants. He has admitted that he has explicit information that other members do not have. What is wrong with us?
    I would suggest that the government should withdraw the bill and note rush it through this Parliament.
    Order, please. The debate on Bill C-51 has now lasted for more than five hours. Accordingly, the speeches that will follow will be limited to 10 minutes.

[Translation]

    I will give the floor first to the hon. member for Verchères—Les Patriotes for a 10-minute speech.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise as a member of the Standing Committee on Health, and also as a consumer, to speak to Bill C-51.
    The Bloc Québécois has been saying for a long time that there is a lack of surveillance over foods from countries other than Canada. We ask that importers of such products meet standards similar to the ones we have here for products manufactured in Quebec and Canada. The Bloc Québécois also wonders whether these importers should not also be subject to a number of criteria to ensure that public health is not threatened by products manufactured elsewhere.
    Of course, Bill C-51 would introduce innovations such as a tracing system, a register of adverse effects especially for drugs, a recall management system, a new measure to eliminate damaging effects on public health. However, the bill also contains slightly vaguer measures that, according to the bill, would be clarified by regulations.
    It is because of this vagueness that we must meet in committee with the Minister of Health, in order to find out why the bill leaves so much room for regulations. It is also important that the committee hear experts from various associations and even members of the public. Once the committee has done its work on Bill C-51, we expect the minister to be extremely open to amendments that will improve the bill.
    At this point, I would like to mention a few vague provisions that will require clarification when the bill is studied in greater detail in committee. We know that Bill C-51 makes changes regarding drug advertising. Subclause 15.1(2) of the bill prohibits advertising of prescription therapeutic products. I quote:
    No person shall advertise a prescription therapeutic product to a person other than a practitioner unless they are authorized by the regulations to do so.
    Here, once again, the bill mentions regulations yet to come.
    Nonetheless, this regulation would allow prescription drugs to be advertised. It is possible to do so under paragraph 30(1)(h).
    The Governor in Council may make regulations for carrying the purposes and provisions of this Act into effect, including regulations... respecting: (i) the labelling, packaging or advertising—or the offering or exposing for sale—of foods, therapeutic products or cosmetics.
    Current legislation at least bans the advertising of prescription drugs. However, as we know, it is possible to get around the legislation. There are two choices for advertising drugs: the product can be named but not described and the ad can show people enjoying themselves living a better life, or the problem can be described but not the treatment and people can be told to consult their physician.
    We know that the bill appears to be going in precisely the same direction. Consumer associations in Quebec and Canada have asked the government a number of times to plug this loophole.

  (1345)  

    Perhaps this should be cleared up in committee.
    There is also the marketing and approval of drugs. Currently Health Canada is assessing the possibility of setting up a new type of drug licensing called progressive licensing. Bill C-51 includes some of the concepts involved in this progressive licensing approach. It would allow information to be collected and analyzed on an ongoing basis after the drug is marketed. It is only after the drug is marketed that a greater number of people will be exposed to it and that other important data on the drug could be established.
    It is good to look at the entire life cycle of a drug to see whether it works. Quite often when clinical trials are done, the number of guinea pigs, as they could be called, is relatively limited, which sometimes prevents us from seeing in detail the possible interaction a drug may have with other drugs the patient is already taking. What is more, as Professor Carleton from British Columbia told us in committee, genetics can also come into play when assessing drugs.
    However, considering this approach, we need to ask questions. Will the process be rushed? Will drugs end up on the market before they have been carefully examined? Another question we should ask is whether drugs will be put on the market before they are fully ready to be put on store shelves and in pharmacies.
    Subclause 18.7(1) of the bill seems to open the door to that possibility. It states:
    Subject to the regulations, the Minister may, on application, issue a market authorization to a person in respect of a therapeutic product other than a designated therapeutic product if the Minister is of the opinion that the person has established that the benefits that are associated with the therapeutic product outweigh the risks.
    (2) The market authorization is deemed to be subject to the terms and conditions that are prescribed from time to time.
    (3) The Minister may issue the market authorization subject to the additional terms and conditions that he or she considers appropriate.
    We would like to speak to the minister to find out, for example, what are the criteria he will use to evaluate and make that decision in accordance with proposed subclause 18.7.
    The bill also states that the minister will establish a register where information on adverse effects will be available. Subclause 20.8 of the bill says:
    The Minister is to establish and maintain a publicly accessible register in which is to be kept the prescribed information about therapeutic products.
    However, we also read in the bill that the information in the register will come only from health care institutions. No register will be set up to gather complaints from consumers or patient associations, for example. Only health care institutions will be able to contribute. What is the reason for this? It would be interesting to hear the minister's response to this as well.
    This register raises another question. We currently have the MedEffect register. What will happen to it? Does this mean that this register is ineffective? Once again, it would be interesting to come back to these questions in committee.
    The bill also talks about inspectors. This is important. Currently, there are many inspectors who work within the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agri-Food performing the same duties as this bill proposes. These people play an important role in food inspection. We wonder how Bill C-51 would affect these people and if the federal government would be interfering in Quebec's jurisdiction with this bill.

  (1350)  

    There is also the question of natural health, which—
    It is with regret that I must interrupt the hon. member.
    We shall now proceed to questions and comments. The hon. member for West Nova.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member on his remarks. He is a diligent member of the health committee, and I cannot help but notice his impressive new haircut. I understand he shaved his head to raise funds in support of people with cancer. What a commendable thing to do.
    I am sure he has followed this bill's progress, as have I. All the witnesses who appeared before the committee, not specifically for this bill, but to examine some of the drugs on the market and the drug approval process, generally spoke in favour of progressive licensing for drugs, which this bill specifies.
    The member realizes, as I do, that many Canadians were afraid that this bill would make it more difficult to access natural health products. The minister indicated that this bill was in no way meant to target those products or change access to them in any way. It is not meant to make access any easier or any more difficult. It is not meant to change the licences to sell such products or any such matters. He said that was a completely separate issue.
    Now we are told the minister intends to make a number of changes to the bill, changes that will affect these products. I think this will change the principles of this bill and I would like to ask the hon. member if he agrees with me.
    We were asked to support the principles of this bill at second reading and to study it thoroughly in committee. Now, those principles are being changed. When we go back to committee, it will be with a bill that is different from the one we have been studying so far, the one we have been discussing with experts, the one on which the research branch of the Library of Parliament has been advising us. I would like to hear the hon. member's comments on this.
    Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank my colleague from West Nova who noted my new haircut and also that it was not a moment of madness that led me to shave off all my locks, but a heartfelt gesture in support of children suffering from cancer. Together with 7,300 other participants who shaved their heads, we managed to raise $3,800,000, which will give hope to these children.
    With regard to his question on natural health products, at present, there is a great deal of confusion. People are wondering whether the new regulations will contradict the Natural Health Products Regulations. It will be very important for the minister to be clear about this when the bill is studied in more detail in committee. We must allow Canadians to address the committee and we must work together to shed light on the matter and to ensure that all legislation is respected and that people are safely able to use the products they currently turn to.

  (1355)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the member and also congratulate him on his support for children with cancer.
    He went through many of the problems with the bill and mentioned many of the reasons why I, personally, do not support the legislation and why the NDP caucus is not supporting it either.
    I want to raise particularly the question about natural health products and Chinese traditional medicine, which is very important to people in my riding. It is a long and distinguished tradition, maybe even longer than western medicine, yet it seems to be compromised by this legislation.
    I wonder if the hon. member could comment as well on that issue and the fact that even the Conservatives now seem to realize that there are very serious flaws with this legislation, necessitating amendments at this particular stage in the process.

[Translation]

    I must inform the hon. member for Verchères—Les Patriotes that he has 30 seconds to comment.
    Mr. Speaker, I will try to wrap it up in under 30 seconds. I already touched on this subject in answer to the question from the hon. member for West Nova.
    The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas is quite right. We must ensure that natural health products are governed by a code, a law, but we must also ensure that the bill before us does not interfere with the law in place and that all citizens will be able to use those products that—
    The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to at least begin to address the issue of Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.
    There are very important issues raised in this legislation. It is not the first time a government in Canada in recent years has tried to change this legislation. In fact, this is about the fifth time in recent years and there has never been great success in overhauling this legislation.
    It appears that the current government is facing the same kinds of problems. We now hear that even the Conservatives are proposing major amendments to their own legislation given the public outcry about it.
    There are many serious problems with this legislation, things like the provision for direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. We have seen that this bill may open that door. We also know the American experience that many of us have some exposure to. We are concerned that that might increase costs to consumers. How will this affect the appropriate proscribing of drugs in Canada and how will it really contribute to the skyrocketing cost of drugs in Canada in our medical system?
    There is also concern about progressive licensing and changes to the drug approval process. We have seen this aspect of our drug safety measures chipped away at over the years. In fact, the disappearance almost 10 years ago of the only drug lab that did the necessary kinds of testing, and post-market testing and surveillance is important to any drug and therapeutic product regime. That is another problem.
    While we are concerned in this corner that the changes in this legislation may open the door to the kind of harmonization that is taking place under the security and prosperity partnership agenda, we are also concerned that there is too much ministerial discretion and too much regulatory discretion provided for in this legislation. We do not see that as appropriate either.
    Like most members, I have heard from many--

  (1400)  

    Order. I regret that I must interrupt the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas. When we return to the study of Bill C-51, there will be eight minutes left.
    We will now have statements by members under Standing Order 31. The hon. member for Lethbridge has the floor.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Canadian Forces

    Mr. Speaker, June 2 marked 11 years since the election of myself and the rest of the class of '97. Reflecting on those years, I realize how fortunate I have been to represent the great people of southern Alberta and the tremendous opportunities I have had while performing those duties.
    None of these opportunities can compare to have been able to associate with our men and women serving in the Canadian Forces. Two weeks ago, as chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I and ten of my colleagues had the opportunity to visit Afghanistan for the second time.
     It was truly an inspiration to witness the courage and dedication of our men and women as they carry out the mission that has been assigned to them. I witnessed the focused determination of personnel, both civilian and military, as they continue to do what needs to be done in a country ravaged by war. The progress they have made in the 16 months since our last visit is remarkable.
     Though it will take time to sort out the complex problems that still exist in Afghanistan, those proudly wearing the maple leaf on their shoulders and carrying it in their hearts continue to be leaders in rebuilding Afghanistan.

Portuguese Canadians

    Mr. Speaker, today, June 10, is Portugal Day, a day we celebrate the great poet, Luis Vaz de Camoes, and also when we honour the contributions made by Portuguese Canadians in Canada and a relationship that dates back centuries.
    Among the notables in this history are Gasper Corte Real, who in the 15th century discovered Conception Bay, or Pedro da Silva, who in 1705 was commissioned as the “first courier” in New France.
    We also honour those on Canada's west coast like Portuguese pioneer, Jose Silva, also known as Joe Silvey, who braved enormous challenges in the late 1800s to become the first British Canadian citizen of Portuguese origin, and the first known European to marry an aboriginal. He also introduced net fishing along the west coast and opened Vancouver's first bistro known as “The Hole in the Wall”.
    In 2003 Portuguese Canadians celebrated the 50th anniversary of official immigration to Canada when vibrant neighbourhoods developed in places like Portugal Village in Toronto.
    Today, we recognize people like Bill Moniz, who works tirelessly to document Portuguese history in Canada or groups like ACAPO, who organize Portugal Day parades in Toronto each year that draw over 300,000 people.
    As the first Portuguese Canadian member of Parliament, it is my honour to ask that all members of the House join with me in honouring Luis Vaz de Camoes and in celebrating Portugal Day.

[Translation]

Income Tax Act

    Mr. Speaker, this Thursday, members of the House of Commons will have an opportunity to vote on Bill C-207 at report stage from the Standing Committee on Finance. I introduced this bill in 2006.
    Since then, a number of individuals and organizations have expressed their approval for a tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions. Some 60 municipalities, RCMs, youth forums, educational institutions, youth employment centres and chambers of commerce have decided to support Bill C-207.
    New graduates working in Haute-Mauricie, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the upper Laurentians, the North Shore, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and northern Quebec would be entitled to a maximum tax credit of $8,000.
    We need measures to stop youth out-migration and promote the retention of skilled workers in economically depressed regions. Bill  C-207 meets that need.

[English]

Phone Companies

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are owed hundreds of millions of dollars by land line phone companies as a result of overcharges and the money has been placed in so-called deferral accounts. But Canadians have yet to have their money refunded due to the actions of the former monopoly Bell Canada.
    The CRTC has ordered that the funds be returned to those who it rightfully belongs, namely, consumers. Instead, the phone companies took the CRTC to court and lost. But instead of complying with the Federal Appeals Court decision, Bell Canada, in an attempt to fleece its own customers, has decided to appeal to the Supreme Court delaying the rebate for possibly two years.
    What is truly outrageous is that Bell Canada is claiming in its appeal that the deferral accounts do not exist and the CRTC does not have the power to order the refund.
    A monumental hijacking of Canadian consumers must be put to an end. Bell Canada should withdraw its appeal to the Supreme Court immediately and issue the refunds to its customers now. What have the Conservatives done during this time? They have cut Bell's corporate taxes and rewarded it. Shame.

Myra Canyon

    Mr. Speaker, in September 2003 the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfires entered the Myra Canyon and destroyed 12 wooden trestles and damaged two steel trestles on the historic Kettle Valley Railway, part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
    It gives me great pleasure to inform the House that, as a result of the cooperation of all levels of government and the help of many fine citizens, the trestles over Myra Canyon have risen from the ashes and have been rebuilt to historical specifications using British Columbia wood and labour.
    On June 22, the Myra Canyon trestles will officially open to the public who will once again have a chance to step back in time and view the valley from a truly historic vantage point.
    I would like to take this opportunity to invite all Canadians to come to the Okanagan this summer, visit our orchards and vineyards, travel over Canada's only floating bridge, the new William R. Bennett Bridge, but most of all, walk or cycle the trestles and breath in the history of this memorable Canadian heritage site located right above Kelowna, British Columbia.

  (1405)  

Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, until yesterday, the government said that it needed Bill C-50 to secure skilled workers for our country.
     Will it now start by addressing the issue of undocumented workers? They number over 200,000, many of them Portuguese. They possess proven and needed skills. Most of them have been here for more than three years. They are already integrated, the certification of their credentials already verified by their employers. An architecture for providing them with permanent residency was already put in place by the previous government, along with the money to get it done.
    The current government has squandered two and a half years of opportunity, doing nothing. Meanwhile workers, crucial to our economic development, are prevented from making a contribution and getting on with their lives. They languish in uncertainty.
    The government has the money and now it has the legislative authority. Does it have the political will to do the right thing and land these undocumented workers now?

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians had another opportunity to peer behind the weasel words and political trickery being used by the Liberals to conceal their planned permanent new carbon tax.
    Appearing on national television, two senior Liberal MPs could not even keep their stories straight over the course of a single half hour. At 5:02 p.m. the member for Halton, the Liberal leader's senior communications adviser, called the secret plan a carbon tax and confessed to the fact that the plan was a tax after all.
    Less than 20 minutes later, the member for Richmond Hill anxiously performed damage control, saying “there is no carbon tax” at all.
    Tax, no tax, a kind of tax, a hidden tax, tax shifts, carbon tax, green shifts, every day there is a different label, a different excuse, a different trick.
    When Canadians hear politicians weaseling about the wording of a tax, they better hold on to their wallets. The Liberal leader is hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians, but they will not be tricked.

[Translation]

Michelle Bachelet

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to highlight the visit of Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean president, to Quebec City. It is a huge honour for all Quebeckers to host the first woman to be elected a president in Latin America.
    She is also the first head of state of a foreign country to visit Quebec as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of Quebec City, the birthplace of the Quebec nation.
    During her visit, she will meet with the Premier of Quebec and the Speaker of the National Assembly, before giving a speech in the Legislative Council Chamber. She will also unveil a commemorative text at the equestrian statue of Bernardo O'Higgins in the Parc de l'Amérique-Latine.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Ms. Bachelet. I hope she enjoys her time in Quebec.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, as more details are being leaked about the Leader of the Opposition's proposed carbon tax and the great lengths the Liberals are using weasel words to conceal the real nature of this tax from the public, it is clear the party is trying to trick Canadians into paying a permanent new tax.
    As I have stated before on the floor of the House of Commons, citizens of my riding in Kitchener—Conestoga depend on driving for their livelihood. Whether it is the farmer operating a tractor, the long haul truck driver, the small business owner or the daily commuter, without question, this proposed tax will eat away at their standard of living.
    Canadians are not naive. They will not be fooled by Liberal word games and phony green packaging. The public has caught on to the Leader of the Opposition's real tax shifting plans. This permanent new punitive tax will destroy jobs and drive up the cost of gas, electricity and everything else Canadians buy.
    This is a tax the Leader of the Opposition previously said was bad policy and would oppose. Now he is flip-flopping. With this new Liberal tax trick, Canadians can be certain that their taxes will shift in one direction only: way up.

[Translation]

M. Evenchick Jewellery Inc.

    Mr. Speaker, another piece of Hull's history will disappear very soon. In a few weeks M. Evenchick Jewellery Inc. will be closing its doors for the last time.
    The business was founded more than 80 years ago by the current owner's grandfather. In 1922, Meyer Evenchick came to Ottawa and founded a costume jewellery production business. The business moved to Hull in 1958.

[English]

    Under his son Abbey, the company had over 80 employees. It was the first company to import cultured pearls from Japan. At the time, it sold its products to over 300 stores, including Eaton's, The Bay and Birks.
    Globalization has had a huge impact on the company. Since it is cheaper to produce handmade jewellery in Asia than in Canada, grandsons Brian, Mark and Lawrence could no longer compete. The badges the Government of Canada orders for DND must be 80% Canadian, but...
    Our thanks to the Evenchick family, proud builders of the community of Hull.

  (1410)  

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, not once but for the 28th time, incredibly, the Liberals failed to stand up and represent their constituents on important votes. Last night only 60 Liberal MPs voted, despite the Liberal leader's empty claims that his party was against the budget.
    It is nothing new. The Liberal leader has continuously spread meaningless election threats, right after his first statement as a leader in December 2006 and just eight days ago when he declared a summer election was in the cards.
    When it comes time to putting his money where his mouth is, he backs down and tells his caucus to sit on their hands or not even bother showing up.
    With the details emerging about the Liberal plan to gouge Canadians with a carbon tax and a Liberal caucus that is obviously deeply divided and very worried about defending its tax trick during an election, it is no wonder the Liberal leader is backing down.
    Leadership is not about sitting on one's hands in the House. Leadership is about standing up in the House for one's constituents and voting.

Food and Drugs Act

    Mr. Speaker, I stand today in opposition to Bill C-51 because it fails to address the fundamental health concerns of Canadians.
    I have received overwhelming amounts of correspondence from constituents, including health practitioners, who are deeply opposed to the dangerous loopholes and ministerial power grab, which will impact the production and availability of about 60% of the natural health products, which most Canadians use to stay healthier.
    As currently drafted, Bill C-51 would limit access to many health products and allow the fast-tracking of new drugs that have not been proven safe. Bill C-51 blends in with the SPP agenda, which is about harmonizing regulations across the board with the United States, resulting in lower standards. For example, the drugs Vioxx and Avandia were accelerated irresponsibly into the American market, causing the deaths of thousands.
    These examples show the dangerous effects of fast-tracking drug approvals. I call on all Canadians to join us in this fight against Bill C-51, to maintain the highest standards of health, safety and accessibility.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, my heart goes out to all the people who were taken away from their families and sent away to residential schools. This I can relate to from personal experience.
    Residential school survivors have experienced many things from being torn away from their families at a very young age and being sent to school so far away that they were lucky to see their parents once a year. Many did not go home for years. Imagine the culture shock of being immersed in another language and culture, with different foods and clothing and with some losing their language.
    No matter how deeply scarred they are, many Inuit residential school survivors say they that want to be mentioned and acknowledged as Inuit residential school survivors. A generic apology is not enough, as each people suffered uniquely. Inuit should be recognized as such.
    Foremost, the apology must be sincere and unconditional for the many injustices, for ruined lives and for the children who never returned home. Then true healing and reconciliation may begin for many.

[Translation]

Laval Transit Authority

    Mr. Speaker, the Société de Transport de Laval will be reducing its bus fares from $2.50 to $1 on all smog days starting this week until Labour Day. This transit authority will be the first public transit system in Quebec to support the fight for better air quality in such a tangible way. Urban smog is caused mainly by two air pollutants: ozone and small particulate matter. It is the small particulate matter that produces the yellowish haze hanging in the sky and obscuring the sun during bad air quality days.
    Recently, Dr. Jocelyne Sauvé presented a health report linking 9% of deaths and 3% of hospitalizations to bad air quality in Montérégie. Offering public transit for $1 will give Laval's citizens a chance to save by reducing their gas consumption and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause smog, therefore also improving air quality.

  (1415)  

[English]

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the federal government will apologize to residential school survivors. I believe that such an apology is a key step in the healing and reconciliation process with Canada's aboriginal peoples. I look forward to hearing the apology and hope it achieves its intended purpose.
    I also hope this apology and the reconciliation process will inform all Canadians about some of the tragedies that have been inflicted upon our aboriginal people. I believe the relationship between aboriginal Canadians and non-aboriginal Canadians can be strengthened with better dialogue and an increased understanding by all Canadians of aboriginal history.
    For this purpose, I have introduced Bill C-496 to promote the teaching of aboriginal history and culture in Canada's mainstream primary and secondary schools. I believe such a measure will encourage an environment of understanding that will better help our country move forward. Over the long past, the teaching of aboriginal history has been deficient in Canada's schools and this needs to be addressed.
    I urge all hon. members to support initiatives that promote better understanding and appreciation of the important role in Canada of aboriginal Canadians past, present and future.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, despite the weasel words of and political tricks, Canadians are seeing the real agenda behind the Liberal leader's new massive national carbon tax. The Liberals can label it with fancy names and they can try to wrap it in green packaging, but a tax is a tax and the Liberal leader wants to impose the mother of all taxes on all Canadians.
    Liberals MPs are now admitting their plan is a carbon tax. The member for Halton, the Liberal leader's communication adviser, says that he has seen the details and it is a carbon tax. Liberals such as the members for Oakville and Scarborough—Agincourt, star Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau and Liberal strategist David Herle have been calling it a carbon tax.
    Even the Liberal leader himself today admitted his plan was a tax on “fossil fuels, home heating fuels and electricity”. Canadians too see the carbon tax for what it is, a tax on everything: gas, heating, electricity, groceries. It will affect everyone, especially seniors and Canadians with fixed incomes and families.
    The Liberal leader needs to tell Canadians the truth. Why does he want to hurt individual Canadians and families?

Patricia Ann Boname

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize and honour the life accomplishments of Patricia Ann Boname of West Vancouver, British Columbia, who recently passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
    Patricia Boname served as an elected representative in West Vancouver for over 15 years, a dedication to her community that also included the position of mayor.
    Patricia's lifetime commitment included countless volunteer activities, such as her involvement with the West Vancouver Community Arts Council, the North Shore Disability Resource Centre, the Lions Gate Hospital board and the Liberal Party of Canada.
    Most recently, she was instrumental as a founding member of the Minerva Foundation which inspires B.C. women and empowers them to reach their full potential through programs and opportunities.
    Through her early career with the CBC Canadian news magazine Close-Up, Patricia always led by example, with integrity, trust and a bright smile.
    Patricia Boname was a role model in her community and a citizen that devoted her life to assisting others through government and not for profit organizations. She is survived by her family and her husband, Phil Boname, an avid community member.
    Patricia's legacy of strong community involvement with West Vancouver will always be remembered.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow's apology to the victims of Indian residential schools will be important, and equally important will be a response from those victims. The comments of the leaders of Canada's political parties will be recorded and preserved for all time in the official Hansard of the House of Commons for June 11, 2008.
    Will the government change its decision so that aboriginal representatives who will be with us in this chamber tomorrow can respond directly to the apology, on the record in this House?
    Mr. Speaker, the government has received a number of suggestions and recommendations on the process for tomorrow. We have looked at all of these. We have considered them in the context of our traditions and obviously precedents that have been established in similar solemn occasions.
    Aboriginal Canadians have been waiting for a very long time to hear an apology from the Parliament of Canada. I would urge all parties not to play politics with this, to simply get behind a sincere apology to be offered on behalf of all parties to the aboriginal communities in this country.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, for many aboriginal people the apology tomorrow will be one of the most emotional moments of their lives, but they must not be voiceless. They will listen carefully to the four national politicians who will speak on Wednesday. Surely the House owes survivors the courtesy of listening to them in return right here, and recorded in the official Hansard.
    Will the government commit to doing that?
    Mr. Speaker, there have been many consultations with many survivor groups, former students, church representatives, and national and regional organizations. We have been in contact with many of them over the last while. Their input has helped us to craft what I think is going to be an excellent apology, very complete, very thorough and very meaningful.
    We look forward to giving that apology here on the floor of the House of Commons tomorrow in an unprecedented historic event. I invite all parties to participate. I want to thank them for their support for the motion earlier today which set the terms of how we will conduct ourselves tomorrow. We look forward to that with our aboriginal partners.
    Mr. Speaker, there has not been ample consultation, but there is ample precedent for people other than members of Parliament to make remarks in the House of Commons. It does not detract from the dignity of the occasion; it adds to it. It is about the history of this country. It is an integral part of the official record, the apology and the response together.
    In the interests of reconciliation, surely the House can afford the extra half hour tomorrow to hear a response from aboriginal representatives.
    Mr. Speaker, first nations, aboriginal and Métis people have been waiting for a long time for this apology and I am delighted that this is going to take place tomorrow.
    I invite the hon. member to participate in this. I know she is a member of the aboriginal affairs committee. Important ceremonies are going to follow this with first nations and aboriginal and Métis people. We look forward to that as well.
    The member is equating this with when the Olympians came on the floor and responded, and of course that never did happen. She should keep this a solemn occasion, as we all should, and give it the gravitas it deserves.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that everyone here knows that the member for Churchill is right. Now we want to know why the government is refusing, and we want the Prime Minister to change his mind. The only reason he gave for refusing to allow aboriginal leaders to address the House was tradition. Canada has made plenty of mistakes in the name of tradition.
    Aboriginals have waited 95 years. Why will the Prime Minister not give them 30 minutes in the House?
    Mr. Speaker, we received numerous suggestions and recommendations from various individuals and organizations. We have chosen a process that respects precedents. The House of Commons has agreed to the terms of the apology. I hope that the Liberal Party, which has not yet apologized, will apologize tomorrow alongside the government.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we certainly will reiterate our apology, as the world hopefully will, but the issue here is to be sure that tomorrow's ceremony will be respectful and the answer by the Prime Minister is not appropriate.
    There is a problem. Why will the Prime Minister not make sure that the aboriginal leaders receive today the text of the apology to allow them the time to prepare their responses? Their responses will be key in the future of our relationship with the aboriginal peoples.
    Out of respect, will the Prime Minister provide the aboriginal leaders with the text today?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, I spoke with Chief Fontaine about this subject last week.
     The apology will be delivered tomorrow. I hope the apology will be shared by all parties of this House. I think we all have a responsibility to unite and to make this message clear.
    In terms of the acceptance, there are thousands of hearts and minds that will be at different stages of acceptance, but I hope we will begin the process of healing and reconciliation.

[Translation]

Gasoline Prices

    Mr. Speaker, while gasoline prices set new records day after day, the oil companies continue to rake in huge profits. Meanwhile, the government feeds us its usual line—we have to rely on market forces—while handing out $1.2 billion in tax breaks to oil companies.
    Why does the Prime Minister prefer to help his friends, the oil companies, rather than encouraging a reduction in our oil dependency as every government should?
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc knows that gasoline prices are determined by international market forces, and also affected by taxes imposed by certain governments in Canada, and not by subsidies to the oil industry. This government eliminated those subsidies in the 2007 budget and the Bloc Leader supported those measures.
    Mr. Speaker, the budget contains $1.2 billion in tax breaks, and they are there in black and white. He has the means to take action to help our citizens reduce their dependency on oil. For example, rather than using the entire surplus to pay down the debt, he could have immediately paid up to 5¢ per litre of the excise tax to municipalities. They in turn could have used this money to reduce the cost of public transit, as Laval has done.
    Why is the Prime Minister not taking action when he has the means to do so?
    Mr. Speaker, I mentioned that market forces, together with taxes imposed by certain governments, determine prices. It is up to the Competition Bureau to ensure that the rules of the market are respected.
    I must also mention that it was the government that reduced the GST to lower the price of gasoline and all goods and services. Unfortunately, the Bloc Québécois voted with the Liberals against these reductions and in favour of the Liberals' tax and environmental policies.

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, today, Quebec's Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, the mayor of Quebec City and the president of PÔLE Québec Chaudière-Appalaches are holding a press conference to condemn the decision by the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec to stop funding non-profit organizations such as PÔLE. Yet this organization has an impressive track record: tight management, 12 major structuring projects and 10,000 specialized jobs.
    Will the minister be humble enough to admit he made a mistake and restore funding for these organizations, which are vital to regional development in Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, this same party was opposed to the creation of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. This same party said that it was a waste of time and energy for the federal government to contribute to regional economic development in Quebec. We beg to differ. That is why those members are always in opposition and will never achieve anything.
    That said, where are we at? Economic organizations approached the department to pay their operating costs forever. Those days are over. We are going to support one-off projects.
    Mr. Speaker, this minister is forever telling us that he has a budget of only $200 million. What he is not saying is that his budget was $394 million last year. It is shrinking.
    Is it not true that the real reason he has cut funding is that since he is unable to defend his budget in cabinet, he is reduced to diverting funds earmarked for regional development to projects chosen because they will benefit the Conservatives come election time?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member knew what to make of the numbers and knew how the economic development department works, he would know that much of the money is allocated to firms and that our department manages that money for others.
    We have an envelope of $200 million this year, which is largely the same as in previous years.
    We are going to continue to support the economic development of all regions of Quebec. Thanks to the decisions we are making, we will be able to free up funds for a whole host of projects in many regions of Quebec.

Gasoline Prices

    Mr. Speaker, the price of gas has gone up to $1.50, and people are very angry about indecent prices and indecent profits. When gas was 50¢ per litre, Petro-Canada was making $100 million in profits.

[English]

    At 73¢ a litre, Husky Oil made $546 million in a year.
    With gas at well over $1 a litre now and climbing, Imperial Oil has just reported $681 million in profit in a single quarter.
    With Congress and Senator Obama going after big oil, why is the Prime Minister, with the help of the so-called opposition, giving them tax cuts?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, obviously with the exception of taxes imposed by various governments, it is world markets that actually set oil prices. The fact of the matter is, of course, that the Competition Bureau is in place to make sure the rules of the marketplace are respected.
    I have to point out that this government has given no special tax break to the oil companies. We have in fact cut taxes for all Canadian businesses and all Canadian families.
    Yes, Mr. Speaker, and the biggest profiteers get the most from that tax cut that just went through.
    It is not just Congress and Senator Obama that are taking on big oil and its unprecedented profits. Both the United Kingdom and Italy are doing the same. With many oil companies operating both in the U.S. and in Canada, some kind of coordinated approach would seem to make some sense here, so that we can get at the question of transforming our energy system and invest in green solutions. That is what Canadians want to see.
    If the Prime Minister does not have the intestinal fortitude to take on big oil, will he at least stop sending subsidies to the tar sands?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, as the leader of the NDP well knows, those subsidies were phased out at the beginning of budget 2007, except that he actually voted to keep them.
    The reality, of course, is that in the United States as well as in Canada oil prices are set in international markets. They are not set by governments, with the exception of the taxes that governments do impose.
    I would just point out that the NDP and others have to stop contradicting themselves. They cannot demand cheap oil and at the same time demand that we get off oil. Our government is making sure that we put in place policies to make the transition to a non-oil economy in the future.

[Translation]

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is reneging on its federal obligation to support regional economic development in Quebec.
    Why is he cutting funding to not-for-profit organizations that have contributed so much to Quebec's development?
    Mr. Speaker, if the Liberal Party had managed economic development funds properly when it was in power, we would not be in this position today. That party allowed organizations to keep coming back to our department, thinking that all they had to do was ask the government, and they would receive.
    We will continue to support the same organizations, but we will be supporting one-time projects with a beginning, a middle and an end. We will not be funding organizations indefinitely.
    Mr. Speaker, that is so typical of a government that never accepts responsibility and always tries to offload it onto the previous government. That is not acceptable.
    The Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec was at the helm when half his budget was cut. Is that not the real reason the Conservative cabinet cut economic partnerships that had proven their worth?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is not true. I have about the same level of funding as I had last year to support economic development in the regions of Quebec.
    What kind of projects do we plan to support in the future? We plan to support Refuge Pageau, in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, a specific project with a beginning, a middle and an end; the Véloroute des Bleuets in Saguenay; the Trois-Rivières airport; the Alma airport; the Baie-Comeau transshipment facility; and the acquisition of a submarine in Rimouski, which will attract tourists to the region. These are all specific projects that will create jobs and continue to support economic activity in the regions.
    Mr. Speaker, it is fine with the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec if his budget is cut in half. As long as he can continue to hand out goodies in his own riding, nothing bothers him—and he sure does hand out a lot of goodies.
    He has already spent 20% of his budget in his own riding even though it represents just 4% of all Quebeckers. He has cut funding to Montreal International, PÔLE Québec Chaudière-Appalaches and others. Why? Is it simply to pay for more roads in his riding?
     Mr. Speaker, I wonder if those watching think it is reasonable for this department to cover the costs of economic organizations forever, when our mission is to support the economic development of the regions. These economic organizations have taken all the room to manoeuvre out of our department.
     I am freeing up money that will stay in the same regions but will support one-off projects, whether for small to medium sized businesses or for economic organizations. It will support one-off projects.
    Mr. Speaker, when we ask him about these stupid ideological cuts, the minister tells us that it is not just him, but cabinet that made the decision. He caved. And where was the so-called political lieutenant for Quebec when the economic development of Quebec stopped being a priority for cabinet? Where was the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages when the interests of Quebec were being ignored?
    And if the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec does not make any decisions in his own department, if he bends to the will of his colleagues and does not defend the regions, then what exactly are we paying him for?
    Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, we gave $1.25 million to the Montreal Grand Prix for a one-off project to help set up a state of the art press centre meeting today's needs.
    Our department will continue to support the economic development of the regions of Quebec. We will help small- and medium-sized businesses buy equipment and so forth and create jobs in the regions. We will also provide organizations—I am still talking about economic organizations here—with support for one-off projects, projects that have a start, a middle and an end.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, we just learned this morning that Julie Couillard spared no effort to get access to Conservative ministers. In just a few short days, she managed to meet two. Experts have told us that this is how criminal organizations infiltrate political circles.
    Considering Julie Couillard's shady past, and also considering the fact that she was known to the RCMP, was there not a blatant disregard for public safety?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I understand that members opposite have been back to the hairdresser to get new material.
     The minister received no representations from Madam Couillard on behalf of Kevlar. However, I am sure that will not stop the other parties from continuing their exercise at the legislative committee.
    We have chosen a different approach. We are having a responsible review of this matter. It will be dealt with by Foreign Affairs, which will be reporting back to us on its findings.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Julie Couillard attended a very private fundraising cocktail for the Conservative association in the riding of Châteauguay—Saint-Constant. In order to gain access, she turned to André Turcot, the president of the association, who knew her very well. Her name had been floating around in September as a potential Conservative candidate.
    How does the Prime Minister expect us to believe that although the RCMP, a local Conservative Party organizer and the former minister of foreign affairs knew about this woman's shady past, he knew nothing?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am sure that at the legislative committee those members will spend a lot of time on the interesting backgrounds of individuals and their private lives. We are focused on the public policy issues. That is why the Department of Foreign Affairs will be dealing with any issues arising from this in its review.

  (1440)  

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, directors of organizations that work with young offenders oppose the federal law undermining the rehabilitation of young offenders. Daniel Côté, from Centre jeunesse de Québec, says that the law does not take into account young people's personal needs and particular circumstances. Linda Keating, from another youth centre, criticizes the changes in the law's criteria that will not allow the right action at the right time.
    With the rate of youth crime now lower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, does the Minister of Justice realize that the current law is undermining the rehabilitation of young offenders?

[English]

    In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has kicked off a Youth Criminal Justice Act review by meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts. Their experience in the administration of the Youth Criminal Justice Act is invaluable. We will be working with all stakeholders to improve the act.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court has struck down a provision of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and reiterated the importance of a justice system created specifically for young offenders. Yet the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice are simply ignoring the Supreme Court's reminder and wish to continue with the Conservative agenda of law and order.
    Does the Prime Minister realize that his Bush-based approach of incarcerating youth who could have been rehabilitated will not have any better results here than in the United States?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I can say that our government, unlike the opposition, is committed to responding to the problem of youth crime using fair and appropriate measures to hold young people accountable when they break the law.
     That is why we have introduced legislative proposals to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act and to include deterrence and denunciation as principles of sentencing. I would urge all members to consider what they are hearing in their ridings about the need to improve our youth criminal justice system.

[Translation]

Omar Khadr

    Mr. Speaker, a fundamental principle of Canadian justice is that an accused has a right to know all the evidence against him or her. This principle has clearly been violated by American martial law in the case of Omar Khadr.
    I would like to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs another question. Why does the Canadian government prefer the martial law of the American justice system over the laws of the Canadian justice system?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, Mr. Khadr faces very serious charges in relation to his capture in Afghanistan. Any questions regarding whether Canada plans to ask for the release of Mr. Omar Khadr are premature and speculative, as the legal process is ongoing.
    Mr. Speaker, the judge in the case was fired, Omar Khadr was 15 years old at the time that he was charged and arrested, and the interrogators have destroyed any records of the notes that were held.
    The member has to tell us why this government, the Republican farm team, prefers American martial law to the Canadian system of justice under the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court of Canada? Why does it prefer that?
    Mr. Speaker, the member should be asking that question of his leader, because it was under his government, the official opposition leader's government, that Mr. Khadr was sent to Guantanamo Bay. The member should perhaps be asking that question of his leader, the leader of the official opposition.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, there are three possible scenarios in the firing of the foreign affairs minister.
    First, the RCMP did not look into Ms. Couillard's background even though it had her home under surveillance a decade ago. Second, the RCMP looked into Ms. Couillard's background and found security concerns but did not pass them on to the government. Third, the RCMP looked into Ms. Couillard's background, found security concerns and reported them to the government, but the government turned a blind eye.
    I would ask the government, which is it?
    Mr. Speaker, I choose door number four, actually, which is that Madam Couillard had nothing to do with the matter.
     The issue on which the resignation was tendered was an issue of documents that were left in an unsecured location. What that unsecured location was did not matter. It could have been any unsecured location.
    The minister of foreign affairs at the time offered his resignation. He took responsibility for the breach of the rules that he engaged in. As a result, his resignation was accepted.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government House leader can try all he likes to repeat the scripted lines, but the fact is that this is a matter of a serious national security breach. It is unacceptable that the government continues to read those scripted lines about personal lives and other issues and does not address the issue at hand. Not addressing the issue shows total disregard for the national security of this country.
    I have a question for the public safety minister. Did the RCMP or CSIS at any time talk to the government about concerns about Ms. Couillard?
    Mr. Speaker, I believe it was a member of the Liberal Party who stood up in the House and authoritatively said, reading from one of those scripts, that a meeting had taken place with the Prime Minister.
     We made it quite clear that no such briefing ever took place with the Prime Minister, yet Liberals continue to persist in asking these questions just a little bit differently since every time they get up and make accusations they tend to be wrong.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals cannot seem to get their stories straight on their massive new carbon tax. Yesterday the member for Halton confessed that the Liberal plan was--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I can hardly hear the hon. member despite his proximity to the Chair. There is too much noise. The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, those members are touchy about this one.
    The member for Halton confessed yesterday that, yes, there is a carbon tax, and yet minutes later the member for Richmond Hill said no, there is no carbon tax here. We know how bad it is when even the Liberal environment critic's own brother, the premier of Ontario, will not buy into that massive tax. Can the government--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. secretary of state.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. It is only Tuesday. We will have a little order, please. The hon. secretary of state has the floor. There is too much noise.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, because we first heard from the leader of the Liberal Party that he was opposed to a carbon tax. Now he is in favour of a carbon tax. Some members of his caucus say there will be no tax. Others say there is a carbon tax. Some call it a green shift. Others call it a carbon shift. Some claim it will be revenue neutral, like we never heard that fat one before.
    Canadians will not be fooled with all those political weasel words. When they hear Liberals talking about new taxes they know it is time to hold onto their wallets because the Liberals intend to tax them more.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the government has proven yet again that there is no problem in procuring equipment for the war in Afghanistan, but it is a totally different story for the needs here in Canada: frigate replacement program, stalled; Sea King replacements, stalled; Buffalo search and rescue, stalled; navy support ships, stalled; and second-hand submarines that do not even work, stalled.
    Why is the minister building a Kandahar first military program rather than a Canada first defence strategy?
    NDP support on anything other than the military, Mr. Speaker, stalled.
    With respect to the procurements that are taking place in this country, this government has embarked on an unprecedented effort to give the men and women of the armed forces the necessary equipment they need to do the important work in Afghanistan that allows us to do reconstruction and development.
    We are not going to get pulled into the way of the previous government, which rusted out and hollowed out the Canadian Forces. We are behind the forces 100% and we are getting the job done.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, I really would like to believe the minister, but I find it very difficult. Countless ministers of defence have told countless numbers of the Canadian military that the newest equipment is right around the corner. This procurement is around the corner malarkey has to stop.
    Will the minister admit that DND's procurement system is out of date, is open to manipulation and is wasting billions in unnecessary tenders, unfinished work and incomplete offers? The Canadian Forces has world class training and world class soldiers. Why not world class procurement?
    Mr. Speaker, these are all good questions, which begs the real question: why does the NDP not support our military?
     We are going full bore ahead with procurement of ships and important land craft and aircraft. While the previous government starved our armed forces of necessary procurement, we are going full bore to get the forces this gear.
    When it comes to supporting our military procurement and our men and women in uniform and their families, the NDP consistently has voted against every step this government has taken to get that important support for our men and women.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the bizarre press conference the parliamentary secretary for public works held last week on the Cadman tape has been mercilessly mocked by the media.
     One fact has not gotten the attention it deserves. Dona Cadman has now sworn an affidavit that two Conservative operatives made a financial offer to her husband on May 17, 2005, but the parliamentary secretary will not even admit that a meeting took place at all. Now, with a sworn affidavit, is the parliamentary secretary suggesting that Dona Cadman committed perjury?
    Mr. Speaker, I would give my colleague a bit of advice on her supplementary, which is to slow down her tape a little. She is a little quick.
    My colleague may want to ignore the facts in this case, but in fact the Liberals wrote to the RCMP and asked the RCMP to look into this matter. RCMP Chief Superintendent Therriault wrote back and said there is “no evidence to support a charge under the Criminal Code or under the Parliament of Canada Act”.
    There is no evidence of wrongdoing because no wrongdoing took place. The Liberals will recognize that when we see them in court.
    Mr. Speaker, Tom Zytaruk is adamant that the tape is unedited. He said he would swear an oath to that effect. The parliamentary secretary continues to deny that the Prime Minister's own words discuss financial considerations to Chuck Cadman even though Dona Cadman has sworn there was an offer.
    Will the parliamentary secretary tell us who were the two operatives cited by Dona Cadman who made the offer on May 17 or has he even bothered to ask what really happened that day?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have said a number of times, there was one offer that was made on May 19 by Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan. We have been clear about that from the very beginning.
    If the Liberals do not want to accept the truth, that is their problem. When we get to court, they will recognize the truth, which is that nothing inappropriate happened here. These false smears against the Prime Minister of this country, falsely saying that he committed a crime, are absolutely out of line in Canadian politics. We will see them in court and they will pay.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, there is a big judicial appointment coming to Manitoba this summer. Manitobans are not impressed by the idea of appointing the President of the Treasury Board as a judge in order to solve the Prime Minister's political problem.
    When he was a justice minister, the future judge said that “the rule of law requires a robust and independent judiciary”. Given this statement, will the current justice minister respect his colleague's position and not appoint him to the bench against his will?
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member brought up this issue, because over the next month the Minister of Justice will be seeking input from the attorneys general in four Atlantic provinces on the appointment of our next Supreme Court of Canada justice. We are all very excited about that very important appointment that is coming up.
    Mr. Speaker, surely the Minister of Justice recognizes the conflict of interest here.
    The President of the Treasury Board named the judicial appointments committee that would be responsible for vetting his candidacy. He is the regional minister for Manitoba and would be making the recommendation to cabinet on his own appointment, and he is a member of the cabinet who would make the ultimate decision on that appointment.
    Can the Conservative government not see that this is clearly unacceptable?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government has always been guided by the principles of merit and legal excellence in the selection and appointments of judges to Canada's superior and federal courts. Each and every one of our 165 judicial appointments have reflected those principles and the next 165 we make will be exactly the same.

[Translation]

Trade

    Mr. Speaker, the government announced that it has concluded a free trade agreement with Colombia. Yet that country has one of the worst records in terms of labour laws and human rights. No conditions in this regard appear in the agreement itself as a prerequisite to its signing and nothing seems to have been imposed on Colombia.
    How can the Conservative government justify such an agreement knowing that Colombia does not honour its international obligations on these issues and that the Standing Committee on International Trade, which is currently holding hearings on the matter, has not tabled any reports?
    Mr. Speaker, as you know, we recently signed a free trade agreement and a parallel agreement with respect to workers' rights with Peru. Over the weekend, we also concluded an agreement with the Government of Colombia.
    I would remind the House that Canada has never entered into an agreement that does so much to protect workers' rights in those two countries. We have a new generation of agreements that are much stronger than before and that include penalties if the government fails to honour its signature on the agreements reached. I think this is a very positive step for workers' rights in both countries.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, when I asked the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration a question, she asked me to provide specific instances where visas had been denied. Here is one. The International Eucharistic Congress of Quebec, which starts on June 15, sent out 1,300 invitations to people throughout the world. The delegates are clergy, members of religious orders and lay persons who were recommended by the bishop in their diocese.
    Will the minister admit that her department acted zealously when we consider that more than 300 of the delegates will not be able to come to Quebec City because their visas were denied? The bishops—
    The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said last week, we want to help people organize conferences and make them successful. However, anyone who wants to enter Canada must follow the legal application process. I offered my assistance to the hon. member if he could provide me with details of particular cases. I am still waiting.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, it is not enough that every independent group concluded that the Conservatives cannot live up to their climate change promises. Now, Environment Canada agrees. Its report shows that the Minister of Finance, through his tax deductible transit pass gimmick, is charging taxpayers $36,000 a year to take a single car off the road.
    Given that the Minister of Finance is legally responsible for pricing carbon, can he explain how $7,200 a tonne for carbon is good value for money? Or will he tell us again that it is simply a “scientific question”?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, order. The Minister of the Environment now has the floor and the member for Ottawa South at least wants to hear the answer.
    Mr. Speaker, the one thing that has become increasingly clear in this House of Commons is that the Liberal Party of Canada, its leader, and its environment critic are completely against tax cuts for middle class families in this country.
    That is something those of us on this side of the House support. We want to support commuters to make the shift from cars to public transit and this is just one way we are helping to get the job done.

[Translation]

Income Tax Act

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will vote on private member's Bill C-207 introduced by the Bloc. The bill was rejected by the majority of members of the Standing Committee on Finance because the financial implications were too great, it would not obtain the desired results and it did not constitute a long-term solution.
    Canadians want real solutions like our targeted initiatives for regional economic development—for example, the $1 billion national community development trust—and not Bloc proposals that are riddled with serious shortcomings.
    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance explain to the House the ramifications of passing such a bill?

  (1500)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, the finance committee has studied Bill C-207 and the Liberal members, along with the Conservative majority, recognize the many flaws in the bill.
    It would be unfortunate, but should it pass, it would cost the federal government $600 million in foregone revenues, with no evidence that this would help regional economic development. I would encourage all members of the House to act responsibly and oppose this private member's legislation.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, Pacific salmon are important to the history, economy and culture of British Columbia, especially for first nations communities. A once abundant chinook, sockeye and coho fishery has been nearly decimated. If any one salmon species is deemed endangered, the effect would be devastating for the entire west coast fishery.
    Commercial fishing: gone. Sport and recreation fishing: gone. Report after report points the finger to lack of leadership from DFO on protecting fish habitat.
    Why does a self-monitored industry go unchecked while habitat is irrevocably damaged?
    Mr. Speaker, let me first assure the member that it is certainly not a lack of concern or action by the government since we came into power.
    In fact, a tremendous amount of time and effort, and personnel have been put in to improve the habitat and to see what is happening. The hon. member is right. We have major concerns over salmon stocks, not only on the west coast but on the east coast.
     Whether it is temperatures, environmental conditions in the ocean, or whether it is predation, we have concerns, but we are all working together to do the best we can.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives must invest more in desperately needed ocean research on issues such as predation, food sources, and other changes that are affecting salmon stocks. This research would help mould policies to counteract the destruction that is affecting the oceans, rivers, streams and estuaries.
    It is time for the minister to act to ensure we do not end up in the same position as the United States or the east coast cod fishery.
    When will the government show real leadership and get serious about research to ensure the sustainability of our west coast fishery?
    Mr. Speaker, let me say that I fully appreciate what the member is saying. She is not exaggerating.
    Let me also say that nowhere in the country, perhaps nowhere in the world, are the partners working more closely than they are on the west coast of this country in British Columbia to address the concerns in our fishery.
    Every agency that is involved is around the table, trying to find ways to offset what seems to be a very, very serious situation. If there is a resolution for this, we will find it. There will be no stone left unturned until we correct the wrongs that have been done.

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, both the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and National Defence know a young fisherman from the Tignish area in Prince Edward Island, Danny Ellsworth, who lost his life while returning to port from the crab grounds early Sunday morning.
    The search for his body by the Canadian Coast Guard was called off the same day. This is totally unsatisfactory to both the grieving family and the community that the Coast Guard serves. The family is deeply disappointed and wants the search for Danny renewed.
    Will the minister immediately order the Canadian Coast Guard back in the water to continue the search for Danny Ellsworth?
    Mr. Speaker, let me say on behalf of, I am sure, everybody here that our thoughts and prayers are with the family involved.
    The accident happened in a clearly identified area. An intensive search occurred in that area. That is why it was called off at the time. I have had several similar requests today. We are looking at anything we can do to help alleviate the concerns of the family, and we will do that.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Liberals are getting lazy in the dog days of summer and their lethargic ways are hurting my farmers. My farmers are demanding barley marketing freedom. In my province alone, three-quarters of farmers want marketing choice and make that 90% in the riding of Wild Rose.
    Can the minister update the House on where the barley marketing freedom legislation is today?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Wild Rose for his work for the producers in his area.
    However, the member for Wascana certainly is not working for his producers. Yesterday, he helped stop Bill C-46 from going directly to committee because he claimed he wanted to debate it some more in the House. Then, because he did not feel like working, he refused to extend hours for these very debates.
    The Liberals sent bills to committee, directly, 57 times when they were in government. Yet, now they refuse to help western barley producers through this action.
    Given that the survey by Liberal insider David Herle again underscores farmers' demand for barley marketing choice, why will the member for Wascana get out of the way?

Equalization Payments

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Finance for arriving just in time for my question.
    Last year, when the Minister of Finance broke the Atlantic accord, he came up with a two tier replacement arrangement that created a second equalization formula offered to only two provinces. The second equalization formula includes a 3.5% escalator clause for these two provinces.
    At the same time the minister stated that the government would resolve Nova Scotia's crown share claim and announce that settlement on March 15.
    I respectfully ask the minister to tell the House what year Nova Scotia might first get a benefit from the 3.5% escalator clause equalization formula, and does he have any idea when we can expect the March 15 announcement of the crown share settlement?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the crown share panel has been working diligently preparing its report. We look forward to its release to the government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. That should not be before too long. This is a complex issue and the committee has been working hard to accomplish the goal of delivering the report to the governments as requested.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Canada Elections Act

     The House resumed from June 9 consideration of Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans), as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    It being 3:07 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-29.
    Call in the members.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    (The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 144)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Angus
Arthur
Atamanenko
Baird
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Benoit
Bevington
Bezan
Black
Blackburn
Blaney
Boucher
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Carrie
Casey
Casson
Charlton
Chong
Christopherson
Clarke
Clement
Comuzzi
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cummins
Davidson
Davies
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Godin
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Layton
Lebel
Lemieux
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mark
Marston
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mulcair
Nash
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Paradis
Petit
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Priddy
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Savoie
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Siksay
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
Stanton
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
Yelich

Total: -- 145

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
André
Asselin
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Bellavance
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Bigras
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Crête
Cuzner
D'Amours
DeBellefeuille
Demers
Deschamps
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Dryden
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Freeman
Fry
Gagnon
Gaudet
Godfrey
Goodale
Gravel
Guarnieri
Guimond
Hall Findlay
Holland
Hubbard
Ignatieff
Jennings
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Laforest
Laframboise
Lavallée
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Lussier
MacAulay
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Minna
Mourani
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Murray
Nadeau
Neville
Pacetti
Paquette
Patry
Pearson
Perron
Picard
Plamondon
Proulx
Rae
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Savage
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Silva
Simard
Simms
St-Cyr
St. Amand
St. Denis
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thi Lac
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Vincent
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 124

PAIRED

Members

Ablonczy
Batters
Bernier
Guay
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Lalonde
Ouellet
St-Hilaire

Total: -- 8

    I declare Motion No. 1 carried.
    The next question is on Motion No. 2.
    The hon. Chief Government Whip on a point of order.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent of the members present to apply the results on vote just taken to the motion now before the House, with Conservative members present voting yes.
    Is there agreement to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting no.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of this motion.
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP is voting yes on this motion.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against the motion.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of this motion.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I vote in favour of the motion.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to vote when you give me the opportunity. I am voting for this motion.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 145)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Angus
Arthur
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Baird
Barbot
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bellavance
Benoit
Bevington
Bezan
Bigras
Black
Blackburn
Blais
Blaney
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casey
Casson
Charlton
Chong
Christopherson
Clarke
Clement
Comuzzi
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cummins
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Dewar
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Gagnon
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Godin
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Gravel
Grewal
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Layton
Lebel
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Lukiwski
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malo
Manning
Mark
Marston
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nadeau
Nash
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Paquette
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Priddy
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Savoie
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Siksay
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
Stanton
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thi Lac
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
Yelich

Total: -- 190

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Byrne
Cuzner
D'Amours
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Dryden
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fry
Godfrey
Goodale
Guarnieri
Hall Findlay
Holland
Hubbard
Ignatieff
Jennings
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Minna
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Murray
Neville
Pacetti
Patry
Pearson
Proulx
Rae
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Russell
Savage
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Amand
St. Denis
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 79

PAIRED

Members

Ablonczy
Batters
Bernier
Guay
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Lalonde
Ouellet
St-Hilaire

Total: -- 8

    I declare Motion No. 2 carried.
    The next question is on Motion No. 3.
    The hon. Chief Government Whip.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote taken on Motion No. 1 to the motion now before the House.
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?
    Mr. Speaker, I believe the member from Thunder Bay has left the chamber.
    With that one change, is it agreed that we apply the vote on Motion No. 1 to Motion No. 3?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

  (1520)  

    (The House divided on Motion No. 3, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 146)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Angus
Arthur
Atamanenko
Baird
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Benoit
Bevington
Bezan
Black
Blackburn
Blaney
Boucher
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Carrie
Casey
Casson
Charlton
Chong
Christopherson
Clarke
Clement
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cummins
Davidson
Davies
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Godin
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Layton
Lebel
Lemieux
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mark
Marston
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mulcair
Nash
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Paradis
Petit
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Priddy
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Savoie
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Siksay
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
Stanton
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
Yelich

Total: -- 144

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
André
Asselin
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Bellavance
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Bigras
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Crête
Cuzner
D'Amours
DeBellefeuille
Demers
Deschamps
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Dryden
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Freeman
Fry
Gagnon
Gaudet
Godfrey
Goodale
Gravel
Guarnieri
Guimond
Hall Findlay
Holland
Hubbard
Ignatieff
Jennings
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Laforest
Laframboise
Lavallée
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Lussier
MacAulay
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Minna
Mourani
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Murray
Nadeau
Neville
Pacetti
Paquette
Patry
Pearson
Perron
Picard
Plamondon
Proulx
Rae
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Savage
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Silva
Simard
Simms
St-Cyr
St. Amand
St. Denis
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thi Lac
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Vincent
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 124

PAIRED

Members

Ablonczy
Batters
Bernier
Guay
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Lalonde
Ouellet
St-Hilaire

Total: -- 8

    I declare Motion No. 3 carried.
     moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.
    Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of vote just taken to the motion now before the House, with Conservative members present voting in favour.
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting against the motion.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of this motion.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP is voting yes on the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against the motion.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of this motion.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the motion.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of this motion.
    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 147)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Angus
Arthur
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Baird
Barbot
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bellavance
Benoit
Bevington
Bezan
Bigras
Black
Blackburn
Blais
Blaney
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casey
Casson
Charlton
Chong
Christopherson
Clarke
Clement
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cummins
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Dewar
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Gagnon
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Godin
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Gravel
Grewal
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Layton
Lebel
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Lukiwski
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malo
Manning
Mark
Marston
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nadeau
Nash
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Paquette
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Priddy
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Savoie
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Siksay
Skelton
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
Stanton
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thi Lac
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
Yelich

Total: -- 189

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Byrne
Cuzner
D'Amours
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Dryden
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fry
Godfrey
Goodale
Guarnieri
Hall Findlay
Holland
Hubbard
Ignatieff
Jennings
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Matthews
McCallum
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Minna
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Murray
Neville
Pacetti
Patry
Pearson
Proulx
Rae
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Russell
Savage
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Amand
St. Denis
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 79

PAIRED

Members

Ablonczy
Batters
Bernier
Guay
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Lalonde
Ouellet
St-Hilaire

Total: -- 8

    I declare the motion carried.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine proceedings]

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion for concurrence in the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

  (1525)  

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

(Division No. 148)

YEAS

Members

Alghabra
André
Angus
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bellavance
Bennett
Bevilacqua
Bevington
Bigras
Black
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Casey
Charlton
Christopherson
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Demers
Deschamps
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dion
Dosanjh
Dryden
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Freeman
Fry
Gagnon
Gaudet
Godfrey
Godin