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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 058

CONTENTS

Thursday, March 6, 2014




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 058 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Plans and Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, on behalf of 92 departments and agencies, the reports on plans and priorities for 2014-15.

[English]

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.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in a parliamentary mission to Athens, Greece, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and Zagreb, Croatia, the newest country to join the European Union, which was held in Athens, Greece, and Zagreb, Croatia, from November 14 to November 20, 2013.
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the following meeting: the annual national conference of the Council of State Governments. That meeting was held in Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America, from September 19 to 22, 2013.

Committees of the House

Industry, Science and Technology 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in relation to supplementary estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014.

Petitions

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present seven different groupings of petitions. They are all dealing with the same subject matter.
    The petitioners are asking that in the interest of public safety, they want to see tougher laws and implementation of new mandatory minimum sentencing for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death.

Endangered Species  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present three petitions today, containing several hundred signatures, calling for the government to take urgent action under the Species At Risk Act to protect the 81 remaining southern resident killer whales.

Proportional Representation  

    Mr. Speaker, I present a petition from Fair Vote Canada, which calls for creating a fairer electoral representation system by implementing proportional representation.

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table a petition today, signed by many of my constituents in Winnipeg North, dealing with the issue of government's attitude, particularly the Prime Minister's, toward increasing the retirement age from 65 to 67.
    The petitioners believe that people should continue to have the option to retire at age 65, and that the government not in any way diminish the importance and value of Canada's three major seniors programs: OAS, GIS, and CPP.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 172, 176, 178, 180, 182, 184, 191, 194, 206, 217, 221, 226, 241, 242, and 253.

[Text]

Question No. 172--
Mr. John Rafferty:
     With regard to the Department of Veterans Affairs, what criteria were used to determine which regional Veterans Affairs offices would be closed by February 2014, as announced in the 2012-2013 budget?
Hon. Julian Fantino (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, the closure of some regional offices reflects the changing demographics of Veterans across Canada. The well-being of Veterans and their families is Veterans Affairs Canada’s top priority. The department is committed to providing them with the exemplary benefits and programs that they deserve, no matter where they live, as part of Veterans Affairs Canada’s ongoing work to improve service and adjust to the changing needs and demographics of Veterans. Case managers will continue to make home visits to Veterans who need them.
    Veterans Affairs Canada has increased the number of case managers in areas of high demand and has opened and maintained 17 operational stress injury clinics and 24 integrated personnel support centres near Canadian Armed Forces bases and major cities across Canada.
    Veterans Affairs Canada has also partnered with Service Canada to provide even more options to access the Department’s programs and services, especially for those living in rural or remote areas. Canadian Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families can now obtain general information and apply for certain benefits at any one of the approximately 600 Service Canada centres nationwide, where they also have one-stop access to a wide range of other federal programs and services.
    This will mean greater convenience and less travel for Veterans, because they are no longer limited to one location for in-person service. And, to provide even more support in regions where underused area offices will be winding down, a Veterans Affairs Canada client service agent will be posted in Service Canada Centre locations--specifically Kelowna, B.C.; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Brandon, Manitoba; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Windsor, Ontario; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Corner Brook, Newfoundland--to help Veterans with their benefits applications and answer any questions they may have.
    Veterans across Canada can continue to expect the same high level of service and, as always, individuals can receive assistance directly from the department by calling its toll-free number, 1-866-522-2122, or by visiting its website, www.veterans.gc.ca.
Question No. 176--
Mr. Scott Andrews:
     With regard to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), what applications have been received from the riding of Avalon for fiscal years 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, including (i) the specific projects that were approved or rejected in each fiscal year, (ii) the name and physical address of proponent(s), (iii) the project title, (iv) the proposed scope of work, (v) the total cost of the projects, (vi) the amount of funding approved by ACOA, (vii) the funding program(s) within ACOA that the funding approved?
Hon. Rob Moore (Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, ACOA, is concerned, with regard to applications received from the riding of Avalon for fiscal years 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, ACOA does not track projects by federal ridings. Information on projects approved by ACOA in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found on the agency’s website.
Question No. 178--
Mr. Scott Andrews:
     With regard to the Prime Minster’s Office, as of February 1, 2013: (a) how many individuals make an annual salary of $150,000 a year or more; (b) how many individuals make an annual salary of $200,000 or more; (c) how many individuals make an annual salary of $250,000 a year or more; (d) how many individuals make an annual salary of $300,000 or more; (e) of those who make an annual salary of $200,000 or more, how many received a performance award, otherwise known as a bonus; and (f) of those who received a performance award, what was the amount of each?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, in processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act, and the information requested has been withheld on the grounds that the information constitutes personal information.
Question No. 180--
Hon. Gerry Byrne:
     With regard to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), for each year from 2003 to 2013, what was the CPI for each household income quintile given the goods and services typically purchased by each quintile according to the average household spending patterns?
Hon. Rob Moore (Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the consumer price index, CPI, is an indicator of changes in consumer prices experienced by Canadian residents. It is obtained by comparing, over time, the costs of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Data by quintile are not and have never been compiled for the CPI on an ongoing basis, as the CPI is meant to represent a measure of overall consumer inflation.
Question No. 182--
Mr. Ted Hsu:
    With regard to Canada Student Loan forgiveness for eligible family doctors, residents in family medicine, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, registered practical nurses, licensed practical nurses, or nurse practitioners who work in rural or remote communities: (a) how many medical professionals have applied for loan forgiveness since April 1, 2013, broken down by (i) eligible medical profession, (ii) the designated community in which the applicant is working; (b) how many medical professionals who have applied for loan forgiveness have been accepted for loan forgiveness since April 1, 2013, broken down by (i) eligible medical profession, (ii) the designated community in which the applicant is working; (c) what is the anticipated total value of loan forgiveness payments that will be paid to qualified medical professionals under this program by April 2014, broken down by (i) loan forgiveness period, (ii) eligible medical profession, (iii) the designated community in which the applicant is working?
Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, budget 2011 announced that the government would forgive a portion of the federal share of Canada student loans for new family doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses who practice in underserved rural and remote communities. Since 2012-13, those eligible family doctors have received loan forgiveness of up to $8,000 per year, to a maximum of $40,000. Nurse practitioners and nurses who are eligible have been able to receive up to $4,000 per year, to a maximum of $20,000.
    The Minister of State for Social Development announced in January 2014 that in the first 10 months, almost 1,200 family doctors and nurses had received loan forgiveness.
    With regard to (a)(i), the numbers of eligible medical professional who have applied for loan forgiveness since April 1, 2013 include the following: 53 family doctors, 99 residents in family medicine, 1,039 registered nurses, 40 registered psychiatric nurses, 132 registered practical nurses, 275 licensed practical nurses, and 14 nurse practitioners.
    With regard to (a)(ii), due to privacy concerns, ESDC cannot provide the information requested.
    With regard to (b)(i), the following numbers do not include applications that have yet not been finalized: 37 family doctors , 58 residents in family medicine, 845 registered nurses, 34 registered psychiatric nurses, 97 registered practical nurses, 206 licensed practical nurses, and 10 nurse practitioners.
    With regard to (b)(ii), due to privacy concerns, ESDC cannot provide the information requested.
    With regard to (c)(i), the loan forgiveness approvals for the periods ending between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, total $8,480,000.
    With regard to (c)(ii), the loan forgiveness approvals by eligible medical profession include the following: family doctors, $400,000; residents in family medicine, $800,000; registered nurses, $5,200,000; registered psychiatric nurses, $200,000; registered practical nurses, $600,000; licensed practical nurses, $1,200,000; nurse practitioners, $80,000.
    With regard to (c)(iii), due to privacy concerns, ESDC cannot provide the information requested.
Question No. 184--
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay:
     With regard to the position of Ambassador of Fisheries Conservation: (a) does the government plan to fill this position; (b) if so, when; and (c) if not, why not?
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, there are no plans to fill the position of Ambassador of Fisheries Conservation at this time given that most of the current work being done internationally with respect to fisheries is on the implementation of existing commitments rather than the negotiation and creation of new ones. Canada’s current level of representation is adequate to address the requirements of such implementation work.
Question No. 191--
Ms. Joyce Murray:
     With regard to the equipment provided to regular and reserve members of the Canadian Armed Forces, what is the total number of newly enlisted members who have not yet been issued boots since January 1, 2013, broken down by (i) regular or reserve status, (ii) branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, (iii) rank of member, (iv) unit, (v) month of enlistment?
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of National Defence, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, allotments of clothing and equipment, including boots, are tracked in individual files in the defence resource management information system. To determine whether an individual has received the appropriate pair, or pairs, of boots, it would be necessary to task each unit to review each individual file for all types of boots. Furthermore, the individual files in the defence resource management information system do not contain information on the enrolment date. Reviewing all of these files was not possible within the time allotted to respond to this question.
Question No. 194--
Hon. Geoff Regan:
     With regard to the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, Quebec: (a) how much is this replacement bridge estimated to cost; and (b) what is the estimated toll charge for this replacement bridge?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), final project costs will be determined by the end of the competitive procurement process for the public private partnership, PPP, after the project agreement has been signed. Very preliminary estimates suggest the cost of the project could be between $3 billion to $5 billion. This would include design and construction costs for the whole project, which, in addition to the replacement of the Champlain Bridge, includes the alignment with A-10; highway works on île des Sœurs; the replacement of the île des Sœurs bridge; as well as the widening and reconstruction of the federal portion of A-15.
    With regard to part (b), it is too early to say what the toll rate will be. Additional studies will be completed and discussions will be held prior to the establishment of the toll rate. Several toll scenarios are being examined that are consistent with tolls in effect in the Montreal region and will be made public at a later date.
Question No. 206--
Mr. Scott Simms:
    With regard to software used by the government on all digital platforms: (a) what software is permitted for use, broken down by (i) servers, (ii) workstations and desktops, (iii) laptops and portable computers, (iv) personal digital assistants, cell phones and other personal electronics, (v) rationale; (b) for each subsection of (a), what software is banned from use; (c) for each subsection of (a) and (b), where is this software developed; and (d) for each subsection of (a) and (b), if the software is not released as an “open source” (as defined by the Open Source Initiative) or “free software” (as defined by the Free Software Foundation), are viable open source or free software alternatives available, (i) have they been explored, (ii) what was the rationale for their rejection?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, in order to produce such information to the level of detail requested, organizations would need to manually verify each and every hardware item maintained by the organization. The collection and compilation of such data would take several months. Therefore, it is not possible to produce the information requested within the prescribed timeline.
Question No. 217--
Ms. Irene Mathyssen:
     With regards to the indoor fish farming facility in Thames Centre, Middlesex County: (a) how much funding was issued; (b) was the funding a result of the promise of job creation; and (c) what verifications were made to ensure funding was spent appropriately?
Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the total funding issued to the project by Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the aquaculture innovation and market access program, or AIMAP, was $415,000. Other contributions included a $1,000,000 repayable loan from Agriculture Canada's Sand Plains Community Development Fund, administered by the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations, along with $1,082,882 in cash and $2,800,000 of in-kind funding from 1767065 Ontario Inc., Sand Plains.
    With regard to (b), the funding allocation provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada was not directly intended for job creation, but rather for the purchase of equipment to catalyze aquaculture industry investment from other sectors. At a broader level, AIMAP’s objectives were to spur investment in innovation and to increase industry competitiveness, resulting in industry expansion and increased job creation within the aquaculture sector. The project was reviewed first by a regional review committee and later by a national review committee against program criteria, scope of impact, plan and performance management, and budgetary considerations.
    With regard to (c), Fisheries and Oceans Canada ensured the appropriate allocation of funding through site visits by Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff, collection of appropriate invoices to support expense claims, and validation through a third party audit of the project’s financial records by a chartered accountant.
Question No. 221--
Hon. Mark Eyking:
     With regard to employment with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, how many involuntary job reductions have been implemented in the department each year from 2006 to 2013, broken down by (i) year, (ii) program activity, (iii) sub-program activity, (iv) specific job description, (v) the reason for the involuntary reduction?
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (i), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, including the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, had 895 involuntary job reductions in the years 2006 to 2013.
    With regard to (ii), there have been 895 involuntary job reductions in 11 program activities.
    With regard to (iii), there have been 895 involuntary job reductions in 29 sub-program activities.
    With regard to (iv), the 895 involuntary job reductions affected 413 job titles.
    With regard to (v), there were five reasons for the 895 involuntary job reductions.
Question No. 226--
Mr. Brian Masse:
     With regard to the government's announcement on May 28, 2012, that it will allocate $17.5 billion over five years to combat the invasion of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes Watershed through prevention, early warning, rapid response and management and control, what is: (a) the progress on these initiatives; and (b) the total amount of monies distributed in each focus area to date?
Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, members will please note that the government’s announcement was for $17.5 million over five years.
    Progress to date under each of the program’s initiatives includes the following.
    In terms of prevention, collaborative work is under way with partner groups, such as the Invasive Species Centre, to conduct public outreach and education on the threat posed by Asian carp and how the public can help. We have also begun, with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a binational risk assessment for one of the Asian carp species, grass carp. This risk assessment will form valuable science advice for both Canada and the United States in terms of prevention, mitigation, and management of this species. Research into movement of fishes in canals towards potential development of early warning systems is well under way, as well as research into potential control or response mechanisms such as physical barriers, pressure barriers, and sound and bubble barriers.
    In terms of early warning, 22 early detection sites have been set up in the highest-priority lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Huron, for early warning in 2013. These sites were extensively monitored for Asian carp detection, as well as determining best means for detecting Asian carp species early. These sites are now established and will be visited each year for long-term monitoring as well as to establish a pre-invasion baseline of the fish community. Plans are under way for the development of similar early detection sites in Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. Genetic tools for use in early warning are also being researched and will be used in key areas.
    In terms of response, protocols and plans have been developed in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the United States for responding to Asian carp. There were also two captures of grass carp this past summer in Canadian waters. These individuals were later found to be sterile, but response activities were immediately initiated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in partnership with the Province of Ontario.
    In terms of management, continued collaboration with the Province of Ontario occurs to manage the live trade pathway for Asian carp. Drafting of a national aquatic invasive species regulation that would allow for prohibition of import, possession, and transport of listed aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp, is under way, with a goal of having the draft prepublished in the Canada Gazette for public comments in 2014.
    Funds spent to date on the program initiatives include the following: prevention, $3,365,700; early warning, $2,072,950; response, $72,000; and management and control, $120,000.
Question No. 241--
Mr. David McGuinty:
     With regard to Shared Services Canada’s recent registration of telephone services, completed on January 20, 2014: (a) how many (i) traditional telephones including Voice over Internet Protocol, (ii) cellular telephones, (iii) BlackBerry devices, (iv) pagers, (v) other smartphones, were registered by Shared Service Canada employees and each of its partner organizations; and (b) how many suspensions of telephone service did this registration exercise lead to?
Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the current state of the telecommunications inventory as of January 28, 2014, is as follows: 194,418 traditional telephones, including voice over Internet protocol; 16,883 cellular telephones; 49,269 BlackBerry devices; 859 pagers; and 2,423 other smart phones.
    The registration of telephone services and devices has been extended until February 28, 2014; as such, detailed analysis of service data will commence when the data collection phase of this activity has been completed.
    With regard to (b), there have not been any suspensions of telephone lines as a result of this exercise to date. Any discontinuation of services will only occur following detailed analysis of the data collected and confirmation of the status of individual services with the SSC partner organizations.
Question No. 242--
Mr. David McGuinty:
     With regard to briefing documents prepared since July 17, 2013 for the Minister of Transport or her staff regarding Canada Post, for each document, what is: (i) the date, (ii) the title or subject matter, (iii) the Department’s internal tracking number?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, Transport Canada does not collect the requested information in both official languages, but rather by the language of the author. Given the large number of documents, it is not feasible for Transport Canada to translate the requested documents in the time period required.
Question No. 253--
Ms. Elizabeth May:
     With regard to the publication of draft updates to the sections of the Health of Animals Regulations concerning the transportation of farm animals within Canada: (a) will the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food take immediate steps to publish draft proposed regulatory changes in the Canada Gazette; (b) will the Minister increase funding to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to fund increased numbers of inspectors to enforce existing and future regulations; and (c) will the Minister invite the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food to examine the current crisis affecting animals in transport and to report back on the situation as it stands?
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the CFIA has legislative authority for humane transportation of animals anywhere in Canada and for humane slaughter in federally registered establishments. The agency has the authority to investigate animal welfare concerns and alleged non-compliances within its jurisdiction and can respond to findings with a full suite of enforcement tools, including prosecution.
    The CFIA remains committed to the humane treatment of animals and is pursuing the modernization of the humane transport regulations through review and stakeholder consultations to ensure that they are up to date and effective and that they reflect the latest science.
    The CFIA is also updating the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures to reflect best practices and current scientific knowledge regarding humane treatment in the slaughter of food animals in federal establishments.
     The updating of these regulatory authorities will allow the CFIA to better deal with the minority of individuals who mistreat animals.
    With regard to (b), since 2008 the Government of Canada has made investments of $517 million to fund inspector hiring, an improved inspection approach, better training, and more modern tools for front-line inspectors and increased scientific capacity.
    The CFIA continues to direct resources to priority areas based on risk, compliance, and demand in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
    With regard to (c), the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food cannot direct what studies the committee should undertake. However, the committee is free to initiate any studies relevant to its mandate and report its findings on a particular topic back to the House of Commons.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 171, 175, 177, 183, 185, 188, 189, 190, and 223 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 171--
Mr. John Rafferty:
    With regard to the Department of Veterans Affairs, what was the amount and percentage of all “lapsed spending” in the department, broken down by year from 2005 to 2013?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 175--
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay:
     With regard to the Canada Europe Free Trade Agreement (CETA): (a) what are the details of all tariffs which will be removed on Canadian seafood products, (i) on what date(s) will they be removed, (ii) what are the projected savings for the Canadian seafood industry; (b) what are the details of all tariffs which will be removed on European seafood products, (i) on which date(s) will they be removed, (ii) what are the projected savings for the European seafood industry; (c) what is the total number and value of Canadian seafood exports to the European Union (EU) in each year since 2006, broken down by province; (d) what is the total number and value of European seafood exports to Canada in each year since 2006; (e) what effects will the elimination of Newfoundland and Labrador’s (NL) Minimum Processing Requirement (MPR) on seafood products exported to the EU have on that province’s processing industry; (f) what are the details of NL's processed seafood exports to the EU by value and weight for each year since 2006; (g) has the government done any study or analysis on what the implications of the removal of the MPR will be or consulted any outside organizations or companies as to what the implications will be, and if so, what are the details of the implications; (h) how many NL processing plant employees does the government expect to be displaced due to the removal of the MPR; (i) what are the details of the $280 million the government is providing in return for removing the MPR in NL, including (i) the programs and departments from which the money will be allocated, (ii) the details on what the money will be used for, (iii) when the money will be spent, (iv) the reasons for providing this money; (j) was the EU ban on Canadian seal products ever a part of high level discussions between the government and the EU regarding CETA and if not why not; (k) what are the details of any and all effects CETA will have on foreign ownership of Canadian fishing licenses; and (l) will CETA have any effect on small craft harbour funding, the fleet separation or owner-operator policies, controlling agreements, or any other funding, policies or programs related to fish harvesters, the fishing industry, or coastal communities in Canada?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 177--
Mr. Scott Andrews:
     With regard to the Department of National Defence and its commitment to the Air Cadet Flying Program: (a) what changes will take place for 2014 and what are the projected budget savings; (b) will the role of the Air Cadet League of Canada change in 2013 or 2014; (c) will the Air Transport Association of Canada play a role in the program in 2013 or 2014; (d) how many individuals participated in the Air Cadet Flying Program in each year from 2010-2013; and (e) how many individuals are projected to participate in the program for 2014 and 2015?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 183--
Mr. Ted Hsu:
     With regard to extradition: (a) broken down by country and by year for the past 20 years, (i) how many people have been extradited to Canada, (ii) how many requests has Canada received for extradition, (iii) how many people have been extradited from Canada, (iv) how many requests has Canada made for an individual to be extradited, (v) by year of request, how many extradition requests are still pending in Canada, (vi) by year of request, how many Canadian extradition requests are still pending abroad, (vii) what is the last step undertaken in the extradition process of cases that are still pending in Canada, (viii) what is the last step undertaken in the extradition process of Canadian cases that are still pending abroad, (ix) by country of request, what is the average delay in months from the date that extradition is sought to Canada extraditing the individual, (x) what is the average time in months from the date that extradition is sought to the individual returning to Canada, (xi) how much money has Canada spent on each extradition case litigated abroad, (xii) how much money has Canada spent on each extradition case litigated in Canada, (xiii) for each extradition request in Canada, how many judicial decisions resulted, and at which court levels; (b) what is the mean, median, and mode for number of judicial proceedings in Canada for the average extradition for the last 20 years; (c) for extradition treaties in particular, (i) with which countries does Canada have extradition treaties in place, (ii) with which countries is Canada currently negotiating extradition treaties, (iii) what is the last step undertaken in the process of treaty-making for current extradition treaty negotiations, (iv) how frequently are extradition treaties reviewed, (v) by what metrics are extradition treaties reviewed, (vi) what consultations have taken place regarding extradition treaties in the past seven years, (vi) what consultations are scheduled regarding extradition treaties, (vii) with what individuals and groups have Ministers of the Crown met regarding extradition treaties, (viii) with what individuals and groups have government departments met regarding extradition treaties, (ix) how is Parliament informed of any changes to extradition treaties, (x) by what metrics are the effectiveness of Canada’s extradition treaties evaluated, (xi) do different extradition treaties have different measures of effectiveness, and if so, how do they differ, (xii) what benefits does Canada observe from having extradition treaties, (xiii) how are the benefits in (xii) quantified, (xiv) what steps are in place to ensure consistency in application of treaties, (xv) what steps are in place to ensure consistency in enforcement of treaties, (xvi) what steps are in place to ensure consistency in effectiveness of treaties; (d) for the extradition process in particular, (i) how often is it reviewed in Canada, (ii) when was the last review completed, (iii) when is the next review scheduled, (iv) by what metrics is the effectiveness of the extradition system evaluated, (v) who determines the metrics in (iv), (vi) what steps are in place to reduce delays in the processing of an extradition case, (vii) what are the standards established for the processing of an extradition case and who establishes them, (viii) by what metrics are the standards in (vii) reviewed, (ix) when was the last review in (viii) completed, (x) when is the next review of the standards in (vii) scheduled, (xi) what is the role of Citizenship and Immigration Canada in the extradition process; (e) what metrics does Canada track with respect to extraditions and who is responsible for tracking them; (f) in what way are the provinces involved in the extradition process; (g) are the provinces being consulted with regard to any forthcoming changes, if so, in what ways; (h) regarding the Minister of Justice’s August 2013 comments that there is a “need to reform and modernize how we extradite people”: (i) what policies are in place to modernize the extradition process, (ii) what policies are in development to modernize the extradition process,(iii) how does the government define “modernization”, (iv) by what metrics is the modernization of the extradition process tracked, (v) what steps are in place to further modernize the extradition process, (vi) what consultations have taken place regarding the modernization of the extradition process in the past year, (vii) what consultations are scheduled regarding the modernization of the extradition process, (viii) with what individuals and groups have Ministers of the Crown met with regarding the modernization of the extradition process, (ix) with what individuals and groups have government departments met with regarding the modernization process,(x)what other policies are in place to ensure that Canada has an effective and modern extradition policy; (i) what other policies are in place to ensure that Canada has an effective and modern extradition system; (j) what is involved in determining the countries to which Canada can extradite a requested individual; (k) under what circumstances does Canada reject an extradition request; (l) how is the determination in (k) made; (m) how many extradition requests has Canada refused to honour in the past 10 years, broken down by country of request and reason; (n) in what cases will Canada not seek extradition of a Canadian abroad; (o) how is the determination in (n) made; (p) what procedures exist to ensure consistency in Canada’s requests or decisions not to request extradition of an individual; (q) has any study been conducted as to the impact on the extradition process (i) of an election being called in Canada and, if so, with what conclusions, (ii) of a change in government in Canada and, if so, with what conclusions; (r) what trends have been observed in the past ten years regarding the frequency of extradition requests and their processing; (s) what academic studies has Canada sought in relation to extradition within the past ten years; (t) what additional reviews or analysis of the extradition process have been completed internally by the government in the past 10 years; (u) what measures has the government undertaken to inform Canadians about the extradition process and any changes thereto; (v) how have Canada’s extradition policies been relayed to international partners and what meetings have most recently occurred with Canadian officials surrounding extradition; (w) what recourse is available to individuals whom the government chooses not to extradite; (x) what recourses exist for Canada when another government refuses an extradition request; (y) how many extradition requests made by Canada in the past ten years, broken down by country, have been refused; (z) on what basis was the request in (y) refused; (aa) what was the outcome for the individuals in the cases indicated in (y); (bb) in what instances has Canada sent a diplomatic note with respect to an extradition request; (cc) what is the role of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the extradition process; (dd) how does the government ensure compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (ee) what other international law instruments--other than extradition treaties--are involved in the extradition process; (ff) how does the government ensure compliance with the other international law instruments described in (ee); (gg) what is the history of Canada’s extradition policy and what particular principles have been established to guide policy development and implementation in this regard?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 185--
Hon. Judy Sgro:
     With regard to government communications since October 23, 2013: (a) for each press release containing the phrase “Harper government” issued by any government department, agency, office, Crown corporation, or other government body, what is the (i) headline or subject line, (ii) date, (iii) file or code-number, (iv) subject-matter; (b) for each such press release, was it distributed (i) on the web site of the issuing department, agency, office, Crown corporation, or other government body, (ii) on Marketwire, (iii) on Canada Newswire, (iv) on any other commercial wire or distribution service, specifying which service; and (c) for each press release distributed by a commercial wire or distribution service mentioned in (b)(ii) through (b)(iv), what was the cost of using the service?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 188--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
     With regard to applications to the Minister of Justice for ministerial review of criminal convictions: (a) for each year since 2002, (i) how many applications for review of a criminal conviction were received by the Minister of Justice, (ii) of the applications received, how many preliminary assessments were completed, (iii) of applications that completed preliminary assessment, how many proceeded to the investigation stage, (iv) of completed investigations, how many applications were dismissed, (v) how many applications, and which specific ones, were granted, (vi) of applications granted, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister direct a new trial, (vii) of applications granted, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister refer a case to the court of appeal; (b) for each year since 2002, (i) how much funding was made available to the Criminal Conviction Review Group (CCRG) for use in the conviction review process, (ii) how much money was spent by the CCRG, (iii) how much money has been requested by the CCRG; (c) for each year since 2002, (i) how much funding was made available to the Department of Justice for use in the post-conviction review process, (ii) how much money was spent by the Department of Justice in this regard, (iii) how much money was requested by the Minister of Justice for use in this regard; (d) in the current employ of the CCRG, (i) how many individuals are lawyers; (ii) how many individuals are non-lawyers, broken down by job title, (iii) what is the employment term for the individuals in (i) and (ii); (e) for each year since 2002, (i) how many lawyers were employed by the CCRG, (ii) who was responsible for determining the staffing requirements of the CCRG, (iv) how frequently were staffing levels reviewed to ensure that they are adequate to handle the number of applications received, (v) how many CCRG staff were involved in the review of each application received by the Minister, (vi) how many applications were reviewed by each individual lawyer employed by the CCRG, (vii) broken down by case, which lawyers were assigned to which applications, (viii) of those applications reviewed by each individual lawyer employed by the CCRG, how many, and which ones, resulted in a completed preliminary review, (ix) how many resulted in a completed investigation; (f) for each year since 2002, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the CCRG recommend further investigation; (g) for each year since 2002, in how many investigations, and in which specific cases, did the CCRG, (i) interview or examine witnesses, (ii) carry out scientific testing, (iii) obtain assessments from forensic and social science specialists, (iv) consult police agencies in connection with the specific investigation, (v) consult prosecutors in connection with the specific investigation, (vi) consult defence lawyers in connection with the specific investigation, (vii) obtain any other relevant information or documentation; (h) for each year since 2002, (i) in how many cases, and in which ones, did the CCRG produce an investigation report, (ii) in how many cases, and in which ones, did the applicant provide comments on an investigation report, (iii) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the CCRG conduct further investigation based on an applicant’s comments to an investigation report, (iv) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Special Advisor produce advice or make a recommendation to the Minister that differed from the advice or recommendation contained in the CCRG’s investigation report, (v) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister make a determination that differed from the investigation report, (vi) in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister make a determination that differed from the Special Advisor; (i) Regarding the “new matters of significance” test, (i) is it currently necessary that an application for review of a criminal conviction be supported by “new matters of significance” in order for it to proceed to the preliminary assessment stage, (ii) in order for it to proceed to investigation, (iii) in order for the Minister to allow the application; (j) regarding the “new matters of significance” test, (i) has the test been applied the same way in each year since 2002, (ii) if not, how has its application changed, (iii) are there any cases, and if so which ones, where an application proceeded to any stage of the review process without having adduced “new matters of significance”, (iv) what is the meaning of the term “new matters of significance” in the context of the ministerial review process, (v) for an application to proceed, must it be supported by “fresh evidence” not available at the time of trial, (vi) can an application for review proceed based on evidence that existed, but was not reasonably discoverable at the time of trial, (vii) can an application for review proceed based on evidence that reasonably could have been, but was not, discovered by the applicant at the time of trial; (k) for each year since 2002, in how many cases, and in which specific ones, did the Minister waive privilege regarding an investigation report; (l) broken down by year since 2002 and by case, in which cases did the Minister, (i) determine there to be a conflict of interest, (ii) in those cases where the Minister determined there to be a conflict of interest, in which specific instances did the Minister authorize an agent outside of the department of Justice or the CCRG to carry out the investigation; (m) broken down by year since 2002 and by case, in which cases, and to whom, did the Minister (i) delegate his powers to take evidence, (ii) delegate his powers to issue subpoenas, (iii) delegate his powers to enforce the attendance of witnesses, (iv) delegate his powers to compel a witness to give evidence, (v) delegate his powers to otherwise conduct an investigation and, if so, what specific powers were delegated; (n) regarding the requirement under section 696.5 of the Criminal Code that the Minister of Justice submit an annual report to Parliament regarding applications for ministerial review, (i) what are the requirements pertaining to the compilation and submission of the annual report, (ii) where are these requirements contained, (iii) have these requirements changed since 2002 and, if so, when and in what specific ways were they changed, (iv) what requirements for publication exist, if any, (v) what is the process for dissemination of the report; (o) regarding the requirement under section 7(f) of the Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review that the Minister include in his annual report “any other information that [he] considers appropriate”, (i) what guidelines exist for determining what information is appropriate for inclusion in the report under this element of the Regulations, (ii) what aspects of each ministerial report submitted pursuant to section 696.5 of the Criminal Code since 2002 was included as a result of the Minister’s determination that it is appropriate for inclusion under section 7(f) of the Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review; (p) broken down by year since 2000, how many Canadian Commissions of Inquiry into wrongful convictions have recommended the further study or implementation of an independent commission to assume the powers of the Minister of Justice to investigate and refer cases of suspected miscarriages of justice for judicial re-considerationl; (q) broken down by specific Commission of Inquiry, (i) which specific foreign review mechanisms have been examined as potential models to reform the current Canadian post-conviction review regime, (ii) what actions have been taken to implement the findings or suggestions of the commission of inquiry, (iii) has the government consulted with any stakeholders regarding the possibility of implementing an independent commission of inquiry to assume the powers of the Minister of Justice in this regard, (iv) what specific stakeholders were consulted in this regard and when, (v) with which provinces has the government consulted in this regard, (vi) with which provincial bar associations has the government consulted in this regard, (vii) with which provincial Attorneys General did the government consult in this regard, (viii) has the government engaged in any analysis of the comparative costs associated with the current ministerial review process compared to a possible independent review commission; (r) what specific steps is the government undertaking to minimize the incidence of wrongful conviction; (s) what efforts have been made to implement the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group reports in respect of wrongful conviction; (t) what efforts are made to inform Canadians of their options with respect to addressing what they believe to be a wrongful conviction or other miscarriage of justice; (u) with respect to the government’s website entitled “Conviction Review" (http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/ccr-rc/rev.html), last updated on April 30, 2013, what changes were made on this date and what are the three previous versions of this page; (v) by what means is the wrongful conviction process as a whole reviewed by the government and what metrics are tracked with respect to it; and (w) regarding the 2004 Annual Report, in which the then-Minister of Justice stated that “although it is not required, applicants are encouraged to seek the assistance of counsel,” (i) when was the language "encouraged to seek the assistance of counsel" removed from the Annual Report, (ii) whose decision was it to remove this language and on what basis, (iii) when was this change implemented, (iv) did this change further a specific policy objective, (v) what policy objective did this change further, (vi) is there any difference in the success rates of pro bono applications compared to applications submitted with legal assistance and what is the difference, (vii) has the Department of Justice called for greater access to legal assistance for those submitting applications for ministerial review of their criminal convictions?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 189--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
     With regard to Canadians detained abroad: (a) broken down by year for each of the last 15 years, and broken down by country of arrest, charge, or detention, (i) how many Canadians have been arrested outside of Canada, (ii) how many Canadians have been detained outside of Canada, (iii) how many Canadians detained outside of Canada have been charged with an offence, (iv) how many Canadians have been detained without charge outside of Canada; (b) broken down by country of arrest, charge or detention, (i) how many Canadians are currently detained outside of Canada, (ii) how many Canadians currently face charges outside of Canada, (iii) how many Canadians are currently detained without charge outside of Canada; (c) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) which representatives of the government met with the individual charged or detained, (ii) on what dates did these meetings occur, (iii) what other communication, if any, occurred between the government and the individual, (iv) through what medium did this communication occur, (vii) what was the purpose of each of these meetings and communications, (viii) what was the outcome of each of these meetings and communications; (d) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) which representatives of the government contacted family members of the individual charged or detained, (ii) on what dates were these family members contacted by the government, (iii) which representatives of the government were contacted by family members of the individual charged or detained, (iv) on what dates did the family members contact the government, (v) through what medium did each contact between the government and the family members of the individual charged or detained occur, (vi) what was the purpose of each communication between the government and the family members of the individual charged or detained, (vii) what was the outcome of each communication between the government and the family members of the individual charged or detained; (e) regarding each instance in (a) and (b), (i) what non-governmental organizations were contacted by the government, (ii) on what dates were these organizations contacted by the government, (iii) which representatives of the government contacted these organizations, (iv) what non-governmental organizations contacted the government, (v) on what dates did these organizations contact the government, (vi) which representatives of the government were contacted by these organizations, (vii) through what medium did each contact between the government and a non-governmental organization occur, (viii) what was the purpose of each communication between the government and the non-governmental organization, (ix) what was the outcome of each communication between the government and the non-governmental organization, (x) what assistance did non-governmental organizations offer to provide to the government, to the Canadian, or to the Canadian’s family, (xi) in what ways did non-governmental organizations assist in providing services to the Canadian arrested, charged, or detained, or to his or her family, (xii) in what ways did non-governmental organizations assist in securing or attempting to secure the release or extradition of the Canadian, (xiii) what other assistance did the non-governmental organization provide; (f) regarding each instance in (a) and (b), (i) what representations were made by the government to the government of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged or detained, (ii) on what dates were these representations made, (iii) which representatives of the government made these representations, (iv) through what medium were these representations made, (v) what response did the government receive from the government of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged or detained, (vi) which representatives of the government received the response, (vii) through what medium was the response delivered, (viii) which representatives of the government of the country in which the Canadian was charged or detained responded to the government’s representations, (ix) what was the purpose of each representation made by the government to the government of the country in which the Canadian was charged or detained, (x) what was the outcome of each representation made by the government to the government of the country in which the Canadian was charged or detained, (xi) what other communications did the government receive, solicited or otherwise, from the government of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged or detained; (g) regarding each instance in (a) and (b), (i) what governments of third-party countries were contacted by the government, (ii) on what dates were the governments of third-party countries contacted by the government, (iii) which representatives of the government contacted the governments of the third-party countries, (iv) what governments of third-party countries contacted the government, (v) on what dates did the governments of third-party countries contact the government, (vi) which representatives of the government were contacted by the governments of third-party countries, (vii) through what medium did each of these contacts occur, (viii) what was the purpose of each contact between the government and the government of a third-party country, (ix) what was the outcome of each contact between the government and the government of a third-party country, (x) what assistance did governments of third-party countries offer to provide to the government, to the Canadian, or to the Canadian’s family, (xi) in what ways did governments of third-party countries assist in providing services to the Canadian arrested, charged or detained, or to his or her family, (xii) in what ways did governments of third-party countries assist in securing or attempting to secure the release or extradition of the Canadian, (xiii) what other assistance did the governments of third-party countries provide; (h) at the time of their arrest, charge, or detention, which Canadians in (a) and (b) had (i) Canadian citizenship, (ii) Canadian permanent resident status, (iii) other status in Canada; (i) for each instance in (a), (i) does the Canadian remain detained outside of Canada, (ii) is the Canadian currently detained in Canada, (iii) was the Canadian extradited to Canada, (iv) was the Canadian released by the country in which he or she was arrested, charged, or detained, (v) was the Canadian released after being extradited to Canada, (vi) did the Canadian die in the custody of the country in which he or she was arrested, charged, or detained, (vii) did the Canadian die in Canadian custody, (viii) is the Canadian’s status unknown; (j) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) on what date did the government learn that the Canadian had been arrested, charged or detained, (ii) which representative of the government first learned that the Canadian had been arrested, charged, or detained, (iii) how did that representative learn that the Canadian had been arrested, charged, or detained; (k) for each instance in (a) and (b), was the arrest, charge, or detention determined by the government to be consistent with (i) Canadian norms, (ii) international norms, (iii) the norms of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged, or detained; (l) for each instance in (a) and (b), based on what information did the government determine whether the arrest, charge, or detention was consistent with (i) Canadian norms, (ii) international norms, (iii) the norms of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged, or detained; (m) for each instance in (a) and (b), based on what criteria did the government determine whether the arrest, charge, or detention was consistent with (i) Canadian norms, (ii) international norms, (iii) the norms of the country in which the Canadian was arrested, charged, or detained; (n) for each instance in (a) and (b), (i) who made the determinations in (k), (ii) when did the process of making the determinations in (k) begin, (iii) when were the determinations made; (o) for each instance in (b), (i) what actions is the government taking to ensure that the Canadian’s rights are respected, (ii) what actions is the government taking to ensure that the Canadian receives a fair trial, (iii) what actions is the government taking to ensure that the Canadian is treated humanely, (iv) what actions is the government taking to secure the Canadian’s release, (v) what actions is the government taking to secure the Canadian’s extradition?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 190--
Mr. Kennedy Stewart:
     With regard to the sale of the CANDU Reactor Division of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. during June 2011: (a) what was the government’s economic rationale and business case in support of this sale; (b) what government documents contained, outlined, or presented this economic rationale and business case; (c) what were the full titles of the documents in (b); (d) by whom were the documents in (b) prepared; (e) on what dates were the documents in (b) prepared; (f) on what dates were the documents in (b) presented to the Minister of Natural Resources; (g) what documents did SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. provide the government in support of this sale; (h) what were the full titles of the documents in (g); (i) by whom were the documents in (g) prepared; (j) who submitted the documents in (g) to the government; (k) on what dates were the documents in (g) prepared; (l) on what dates were the documents in (g) presented to the Minister of Natural Resources (m) what due diligence was applied by the government in order to verify the factual content of the documents in (g)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 223--
Ms. Isabelle Morin:
     With regard to the Bouchard Stream in Dorval, Quebec: (a) what environmental monitoring has been conducted on the health of this waterway; (b) what efforts has the government made to analyze the impact of Trudeau Airport on this waterway; (c) what efforts has the government made to ensure that the operator of the airport, Aéroports de Montréal, is complying with applicable acts and regulations pertaining to environmental issues, including, but not limited to, the Canadian Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act; (d) does the government's policy call for the introduction of (i) enforcement mechanisms, (ii) legislation to address Aéroports de Montréal's impact on this waterway; and (e) has this waterway been designated as protected by the government at any time, (i) if so, under which acts (including the current Navigable Waters Protection Act) and during which years, (ii) if not, why was it not considered to warrant protection by the government?
    (Return tabled)

[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]

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act

Bill C-25—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-25, An Act respecting the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band Order, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

  (1010)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is incredible. What the government House leader has done is to blatantly and obviously sabotage the testimony that is forthcoming in just 50 minutes from the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Mayrand, at committee. What is he testifying about? He is testifying about the unfair elections act introduced by the Conservatives.
    At every step along the way, the Conservatives have chosen cynicism over any scrape of democratic value. Today they introduced time allocation on a first nations treaty that we agree with. We had a small amount of debate last Friday. Our critic on first nations issues has yet to speak to the bill, and today the government has introduced time allocation to censure and shut down debate on a first nations treaty.
    These guys lecture first nations about accountability. Conservatives lecture first nations communities and leaders about democratic values on first nations reserves. They have the audacity to lecture first nations people, when they show such hypocrisy as to use a bill to enact a first nations treaty to block the Chief Electoral Officer from testifying in Parliament.
    It would be tragically ironic and funny, if it did not actually affect the things that matter most to Canadians, which is our ability to freely and fairly vote.
    This time allocation motion introduced today is cynicism at its worst, from a government that has become so desperate that it has to invent evidence to support its badly flawed reform of our electoral laws. Then, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, if one of the Conservative MPs gets caught not telling the truth in Parliament and is forced to admit it, we should not condemn him but celebrate him. We should say what a terrific fellow he is for having been caught making up facts about something as important as reforming our electoral laws.
    This is what it is, and nothing else. It is a cynical attempt to sabotage the testimony of Mr. Mayrand in front of a public hearing, a public committee, which is trying to understand the cynical move to not only muzzle him, but to disenfranchise Canadians from their right to vote.
    When is it going to be too much for these so-called Conservatives, who used to believe in some principles of democratic values?
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to that charade, and it confirms something. The hon. member was referring to the fair elections act, which the official opposition stated, before reading the bill, that it would oppose. Now I am tempted to conclude that he has not even looked at Bill C-25 because he is referring to it as relating to a first nations treaty. He is totally wrong.
    This is not about a treaty; it is about an agreement entered into between Canada and the Newfoundland first nation, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq. This bill is about protecting the integrity of a process to ensure that the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation is finally constituted according to the agreement that has been reached with the first nation.

[Translation]

    Bill C-25 is necessary to ensure that the original intent of the 2008 Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band is respected, and that the 2013 Supplemental Agreement can be implemented.
    The purpose of the legislation currently before the House is to support the implementation of the 2008 Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band and the 2013 Supplemental Agreement between the federal government and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.
    Clearly, the opposition's partisan tactics and the busy parliamentary schedule mean that we will have to allocate some time to pass this bill, considering our full legislative agenda, which will only become busier in the months ahead.

  (1015)  

[English]

    Before we begin questions and comments, I think everyone knows the proper practice here, which is to try to limit the questions to one minute and the answers to a similar length. I will advise the member for Winnipeg North that I give extra leeway in the first round of questions from the two opposition parties. However, after that, the questions and answers will be limited to one minute each.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, this debate we are having right now is not about his bill. The debate is about the process and manner in which the government has, once again, decided to bring in a time-allocated bill, and its motivation in doing so at this time.
    At 11:00 this morning, we are supposed to have the Chief Electoral Officer make a presentation to the committee on an important piece of legislation. The minister made reference to the fair elections act, but it is more the Conservative elections act. However, we are potentially putting at risk the comments from the Chief Electoral Officer in committee, by a tactical move made today in regard to bringing in time allocation. That is important for us to recognize.
    It is important for us to realize that ever since we have had this Conservative majority government, the Conservatives have had a different attitude in terms of the way in which the House of Commons is run, and it is not very democratic; it is disgraceful.
    My question to the minister and government House leader is, why do we see this change in attitude from a majority Conservative government that prevents members of Parliament from contributing, in a healthy way, a constructive way, to debate inside the House? That is what this motion is doing.
    One, the motion is putting in a finite number, which means that a very limited number of MPs will be able to contribute to the debate; and, two, the Conservatives are potentially putting at risk the Chief Electoral Officer's ability to speak at committee, which is supposed to be starting within 45 minutes.
    My question is, why?
    Mr. Speaker, if members are so concerned about what will happen at 11 o'clock, they only have to call for a voice vote on this so it does not interrupt the committee hearing.
    Regarding the member's question, he was talking about this majority government. Thanks to this majority government, it has been able to pass measures that have resulted in the creation of over one million jobs in Canada since the end of the recession. Plus, this government has taken other steps to ensure that Canada performs well for the benefit of its citizens and taxpayers.
    We are here today to discuss this motion, which is to allocate time for the passage of this bill. The opposition members should perhaps simply acknowledge that in order for Canada and the Mi'kmaq first nation of Newfoundland to respect the agreement it has entered into, this technical bill should be passed presto to ensure the process can move forward so these people can get their status, which they deserve.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is really shocking to hear the outrageous remarks made by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. He has no problem taking legitimate representatives of the Canadian population hostage, to try to advance his own personal agenda.
    I know this for a fact, because the people of Beauport—Limoilou are suffering the consequences of this wilful blindness, or what is really this government's refusal to accept any responsibility for the dust contamination problem. My team and I have learned that the Conservative Party received nearly $20,000 in contributions just from people at Arrimage Québec. This illustrates the real issues involved in this debate. Indeed, the Conservatives are definitely not putting Canadians first; they always put their friends first.
    When will the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development start taking care of Canadians first?

  (1020)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is no greater example of a political party that could not care less about the situation facing the Mi'kmaq in Newfoundland. We are discussing a motion on Bill C-25, and the member is talking about dust in Quebec City. Unbelievable.
    What we are doing here is deciding whether we will adopt the motion to ensure Bill C-25 goes to the next stage. People in committee will be able to discuss the benefits of the bill, which is simply intended to implement the measures needed to protect the integrity of the enrolment process for the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, could the minister clarify why this legislation is needed, what process led to the legislation, and why it is important to send the bill to committee and on to royal assent as expeditiously as possible?
    Mr. Speaker, the member asked an important question. Bill C-25 is necessary to ensure that the intent of the 2008 agreement for the recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq band and the 2013 supplemental agreement can be implemented. This legislation is intended to support the implementation of the 2008 agreement and the supplemental agreement of last summer, which we entered into with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians. The supplemental agreement addresses the shared concerns of both the first nation and Canada about the integrity of the enrolment process.
    Bill C-25 is required to complete the enrolment process outlined in the supplemental agreement, which was the product of extensive discussions and negotiations with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and which we would like both parties on the other side of the House to support.
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The bill was introduced on Tuesday. Today is the beginning of business on Thursday. I appreciate the fact that the minister responsible is in a hurry to get something done. He wants to bypass the rules, but there are rules established for debate of legislation in the House for a reason. Once legislation is passed, it affects the lives of all those people covered by the legislation, and it is very difficult to amend legislation once it has been passed. Therefore, it is extremely important that we have a full discussion of each item and that we are able to take the time to consider the legislation and discuss the implications with our constituents and other groups who are affected by it so we can bring those insights to bear.
    I know that the members opposite like to give short shrift to issues regarding first nations people in our country, but I think the Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland and Labrador deserve to have this issue fully discussed in a thoughtful and constructive manner in the House. The fact that the government has some other agenda it is bringing to bear is simply not fair or just to the issues that affect first nations and the Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland.
    If the minister is trying to establish a sense of respect and responsibility with the Mi’kmaq and first nations in the country, why is it that on an important piece of legislation that is meant to deal with a historic problem, he wants to restrict debate by other members in the House? Why will he not allow a full discussion?

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, this motion reflects our conviction that a full day to study a bill with four sections is plenty of time to deal with the technical nature of the bill. This is not about whether or not an agreement will be respected. This is about ensuring that the will of that first nation, which concluded this agreement with Canada, is implemented.
    I cannot see why we would need weeks or days to discuss a four section bill. I suggest that the NDP get to work and that we get this bill passed.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a comment and ask a question.
    I listened very carefully to the minister's comments on what happened this morning and on the possibility that the Chief Electoral Officer's appearance in committee will have to be cancelled. He implied that if the House did not hold a recorded vote, the Chief Electoral Officer could possibly have a chance to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs this morning.
    On our side, we accept that recommendation. We have no intention of rising to demand a recorded division. We would accept a decision on division.
    Now for my question. We have been discussing this issue for years and we have negotiated. Now, the government has introduced a bill. We only had one opportunity to discuss it last Friday. However, the government has once again decided to issue a gag order, as usual. The official opposition has indicated that it supports this bill. We will not even get a chance to constructively debate this bill before it is passed.
    Why did the minister not have the decency to consider referring the bill to committee before second reading stage?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my hon. colleague for his suggestion. I hope it will be shared by our friends in the official opposition.
    As for whether we should adopt this motion, I would say that the additional sitting day that will be provided for the consideration of the bill at second reading will allow it to be sent immediately thereafter to the standing committee, which can debate it more thoroughly and examine the four clauses in much greater detail.
    I do not believe the bill needs to be sent to committee before that. Let us proceed with second reading of the bill, and the legislative process will then run its course.
    Mr. Speaker, I am always stunned by how little respect all Conservative members seem to have for their duties as members of Parliament and the privilege of representing their constituents. I am always surprised to see that they do not care about representing their constituents.
    Here in the House of Commons, it is our duty to represent our constituents and to ensure that we can debate this bill properly.
    I would like to ask the minister why he is ignoring his duty and showing no respect for what a privilege it is to be here in the House of Commons.

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am always astounded by the NDP members who believe that it is in the interests of Canada, its taxpayers and its workers to have MPs here just for the sake of making sure that government bills are not passed.
    As we saw again this week, the NDP members are perfectly happy to waste time in the House. They are perfectly happy to ensure that no progress is made on any bills. We, on this side of the House, we were elected to take measures to help taxpayers, our constituents and people throughout Canada. That is exactly what we are doing.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is confusing to me when time and again opposition members ask for more time to discuss, debate, and study various bills and then use all of that time either filibustering at committee or wasting time here in the House of Commons talking about process. They do not want to discuss the issues.
    I had the honour of serving on the aboriginal affairs and northern development committee when I first arrived here a number of years ago. I am proud of the advancements our government has made on many initiatives that have helped our first nations people address the terrible situations in the lives.
    In the last number of years, I have not had the privilege of serving on that committee, so I have not studied this bill as much as I would have liked. I have a question for the minister regarding the liability clause. Would the minister address why it is important to restore the integrity of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation? If he could address that, it would help me a lot.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that we at least have some members who are interested in the substance of the bill.
    The inclusion of the liability clause in clause 4 of the bill provides certainty that no compensation or damages would be paid either by Canada, the first nation, or any other party to those individuals who it is determined are not members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation once the enrolment process has been completed. I would add that this clause would not prevent individuals from pursuing whatever other remedy they wanted. However, they would not obtain the benefits of status Indians if they were not status Indians.
    Mr. Speaker, it would seem as if we have another case of “here we go again”. It is pretty clear that what is going on here is an attempt to disrupt the presentation of the Chief Electoral Officer at 11 o'clock, which already is going to be pushed off as a result of this motion and the vote.
    Again, we see the government bringing in not only an unfair election act but also an undemocratic process around it, and that is what is going on right here. We cut an honourable deal with the government, at least I thought it was an honourable deal. It was honourable on my part and it was certainly honourable on the part of the member for Winnipeg Centre when we made a deal with the government about what would happen with the Chief Electoral Officer.
    I know the Speaker is going to bring me to relevancy in a moment, and I have some recent experience with that.
     My question for the minister is this. Is he not embarrassed that his own government is manipulating his bill and his issue in order to achieve an undemocratic process and deny the Chief Electoral Officer the chance to come in and give 90 minutes of uninterrupted witness testimony? Is he not embarrassed by this?

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, the record will show that if this does not take place at 11 o'clock, it is simply because the New Democrats will have insisted on a nominal vote. If they want this to go ahead, all they have to do is pass this motion by a voice vote and that will solve the issue.
    To the member's question, my answer is no.
    Mr. Speaker, let us understand this. The government, throughout the history of its unfair election act, has attempted at every point not only to muzzle the Chief Electoral Officer but to deny Canadians even some modicum of consultation and respect. Now, the Conservatives take a first nations agreement and hold that up as a technique to sabotage the Chief Electoral Officer's coming in and testifying, and then attempt to blame all this on the opposition; then attempt to say that this is all of them being victims.
    The bill has been in the House for a couple of hours and then the Conservatives introduced time allocation and shut down debate. They then had the audacity to lecture first nations on their lack of respect and accountability. How dare they use an issue as important as first nations' rights and title in this country to then shut down the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada and deny Canadians even that small amount of respect after so much disrespect shown to the people who put us here to represent them each and every day?
    Mr. Speaker, I see that the conspiracy theory of the member's leader is rampant among the benches of the NDP.
    The experienced hon. member has not alluded to the fact that if he wants this absolutely to take place at 11 o'clock, he can simply not insist on a nominal vote. I will again invite the hon. member to agree that a full day of debate will be enough to deal with four sections of a technical bill.
    Mr. Speaker, here is the promise the government can quickly make. It is that, after this little bit of sabotage work this morning, the Conservatives will not introduce another time allocation motion on a separate piece of legislation. We noticed some strange coincidence last night, that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons got to his feet and said that the Conservatives had two motions in which they would like to shut down debate on two pieces of legislation. By coincidence, the timing would allow them, not once but twice, to interrupt the Chief Electoral Officer's testimony, which as my colleague from Hamilton said, was an agreement worked out between us and the government, in good faith.
    Something we need to learn on the NDP side is that good faith between Conservatives and anybody is something we just cannot trust. Do the Conservative members not understand how far they have drifted from the basic tenets of democratic values, how far and how cynical they have become that they are willing to use the House of Commons to block the Chief Electoral Officer and say that this is a proper way to run the country's affairs?
     We have had a couple of hours of debate on this thing. Our key critic on this issue has yet to even speak to the bill. We have offered support for the legislation, and the Conservatives are using it, and the member is being used and he must know it. He must know that his government is cynically putting him up. It is much as they did with the member from Mississauga, to perpetrate mistruths in the House, and it is all to justify the unfair election act; all to muzzle the Chief Electoral Officer; and going into the future, all to disenfranchise Canadians from their democratic rights.
    That is the game the member is playing a part in today. He should take some ownership of it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the member's offensive comments are so unfounded that they do not even warrant a response.

[English]

    We have time for one more quick question.
    The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, a short question.
    Mr. Speaker, let me try it again. He does not deign to have a response to questions we pose to him. I asked him a very specific question, how comfortable he was being used by his own government, presenting some issue of importance, as the Conservatives did the other day, but as a shield to block something that is critical.
    The other day it was on a privilege motion where a member had been caught telling mistruths to the House. The government used procedural tactics. The monkey wrench gang of the Conservative Party is back. We all remember the manual it had to shut committees down. This is its new tactic, not just shutting down committees in committee, but using the House of Commons, using first nations rights and title legislation, in order to accomplish the same cynical means.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, all the time has been taken by the hon. member to say nothing about the motion before the House. I trust, then, that the hon. member and his colleagues will support this motion to allocate one more day of debate on Bill C-25, so it can be sent to committee.
    Order. It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[Translation]

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

  (1120)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 78)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 150

NAYS

Members

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

Total: -- 118

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

[Translation]

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

Bill C-20—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-20, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, not more than one further sitting day after the day on which this order is adopted shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

[English]

    In accordance with Standing Order 67(1), there will now be a 30-minute question period. I will ask members to keep their questions to around a minute and the responses from the minister to a similar length of time.
    The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am astonished. Just minutes ago, the government said it would not force a vote. Then, again, it flipped. The minister—maybe the House leader was not aware; maybe they do not talk, but I suspect they do—said the government would not force a vote.
    Here we are, yet again, with time allocation. Why? It is not about trying to get legislation through; it is about trying to actually muzzle debate on the Chief Electoral Officer.
     The current government does not even care anymore. In fact, the Conservatives are all laughing. There are smiles, right across the bench, because they think how great it is that they are going to muzzle the Chief Electoral Officer—and to do what? To present his evidence on his concerns about what? About our democracy.
    We have the House leader working with the front bench, including the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, who pretended to think that we were going to buy his argument that he would not force the vote, which the government then did. That is what it did. Why? So that the government could shut down debate on the Chief Electoral Officer. And they smile. They think this is great.
    My question for our friend across the way is, is this what we are going to do in our democracy from here on with the current government? Is it going to continue with time allocation on every bill so that not only are we going to shut down debate on important bills but also muzzle people from bearing witness in committee?
    Further, my final question is, can we trust the current government on its word when we make a deal with it to have people present at committee? I guess not. What is this—
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Order, please.
    The hon. government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I gather when their poll numbers start plummeting, they see conspiracies everywhere with a desperate effort to seek blame somewhere else than in themselves for the fact they are lacking any appeal among the public.
    As the members opposite know, the only time of day I can make this motion is now, when orders of the day are called.
    As for the committee, it can schedule its affairs whenever it wants. If it wishes to hear the witness for longer, it can organize its affairs to do that. It has full flexibility.
    If the members opposite did not want the last vote to occur, which disrupted the committee business, they could very easily have allowed the motion to pass on division. They chose not to allow the motion to pass on division.
    The greatest irony at all is that these are the people who are saying, “Why won't you let Marc Mayrand be heard?”. For a week and a half, the member for Hamilton Centre filibustered that committee, keeping that person from being heard.
    The government was trying to get that witness before committee. The opposition were proud of how they spent a week and a half keeping him from appearing. Now he can appear. The committee can arrange its affairs however it wants.
    However, for the member opposite to suddenly say that it is our fault that the witness was blocked for a week and a half is preposterous.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on the government House leader's comments regarding the issue of division.
    What we know for sure is that at the last opportunity we indicated, within the Liberal Party, that we would like to see it on division. We opposed that time allocation. We oppose this time allocation. We want to be able to see it on division, primarily because we, within the Liberal Party, recognize that it is critically important to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to make his presentation.
    On Tuesday night, there was a commitment, an agreement made between myself, the NDP, and the Conservatives, that would have guaranteed that 90 minutes.
    There is a way we can do this. We have a good sense of what the outcome is going to be after the vote of the next time allocation.
    May I suggest that we do a vote on division. The Liberals will be in opposition to that vote. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, and maybe it would be inappropriate to ask this of you, that you canvass the House after I sit down, to see if there is unanimous consent of the House that would allow us to stop asking questions right now and go right to the vote of the time allocation on division so that we could go to the committee and have the Chief Electoral Officer make his presentation.
    I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ask for that unanimous consent so that we can get to committee.

  (1130)  

    The member for Winnipeg North is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to, in effect, abbreviate the debate and move directly to a vote that would go on division. Does the hon. member have unanimous consent for the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: There is no unanimous consent.
    An hon. member: Who said no?
    The Deputy Speaker: I heard noes from both sides of the House. I will put it again. Does the member for Winnipeg North have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: I heard at least four noes from this side of the House. I think the issue has been determined.
    Does the Minister of International Trade wish to respond to the member for Winnipeg North? The minister has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, it should surprise no one in the House; in fact, it should surprise no Canadian, that the opposition would be opposing this government's trade and investment agenda.
    I am going to take the opposition parties down memory lane, back to when we were negotiating the Colombia free trade agreement. When that agreement was tabled in the House, it took two and a half years to get it passed in the House. Why? It was because the opposition parties were filibustering the bill. Those members do not understand trade. They do not like trade. They have opposed virtually every trade agreement Canada has ever signed. For them to now get up in the House and suggest that they want a robust debate on trade belies their underlying anti-trade ideology.
    Let me talk about the Honduras trade agreement that is the subject of this time allocation motion. There has already been debate on this. These negotiations started back in 2000, close to 15 years ago. In 2009, we focused on Honduras. It has taken this long to get this agreement into the House. There already has been robust debate. Let us get on with opening up new trade opportunities all around the world.
    Mr. Speaker, this is simply outrageous. The Minister of International Trade is defending the government's move to curtail debate on a Canada–Honduras trade deal after half a day of debate.
    The government talks about opening negotiations in 2009, which is ironic because in 2009 a military coup in Honduras overthrew the government. Every government in the world recognized that the government was illegitimate except the Conservatives, who rushed to sign a trade agreement. They rushed to sign a trade agreement with an undemocratic government that is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and the most dangerous place for journalists on the planet. There is no freedom of expression in Honduras. There is no freedom of association. Seventy-nine per cent of all cocaine shipments in South America land in Honduras.
     The Conservative government is afraid to debate those facts in the House because it knows that the Canadian people would not support an agreement with a country like Honduras that is a human rights—
    Order. I would remind all members on both sides of the House to limit their questions and answers to one minute.
    The hon. Minister of International Trade.
    Mr. Speaker, the only part of that tirade that I would agree with is that Honduras is coming out of a very troubled past. Canada's record on the international stage is to provide countries like Honduras with a hand up to help them, to walk side-by-side with them, to help them escape from a troubled past.

  (1135)  

    But it is all true.
    I suggest the member read the human rights reports.
    Mr. Speaker, we can hear NDP members heckling in the House. They do not care about Honduras. They do not care about the poor in Honduras. They are so ideologically stuck in a straitjacket that they just cannot escape it. That is why they have opposed virtually every trade agreement Canada has ever signed. In fact, for every new trade agreement they come up with a new excuse not to support it.
    In 2009, Honduras expressed an interest in negotiating a trade agreement with Canada, separate and apart from the Central American Four. In good faith, we moved forward with those negotiations and they were concluded.
    In November of this past year, over four months ago, that agreement was tabled in the House, and the NDP has had ample opportunity to review it. There has been lots of discussion in public about this agreement. We have had debate in the House and, in fact, we are debating it right now.
    Mr. Speaker, the creation of jobs and economic growth for the benefit of Canadian businesses, workers, and families continues to be the focus of our Conservative government. That is why we will continue to deliver pro-export leadership. I find the way hard-working Canadian families are being portrayed by the NDP very unfortunate as they vote against each free trade agreement.
    Could the Minister of International Trade please explain how the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would benefit Canadian workers and their families?
    Mr. Speaker, ever since being elected in 2006, our government has focused on the economy and on building prosperity in Canada. A very significant part of that effort is to use trade and investment to drive economic growth in Canada. We do so by opening up new opportunities around the world through free trade agreements, through bilateral investment treaties, and through air transport agreements.
    What we do with our trading partners is engage with them. Some of those partners are coming out of very troubled pasts, so what do we do? There are two choices. We can either isolate countries such as Honduras, the way the NDP wants to do, and treat them like pariahs when they ask for help, or we can engage with them. Our choice has been to engage, walk with them through very difficult times, and help them improve their prosperity.
    Mr. Speaker, when I arrived here on Monday I did not have voice mail messages about the trade deal with Honduras. I did not have emails. I was not overwhelmed. I did not call my staff together and say, “Quick, put together a briefing, because this is going to be the number one issue that we have to deal with this week.”
    What I did have were phone calls and emails about the unfair elections act, to be frank, and a lot about Canada Post. Those were the issues I thought we would be talking about this week. Those are the issues I thought were the most pressing and urgent, the ones I needed to read up on and get up to speed on with everything, not this trade deal.
    I cannot believe how transparent the actions of the government are today in trying to disrupt the testimony of the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, at committee. I know the minister will say, “What committee does is what committee does; I have no control”, but we know that it is all organized centrally. It is like the Borg: “I am Borg, I am Conservative.”
    Will the minister agree to bring back the Chief Electoral Officer when we return from our riding weeks to provide testimony again at committee?
    Mr. Speaker, that is ridiculous. The motion before us is a time allocation motion relating to the Honduras free trade agreement. That is what I am going to focus on.
    However, it is not surprising that the NDP does not consider Honduras important. In fact, it does not consider the Americas to be important. Let me quote a statement made by my friend across the way, the member for Vancouver Kingsway. As he was describing the importance of the Americas to Canada, he said that countries like Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, and Panama are ...not key economies with any kind of strategic value for Canada.”
    The Americas are of no importance to the NDP because it does not understand trade. In fact, the combined economies of those countries I mentioned are equivalent to almost a trillion dollars worth of GDP. Does Canada want to engage with that region of the world? Of course we do. We want to engage with Honduras, and with Costa Rica, Panama, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Those are trading partners we do want to engage with.

  (1140)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the international trade champion.
    He accused us of suggesting that Honduras is not much of a priority, but I think he sees Japan as even less of a priority. I travelled to Japan, where I met serious business people who wanted to invest in our resources because we have energy and workers. Japan has capital. Japan is the best partner we can possibly imagine.
    While I was there, I found out that the Canadian government had shut down consular services without notifying the Japanese. That is absolutely ridiculous. Now it is ready to bend over backward to sign an agreement with Honduras. I would like the minister to explain his priorities, because I think Japan is more important than Honduras.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right that Japan is very important, which is why we started trade negotiations directly with Japan on a bilateral basis. In fact, we are moving toward a fifth round of negotiations, which is something he may not have been aware of.
    Yes, Japan is very important, but Honduras is also important because we have an opportunity in Honduras, a country that is moving out of a very troubled past, to share our best practices on issues such as democracy, human rights, the environment, and labour. These are areas where Canada has great strength. If we want to see one of the poorest countries in the world move out of poverty and have hope for the future, it is going to require engagement by countries like Canada.
    Yes, we are going to do the deals with Japan and we are going to do deals with Korea and we are involved in the trans-Pacific partnership. However, I guarantee members that the NDP will be opposing those very same trade agreements when they come up for debate here.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for being here.
    I have a quick question for him. I am trying to reconcile his earlier statements in his first intervention, when he said that the Honduras negotiations for this free trade agreement took four or five years. He can correct me if I am wrong, but now, all of a sudden, we can debate it in a day or two or whatever time has been allocated to us.
    It took forever to negotiate an agreement with a country to which we export only $38 million of goods a year. There seem to be all kinds of complexities involved in the deal if it took so long to negotiate. Meanwhile, we cannot even get the time to debate those complexities.
     Can the minister clear up those contradicting statements?
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps the reason we have only $38 million worth of exports to Honduras is that we do not have an open market there and we do not have a free trade agreement with Honduras.
    In fact, I would remind the member that the European Union has had a free trade agreement in place for years. The United States has a trade agreement with Honduras. Mexico has a trade agreement in place with Honduras. Chile has an agreement in place with Honduras. Why is that? It is because they have understood that Honduras needs our help.
    The countries I mentioned all have strong, robust human rights regimes and strong democracies. They understand that Hondurans needs someone to walk beside them to share best practices, to move them into the 21st century, and to welcome them into the family of nations that respect human rights. That is the key role that Canada can play here.
    We are absolutely committed to bringing this trade agreement into force. We have provided lots of opportunities since November for the opposition parties to view this agreement here in the House. It was tabled back in November. We make no apologies for that. We want to get this deal done.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today the government is moving yet another time allocation motion.
    We have made it quite clear in the House that we do not want our democracy to be undermined in this way. Members of all parties in the House and Canadians watching our debates have the right to be informed about what is going on. This is unacceptable.
    My colleague was talking about democracy in these countries, particularly in Honduras. He praised the democratic systems in those different countries, but he would be better off ensuring that democracy is as strong within our government here in Canada. That is not the case today.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would again remind the member of the NDP's appalling record on trade. NDP members have opposed virtually every trade agreement Canada has ever signed, so it should not be surprising to see the NDP members stand up in this House today and oppose the Honduras trade agreement, just as we fully expect them to oppose the EU trade agreement and an agreement with Japan or Korea. They are ideologically opposed to trade, and I would remind them of their terrible record.
    When we were negotiating a trade agreement with Colombia, what did NDP members do? For two and a half years they stalled, obstructed, and filibustered. They had no intention of having a robust debate on the merits of the deal. They are simply stuck in an ideological rut and they cannot get out of it.
    On this side of the House, we support trade and we support investment with our key trading partners abroad.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his work on this particular file. Last week we had a meeting of parliamentarians—a reception, actually—based on our efforts to establish further ties with the Americas. It seemed that all parties want to see further ties with that part of the world.
    We all know that free trade is the new stimulus. It does not cost the taxpayers. It allows Canadian businesses to compete. If we do not have these kinds of trade deals, places in my riding such as Nor-Mar Industries, UEE, and Gorman Brothers will not be able to compete on an even playing field.
    Will the minister please comment and inform the House on Canada's strategy on the Americas?
    Mr. Speaker, our strategy since 2006 has been to use trade and investment to drive economic growth at home. That means opening up new markets around the world for Canadian investors and Canadian exporters.
    Let me talk again about Honduras, because that is the subject of this motion. It is really unfortunate that the NDP does not want to debate the merits of the bill. I will.
    There is a Canadian company that is very active in Honduras. The name of the company is Gildan. It employs 20,000 Hondurans in manufacturing textiles and apparel.
    Gildan has won numerous awards for corporate social responsibility and sustainability. This company has asked our government to please sign a trade agreement with Honduras because it will allow that company to increase trade between Honduras and Canada and provide it with opportunities to employ even more Hondurans.
    I had the opportunity to be on the ground in Honduras to visit one of Gildan's plans. It is clean and organized and has modern machinery. The company treats its employees well. That is the Canada brand going forward. That is why we want to open up new markets all around the world for Canadians exporters and investors.
    Mr. Speaker, here is the truth. The Conservatives have brought in two motions today to do one thing: to disrupt the testimony of the Chief Electoral Officer. This is after the Conservatives gave their word to the parties in this House that we would end a filibuster in order to have that testimony on Thursday. That is the only reason this is happening. It is the Conservatives breaking their word.
    Let us talk about Honduras a bit. The Economist calls Honduras a hybrid regime, rather than its previous designation as a flawed democracy. It is getting worse. Transparency International ranks Honduras as the most corrupt country in Central America, calling it a major drug smuggling centre. The U.S. State Department estimates that 79% of all cocaine shipments originating in South America land in Honduras.
    In 2013 there have been, on average, 10 massacres per month. Massacres are defined as the murder of three or more people at a time for political reasons. Honduras is the murder capital of the world, with 81 murders per 100,000 people, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports as well that it is the most dangerous place in the word for journalists.
    If the Conservatives have the courage to look at the facts, why are they cutting off debate in this House after half a day of debate? If this deal is so good, if Honduras is such a great partner, if this is so important to the Canadian economy, then let us have at least three or four sessions so that Canadians can debate the facts. However, the Conservatives do not have—

  (1150)  

    Order. Order, please. The member will take his seat.
    The hon. Minister of International Trade.
    Mr. Speaker, the only part I agree with is that yes, Honduras is a challenging place for security. It is a challenging place for human rights. We acknowledge that, but these same arguments were made by the NDP when we negotiated a trade agreement with Colombia. It was the very same argument, and we have seen significant improvements in security in Colombia. We have seen significant increases in support for human rights in Colombia.
    What is interesting about Honduras is that it is the largest source of development support from Canada. We are very interested in helping Honduras escape its troubled past. We are helping it on the security side. We are helping it on the justice side and the police enforcement side. We are helping it on the democratic capacity side. We want to make sure that as we open up new trade opportunities for Hondurans to improve their prosperity, move more people out of poverty, and give people hope, we also address those other areas that the member has just raised.
    Mr. Speaker, on the face of it, what we are debating is whether the time allocated for debate on the bill to implement the trade treaty with Honduras should be limited. We have the Conservative Party supporting cutting off debate and the opposition parties opposing it.
    I just heard a Conservative member ask a question, because he wanted more information. What I heard was a Conservative member asking the minister for more information about trade with Honduras. I heard a minister who had plenty to say in his answer. He had interesting answers. Obviously he has a lot that he feels needs to be said. I do not quite understand how that is consistent with the Conservative Party's desire to cut off debate on this legislation.
    I also heard the minister talk about how all these other countries had treaties with Honduras and that Canada was behind. Therefore, I have a question—
    Order, please. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I apologize to my friend from Kingston and the Islands. The timing of this point of order is required.
    Hon. Gary Goodyear: Did you just cut off his debate?
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: I just began speaking, if you don't mind.
    The point of order the New Democrats are raising today is necessitated by the actions of the government, and it is incumbent upon us to raise it at this time. We are under a prescription right now in which time has been allocated to a bill before the government. The government has presented a time allocation motion. There is a duty to consult that exists within our Standing Orders whenever the government seeks to invoke such a clause.
    The reason this Standing Order rule and practice in the House exists is that time allocation is a serious measure. It is the most serious measure a government can take on any piece of legislation, because it limits all members from all parties in their ability to debate and discuss any legislation before the House. That is what this is presenting.
    The point of order we seek to raise is that from time to time objections have been raised, by Conservatives when they were in opposition and by New Democrats as well, as to the circumstances in which agreement was reached or the nature of the consultations undertaken by the government. As with closure, the Speaker has ruled that the Chair possesses no discretionary power or authority to refuse a motion of time allocation if all the procedural exigencies have been observed.
    The Speaker has stated that the wording of the rule does not define the nature of the consultations that are to be held by the minister and representatives of the other parties. The Speaker has further ruled that the Chair has no authority to determine whether consultations took place nor what constitutes consultation among the representatives of the parties. All of that is correct, because it is not the Speaker's purview to witness, as the Speaker has observed, the consultations that go on among the parties in advance of a decision to be taken by the government, in this case, to limit the democratic rights of members, their own members included, to debate a piece of legislation.
    This is based upon a Standing Order in the House, and I will cite the Standing Order for reference for all members to understand what we are talking about. Standing Order 78(3)(a) states:
    A Minister of the Crown who from his or her place in the House, at a previous sitting, has stated that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2) of this Standing Order in respect of proceedings at the stage at which a public bill was then under consideration either in the House or in any committee, and has given notice of his or her intention so to do, may propose a motion during proceedings under Government Orders, for the purpose of allotting a specified number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at that stage; provided that the time allotted for any stage is not to be less than one sitting day and provided that for the purposes of this paragraph an allocation may be proposed in one motion to cover the proceedings at both the report and the third reading stages on a bill if that motion is consistent with the provisions of Standing Order 76.1(10). The motion shall not be subject to debate or amendment, and the Speaker shall put the question on the said motion forthwith. Any proceedings interrupted pursuant to this section of this Standing Order shall be deemed adjourned.
    This is exactly what has just happened. The government brought in a time allocation motion under this Standing Order, which is its power to do. It is an extreme power, and it is meant to be used in rare cases. The government has used it more than 50 times, a record in Canadian history. However, also in the Standing Order is a duty and an obligation on the part of the government to consult with other parties in the House as to the—
    Hon. Greg Rickford: Debate.
    Hon. Ed Fast: Debate.
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. members across the way to allow me to continue.
    This is a point of order. I will thank the finance minister for his comments on the length of the point of order, but the point of order stands. The Conservatives can have their way with the power they have in a majority government, but they cannot simply run roughshod over the rules that have governed all governments in the history of Canada simply because they want to.
    The point I raise is that the government earlier introduced time allocation on this trade agreement with Honduras. Previously, on the same morning, cynically, they also introduced time allocation on a previous motion before the House without any consultation with the opposition parties whatsoever, thereby contravening the Standing Orders that exist for all uses of this very extraordinary tool. The government seems, having used time allocation so often, to have gotten lazy with the procedure that is at hand.

  (1155)  

    The consultation can take any form. It can take the form of a conversation between me and the House leader of the government. It can take the form of an email or a note, anything. It does not take much, but it shows a modicum of respect, not for the opposition parties but for Parliament itself. To bring in time allocation, the government has to at least go through the motions of suggesting that perhaps the opposition party has an extraordinary number or speakers or seeks multiple days on any given legislation.
    The government has to at least consult. It did not do that in this case. It did not even bother to show basic respect for Parliament, further driving home the argument and the fact that it holds this place in contempt. There is no basis of democratic values in the legislation the government introduced or how it did it—
    Order, please. Does the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons wish to respond?
    Mr. Speaker, yes, I do. You, as a former House leader, would certainly be familiar with the fact that we have regular consultations with the other parties. With the House leaders we have weekly House leaders meetings.
    I do not want to get into the particulars of what happened on these particular bills. We do not do that. Of course, at those meetings, the government puts forward its proposed legislative agenda. We suggest to the other parties how many days we would like to see it debated. We look for input. We look for a response.
    Again, I do not want to discuss details. I am not going to say how much difficulty I have had ever getting from one particular party an answer on its position or an agreement. Without betraying any confidences, I can say that I do not think I can ever remember an agreement with the NDP on timing on any particular bill coming out of those meetings.
    As you know, Mr. Speaker, the precedents on this are clear. It is not up to the Speaker to inquire into and judge the adequacy or the extent of the consultation. You know that the consultation occurs. I can say to you with good assurance that we have circulated our proposed legislative agenda and the debates we would like to have on these matters.
    I still look forward always to responses, but consultation and communication is a two-way street. It requires that sometimes there are answers from the other side. I can assure the House that we have always consulted and will continue to consult on the legislative calendar and will seek whatever agreement we can from other parties on our agenda.
     I do not want to get into the specifics of those meetings again. It is not appropriate. However, I can tell the House that such consultation does occur, and we do put what we would like to see as debates to the other parties.

  (1200)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government House leader rightly points out that there is a Tuesday afternoon House leaders meeting, which I attend with him. The government puts forward its government calendar. We recognize the calendar. We often offer up suggestions.
    What has happened in this case, as in too many cases, is that the government absolutely did not ask for input on the number of speakers we required. They did not seek any consultative advice whatsoever. There was none on this. I can assure the member of that.
    The government House leader can pretend what he would like, but the facts remain the facts. This is the only tool the government has in its toolbox anymore. If it is just a hammer that it has, every problem looks like a nail.
    It is Parliament that suffers, not just the Conservatives' reputation.
    Mr. Speaker, I come to these meetings in good faith every week. I do my best to seek a response. It is up to the opposition, if it wishes these meetings to be made more productive, to participate and make them more productive.
    With regard to the point of order, I am not ruling against it, but I would like to quote from O'Brien and Bosc, page 667, under “Notice”. This is what is required when one of these notices is brought forward:
    The notice in question is to state that agreement could not be reached under the other provisions of the rule and that the government therefore intends to propose a motion...
    The hon. government House leader, when he rose in the House yesterday, preceded his presentation of the motion with the following words:
     Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that agreements could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2)...
    That is all that is required by the Standing Orders. The nature of the consultation, the quality of the consultation, and the quantity of the consultation is not something that the Chair will involve himself in. That has been the tradition of this House for many years. What the Chair would have to do, in effect, is conduct an extensive investigative inquiry into the nature of the consultation. That is not our role, nor do the rules require it. Therefore, I am rejecting the request for the point of order.
    The member for Kingston and the Islands is rising. I am anticipating the point he is raising, but we simply do not have time to get a response to his question, if that is the point he is raising.
    Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to finish maybe one or two sentences of what I was saying. Because I was interrupted by a point of order, I thought that maybe after the point of order was resolved there would be—
    Order, please. I am sorry, but we are out of time for the question and answer period.
     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1245)  

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

(Division No. 79)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 145

NAYS

Members

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

Total: -- 117

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Second Reading  

    Mr. Speaker, at the onset, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Red Deer.
    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to speak about what our government is doing to support prosperity for all Canadians and how the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would be part of the bigger picture.
    The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would be another step in fulfilling our Conservative government's ambitious pro-trade plan. International trade is critical to the Canadian economy. We need to ensure open borders for our exporters. One in five Canadian jobs is related to exports. Freer, more open trade would ensure that we could support domestic economic growth and new jobs. Our Conservative government has always been a supporter of free and open trade. For this reason, our government made it a priority to diversify our international trade negotiations agenda and place increased focus on concluding regional and bilateral trade agreements, such as the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement we are discussing today. These agreements would be complementary and, in fact, would strengthen the important work of the WTO.
    It may surprise many Canadians to learn that, in 2006, Canada only had free trade agreements with five countries. Our government recognized the situation was not good for Canadian companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, which depend more and more on international markets for their success. Lack of competitive access to global markets was putting Canadian exporters, investors, and service providers at a competitive disadvantage. This was especially apparent when key competitors from the U.S. and the EU were already enjoying preferential market access.
    It was clear that the Government of Canada needed to act. That is why we introduced the global commerce strategy in 2007. The global commerce strategy was focused upon expanding our global trade network, strengthening Canada's competitiveness in established markets, while also expanding into fast-moving, emerging economies. The strategy supported Canadian company participation in international markets; in particular, helping them to seize opportunities as part of global value chains. It has also identified markets in which Canada should focus its trade negotiating capacity.
    Our Conservative government has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries, which is something to celebrate, beginning with the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, followed by Colombia, Jordan, Peru, Panama, and of course, most recently, Honduras, which we are debating today.
    Of course, there is the landmark Canada-European Union comprehensive economic trade agreement, which once ratified, would mean that Canada would have free trade agreements with 42 nations.
    The CETA with the EU took some time to negotiate. The Europeans, having brought together 27 countries—now 28 with the addition of Croatia less than a year ago—have extensive experience in negotiating agreements, as they brought this coalition of 28 countries together. Therefore, for Canada, it is a tremendous credit to our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and our own minister, the hon. member for Abbotsford, that we have developed tremendous capacity and experience in advancing trade agreements.
    This is a major achievement, but we will not rest on our laurels. We recognize the success of the 2007 global commerce strategy, and in the 2012 economic action plan, we confirmed our intention to build upon success.
    It is important to us that we respond to the evolving needs of Canadian companies. We do not deliver strategies in a vacuum. We get out there and talk to business. That is one of the reasons why our low tax regime is so important to Canadian businesses.

  (1250)  

    The hon. Minister of Finance is reported by some to be the best finance minister in the world. We give him credit for helping to keep taxes low in Canada, which creates an environment for business to prosper and for Canadians to do well. I am sure members will remember that, because of the more than 160 tax cuts we have brought in since forming government, the average Canadian family is now saving $3,400 every year. That is a tremendous accomplishment.
    Bloomberg business magazine recently said that Canada is the second best country in the world with which to do business. That is something to brag about.
     The work is not done. There is a lot more to do. It is a competitive world. These agreements are about creating opportunities for our small and medium-size businesses, as well as large enterprises, to engage with the world and for countries like Honduras to engage with Canada to expand and strengthen the family of nations through trade.
    We have conducted consultations right across Canada. We have engaged with around 400 business and industry stakeholders. They were not just large corporations but also small and medium-size businesses, which are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. That is why we are proud of the global markets action plan we launched in November 2013. It is not some bureaucratic exercise. It is a concrete plan for Canadian businesses, developed with Canadian businesses.
    The global markets action plan focuses on our international economic engagement by identifying priority sectors and markets. It also underscores the importance of economic diplomacy. It aims to help Canadian small and medium-size companies expand their global reach.
    Through this government's initiatives, we want to support Canadian companies, whether they export goods or services or want to invest to be competitive in new markets.
    Speaking of new markets, our government has long recognized the growing importance of the Americas. The Prime Minister confirmed this when he made the region a foreign policy priority in 2007. Increased trade and commercial engagement are part of the Prime Minister's vision for a more prosperous, secure, and democratic hemisphere. It makes economic sense to Canadian businesses too. Total trade between countries in the Americas and Canada increased 32% from 2007 to 2012, not to mention that Canadian direct investment was up 58.6% over the same period. That is why we want to deepen trade relations with countries in the region, such as Honduras. Our government realized that we needed to get results faster for Canadian companies, so we moved to bilateral negotiations with our most ambitious partner, which is Honduras.
    In August 2011, the Prime Minister was able to announce the successful conclusion of our free trade talks. The Prime Minister recognized the importance of this agreement. He confirmed that the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement was a key part of our government's agenda to open new markets for Canadian business, to create new opportunities for our workers, and to contribute to Canada's future prosperity.
    This free trade agreement would provide numerous benefits to Canadian companies that are active or interested in Honduras. Not only would it eliminate the vast majority of Honduran tariffs, but it would help raise the profile of Canadian businesses in the country, and further deepen and strengthen Canada's commercial and economic relationship with Honduras.
    The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would also make us competitive with players from the U.S. and the EU, which already enjoy free trade with Honduras, not to mention giving Canadian companies a secure and predictable framework for business.
    In responding to a question earlier, the minister commented on one Canadian company with 20,000 employees that is employing Hondurans and helping to raise the standard of living for them.
    In my remarks, I have highlighted how this Conservative government is proactively addressing the needs of Canadian business, both globally and in the dynamic region of the Americas. It is also clear that the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would create new opportunities for Canadian companies in the Honduran market. Moving this agreement forward would respond to the needs of Canadian companies. It would be yet another step in support of our growth and prosperity agenda.
     For these reasons, I hope all hon. colleagues will support the ratification of this free trade agreement with Honduras.

  (1255)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, to the great shame of Canadians, the government is busy promoting a free trade agreement by hiding behind so-called job creation and economic activity. In the meantime, there is no mention of the murders that occur every day all across that very small country, or the repression or human rights offences there.
    Let us not forget that since the 2009 coup d'état, that country has never gotten out from under its democratic deficit. It is absolutely incredible that in addition to completely muzzling us, the government is denying us our right to speak, claiming that it wants to accelerate the process for adopting this type of agreement.
    How can my colleague defend this type of behaviour?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I think the member, typical of the NDP, is opposed to trade agreements in general.
    What the member fails to appreciate is the fact that part of our north-south agreement is to help develop governance capacity in the nations with which we are engaging. We are investing through our aid programs and helping to build justice, train them in justice, train police forces, and help build governance capacity. These are all important measures in helping to stabilize any country.
     By providing employment and creating employment opportunities for Canadian businesses to interact, we want to help establish best practices to help them understand how proper labour arrangements work and what stable employment can provide for people in terms of economic opportunity to create a stable society. That is what free trade arrangements are about. If we waited for countries to be perfect, well, a lot of countries would miss an opportunity to get a hand up to a better level of life.
    Canada has had a very successful democracy. There are people who think we do not have it quite right yet. It is a work in progress, but we are trying to help those who are further behind to come up to a better level.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech that was just given by a government member.
    How is it that, after signing a number of free trade agreements under this government, Canada has gone from having a $26 billion trade surplus to having a $62 billion trade deficit?
    How can the government continue to sit back and do nothing as businesses close or outsource jobs? Why is the government doing nothing while foreign state-owned enterprises are buying up our natural resources?
    Why is the government still promoting these agreements?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that exports create about 35% of the economic opportunity and employment in Canada. We see this as an opportunity, which our friends opposite fail to appreciate, unfortunately. Creating opportunities for our Canadian companies to engage in other parts of the world, in fact, expands trade.
    NDP members were opposed to the North American Free Trade Agreement. On that side of the House, they are opposed to every free trade agreement we bring in. They said it would be a disaster and terrible for Canada. However, in fact, NAFTA brought great opportunity to Canada, and so has every other trade opportunity.
    I just mentioned in my speech that our trade with the north-south axis has increased 32% in the last few years. That creates opportunities, and opportunities are what we need in a very competitive world.
    That is why on our side of the House we support engaging with other nations. It is one of our best opportunities to help them with governance capacity, to help them with aid, and to help them develop economic opportunities in their own nations. We want to share Canada's expertise with the world and create opportunities for our own businesses at the same time.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today about the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.
    I have been very fortunate, in having been part of ParlAmericas, to go to Central America and meet with different leaders from various countries and to talk to them about the issues they have. This issue on trade is certainly extremely important. As a result of this experience, I am confident that members will also see the benefits of this partnership, for Canadian exporters, service providers, and investors alike.
    Our Conservative government is focused on the priorities of Canadians, that is, creating new jobs and new opportunities. We continue to work hard to ensure the competitiveness of Canadian businesses and exporters in the global marketplace.
    This free trade agreement with Honduras is about more than just trade and investment. Our Conservative government is committed to taking action on environmental issues that matter most to Canadians. We have been consistent in demonstrating that trade liberalization and environmental protection go hand in hand. For that reason, as part of this comprehensive free trade agreement, Canada and Honduras are committed to striving for good environmental governance, while at the same time opening our borders to the benefits of increased economic activity.
    Canada and Honduras recognize the need to implement this FTA in a manner that is consistent with environmental protection and promoting sustainable development. That is why in concluding this free trade agreement, Canada and Honduras also signed a parallel agreement on environmental co-operation. The parallel agreement commits both countries to encouraging high levels of domestic environmental protection to foster good environmental governance and promote transparency and public participation.
    This follows the approach we have taken in this regard with previous free trade agreements, such as those with Peru, Colombia, Jordan, and Panama, all building on the approach that Canada, the United States, and Mexico took together in negotiating environmental provisions alongside the North American free trade agreement.
    With the growth of economic, environmental, and social links between our two countries that will follow from this free trade agreement, Canada and Honduras recognize the desirability of pursuing policies that promote sustainable development and sound environmental management.
    This agreement on environmental co-operation, like others that Canada has signed, would commit Canada and Honduras to effectively enforcing our environmental laws and ensuring we do not relax or weaken those laws to encourage trade or investment. This agreement would commit both countries to pursuing high levels of environmental protection and continuing to develop and improve their environmental laws and policies.
    In recognition of the substantial benefits of international trade and investment, and with a view to strengthening our mutual economic and environmental objectives, this agreement includes a commitment to encouraging voluntary best practices of corporate social responsibility. It also includes a key commitment that both countries maintain appropriate environmental assessment procedures. These are also commitments to promoting public participation and transparency to promote public awareness of environmental laws and policies.
    Similarly, the agreement includes mechanisms that would allow residents of Canada and Honduras to ask questions of either party about the obligations under the agreement.
    The agreement would also commit Canada and Honduras to ensuring that domestic proceedings are available to provide sanctions or remedies for violations of our respective environmental laws.
    In addition, the agreement would also put in place a framework for Canada and Honduras to work co-operatively in support of the environmental objectives and obligations of this agreement. To this end, Canada and Honduras will work together to develop a co-operative work program to address mutual environmental priorities and enhance overall environmental management capacities.
    Points of co-operation will be determined once the agreement is in force, and could include working together on such priorities as environmental enforcement, climate change, migratory species, conservation of biodiversity, and protective areas management. In order to oversee implementation, a committee on the environment would be established, which would be comprised of government officials from both Canada and Honduras.

  (1305)  

    Importantly, we have set out a bilateral consultation mechanism in the agreement to address any differences that may come about through the implementation of this agreement. Our dispute resolution approach focuses on facilitating dialogue and building environmental management capacity rather than increasing the administrative burden.
    To complement the commitments in the environmental co-operation agreement itself, the Canada-Honduras FTA has a principle-based environment chapter that sets out the relationship between the FTA and the agreement on environmental co-operation. The FTA also includes other important environment-related provisions in relation to the importance of environmental protection and conservation and the promotion of sustainable development. Among these, the text of the free trade agreement ensures that certain multilateral environmental agreements with trade-related provisions would prevail over the FTA in the event of an inconsistency.
    With the Canada-Honduras agreement on environmental co-operation and the related text in the FTA, Canada has again taken steps to ensure that increased trade does not come at the expense of the environment. Together with Honduras, we have set out an agreement that commits us both to striving for good environmental governance in order to protect the environment, while realizing the benefits of increased economic activity flowing from liberalized trade.
    Our Conservative government is committed to increasing opportunities for mutually beneficial commerce and investment, including with our partners in the Americas, in order to generate inclusive and sustainable economic growth and prosperity. This new partnership with Honduras is a great example. The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement, and its parallel environment agreement, will contribute to new opportunities for Canadian businesses, exporters, and investors, while working to ensure positive environmental outcomes for both countries.
    For these reasons, I urge all members to support the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech just given by a government member.
    Although I do not want to call into question his sincerity when it comes to agreements and respecting the environment, I would like to express my doubt—with a capital “D”—about the government's sincerity and intentions when it comes to protecting the environment.
    However, that is not what my question is about. I would like the government member to tell me truthfully what Honduras is going to buy. What products is Canada going to sell to this country? What Canadian products is Honduras interested in buying?
    Trade involves purchases and so forth. What is Honduras going to buy from Canada to help us regain our trade balance? Right now we have a significant deficit.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member very much for the question. It gives me an opportunity to go through a list for each and every province, and I will certainly start with Quebec. Honduran tariffs in sectors of export interest, first of all, chemical production, would see the elimination of tariffs that range up to 15%. The industrial machinery sector includes articles of iron and steel. There is pork. There is maple syrup. These are some of the areas that should be important to the member and the people she represents.
    In Ontario, there is industrial machinery, plastics, textiles, pork, as well as live animals. To go to my own province, the exports we have there are beef, furniture, textiles, and construction equipment.
    I have had the opportunity to be in Central America, as I mentioned earlier in my speech, as part of my parliamentary duties with ParlAmericas. I have had chances to speak to members of the Honduran government. They look to Canada as a leader that can help to bring them out of the difficulties and issues they have. We need that.

  (1310)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the government's claims are nothing more than wishful thinking.
    Although I have very little free time, I make time each night before going to bed to read for a little while. I am just finishing up an essay written by French-American economist Esther Duflo, who is now an advisor to President Obama.
    In the part of the essay I am reading right now, she clearly establishes that a country needs strong institutions in order to prosper in an environment free of corruption and political and social dysfunction. However, such is not the case in Honduras.
    That being said, can my government colleague provide specific examples to back his claim that supporting a stronger economy in Honduras will automatically and magically result in democracy for that country?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what principles can we put in place? What principles are there? The suggestion was that there has to be a strong infrastructure together before we even try. That is so unfair.
    If an individual were to go to Central America and look at some of the issues that countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras deal with, they would see the things they have managed to do and what they are asking of Canada. We have been able to deliver on the justice issue and as far as democratic capacity. These are the things that we bring, because of our nature, because we are Canadians, and because we care about helping those throughout the world. That is the thing we should be looking at.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to participate in the debate. I only wish that the government had not come forward with a time allocation motion because I know a lot of my colleagues would like the opportunity to engage in this debate. Contrary to what the members opposite love to talk about, New Democrats are not opposed to trade, not in the least, but we want to make sure that the trade Canada participates in is trade that is not only good for Canada and Canadians but is also good for the countries and the people we trade with, and that it is done under the principles we consider important to us as Canadians.
    We have had concerns about some of the deals that the government has pulled together. This agreement, for example, came as a result of the fact that the Conservatives were unsuccessful in putting together a multilateral deal in Central America, dealing with a number of countries on the basis of some of those principles. As a result, we are now dealing with a bilateral trade deal that New Democrats have some concerns with, as we did with the deal with Colombia.
    Before I wade in any further, let me indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, as he has some important messages to share about this deal that are relevant to his constituents and Canadians whom he represents.
    Let me reiterate what my colleague, the NDP trade critic, has indicated before. New Democrats look at every and any trade deal on whether it meets three criteria. Number one, does the proposed partner share Canadian values that include respect for democracy, human rights, and does it have adequate environmental and labour standards? Number two, does the proposed deal offer significant or strategic value to Canada, Canadians, and our economy? Number three, are the actual terms of the agreement in themselves satisfactory? We have looked at the deal. We should understand that this deal, like everything else the government does, has been negotiated in complete secrecy, behind closed doors, without any consultation or discussion with Canadians about what they were doing, what the impact was, and so on.
    I have heard Conservative members somewhat piously, frankly, talk about what great things they are doing for the poor people of Honduras. What I would rather see the government do is use its influence on the government of Honduras to start recognizing true principles of democracy and honouring and respecting human rights and the right of law. That is not what the government has done and that is certainly a problem that New Democrats see with the Government of Honduras.
    It is not about whether we are able to help the country and the people of that country. If our development agencies, such as Democracy Watch, and other NGOs are able to work with likeminded organizations and communities within Honduras, that is a good thing. Unfortunately, those people, whether they be labour activists, environmentalists or journalists, are under threat as a result of the activities of Honduras and officials who represent either the government or the police. Therefore, the question of human rights abuses is a very serious one that the government should be taking into consideration before it tries to engage in any type of activity.

  (1315)  

    We have heard from a number of international organizations that as a result of the military coup in 2009, there is a government in place that does not respect the principles of democracy and human rights. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. It is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. It is a major drug-smuggling centre, and it is considered to be one of the most corrupt countries in Central America.
    What would this deal do about these issues? What would this deal do to try to make sure that the people are protected from what their government is doing?
    Frankly, by participating with the government and with the major corporations in Honduras, we would be saying that what they are doing is okay. We would be saying that what they do to their people is okay. What they do to their environment is okay. We just want do business with them.
    Let us not forget that Honduras is currently Canada's 104th export market. It is not high on the list in terms of value to Canadian exporters. In 2012, we exported $38 million and imported $218 million of merchandise. That is a similar kind of trade balance that we recognize that the government has been responsible for in each and every sector that we see in our economy.
    The concern we have, again, is that if we are going to participate as a country in the world, whether it be in trade issues or in human rights and democracy, whatever it is that we do, the way we walk on this earth, we want to do it based on those principles of respect, understanding the role of human rights and the law, protecting the environment, and the rights of labour so that people can come together collectively and represent themselves. That is what we believe. We want it so that those practices are allowed to continue. We should be a model for countries around the world. We should be participating with countries that reflect those same principles so that they can be enforced.
    Countries like Honduras that do not follow those practices and do not seem to have the same kinds of principles will look at Canada and say that they would like to trade with us and participate with us in an economic fashion, so what is it going to take? What are they going to have to do to make that happen? It would be very clear that there has to be a recognition and a respect for democratic rights, human rights, the environment, and the law.
    That is what Canada needs to do. That is why we have been opposed, because we do not feel that the Government of Honduras is an example of a country that we should be participating with.
    Do we want to help the people of Honduras? Absolutely. Do we want to try to make sure that their government respects their rights, their environment, and the rule of law? Absolutely. However, participating in a trade deal without demanding that certain practices change is not the answer. All that would do is make sure that the behaviours that we find reprehensible will continue.
    We can do better in this country. There are other nations that we need to be participating with. For example, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa are countries that we should be negotiating deals with. It is time that the government started to recognize countries that would make true partners with our nation and people, and move forward in that direction.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, while listening to the hon. member's speech, I heard him make a suggestion that these were pious pronouncements by members opposite, and of course I was the one who was just speaking prior to that. I do take some offence to his thoughts that we would be thinking about this in a callous way.
     I would like to talk a bit about the NDP trade critic being quoted in Huffington Post as saying that Honduras, along with Colombia, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, and Panama are “...not key economies with any kind of strategic value for Canada”. There was no discussion about human rights; just “no strategic value for Canada”.
    The NDP member for British Columbia Southern Interior has written that “trade agreements threaten the very existence of our nation”. There was no discussion about human rights as far as Canada is concerned.
    Then he mentioned that trade agreements are job destroying.
    We look at those situations and then they stand and say that they are the defenders of human rights and as long as we have the kind of country that has our unions with labour and everything else, that is what is important and then we can talk about it.
     I just wonder how Canadian businesses can be protected from the anti-trade rhetoric.
    Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying that I am glad the member was offended, although I did not say anything that he would necessarily need to be offended by. However, I am glad he responded to what I was saying because that means he is listening, and that is good and I appreciate that.
    My point was that the area where we disagree is that the Conservatives think they can deal with anybody as long as it is an economic agreement; that as long as they are doing business, it does not matter what the ethics or practices are of that company or that nation; and that it does not matter what the rules of law are, and so on. It does not seem to matter, the way the people are treated, and the way the environment is not protected, and the way that journalists are threatened and labour activists are thrown in jail. Those things do not matter. If we are going to do a deal, we are going to do a deal.
     My point, and the point of our trade critic who is doing such a great job on this file, is that we have some responsibility and that people do want to trade with Canada and Canada wants to trade with other people, but we do not trade at all costs and we ensure that we are carrying ourselves and conducting ourselves in ways that would make Canadians proud. That has to be the bottom line.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, as always I appreciate the passion that the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour brings to this place.
     At the outset of his remarks, he described his party as one that is in favour of free trade. There are a couple of sayings that come to mind immediately. One is that they can “talk the talk, but not walk the walk”; and also, perhaps not in the context of this particular agreement, but in general, that “the perfect is often the enemy of the good”.
    Given the member's statement that his party is one that supports free trade, other than the free trade agreement with Jordan, could he provide a list of the free trade agreements that his party has voted in support of?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question from the Liberal Party. It gives me an opportunity to talk about the fact that the Liberal Party supports the trade deal with Honduras, that the Liberal Party does not identify with the kind of precision I would suggest that we do in this caucus, regarding the pros and cons of any particular trade deal.
     The members of the government of this day feel that any trade deal is a good deal. When the Conservatives bring forward good deals that benefit our country, trade deals that recognize the way we are going to conduct business in the world and deal with the terrible trade imbalance we have in this country, then we will begin to look favourably on those trade deals.
    The Liberal Party has not done that. It has not brought trade deals that have benefited Canada in that way, nor has the Conservative Party. As soon as it does, then we will vote for those deals.
    However, let me say that we will see better trade deals after 2015 when the New Democratic Party forms the government.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for sharing his time with me this morning, because many of us who wanted to speak on this trade deal are going to be denied that opportunity as a result of the government's time allocation motion. I really appreciate the member's sharing his time.
    I am, of course, speaking to oppose this bill at second reading. I want to address something that keeps coming up again. I know that the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour addressed it as well. The NDP has said there are three criteria for assessing trade agreements. When those criteria are met, we will support these agreements.
     First, we should ask ourselves if the proposed trading partner is one who respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values generally. Second, is the proposed partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada? Third, are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory?
    I believe this agreement fails all three of these tests. That is the reason I plan to vote against it.
    I want to focus on the first criterion and the appalling human rights record of Honduras. International human rights organizations have documented serious human rights abuses, killings, arbitrary detentions of thousands of people, severe restrictions on public demonstrations and protests and freedom of expression, and interference in the independence of the judiciary. These are all well-established facts about the Honduran human rights record.
    Honduras, as many have mentioned, has the highest murder rate in the world and is considered the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Transparency International ranks it as the most corrupt country in Central America. We all know it is a major drug smuggling centre, and it has the worst income inequality in the region.
    Why has Canada chosen to negotiate a trade deal with Honduras, a country with a seriously flawed human rights record and a history of repressive, undemocratic politics?
    The democratically elected government of left-leaning president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a military coup in 2009. The Honduran army carried out this coup under the pretext of a constitutional crisis that was actually a dispute about the president's progressive social and economic policies. This move was widely condemned around the world, including by all other Latin American nations, the European Union, the United States, and the UN General Assembly.
    Canada has refused to consider any sanctions against the regime that succeeded president Zelaya, and has refused to condemn the systematic abuses of human rights that occurred in its aftermath. Instead, we have chosen to pursue a closer economic relationship with Honduras without conditions. It is interesting to note that the same time we are pursuing free trade with Honduras, we broke off free trade talks with El Salvador when it elected a progressive government. I think there is an agenda here that seems quite clear: we will do deals, but not with people who are too progressive.
    In January 2010, the current leader, Mr. Sosa, assumed the presidency through what almost all have called undemocratic and illegitimate elections. Most foreign governments and election monitoring agencies refused to even send observers to these elections, and almost all countries, I guess apart from Canada, have rejected the results of these elections.
    The leading Honduran human rights group has documented the killings of at least 16 political activists and candidates from the main opposition party since June 2012 and attacks on 15 more. On August 25, 2013, three leaders of the indigenous Tolupan of Honduras were shot and killed. There are extensively documented cases of police corruption and documentation of 149 ex-judicial killings of civilians by the police reported between January 2011 and November 2012 alone.
    Earlier the Minister of International Trade suggested that Honduras is coming out of a difficult period, but the facts paint a very different picture.
    Let us look at what international human rights organizations have to say about the situation in Honduras now. Let me quote from Amnesty International's written statement to the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council just a few days ago. The statement was called “Honduras: Deteriorating human rights situation needs urgent measures.” It says:
    Amnesty International is increasingly concerned about the human rights situation in Honduras, in particular about human rights violations against human rights defenders, women and girls, Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino (peasant) communities, and LGBTI people. These violations take place in a context where impunity for human rights violations and abuses is endemic and where organized and common crime is high. In 2011, according to UN figures, the homicide rate in Honduras was the highest in the world.
    It is a pretty damning indictment of the current human rights situation and not an indication that Honduras is coming out of some dark period.
    Human Rights Watch recently issued a similar report. For the sake of time today, I will not read through that report but it says essentially the same things as the Amnesty report.

  (1330)  

    I want to draw attention today to two groups that continue to be subject to extreme levels of violence in Honduras, journalists and transgendered Hondurans. According to Honduras' own National Human Rights Commission, 36 journalists were killed between 2003 and mid-2013. That is about one journalist every four months, and many others have suffered threats, attacks, and kidnappings, including the kidnapping and murder of the most prominent TV news anchor in June 2013.
    The authorities have consistently failed to investigate all of these crimes. No charges have been laid in the murder of the TV news anchor. Attacks on journalists and opposition candidates are of course attacks on democracy and should be a serious concern when they take place in a country with whom Canada is contemplating signing an international agreement of any kind.
    There has been less publicity about attacks on the other group I want to draw attention to, but who have been subject to even higher levels of violence in Honduras. This is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community, but in particular the transgendered community. Again, why would Canada seek an agreement with Honduras in view of its appalling record of violence against the LGBTQ community, especially when the Minister of Foreign Affairs has made strong statements in defence of gay rights in other forums?
    In May 2009, Human Rights Watch published a report on human rights abuses against transgendered people in Honduras called “Not Worth a Penny”. This report documents the murder of 17 transgendered people in public places, in broad daylight, in Honduras in the five years leading up to its report. Not one of these killings led to a prosecution or a conviction.
    Lest we be misled by the Minister of International Trade's assertion that things are getting better, let me provide some updates on how things are actually getting worse for transgendered Hondurans.
    Since the release of the 2009 human rights report, 34 more members of the LGBTQ community have been murdered in Honduras. The one bright spot is that there has been one prosecution and one conviction: 39 more attacks, one prosecution and one conviction.
    On January 31, 2011, Human Rights Watch sent a letter appealing to President Porfirio Lobo Sosa to investigate the murders of six transgendered women in a 60-day period. None of those deaths has been investigated and, obviously, there have been no arrests.
    Transrespect, the group that intends to document violence against the transgendered community around the world for the annual Trans Day of Remembrance, has documented eight more trans murders in Honduras in 2012, and 12 more in 2013. This gives Honduras the distinction of having the highest per capita transgender murder rate in the world. Not only is it the highest rate in the world, but it is also twice the rate of the country with the second highest rate, and three times that of the country with the third highest rate.
    This brings the total number of trans murders up to 60 in six years. This includes the January 9, 2009 assassination of Cynthia Nicole Moreno, a widely known Honduran transgender rights leader who worked as a spokesperson for Colectivo Violeta, the transgender rights organization. She was often seen on the streets helping to provide information about HIV and AIDS and basic human rights to transgendered sex workers, and she often represented the transgender community in the media. There has been no prosecution of anyone for her death.
    The North American Congress on Latin America, another observer of the sad events in Honduras, also documented the murder of Walter Trochez , a young health promoter for the Association for a Better Life for Persons Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS in Honduras. Again, he was shot in broad daylight by two men on a motorcycle. Although human rights groups have demanded an investigation, no one has been prosecuted for his killing to this date.
    What is most disturbing is that pattern of transgender murders indicates that security forces have often been involved, and that even where they have not been directly involved, they have consistently failed to investigate and follow-up with prosecutions of those responsible.
    I have chosen to focus on that first criterion of the three that the NDP says are those ones by which we must evaluate countries before entering into trade deals. Honduras is by any measure an undemocratic country, a serious human rights violator.
    Canadians expect our federal government to set a good example on the world stage by seeking out partners that respect fundamental human rights and share our sense that all citizens are entitled at the very least to the right to life and not being subject to attack by their own security forces.
    This deal fails to defend fundamental Canadian values on the world stage and fails to aid Hondurans who are seeking to protect their fundamental human rights.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague with great concern because I realized how far Canada has fallen internationally. Canada was seen as a champion of democratic development and human rights around the world, but we are now in a position where the Conservatives and Liberals laugh at the issue of human rights abuse.
    Looking back on our tradition, we had Brian Mulroney stand up against apartheid. Canada could have been there to make a buck but that government said no, that making a buck off the backs of such a corrupt system was not right. We saw previous Liberals regimes speak up against the murders and killings that were going on in El Salvador.
     However, today the present Conservative government and the Liberal opposition are of the position and mindset that anyone who raises concerns about the killing of people speaking up for their democratic rights is somehow speaking pie-in-the-sky silliness, and that to make buck off such a corrupt and illegitimate regime is how business is done.
    I would like to ask my hon. colleague how he thinks that places Canada, which once had such a stellar reputation for speaking up for on basic human rights, but now has this kind of cynical abuse from the Conservatives and Liberals.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for that question because it brings us to the heart of the matter. Canadians believe that we should still be pursuing those traditional policies, seeking to support the best in the world and not aiding the worst in the world.
    As I pointed out in my speech, we have a very interesting case in Central America. We were pursuing a free trade agreement with El Salvador when it elected a progressive government committed to improving public health and income distribution in the country. However, we broke off those talks and instead have continued to seek a closer relationship with Honduras, which, as I said many times, has the worst record in Central America and one of the worst human rights records in the entire world.
    I think Canadians would be ashamed to think that this is the role we are now playing on the international stage.
    Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my hon. colleague's speech focusing on some very difficult human rights abuses in Honduras.
    However, I find the current Conservative government very hypocritical, in that it will rush to defend human rights in certain cases and at the same time negotiate free trade agreements with countries with the worst human rights records.
    The government knows how serious that situation has been since 2009, when the Government of Honduras suspended the right to free speech and right to liberty. These are fundamental rights that we enjoy here in Canada. However, the supposition in the catechism of the Conservative Party is that if one has a free trade with a bad regime, somehow the regime will become good. The thing is, there is no evidence for that. This is taken on faith by the Conservative Party. In fact, it could have the effect of propping up an undemocratic and, frankly, totalitarian regime.
     I wonder what my hon. colleague has to say on that point of faith of the Conservatives.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Pontiac for his question because, again, it brings us back to the heart of the matter.
    The Conservatives on the other side like to say that the NDP always oppose trade agreements. We know that is not true. However, we are demanding that there be standards for those trade agreements and that those standards reflect the values of all Canadians.
    It is important to remember that this is not an attack on the people of Honduras; this is an attack on a government that was not democratically elected but placed in power by the military.
    Instead of working with people who are trying to build democracy in Honduras, signing this trade agreement would make us partners with a corrupt, human rights violating government. I do not think that is what Canadians expect of our country on the international stage.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of the bill. I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights.
    This afternoon it is my great pleasure to speak about Canada's development program in Honduras. I wish to demonstrate how our Conservative government's development program provides a positive platform for the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement. I welcome the opportunity to present to members the development context in Honduras and our development program there, and to highlight the many results achieved to date.
    We are confident that our government's development program will support and promote economic opportunities in Honduras in a way that will allow trade between both countries to grow steadily over time.
    Canada has a long-standing development relationship with Honduras, and it has provided official development assistance to the country since 1969, contributing over $450 million to date.
    Through the years Canada has become a key donor in that country, a well-respected and influential partner for the Government of Honduras and for other donors. Honduras is one of the 20 countries of focus for Canada's development assistance. It is Canada's largest bilateral program in Central America and the second-largest in the hemisphere. In 2011-2012, Canada provided over $39 million to the country through all development channels. This makes Canada the third-largest bilateral donor in Honduras and the sixth-largest overall donor in the country.
    If I may, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about Honduras and what our Conservative government is doing to help address that country's development needs.
    Honduras, as we know through discussion today, is a lower-middle-income country with a small, open economy that relies heavily on trade and remittances. The country is highly vulnerable to hurricanes and floods. Most of the population rely on agriculture for their livelihood, a sector that accounted for 14.8% of Honduras' GDP in 2012.
     Sixty per cent of the population is living in poverty, 18% of whom are considered to be living in extreme poverty. What is particularly alarming is that the situation has shown little improvement since 2009 as the country has felt the effects of the global economic downturn. This is particularly true for rural areas of Honduras, where the most vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population live.
    Although the Honduran government has made efforts to reduce poverty, economic and social progress has been slow. A big concern is the state of youth, because 52.4% of the population of 7.8 million are under 19 years old. Honduras' young population faces major obstacles in their everyday life.
    Youth face limited employment and economic opportunities, limited access to social services, and limited access to land and infrastructure. These factors, coupled with the difficulty of escaping or evading the lure of criminal activities, constrain their ability to improve their lives. It is no surprise, then, that crime and insecurity in that country continue to be of great concern.
    Hondurans in general face a dire economic situation. They are confronted with high unemployment, dangerous and unsafe working conditions, and limited protection of their rights. Canada's bilateral development program is therefore helping to improve the lives of Hondurans by focusing its investments in sustainable economic growth, food security, access to social services, human rights, and the rule of law.
    Our investments from all development channels help contribute to the strategy's three goals: to increase Canadian and hemispheric economic opportunities; to address insecurity and advance freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law through capacity-building; and last, to build a stable foundation for Canada's engagement and increased influence in the hemisphere.

  (1345)  

    Since 2007, our government has pledged to make Canadian assistance more relevant and effective. Development assistance in Honduras is a testimony to these commitments. Programming focuses on delivering poverty reduction results based on the Honduran national development plan.
    What have we accomplished so far?
    We are proud to say that our Conservative government has achieved significant results in the areas of food security and sustainable economic growth. As a result of our programming, close to 530,000 people have increased access to nutritious food, including pregnant women and primary school-age girls and boys.
    Canada has helped to improve agricultural productivity. Over 15,000 people are benefiting from improved water systems, and 2,800 families have crop storage facilities, greatly reducing post-harvest losses.
    Over 1,500 hectares of land have been rehabilitated for the improved production of cocoa and coffee. Eighteen coffee co-operatives now have access to credit to support the production of certified coffee. Honduran coffee is well recognized and appreciated around the world. Coffee production is also an area of comparative advantage for that country, as Honduras has been reintegrating into the global coffee market.
    We are also working to improve access to social services by supporting initiatives that seek to reduce preventable diseases and infant mortality and improve the health care system. Canada has contributed to important advancements in these areas. We have contributed to reducing the percentage of child mortality by 11% in two provinces and have provided health care counselling to 85,000 adolescents.
    In the education sector, we are investing $20 million in the Education for All program, a multi-donor pooled fund to support the Honduran national education program. To date, primary graduation rates have reached 91% from a baseline of 69% in 2008, while dropout rates for grades 1 to 6 have declined during that same period.
    This Conservative government strongly believes that continued engagement in development in Honduras is the best way to help that country address its development, security, and human rights challenges. I think we would all agree that trade and development have converging interests in promoting sustainable economic growth and that these interests can serve the people of both Canada and Honduras.
    By building on the successes achieved, Canada's development assistance will continue to increase the productivity of small rural producers, connect farmers to markets, and create employment opportunities for the people of Honduras, in particular for women and youth. Canada is well positioned to provide assistance to improve the lives of those most in need, to promote sustainable economic growth, and to encourage synergies between trade and development. Our goal is to create shared prosperity for both of our countries.
    This government remains committed to working with the Honduran government to promote sustainable economic growth and a sound, dynamic, and stable Honduran economy. The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement is one of the best ways to support positive change and growth in Honduras.
    As a result, I urge all members to support the ratification of the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.

  (1350)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely shocked that this government, with the complicity of the Liberals, is so actively endorsing the urban legend that economic measures can correct the democratic deficit.
    Earlier, I asked if there really was a good example of economic measures resulting in enhanced democracy and respect for human rights. The previous speaker, the parliamentary secretary's Conservative colleague, refused to answer and responded again with a smokescreen.
    Can the parliamentary secretary cite for the House an actual example of a real success story resulting from the proposed measures?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we strongly believe in the promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as principles of Canada's foreign policy. We promote those principles vigorously in our foreign policy throughout the world.
    In addition, we have a very aggressive trade promotion agenda, because in addition to fighting for human rights, we believe that economic opportunity and prosperity come through trade. When societies are grown and enhanced, opportunities are created, and human rights situations, the quality of governance, and the stability of government institutions are increased and enhanced. That is what we fundamentally believe, and we will continue that important work.

  (1355)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary obviously refused to answer my question. He prefers to stay stuck in his daydream.
    In the House at this time, Bill C-20 on the Honduras free trade agreement is not even an economic issue. It is a moral issue because in light of the total lack of respect and the crimes committed in Honduras, the government, with the complicity of the Liberals, is supporting a government that tolerates the reign of criminal groups.
    It is shameful for the people of Honduras and for Canadians to see this complicity and this support for the type of situation prevailing in Honduras right now. That is incredible.
    How can the parliamentary secretary justify this position?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat shocked and dismayed that the NDP is happy to have countries such as Honduras simply drift and to not have their development needs, their human rights requirements, and their opportunities for economic growth addressed.
    We on this side of the House are focused on each of those important pillars through our development assistance programs, through our focus on human rights, and through this important free trade agreement. This agreement would enhance economic opportunity and, as a result, create improvements in the social, democratic, and human rights conditions in Honduras as well.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, there are still some things that I simply cannot understand. When an agreement like this is said to be good, even though no one really wants to talk about the human rights situation in the country with which we are about to sign an agreement, that makes absolutely no sense to me.
    An agreement with these potential economic gains cannot simply ignore the country's social problems. My colleague mentioned this earlier. We are trying to incorporate this into the debate, because to the NDP, it is an integral part of it.
    Is my colleague aware of the human rights problems? Is he at least willing to recognize here in the House that they exist? If so, can he tell me what this agreement does to show Canada's leadership role in helping the people of Honduras and to demonstrate that Canada takes the issue of human rights very seriously?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have spent much of the time during both of my responses and much of the time during my speech speaking about Canada's development assistance program in Honduras and about the economic, social, and human rights conditions in that country. We are focused on those important issues. We are working very hard, both bilaterally through NGOs and as well through multilateral organizations, to improve the situation in Honduras.
    In addition, we want to see greater economic hope and opportunity for the people of that country. Through greater hope and opportunity will come jobs and prosperity, an enhanced society, an enhanced democracy, and an enhanced human rights situation. Why does the NDP not understand that?
    Order. The time for government orders has expired. This matter will return after question period.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

International Women's Day

    Mr. Speaker, March 8 will not be a day of celebration for all women in Quebec.
    The Pauline Marois government has decided to make an election issue out of a charter that will cost women their jobs if they choose to wear a head scarf, even though one of the gains of the women's movement has been greater access to the labour market.
    Until that shameful partisan bill is repudiated once and for all, let us think about all the women who suffer because they have chosen to wear a head scarf. Let us affirm the right to express our diversity. We are all Quebeckers and Canadians, without exception.
    Happy International Women's Day to women everywhere.

  (1400)  

[English]

PED Virus

    Mr. Speaker, my riding of Perth—Wellington is among the greatest pork producing regions in the country. Pork producers are rightly concerned about the PED virus, which has spread throughout southern Ontario. I commend the pork producers for their strong efforts to contain the disease.
    Our government-supported strong biosecurity measures on farms remain the best line of defence against PED. As provincial veterinary authorities continue to lead in investigating and tracing the cause of this disease, our government has instructed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to support these efforts.
    In addition to the iPED+ vaccine, approved last month, the CFIA is leading an investigation into any possible links to animal feed.
    I thank our pork producers, the Minister of Agriculture , and our government's ongoing efforts, vigilance, and dedication to protecting our farms, an integral part of our economy.

[Translation]

International Women's Day

    Mr. Speaker, International Women's Day is this Saturday. I would like to congratulate all women in Canada, especially those in my riding, Honoré-Mercier.
    Today, the Rivière-des-Prairies women's centre is celebrating its 30th anniversary. As much as I would like to celebrate with them, I am here in the House, because my constituents gave me a mandate and I am proud to represent them.
    Speaking of our role here, 77 of the 308 members of Parliament are women. That is just 25%. Canadian parliamentary democracy has a long way to go.
    Still, there is hope. In the 2011 election, the NDP fielded a record number of female candidates. Of the party's 308 candidates, 123—40%—were women. The NDP now has 36 female MPs, which makes ours the caucus with the most women in Canadian history. Our party walks the talk. With the NDP, women have a real opportunity to help build our democracy and to make gender equality a reality.

[English]

Black History Month

    Mr. Speaker, black Bramptonians have a rich cultural history and one that I had the pleasure of experiencing during Black History Month at a number of local events.
    Praise Cathedral Worship Centre offered an evening of education and entertainment in honour of Black History Month. The theme of Praise Cathedral's celebration was “Dream, Dare, Do”. It was an exceptional event. I want to extend special thanks to Bishop Lennox DaCosta Walker, Lady Dorett Walker, and Karen Cunningham, who all played important roles in making the event such a success.
    I also attended a Black History Month concert put on by the Brampton chapter of the Congress of Black Women and the United Achievers' Club. It was a great night that included musical and dance performances.
    I want to thank Fiona McNeil, the president of the Brampton chapter of the Congress of Black Women and Lucinda Sloley, the president of the Brampton United Achievers' Club, for inviting me to participate in this great evening. These events epitomize the pride that black Bramptonians have in their cultural heritage, and I was proud to be part of their celebrations,

Festival of Nowruz

    Mr. Speaker, while we are in our ridings meeting with our constituents over the next two weeks, Canadians from many different cultural communities will be celebrating Nowruz, the new year festival.
    Nowruz falls on March 21, the equinox, and represents the beginning of spring. The coming of a new spring represents renewal. In preparation for spring, many Canadians will clean their homes and visit with their neighbours. On the day of Nowruz, families gather to enjoy each other's company and celebrate the new year.
    The festival of Nowruz exemplifies a wealth of ancient rights and customs and symbolizes the community of a culture that has survived thousands of years. It is celebrated across the Middle East, Central Asia, and right here in Canada.
    There is a proud history of celebrating Nowruz in Canada. On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I want to wish those celebrating Nowruz across Canada a very happy new year.

  (1405)  

Service Club Council of Cornwall and District

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House once again, so proud of the constituents in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. I would like to acknowledge the great work being done by a unique organization in my community, the Service Club Council of Cornwall and District.
    The city of Cornwall is home to a wide array of service clubs that play a huge part in making our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family, but many of them face the same challenges: difficulty raising money, recruiting new volunteers, and getting the next generation of Canadians interested in volunteerism.
    The Service Club Council of Cornwall and District has been active for nearly 70 years, working together on projects and annual events like the Santa Claus parade and the Children's Christmas Fund. Each year they have an annual dinner where the 14 member clubs gather to celebrate their successes. I have had the honour to attend several times.
    Service clubs and volunteers are the backbone of a successful community. The Service Club Council of Cornwall and District is a perfect example of that statement.

[Translation]

Employment Resource Centre

    Mr. Speaker, access to the job market and job retention are still major challenges and concerns, particularly for youth. However, I would like to acknowledge the exceptional work of PLACE Rive-Sud, an organization in my riding that is holding its annual job fair today.
    This year, PLACE Rive-Sud is celebrating 30 years of excellence and success. It has provided guidance, training and labour market access to over 50,000 people aged 16 and over who live in Longueuil. Last year alone, 4,000 people benefited from the outstanding service provided by the 50 employees who are dedicated to this cause.
    This example demonstrates the quality and success of Quebec's youth employment centres. I wish continued success to PLACE Rive-Sud and the work it does in social and economic development.

[English]

Canadian Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to join our hard-working Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in Toronto and Calgary a few weeks ago to announce our Conservative government's Bill C-24, the strengthening Canadian citizenship act, which will strengthen the immense value of Canadian citizenship and ensure that a Canadian passport remains highly regarded around the world.
    I also want to personally thank the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for working with me and transferring the contents of my private member's bill, Bill C-425, into his new act. Once this bill becomes law, Canada will fall into line with virtually every other western democratic nation. It will have the ability to strip the citizenship of convicted terrorists. According to a national poll, this measure has the support of over 85% of Canadians from across Canada, including 80% of NDP supporters, 87% of Liberal supporters, and 83% of those who immigrated to Canada.
    I call upon the opposition to represent the will of their constituents and support this bill.

Yarmouth Lightstation

    Mr. Speaker, cap Fourchu, at the mouth of Yarmouth Harbour in Nova Scotia, has been welcoming visitors since 1604, when Samuel de Champlain landed and named the area cap Fourchu. By 1870, Yarmouth was the second largest port of registry in Canada and the cap Fourchu Lightstation had become a very important shipping beacon.
     By the 1990s, lighthouses were becoming obsolete. Local citizens of Yarmouth County formed the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society to preserve this important piece of nautical history. In 2003, the Province of Nova Scotia registered the cap Fourchu Lightstation as a heritage property. cap Fourchu Lightstation is featured on this year's cover of the Tourism Doers' & Dreamers' Travel Guide issued by the Province of Nova Scotia.
    Congratulations to the amazing volunteers in Yarmouth County who have preserved this icon and have reminded us of our connection to the sea.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, community groups and unions from across Canada are gathered in Ottawa right now to share their terrible problems caused by the changes that the government made to the employment insurance program.
    Everyone is concerned that these changes are destroying the economy in many regions and taking a terrible toll on workers in the seasonal industry. Among those workers, women are particularly vulnerable. Since women take on most of the family responsibilities, they will have to resort to withdrawing from the job market altogether rather than taking a job that offers lower wages.
    Everyone is concerned about the delays in processing files, the dysfunctional Social Security Tribunal, the way the Conservatives keep disparaging the unemployed, and the way every organization that assists the unemployed is being pushed out.
    The NDP hears those concerns and shares them. We will come up with the means to implement a program for workers that gives them back their right to employment insurance.

  (1410)  

[English]

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, I regret to inform this place that the senior Liberal spokesman for veterans affairs did the unthinkable at committee on Tuesday. Members from across the political spectrum know that the member for Scarborough—Agincourt will stoop low to play cheap partisan games. As a veteran, I condemn his behaviour.
    His games on Tuesday, however, backfired, and he indirectly insulted a veteran who was appearing at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. This member's partisan games must stop, particularly when they insult or demean witnesses appearing at a parliamentary committee.
    I call on the member for Scarborough—Agincourt to apologize to the witnesses who appeared on Tuesday. Anything less will demonstrate that the member is simply unfit for the role he has been assigned, and I would urge his leadership to re-evaluate his position.

International Women's Day

    Mr. Speaker, on International Women's Day, we celebrate the strength and courage of women's rights activists worldwide. Around the world, women and men are standing on the front lines of struggles for equal rights, access to abortion and birth control, LGBTQ rights, the right to be educated, and, in too many places, human rights as well.
    Here at home, indigenous women and their allies are calling for a national inquiry and national action on missing and murdered indigenous women. Every rally, vigil, march, and round dance, held in honour of indigenous women, demonstrates that there is no stopping the tide of voices demanding justice.

[Translation]

    This week, Canadians saw a young, courageous female leader oppose and attack rape culture. Anne-Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, gave a voice to those of us who want to put an end to misogyny on our campuses and in our society.
    As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us celebrate all these fights for equality. We want to express our solidarity with these young people who are fighting for women's rights, and we want them to know that together we will succeed.

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I was surprised to hear the Leader of the Opposition's position yesterday on the possibility that some members of his caucus from Quebec support an openly separatist party.
    I hope he will call them to order regarding this inconsistency, especially since the leader of the NDP supports a coalition with the Liberal Party of Canada. Imagine a coalition in which the Liberals, the NDP socialists and then separatists who are afraid to admit it are in charge of our future. Unbelievable.
    Canadians want serious, motivated and experienced parliamentarians who have solid, ambitious policies.
    Our Conservative government, under the strong leadership of our Prime Minister, provides a guarantee for a united, prosperous country with a clear vision for the future.

Nancy Charest

    Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that we learned of the sudden death of Nancy Charest.
    A lawyer, tax expert and member of the National Assembly from 2003 to 2007, then the federal Liberal candidate in Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, Nancy was an intelligent, exceptional, energetic and congenial woman with boundless love and pride for her region.
    In 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy during a visit to Mont-Joli to talk about water issues.
    We spent the day meeting her constituents and then finished off with a visit to the Maurice Lamontagne Institute research centre. I was immediately struck by her curiosity about the research conducted at the centre.
    Nancy always wanted to learn more in order to help her region and promote its interests in Quebec City and Ottawa.
    Through her passion and her dedication to the public interest, Nancy Charest was an ambassador unlike any other for the Lower St. Lawrence.

[English]

Mining Industry

    Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to attend the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's annual conference this past weekend, in Toronto . This is the largest mining conference in the world, with over 25,000 participants representing 125 countries.
    The mining sector is vital to the Canadian economy, and it is particularly critical to my home province of Saskatchewan. I was pleased to meet with a wide range of both junior and medium-sized companies, and was proud to relay our government's support for the industry, right from the exploration phase all the way through to production. I was also encouraged to see many of my hon. colleagues in attendance.
    Our government is proud to support the mining industry, and it will continue to promote this vital sector of the Canadian economy.

  (1415)  

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government tried its best today to prevent committee members from hearing testimony from Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand, just like it has been trying to prevent Canadians from having their say on this bill.
    It is clear that Conservatives are afraid of consultation. However, that is no surprise after hearing Mr. Mayrand's critique of this unfair bill. He has delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of almost everything that the minister has claimed. Mayrand warned that this bill focuses on voter fraud that does not exist, instead of voter participation, which is a growing problem.
    The government refuses to take people at their word and treats law-abiding Canadians like criminals. Meanwhile, Conservatives are happy for millions of dollars to be paid out to political parties without a single receipt.
    This bill is an affront to our democracy. New Democrats know it. Canadians know it. In 2015, we will start fixing what is broken in Ottawa.

The Pictou Advocate

    Mr. Speaker, today I was shocked to learn that The Pictou Advocate newspaper, in Pictou, Nova Scotia, recently ran an editorial cartoon featuring the Nazi flag flying over Canada's Parliament.
     It was here in this Parliament that members before us sent our soldiers to fight darkness and evil. Our men and women bravely fought for Canada in the Second World War, defending our liberty, freedom, and values. It was here that members from all parties voted to honour the memory of lives so viciously taken by Nazi brutality, sending a strong message that human rights, the rule of law, and human decency will always prevail, and that never again would we allow such atrocities to take place.
    The crass and casual use of the Nazi flag flying over Canada's cradle of democracy is not only an insult to our men and women in uniform, it belittles the memory of the victims and the survivors who suffered at the hands of Nazi dictators. We condemn this shameful and cowardly act, and call on The Pictou Advocate to immediately retract the hurtful image and apologize.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, grain farmers and the western provinces are pleading with the federal government to finally act in order to move the millions of tonnes of Canadian grain that are at risk of rotting because there is no transportation available.
    There is a desperate need for stricter rules and harsher penalties for rail companies that shirk their duties and take our farmers hostage. The House will break tomorrow for two weeks, and the Conservatives still have not done anything about this.
    What are they waiting for? When will they help our farmers and get the grain moving?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition is taking a belated interest in our farmers.
    For our government, the economy is our top priority, and certainly the agricultural sector and our grain farmers are a very important part of our economy. Farmers need a reliable, efficient, logistics system. We will be taking action to ensure that system meets their needs.
    Mr. Speaker, they do not need a logistics system; they need a government that acts.
    Yesterday the Minister of Agriculture said that new legislation to force rail carriers to get—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please.
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, thousands of prairie grain farmers are having their livelihood held hostage by the railways.
    Yesterday the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said that new legislation to force rail carriers to get this grain moving again would be brought forward “at the right time and place”.
    Would the Minister of Transport, who is responsible for this file, finally act, assume her responsibility for this crisis, and help our prairie farmers get their grain to market?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, once again, I say that the opposition leader is very late to this file. Our government, on the other hand, has been actively engaged with all stakeholders on—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary now has the floor.
    That is right, Mr. Speaker. I have the floor.
    I am telling the opposition that our government has been actively engaged on this file for a very long time, with all stakeholders in the industry. Farmers know that we will take action.

[Translation]

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, over a million Canadian seniors do not have a driver's licence. Many of them use the Elections Canada voter cards as identification.
    In fact, the Chief Electoral Officer, who knows better than anyone else, says that the names and addresses on voter cards are more up to date than the information on driver's licences.
    Why is the government banning the use of voter cards if they contain fewer errors than driver's licences?
    Mr. Speaker, people do not need a driver's licence to vote in Canada. In fact, they do not even need photo identification. There are 39 forms of identification allowed.

[English]

    These include old age security cards, hospital and medical clinic cards, hospital bracelets worn by residents of long-term care facilities, Veterans Affairs Canada health cards, and I could go on. There are many ID forms on that list of 39 that are specifically available to people of retirement age. We would encourage Elections Canada to ensure that those people know about those forms of ID.
    Mr. Speaker, Canada's Chief Electoral Office testified today that the unfair elections act proposed by the Conservatives would in fact allow them to dress up campaign advertising as fundraising appeals to get around all existing campaign spending limits in the next election.
    Mr. Mayrand said this change would make it “difficult, if not impossible to enforce” spending limits altogether.
    This is exactly what we have been saying since day one. The only reason that the Conservatives are doing this is to stack the deck for the next election.
    What other reason could there be?
    Mr. Speaker, point number one, the NDP excluded all fundraising expenses from its own leadership race, a position against which it is arguing right now.
    Second, the Chief Electoral Officer is wrong on this point, as well as on other points. The bill we are bringing forward, the fair elections act, would require that all mass-calling scripts and all autodial scripts be kept for a year, so they can be available for investigators to examine them.
    Finally, there would be external audits, which would allow the auditor to determine if money was spent on fundraising calls versus other calls.
    There would be also a purpose section in this particular provision of the bill.
    There are many layers of protection.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister has stood in this House, week after week, to make fanciful claims about election irregularities and voter fraud.
    Today, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada demolished each and every one of those false arguments before committee. He said there was “no evidence” connecting administrative errors at Elections Canada to any form of electoral fraud whatsoever.
    Will the minister finally admit that the only evidence of voter fraud that he has ever had is the fake testimony of the member of Parliament for Mississauga—Streetsville?
    Mr. Speaker, this gives me occasion to correct the explicit factual error in the CEO's testimony when he said that the errors linked to vouching were strictly record-keeping that would not compromise an election.
    This is what page 10 of his own report said:
...the Supreme Court made it clear that such errors in other circumstances could contribute to a court overturning an election.
    That sounds pretty serious to me.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the grain crisis in western Canada, the Minister of Transport could act today under section 47 of the Canada Transportation Act to implement an emergency solution.
    She could, in addition to that, seek unanimous consent for amendments to service level legislation to define service, to measure performance, and to pay damages to farmers when the railways fail. She could do those things.
    Why is the minister failing in her responsibility to western Canadian farmers?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I explained, the economy is the number one priority for our government, and certainly the grain sector plays an active role in the strength of our economy.
    Farmers deserve a reliable and efficient logistics system, but a key element of the logistics system is the railway system. The railway system has been performing poorly.
    Farmers know that we will take action.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, we have repeatedly asked the government about its decision to gut funding for the building Canada infrastructure fund at the end of this month.
    It is being cut by 87%. This fiscal year, building Canada's budget is running at $1.6 billion. Next fiscal year, starting April 1, the building Canada budget drops to just $210 million. The difference is a cut of 87%.
    The government does not deny it. It just talks around it. The question remains. Why is it imposing this huge infrastructure cut on local municipalities at the beginning of next month?
    The economic action plan 2013 announced $70 billion over 10 years, a decade. We have to look at all 10 years, including the $53 billion for provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure.
    Mr. Speaker, just to be clear, Conservative cuts to building Canada funding are laid out in painful detail in its own 2013 budget plan at page 178, table 3.3.1. It is there in black and white for everybody to see.
    Building Canada is chopped by 87%, starting on April 1, just 25 days from now. Municipalities get dinged this coming year and the year after that, and every year until 2019.
    Here is the question. Is table 3.3.1 true, or is the budget plan a lie? Canadian municipalities need to know.
    We have indexed the gas tax fund. We have doubled it. That is now permanent in the law; 71% of this plan is going straight to the municipalities of the country, and FCM is supporting that plan.

[Translation]

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, in committee today, the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, pointed out that political parties are reimbursed $33 million after each election, without providing a single receipt or piece of documentation.
    The electoral deform bill is not a game-changer for political parties, but it will treat each and every voter as a potential cheat.
    Why has the government introduced a bill that does not express any trust in voters, but shows complete trust in political parties?
    Mr. Speaker, we will be adding mandatory auditing of every cent of election expense money that parties are hoping to have reimbursed. That auditing process is new.
    In addition, according to section 435, the Chief Electoral Officer can choose to ask for more information before reimbursing parties with taxpayers' money. He already has that authority and can exercise it.
    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we called for in a motion that was unanimously adopted in the House two years ago, and it is still not in the bill.
    Mr. Mayrand also explained to the committee members that there is not a single democracy in the world whose elections agency has had restrictions imposed on it by the government in power regarding the information it can share with the public, including information about electoral fraud.
    Can the minister name another democracy that muzzles its head of elections in this way?
    Mr. Speaker, there are none, and our Chief Electoral Officer will not be muzzled either. He will still be able to talk about democracy in Canada.

[English]

    However, she refers to a motion in the House of Commons in which we voted for Elections Canada's powers, and it said we would support giving him the power to request all necessary documents from political parties to ensure compliance with the Elections Act. He already has that power.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, Marc Mayrand has joined a chorus of other experts and a growing number of Canadians who are simply not buying the minister's weak explanation for his radical rewriting of the Elections Act.
    Mr. Mayrand critiqued the bizarre distinction the Conservatives are trying to make between voter fraud and voter participation.
    How can the minister possibly disagree with the Chief Electoral Officer when he says, “...the main challenge for our electoral democracy is not voter fraud, but voter participation”?
    Mr. Speaker, I will simply read Elections Canada's own report, which says of irregularities related to vouching and procedures like it that, “The courts refer to such serious errors as ‘irregularities’ which can result in votes being declared invalid”.
    There were 50,000 such irregularities in the last election related to vouching, according to Elections Canada's own report.
    If the NDP wants to take its message that people should be able to vote without any form of identification, that is fine. We on this side of the House of Commons will protect the integrity of the system.
    Mr. Speaker, this is about our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy, and all we get from the minister is weak and misleading excuses.
    The Chief Electoral Officer said people are increasingly refusing to co-operate with Elections Canada's investigations. Since most of these are about Conservative wrongdoing, can the minister tell us if he will now agree to give Elections Canada the power to compel testimony?
     Before he claims that these are extraordinary powers, we are only asking for the same powers the Competition Bureau already has.
    Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Canada Elections already has all of the investigative powers of a police force, which could investigate violent crime, for example.
    We will ensure that he keeps all of those powers. In fact, the fair elections act gives him sharper teeth and a longer reach. That includes tougher penalties for existing offences and more offences that will allow him to protect the system and protect our democracy.
    Mr. Speaker, at committee today, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand pointed to serious discrepancies in the Elections Act around expenses for leadership candidates.
    He emphasized the urgent need to amend the act to include many excluded expenses, as well as non-monetary contributions, within spending limits.
    Does the minister agree with the Chief Electoral Officer that these new loan provisions in the unfair elections act need to be amended in order to be effective; and will the minister acknowledge that this is one of the many major problems in his bill?
    Mr. Speaker, if there is an exclusion that he wants to revisit, like when the NDP excluded all fundraising expenses from its spending limits, for example, first he should contact his party, which makes its own rules for leadership races. Second, I invite him to bring forward any amendments.
    However, the fair elections act will close the loans loophole that allowed the Liberal Party to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal donations simply by calling it unrepaid debt.
    That is a step in the right direction. That is the fair elections act.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, new RCMP documents show the extent of illegal lobbying that was carried on by the Prime Minister's former chief adviser Bruce Carson, along with the help of people like Dan Gagnier, the adviser to the Liberal leader.
    He illegally lobbied numerous Conservative cabinet ministers. None of them blew the whistle on him. He lobbied the Clerk of the Privy Council and even the Prime Minister's good friend Nigel Wright.
    Will the Prime Minister tell us: When was he informed about this illegal lobbying that was happening among his ministers, his public servants, and his staff?
    Mr. Speaker, of course these allegations relate to the actions of a private citizen who obviously did not get a government contract. As soon as the government found out about these allegations we referred them to the Lobbying Commissioner and the Ethics Commissioner, and we informed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Again, like any Canadian, if this gentleman is found to have broken any laws, he should suffer under the full consequences of the law.
    Mr. Speaker, this so-called private citizen is a convicted fraud artist who was personally appointed by the Prime Minister to be his chief insider. He was such an insider that the Conservatives called him “the secret sauce”. This is what the sauce was. He was using his plum position to benefit his bottom line by setting up deals that took advantage of first nations.
    Why did the Prime Minister appoint a convicted fraud artist to a plum position and then allow him to continue on lobbying right under his nose and not take any steps for the Privy Council or for his chief of staff?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, these allegations are concerning a private citizen.
    At the same time, this allows me to highlight the fact that it was this government that brought forward a Lobbying Commissioner and an Ethics Commissioner and that strengthened the laws to ensure that people do not take advantage of their positions.
    As soon as the government found out, it referred this to the RCMP. If this gentleman or any person found in contravention of the law is found guilty then they should suffer under the full consequences of the law that, by and large, this government has brought in.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members that Bruce Carson was one of the Prime Minister's key advisors. He is best known for devising a scheme for making money on the backs of first nations.
    Doug Black, who was appointed to the Senate by this Prime Minister, called his illegal lobbying the “secret sauce”. As a public office-holder, Bruce Carson was not allowed to engage in lobbying activities.
    The question is simple. Is the Prime Minister aware of Bruce Carson's illegal lobbying of Daniel Gagnier of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, who is also the next co-chair of the 2015 election campaign?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this question. These are major allegations against a private citizen.
    At the same time, I would like to point out the good work that this government is doing to guarantee the highest ethical standards. I am referring to the work of the Ethics Commissioner and the Commissioner of Lobbying. When the government heard these allegations, it immediately notified the RCMP.
    Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, we have just heard a new story that Nigel Wright hid things from the Prime Minister. We are starting to see a pattern here.
    It is hard to believe that Nigel Wright forgot to tell his boss that the man working for him, who advised him and was part of his transition team, had just happened to stop by the office. However, he never said that.
    It seems as though a lot of ministers in the current government, including the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, have tried the so-called secret sauce. It is fantastic.
    Why does the Prime Minister always surround himself with people who break the law?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, of course the member's assertions are absolutely, completely ridiculous.
    On this side of the House we surround ourselves with people who put the interests of this country first, who work day in and day out to make this country bigger, better, stronger, and to create jobs, unlike the opposition. The Leader of the Opposition surrounds himself with people who would want to break apart the country and then allows them the opportunity to get up in this House day after day and ask questions of a government, while at the same time he is making cheques to the separatist cause in Quebec.
    We on this side of the House will stand up for Canada, will stand up for taxpayers, and will continue to build a bigger, better, stronger, unified Canada.

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, today at committee the Chief Electoral Officer confirmed the unfair elections act is an attack on Elections Canada's ability to enforce the law. He said, “Without a power to compel testimony...the Commissioner's ability to carry out his investigations will remain limited”. The Conservatives do not want to give him the power to compel because they are afraid it may reveal the source of fraudulent elections calls.
    When will the Conservatives admit that this bill was designed to protect the Conservatives responsible for election fraud?
    Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Canada Elections already has the same investigative powers as a police force. He can use those powers right now. In fact, those powers are increased by the fair elections act, which gives him sharper teeth and a longer reach, including making it an offence for anyone to obstruct his investigation or give him false information. It also creates tougher penalties for existing offences.
     That is what Canadians have asked for. That is what the fair elections act delivers.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today, in committee, the Chief Electoral Officer confirmed that the Conservatives' electoral reform bill reduces Elections Canada's ability to fully enforce the act. Mr. Mayrand said that without the power to compel testimony, the commissioner's ability to carry out his investigations will remain limited.
    The Conservatives do not want to grant that power, for fear that we would find out the source of the fraudulent election calls.
    When will the Conservatives stop protecting those responsible for election fraud?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the commissioner already has the same investigative powers as a police officer. Furthermore, the fair elections act will increase the commissioner's powers by making him independent and allowing him to impose harsher penalties for offences committed, while Canadians who participate in elections will have to abide by more laws.
    This bill will help protect our democracy. I would appreciate the Liberals' support.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if the commissioner had those powers that he says he needs, then why would he be asking for more time and time again?
    The Chief Electoral Officer today said in testimony that this would have been an essential tool. As he put it, the right not to co-operate has become well-known when it comes to testimony and more and more people are not co-operating. He knows the bill does not have the sharp teeth that he is looking for.
    Electoral commissioners in other provinces have the power to compel testimony. Why does this commissioner no longer have it?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member perhaps accidentally stated a falsehood. He said that the commissioner will “no longer have it”. He does not have it now. In fact, police officers do not have that power. The power to compel does not exist for police forces across the country. The commissioner has the same powers that police officers have.
    The NDP and the Liberals are looking for an excuse as to why their false allegations have not been validated. This is a pretty weak one.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the rally for Loretta Saunders and throughout the special committee hearings, we heard from friends, families, and communities of missing and murdered indigenous women. They are asking us for answers and for justice, but also asking for solutions to end the disappearances and murders of indigenous women.
    How much longer will they have to wait? Will the government finally listen to the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women?
    Mr. Speaker, the death of Loretta Saunders is an undeniable tragedy for her family and for all.
    Let us be clear. Our government has passed over 30 justice and public safety initiatives aimed specifically at responding to violence. The individuals involved in this terrible tragedy have been arrested. They are in custody. That is a justice system that works.
    We are holding offenders more accountable. We are putting more money into initiatives to help defray this type of behaviour in society. We are putting more money into aboriginal justice initiatives on reserve, and the members opposite continually oppose us.
    Mr. Speaker, over 800 indigenous women have been murdered or have disappeared since 1990. For victims' families and their communities, the status quo is not acceptable.
    As Loretta Saunders’ cousin said, “We must not let this happen again without our government putting some serious effort…into a public inquiry”.
    It is time to honestly acknowledge the problem and deal with the root causes of violence against indigenous women. It is time to work in partnership and end this tragedy.
    Will the government listen to Canadians and call a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women?
    Mr. Speaker, the member cares deeply about this issue, as do all members. I say to her honestly that this is well past the time for more studies and inquiries. There have been almost 40 in this country in the last number of years.
    We are taking action. We are putting tougher sanctions in place. We are giving police more tools to investigate crimes like the death of Loretta Saunders. As the member has asked for, we are putting more programs in place to support women and girls on reserve. We are taking substantive action to help address this issue, not study it, not talk about it. We are taking action that gets results.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, 800 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered. The Conservatives' strategy is clearly not working, because aboriginal women are still going missing and being killed.
    Kelly Nicole Goforth, Heather Ballantyne, Cassandra Joan Desjarlais, Miranda McKinney, Jodi Roberts, Tricia Boisvert and Rocelyn Gabriel have all disappeared over the past six months.
    How many more women will have to be killed or disappear before the government takes action and launches a national public inquiry?

  (1445)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, each and every one of these cases that the member cited, I can assure her, the police are investigating. The police are doing their job, and we are helping them by putting in place a national centre for missing persons, creating a national website for missing persons, improving law-enforcement databases, developing community safety plans with aboriginal communities, supporting the development of public awareness materials, and ending house arrest for serious crimes like sexual assault. We brought in mandatory minimum penalties for serious crimes, ended the faint hope clause, toughened penalties for production of pornography and date rape drugs, and ended two-for-one sentences for sexual offence court. We are—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    The hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives keep telling us that they are doing something, but it is clear that what they are doing is not working.
    Over 800 women have been murdered or gone missing since 1990, but the government is refusing to shed light on the situation. We waited too long to shed light on what happened in Indian residential schools.
    Can the government avoid making the same mistake and launch a public inquiry into the murders and disappearances of aboriginal women?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again I say to my hon. friend, with the greatest respect, the biggest mistake that we could make on this issue would be to spend more time studying it. Those studies have told us we need stronger criminal justice initiatives. We need more substantive tools for police to investigate violent crime, to hold offenders accountable. We need more programs directly on-reserve to help with aboriginal justice issues. We need to do more to protect women and girls in this country. That is exactly what this government is doing and I sincerely urge the hon. member to support those initiatives rather than to simply talk about the issue.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canada and our G7 partners and other allies have spoken with one voice in condemning President Putin's military intervention in Ukraine. We are resolute in our view that Ukraine's territorial integrity must be respected.
    Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please provide the House with an update on the latest developments in Ukraine?
    Mr. Speaker, today we learned the troubling news that in just 10 days, the Crimean parliament wants to hold a referendum on leaving Ukraine and joining the Russian federation. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a clear act of aggression. It is a clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and a clear violation of its territorial integrity.
    Canada will not recognize any so-called “referendum” in a region that is under military occupation. It is wrong and we will not stand for it.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, after calling for emission regulations for the oil and gas sector earlier this week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall recommended yesterday that his Conservative friends impose a carbon tax.
    Clearly, Brad Wall understands that the federal government is not doing enough when it comes to the environment.
    What do the Conservatives have to say to this radical environmentalist who wants a carbon tax?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government is taking strong actions against climate change, and I am proud of a government that is getting things done. We have a sector-by-sector regulatory approach that allows us to protect both our environment and our economy. This is way different than when the leader of the official opposition was environment minister for Quebec, when Greenpeace actually named June 13, “Thomas Mulcair Smog Day”.
    Order. The Minister of the Environment has been in this House long enough to know that even when quoting something, we are not allowed to do indirectly what we are not allowed to do directly.
    The hon. member for Halifax.

  (1450)  

Natural Resources

    Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not just Brad Wall who is calling out the federal government. Jim Prentice now has the very difficult task of selling the problematic Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. first nations, after Conservatives utterly failed to meaningfully consult before they approved the project.
    Will the government now act, or have Jim Prentice and Brad Wall just become the newest members of the environmental radical club?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will thoroughly review the joint panel report and consult with first nations who are potentially impacted by the Northern Gateway proposal. We will complete the consultations and then we will make a decision.
     Our government will only allow projects to go ahead if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has confirmed that funding is being cut for all 18 of Canada's Circles of Support and Accountability.
    These volunteer-based programs hold high-risk sex offenders accountable for their behaviour in the community when they are out of the parole system. Their success rate is extremely high. Circles of Support and Accountability work. They protect our kids and make our communities safer, and yet the Conservatives are cutting them.
    Will the minister please explain this short-sighted decision that puts kids at risk?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is asking Correctional Service Canada to reconsider that particular decision.
    Right across this country, Canadian families know that they can count on this Conservative government to make sure that our children are kept safe from sexual predators.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope that the minister does not think that his responsibility to protect our communities ends when offenders are released.
    The circles of support and accountability program has a proven track record. It helps reduce recidivism among sex offenders and makes our communities safer.
    This program is so effective that other governments have decided to use it as a model in developing their own programs.
    Why did the minister decide to eliminate the program and why not simply reverse that decision immediately?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if that member was listening to my last answer, but the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is asking Correctional Service Canada to reconsider that decision.
    However, this does give me an opportunity to talk about our record on keeping children safe. In fact, we just introduced another bill to keep children safe, and that is going to include measures to end the two-for-one sentencing for child sex offenders. No more two-for-one specials when it comes to our children. We are also establishing the high-risk child sex offender database. We believe parents have the right to know where sexual predators are.

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Conservative government have failed to meet the needs of our prairie farmers.
    The Canada Transportation Act must be amended. We need the changes, but the Minister of Transport does not even have the courage to answer questions to meet those needs.
    We are challenging the Minister of Transport to stand in her place and make a commitment to make the changes that are necessary to protect our farmers out west.
    Mr. Speaker, the crop this year has been quite large: 76 million tonnes, which is 33% more than we have experienced before in this country. This is great for farmers, but right now farmers have a serious issue: they need to get their product to market. That is why what members will see from this government and from this side of the House is not empty rhetoric, it is not temper tantrums; it is action.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, we have just learned that there is not one single uniformed clinical psychologist employed by the Department of National Defence—not one. The minister's gross incompetence has led to a tragic failure in providing mental health services to injured soldiers.
    The minister has been forced to apologize for insulting a grieving family, with a one-cent cheque. How many more tragedies and failures must military families endure before this minister listens to his own mental health experts about the needs of armed forces members?
    When will he stop making excuses and act?
    Mr. Speaker, what is insulting is the Liberal Party's inability to support any of the measures to help our ill and injured men and women, or our veterans, for that matter.
    That said, we have increased the budget in health care. We are hiring more mental health professionals. We are making this a priority. We have made it a priority, and we will continue to do so.

  (1455)  

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, just last month credit card companies and banks assured the finance committee that customers will be reimbursed if their credit cards are used for fraudulent online transactions, but now they are reneging on their so-called zero liability policy. The banks' complex electronic access agreements do not match what they are saying.
    Will the minister make sure that Canadians are not left on the hook for other people's fraud? When will the Minister of Finance stop allowing the banks and credit card companies to take advantage of Canadian consumers?
    Mr. Speaker, our government takes the issue of fraud very seriously. We have been consulting with Canadians to update the consumer protection code. It is very important. I am meeting with various bank executives tomorrow and on Monday in Toronto. It is a subject that we need to pay a lot of attention to, including the issue of identity fraud.
    I am more concerned, actually, with the Liberal leader's idea of being able to balance the budget automatically. I know that we are taking a break and that St. Patrick's Day is coming up, so I hope that he catches that little person, that little leprechaun.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, some credit card companies seem to be reneging on their commitment concerning their zero liability policy. The zero liability policy does not apply in cases of fraud committed with a PIN, nor does it apply when people give their security code for online purchases. Once again, the Minister of Finance must recognize that voluntary measures simply do not work.
    When will the minister bring in binding regulations to fix the flaws in the zero liability policy?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would listen more closely to the member opposite and the other members opposite in the official opposition if they had not voted against every consumer protection initiative that was brought before the House over more than eight years, including the consumer protection code.
    It is easy to say these things, but it is not easy to do them. We have been doing them, and we will continue to consult and to improve them.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadian veterans are admired for their leadership and their teamwork. They are well trained and hard-working, and they have an important role to play in Canada's workforce.
    Will the Minister of Veterans Affairs please update the House on how our government is leading by example by placing veterans ahead of the pack for jobs in the federal government?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question. We are helping retrain injured soldiers with up to $75,800 for university or college training programs. We are opening private sector career opportunities with programs within the public service, such as Helmets to Hardhats and Hire a Veteran. For the first time in generations, veterans with three years of honourable service will have preferential treatment for entry into the federal public service.
    This government is breaking new ground for veterans' benefits, while the other parties are breaking their promises by voting against them.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, it is good to see that the Minister of Transport has finally doffed her muzzle and is prepared to answer some questions about western grain transportation. She accuses the opposition of empty rhetoric, but the fact of the matter is that we are concerned about empty railcars, empty ships, empty terminals, and empty bank accounts for farmers.
    There is a $5-billion hole in farmers' bank accounts this winter. The government said it is going to act. When will that be? Will it be before the weekend?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the hon. member did not try to call me a dog in the House of Commons by assuming that I have a muzzle or anything like that.
     I will get past that and answer that we have real concerns with respect to what is happening in the movement of grain in our logistics chain. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has been working with his people and I have been working my stakeholders, but we are at a point where we understand that action must be taken, and that is what we will do.

[Translation]

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians can be ashamed of this type of behaviour.
    Community organizations that help the less fortunate, such as Entraide chez nous in my riding, in Longueuil, are struggling. Communities have a great need for these groups, which are putting on fewer and fewer tax preparation clinics because of the Conservatives' cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency. These clinics are vital, however.
    We have learned that the main estimates contain new cuts to the agency.
    Will the government stop targeting the vulnerable and the organizations that help them and reverse these ill-considered cuts?
    Mr. Speaker, CRA's volunteer tax preparation clinics are essential because they help seniors and low-income Canadians prepare their income tax returns.
    There have been no cuts to this program's budget.

[English]

    However, in Quebec the program is delivered jointly with Revenu Québec. CRA works diligently with Quebec to ensure that the differences in our delivery models and training models do not impact the support provided to these important community organizations.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, I have always been a huge proponent of palliative care supports in Canada and I am pleased to see the level of investment that our government has made in this area to help Canadians receive the compassionate end-of-life care they need.
    Can the Minister of Health please update the House on some of the investments that our government has made recently in this area?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for that question and for his commitment to this very important issue.
    In fact, since 2006, our government has invested $43 million to support palliative care research, and today I was very pleased to deliver an additional $3 million to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to support training in palliative care for front-line health care workers.
    Our government remains committed to delivering support to Canadian families who are caring for loved ones in need of palliative care at their end of life in a compassionate and high-quality way.

[Translation]

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, the people of Shefford do not understand Canada Post's reckless decision to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery.
    Once again, the Conservatives are targeting seniors and people with disabilities—the most vulnerable people in our society. However, Canada Post is not offering them any alternatives.
    When will the government work to improve services to the public instead of doing away with them?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I have said before in the House, Canada Post is facing a real crisis in terms of the lack of mail that is being put through: one billion pieces. In the past, it has taken the decision not to deliver directly to houses. In fact, two-thirds of Canadian households are like that. Canada Post is going to be moving in its plan to removing that from the other one-third of Canadian households, while of course working with concerns that people have regarding seniors and the disabled.

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, during the 2006 crisis in Lebanon and after the 2009 earthquake in Haiti, the government issued guidelines allowing non-Canadian parents to accompany their Canadian minor children to Canada. Again last week, two Canadian children—Gabriel, 3 and Laya, 4—were unable to come to Canada because their Syrian mother was denied a visa. The only reasons provided were the war in Syria and the possibility that they may not be able to return home. I should add that this file was followed by the minister's office.
    Why is there still no special guideline for Syria?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, we were not aware of the situation of the parents of these two young children. We are keen to know the details and investigate this matter.
    Canada is very proud of its role in Syria. We have invested more than $6 million to address the needs of the millions of refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. We will continue to monitor their situation, their humanitarian needs, and their needs as potential immigrants.

[English]

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if I could get unanimous consent from the members opposite. To an issue arising in question period today, I would like to table the initiatives that we have taken as a government to address murdered and missing women, the 40 reports that have now been completed in the last number of years and the over 30 justice and public safety bills that relate specifically to violence against women and girls. Do I have unanimous consent?
    The minister may well know that as a minister he does not need to ask for consent from the House, as long as they are in both official languages and as long as they are here. If they are, then he can table away.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I see that the minister is busy at his desk looking for some possible papers to table. Now that he has made the commitment to table the documents, when can we anticipate that they will in fact be tabled?
    Mr. Speaker, they will be tabled in five minutes.
    I would just like to draw the attention of the Minister of Justice to the pages who are conveniently located in front of the Chair. There are several pages in the room at most times of the day, especially during question period, and rather than having to throw papers on the floor or walk across while the Speaker is trying to move on, the pages would be happy to help the minister.
    It being Thursday, how about we move on to the Thursday question.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North has another point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice provided me with copies, but they are all in English. I would ask if—
    Order, please. I am going to stop the member there.
    In order to be tabled, the documents need to be in both official languages. In order to be handed from one member to another they can be in any language they happen to be in. The minister has made a commitment to come back to table them, and I am sure that at that time, we can all trust they will be in both official languages. If not, we will take appropriate action.
    To the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, I certainly cannot wait for her to put the Thursday question.
    I apologize to the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, but the Minister of Finance is rising on a point of order.
    The hon. Minister of Finance has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder when the member for Wascana will apologize to the Minister of Transport for his misogynist remarks.

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, human beings in this world can be muzzled too. It does not just apply to other kinds of beings. However, the point here is clearly that farmers in western Canada are in severe difficulty and we want answers from the Conservative government. If it helps to get those answers and to get that action for farmers, I am quite happy to withdraw any muzzling remark. Let us have some action.
    An hon. member: That is not an apology.
    I will certainly treat it as such.
    The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer will now ask the Thursday question.

[Translation]

Business of the House

[Business of the House ]
    Mr. Speaker, today the Conservatives broke their own record for shutting down debate by using time allocation for the 52nd and 53rd time since the 2011 election. Add this to six closures—most recently on debate related to the fabricated evidence that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville presented to the House of Commons—and you have 59 instances of the Conservatives using the Standing Orders to shut down debate in the House. That is quite the record and quite the legacy.
    The government House leader's command of the Standing Orders is so exceptional that today he forced time allocation of one sitting day on a bill that was slated to pass in less time than that. We were actually in favour of the bill and could have passed it fairly quickly. This prevented other work from being done. It is incredible what we are seeing in the House right now.
    Today, in its latest stroke of parliamentary brilliance, the government tried to sabotage the testimony given by the Chief Electoral Officer in the committee hearings on its unfair elections act, Bill C-23. Unfortunately after stumbling out of the gates, the Conservatives were forced to abandon their plan.
    The Conservatives' disdain for our democracy and its institutions would be shocking if they did not make such a regular display of it. Canadians deserve much better than a government that behaves as though it is above the law.
    My question for the parliamentary leader is this: what brilliant tactics does he have in store for the House after the riding weeks that will further display his dazzling command of the procedures and practices of this place?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. whip for the opposition for her very kind comments about the abilities on this side of the House with regard to procedure. Of course, I am only as good as the team that I have.
    However, I will say that one thing I have tried to outline and to make clear over some period of time is that the use of time allocation is very distinct from the use of closure. We have chosen an approach in this government to use time allocation as a scheduling device to set an amount of time that we believe is appropriate for debate on any particular issue, which, as the hon. member in her own comments confirmed, in some cases results in even more time being allocated than is necessary for debate.
    One of the benefits, though, is that the time does not have to be used. If all speakers complete their discussion of the subject, the debate can collapse and we can move on to other matters. So, really, no time is to be lost from that approach. It is a very positive thing, one that allows certainty for the benefit of all members about how much debate we will have, when votes will happen, and when decisions will be made. That is the most important thing for us in our work up here: making decisions and getting the job done.
    As for this morning, I know that the NDP keeps seeing conspiracies and ghosts behind curtains, particularly the House leader for the NDP, who has that concern.
    I think everyone knows that the only time one can move these time allocation motions—and we do not need to have a great command of the Standing Orders to know this—is at the start of government orders, at the start of the day. So I really had no choice.
    However, the committee had considerable flexibility, which it did exercise. There was no conspiracy. There was no obstruction.
    I hope that the opposition House leader will take the benefit of the two weeks to calm down, hopefully look around, see that there are no people waiting behind every curtain and every tree, out to get him, and that some of the conspiracies he imagines are simply not there. It will lower his blood pressure. It will make his life much more comfortable, in total.
    I know that the opposition whip will share that advice from me, with him.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    This afternoon we will continue debating Bill C-20, Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act, at second reading.
    Tomorrow, we will conclude the second reading debate on Bill C-25, Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act.
    Then, we will return to our constituencies, where we will have a chance to reconnect with our real bosses.

[English]

    When we return on Monday, March 24, the House will have the seventh and final allotted day. At the end of that day, we will consider the supplementary estimates, as well as interim supply, so that these bills will be able to pass through the other place before the end of our fiscal year.
    The government's legislative agenda for the balance of that week will focus on protecting Canadians. Tuesday, March 25 will see us start the second reading debate on Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, a bill that will implement world-class safety standards in the offshore and nuclear sectors. That evening we will finish the debate on the motion to concur in the first report of the foreign affairs committee respecting the situation of Jewish refugees.
    On Wednesday, March 26, we will consider Bill C-5, the offshore health and safety act, at report stage and third reading. This bill will complement legislation already passed by the provincial legislatures in Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, given the shared jurisdiction that exists in the offshore sector.
    On Thursday, March 27, we will have the fourth day of second reading debate on Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act. Through this bill, our government is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring that our children are safe from online predators and online exploitation.
    Finally, on Friday, March 28, I hope that we will be able to start the second reading debate on Bill C-17, the protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs act, also known as Vanessa's law.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to be here today to have the opportunity to speak about the benefits of the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement for Canadian businesses, and in particular for Canadian investors and service providers.
    Our Conservative government has refused to sit on the sidelines while other countries go around the world securing better markets for their products and services and more favourable treatment for their investors. Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investment.
    I have to compliment the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Trade, and the parliamentary secretary for international trade, for the work they have done, and the steady and secure commitment they have had to ensuring we have free trade agreements around the world. I also want to include the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, who has done some tremendous work on this file as well.
    That is quite a contrast to what we have seen in the past, and what we see from the official opposition. Liberals were in government for 13 long and agonizing years for Canadians. While they were there, trade was not a priority for them. Certainly for the few years that I was in Parliament when we were in opposition, trade was never a priority for the Liberal government of the time. In fact, during those 13 long years in office, the Liberals only signed three trade agreements. That was at a time when trade was expanding all around the world. They did not see that it was any type of priority.
    In contrast, our Conservative government has reached agreements with 37 countries. We can see the difference there. There were 3 that were reached over 13 years, and in the time we have been in government, there have been 37 of those agreements. We are even expanding. We are improving the three agreements that were reached under the Liberals, to try to maximize the benefits they produce for hard-working Canadians and their families. Once again, the Liberals have proved they just cannot get the job done.
    Actually, three agreements is far better than what we would have had if the NDP had ever found its way to power. We have had some extreme statements from some of its members about their attitudes toward trade. The NDP member for British Columbia Southern Interior wrote that free trade agreements “threaten the very existence of our nation”, or when the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour said that trade agreements are job-destroying.
    We see their perspective, but it is not grounded in reality. Actually, the NDP trade critic has been quoted as saying that this trade agreement, along with ones with Colombia, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, and Panama, are “not key economies with any kind of strategic value for Canada”. It speaks about the NDP and its commitment to trade, but it also speaks about its commitment to those economies that are smaller than ours and those people whose place in the world we can help to improve. New Democrats have consistently opposed any efforts to open up new markets for Canadian businesses. Apparently, they also oppose the opportunity for smaller nations to open up economic opportunities for their people as well. They are just ideologically opposed to international trade.
    We heard a number of times earlier today from their critics wanting to know what the connection is between human rights and international trade. Obviously, those connections are very tight. When the member opposite was asking my colleague earlier if he could name one trade agreement where human rights have been improved by an international trade agreement, I would argue that every trade agreement improves human rights, in every country where they have had them. If we believe that a human right is the chance to have opportunity that is free from coercion—and investment agreements and social agreements are part of that—obviously it improves the conditions in every country when we have these agreements in place.
    Going back to this specific agreement, we are committed to improving access to foreign markets for Canadian business. We want to support opportunities for increased economic growth and creation of new opportunities for Canadians and Canadian companies. Canada's exporters, investors, and service providers are calling on us to help open doors for them internationally. That is why we believe in, and are pursuing, an ambitious pro-trade agenda.
    The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement is part of our plan to help Canadians compete and succeed in a global economy. The agreement is a comprehensive trade deal that will provide our companies with a secure predictable framework for doing business in the Honduran market. It will also enable Canadian businesses to compete on a level playing field with key competitors from the United States and the European Union. These countries are already benefiting from free trade agreements that they have with Honduras, and we believe it is critical to keep pace with these competitors.

  (1520)  

    I would like to talk about some of the benefits that this agreement would bring to current and potential Canadian investors in Honduras. Foreign investment is a critical component of today's modern and global economy. It creates jobs, facilitates the transfer of knowledge, and increases production efficiencies through economies of scale in the host economy. Foreign investment also links our companies to global value chains and to new economic opportunities, which in turn enhances their competitiveness and increases the flow of goods and services between Canada and its trading partners.
    At the end of 2012, Canadian direct investment abroad reached an all-time high of $712 billion. That is almost $1 trillion. Foreign direct investment into Canada stood at about $634 billion. Those are significant numbers.
    This comprehensive Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would include high standard investment provisions, which are designed to protect bilateral investment through legally binding obligations. I talked a bit earlier about the investment agreements that are part of these deals and that go toward creating and building institutional strength in many countries so that parallel human rights develop as well. These investment obligations would incorporate several key principles, including things like minimum standards for non-discriminatory treatment, protection against expropriation without compensation, and the free transfer of funds. This dynamic would help to foster an investment relationship between our two countries and pave the way for an increased flow of investment for the years ahead.
    Through the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement, investors would also have access to a transparent, impartial, and binding dispute settlement mechanism. It is important to stress that while its agreement would ensure that investors and their investments are protected, it would not prevent either Canada or Honduras from regulating in the public interest, including with respect to health, safety, and the environment.
    Investment provisions of the free trade agreement would also include an article on corporate social responsibility. This is something that the opposition often brings up. It has been included in this agreement. It recognizes that both Canada and Honduras expect and encourage companies to observe internationally recognized standards of responsible business conduct. Of course, this would include Canadian companies operating in Honduras.
    Overall, this agreement would enhance investment opportunities for Canadian investors in Honduras and make sure that Canadian companies are treated on a level playing field, as I mentioned earlier, with our American and European counterparts.
    In addition to the benefits for investors, this free trade agreement would provide Canadian companies with better access to government procurement opportunities in Honduras. Our Conservative government has been at the forefront of efforts to expand and secure access to foreign government procurement markets. Through the negotiation of these types of agreements and obligations, our government is working hard to enable Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented in these markets through these agreements.
    Increasing access, competition, and fairness in government procurement would also support our own domestic interests in obtaining best value in government procurement for Canadian taxpayers. Most of our free trade agreements from NAFTA—Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Panama—have obligations on government purchasing.
    I understand that my time is running down, so I would like to talk about how the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would guarantee secure access for Canadian suppliers through these types of procurement opportunities, reducing the risk of doing business in the region. Moreover, it would ensure that Canadian suppliers can compete on the same basis as their main competitors in the American and European businesses that I have referred to, which already benefit from the free trade agreements that they have with Honduras.
    Let us turn for a minute to how this agreement would benefit Canadian service providers. Professional telecommunications and financial services are already exported to Honduras. The free trade agreement would provide secure, predictable, and equitable treatment for Canadian service providers exporting their services to Honduras. The Canada-Honduras fair trade agreement would provide opportunities for Canadian service providers beyond Honduras' existing World Trade Organization's general agreement on trades and services commitments in the sectors that export interests to Canada, such as natural resources, professional services, and information and communication.
    In conclusion, taken together, the provisions of the free trade agreement on trade and services would level the playing field for Canadian service suppliers with their American and European counterparts. As members can see, this is a high-quality agreement, with the potential to benefit Canadian investors and service providers. However, they would only be able to seize these opportunities if we ratify this agreement.
    I urge all hon. members in the House to support the timely implementation of the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.

  (1525)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member, who was one of the key members going around the country basically saying that if we blow up the Canadian Wheat Board look at all the choices we will have. The Canadian Wheat Board was all about trade, and what do have now? We have a disaster in terms of getting our product to market.
    Trade agreements are great and wonderful, but if we do not have a government that is willing to force the transportation infrastructure to move that product to market, it does not make much difference. On the wheat side, we have already lost a market to Japan. We know that a grain company is pulling out of a market in Algeria because farmers have the product but there is no way to get it to the marketplace.
    On the Honduran trade agreement, what is the member going to do to assure us that in accompanying the agreement, the government would be willing to act and respond to ensure that the transportation infrastructure is in place to move our product?
    Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised to again hear the member opposite being so negative about trade. That fits in with the 13 years that the Liberals spent in power and only three trade agreements came into place.
     I do not know if he understands about the coercive trade element that was involved with the Canadian Wheat Board. I think he does understand because it was an important issue for him. I was one of those who produced our grain. For many years we sat with the majority of our grain in our bins because it was unable to move it across the Prairies or unable to even sell it and market it. While he was here, there were many of us who were having to survive on about 50% of the income that we had in our bins.
    If he is talking—
    It is the same this year.
    Mr. Speaker: He is heckling me from across the way because he does not like to hear this, but the reality is that the product is going to move off the Prairies. We are working with the railways and the grain companies. We are going to be successful in moving farmers' products off the Prairies. They will, and they are, having a good year.
    Mr. Speaker, I do agree with the member for Malpeque with respect to developing infrastructure to help our exporters get their products to market.
    I also understand what the prairie farmers are going through. They have a bumper crop of wheat, and yet they are unable to get it to market because of the government's inaction to get the railroads working for the farmers.
    We have another issue. The port of Vancouver is on the verge of being shut down. That dispute has been simmering for the last four or five years. There have been a number of issues. I have pointed to those issues in this House in the last six months. This morning there was a strike notice and a mediator is being appointed today. That should have been done a long time ago, so that we are not on the verge of having a major port shut down.
    My question to the member across is this. How can he expect exporters to get their products to market when the government is unwilling to help our exporters get the products to market?

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, please let us not pretend that the New Democrats are friendly toward trade because they are not. They stand up and criticize us, yet they do not even want this agreement. There would not be any product to take to market if they had their way. When they talk about these agreements as job destroying, saying they would destroy the very existence of this nation, obviously they have no interest. They do not even want to see these things go offshore.
    We are working with the industry across western Canada, the railways, the grain companies, and the farm groups. The Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Transport are working with them, and we will get that product off of the Prairies.
    I also want to point out that in terms of agricultural products, this agreement includes a number of things, such as pork, maple syrup, agriculture, agri-food products, wood, and pulp and paper products. The opposition members stand against moving Canadian products from those areas to Honduras. They do not want this agreement in place. There are other things, the aerospace industry, information and communications, fish and seafood, chemical products, plastic products and so forth. The New Democrats opposite stand opposed to our agreement with Honduras and the benefits that it would provide to Canadian companies.
    Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the parliamentary secretary's question with regard to whether the NDP is for trade.
    I will be splitting my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    I am honoured to speak to Bill C-20, the free trade agreement with Honduras. Let me talk about how we got here today. This bill has been under time allocation. For Canadians who are watching, time allocation is when the Conservatives shut down a debate. They do not want to debate the bill. They do not want Canadians to find out what it is exactly they are trying to rush through. We have seen this over and over. In fact, they have moved time allocation motions 53 times in this Parliament. Not only that, they have had closure on six debates.
    I am lucky to have the opportunity to speak in the House, but there are many other members who are not going to get the opportunity to speak about this bill that is being rushed through the House of Commons. What is the rush? Are Conservatives trying to hide something from Canadians?
    We saw the shenanigans this morning in regard to the unfair elections act. The Chief Electoral Officer spoke at committee, and we had time allocation motions here in the House. These are shenanigans by the government, which is trying to hide the real facts from Canadians. I will talk about some of those.
    The parliamentary secretary talked about why we are against trade with Honduras. Before I get to that, what are the principles? What should we be looking at when we look at trade agreements with other countries? There are a number of things we need to address to decide which countries we should have trade agreements with.
    Trade is a reality. We are a trading nation, and Canadians are very competitive. We can sell our products to other countries. I am very proud that Canadians have products other countries want.
    There are three fundamental criteria to assess trade agreements. First, does our partner respect democracy, human rights, adequate environmental protection, labour standards, and Canadian values? If these are not being met, is the partner willing to meet some of these requirements?
    Second, is the proposed partner's economy of significant and strategic value to Canada, and are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory?
    Let us talk about how democratic Honduras is. Let us talk about its human rights. All Canadians know the history of Honduras. In the last 15 or 20 years, I have known the history of Honduras. It is undemocratic and corrupt. In 2009, a democratically elected president was overthrown in a coup, and condemnation was worldwide.
    Elections were held, and those elections were fraudulent. They were not fair. Guess who condemned those elections? It was the European Union, the United States, and many countries around the world. What does Canada do? We want to enter into a trade agreement with a corrupt dictator of a country that is known as the capital of Central America for drug laundering and so on. That is not the type of country we want to enter into free trade agreements with.
    Of course we want to trade. We should be looking at trade agreements with countries that are strategic to Canadian products and where we can increase trade with those countries. Let us take a look at those countries. Let us look at Japan. Why do we not have a trade agreement with Japan? We have been negotiating with Japan for a number of years.

  (1535)  

    In fact, we started trade agreement negotiations with South Korea before the United States did. Guess what? The United States already has a trade agreement with South Korea.
    Our pig and beef farmers are losing billions of dollars every year because the Conservative government has not put a priority on trade agreements that would be beneficial to Canadian producers.
    We should be negotiating trade agreements with emerging countries, such as India, Brazil, and South Africa. These countries have populations that need the products we have here. Yet the Conservative government is negotiating a trade agreement with a dictatorship and a corrupt government.
    We have $38 million in exports to Honduras right now, which is not very much. The Conservative government wants to say that it has trade agreements with 15 countries. Well, if we add up the trade with all the little countries like Honduras and Liechtenstein, it will not add up to even one agreement with one of the emerging countries or Japan or South Korea. Those are the countries we should be pursuing.
    Let us talk about the Conservative government's trade record.
    Eight years ago, when the Conservatives came into government, we had a trade current account surplus of $18 billion. What is it today after eight years? We have a deficit of $62 billion. That is a swing of $80 billion, which is roughly about $10 billion a year. Under the current government, we have a trade deficit.
    There is also a merchandise deficit. Merchandise is value-added goods that we export. Under the Conservative government, we have had 23 straight months of a merchandise trade deficit, and it is growing.
    For us to provide good jobs, we need to export goods we add value to. They are secondary goods. However, most of the products we export are either not processed at all or are barely processed. That is the Conservatives government's record.
    How do we improve on that? We improve on it by getting our product to markets. Under the current government, we have seen what is happening in the Prairies. The wheat is rotting in the fields under the Conservative government. It has been unable to convince the railroad companies to get the product out to the ports.
    Once it gets to the ports, guess what is happening? At the port in Vancouver, there has been a simmering labour dispute for the last four or five years. I have spoken in this House to ask the government to address the situation before it gets to a point where we have a shutdown. Guess what? The deadline for a strike at the major port of Vancouver was this morning at 12 o'clock Pacific Time.
    What has the Conservative government been doing for the last four years, or even the last six months? It has been sitting on its hands. The Conservatives could have appointed a mediator six months ago. When was a mediator appointed? It was this morning. Talks are ongoing and hopefully things will be resolved, but it is under the Conservative government that we are on the verge of having a major port shut down.
    To support our exporters, we need to build infrastructure, ensure that our ports are freely functioning, ensure that our traders are supported, and ensure that we have consulate and trade services overseas so that we can identify buyers for our products. Those are the kinds of things the Conservative government needs to do.
    The current Conservative government has failed our exporters.

  (1540)  

    Mr. Speaker, I heard some optimism in my colleague's remarks, because he was urging the government to get moving on its negotiations with Japan and South Korea. I infer from his comments that the NDP caucus has already agreed to get behind these two agreements. They may be the first agreements in the history of that party it will get behind to help the one in five Canadian jobs that are attributable to trade. We will try to grow that pie.
    I have two questions I would like the member to address. The trade critic of that party referenced the elections as being unfair. The most recent elections in Honduras were monitored, and the international community has been supportive and has called the results full and fair. Could the member tell me where his support is for that statement?
    Why is my colleague not in favour of helping to increase the GDP of a country in our hemisphere that has a terribly low per capita GDP? Increased trade globally would actually help the people of that country.
     I would like him to comment on those two issues: his reference to the election results and the overall question of trade raising people out of poverty.
    Mr. Speaker, New Democrats will support a good trade deal, a trade deal that would help our exporters and help us get our products to market.
    We refuse to support a trade deal with a country that has a poor human rights record. I do not have to let Canadians know how democratic Honduras is. We know the history of Honduras. We know what has been happening there. There has been wide condemnation of Honduras' human rights record and its ability to hold fair elections. That is widely documented. I would ask the parliamentary secretary to Google it and find out for himself.
    Mr. Speaker, I love the fact that the member pointed out that when the Conservatives inherited the government from Paul Martin, there was indeed a substantial trade surplus. Somehow they have converted that into a trade deficit. That means tens of thousands of lost opportunities in terms of good, solid jobs.
    Am I to understand that the NDP will be voting against this bill? We recognize the value of trade. My colleague talked a great deal about the countries the NDP recognizes as worthy of having trade agreements with. Am I to draw the conclusion that the NDP will be voting against Bill C-20? It might have been referred to earlier. It is quite possible that I missed that point, but I would like clarification on that issue.

  (1545)  

    Mr. Speaker, under the Conservative government, we have seen our trade deficit grow. I agree with the member that we have a large trade deficit, and the government is not taking steps to address it.
    I have given two examples already. One is that the wheat is not being moved out of the Prairies. It is fine and dandy to sign these free trade agreements, but if we cannot get our products to markets, we are not going to be able to sell in those markets. We have seen what has been happening at the port of Vancouver.
    The government needs to take action and support our exporters to get their products to their markets. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are not doing that.

[Translation]

    We have time for a quick question and answer. The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
    Mr. Speaker, I will get straight to my question. The Conservative member said that there were a lot of poor people in Honduras and that this agreement would help them. However, we know that there is a huge disparity between the rich and the poor. My concern is that this agreement will make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The government has not implemented any measures to prevent that from happening. I would like to hear my colleague comment on that.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is the twisted logic of the Conservative government on how this trade agreement would help the poor.
    The government is corrupt. In a corrupt country, there is no trickle-down effect. Everything is absorbed at the top. The poor will remain poor in Honduras unless there is less corruption and an honourable government. That is not the case.
    The government could have used some of its weight to ensure that labour rights, human rights, and environmental rights were honoured in Honduras. Unfortunately, the government has failed to do that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak right after my colleague from Surrey North and after my many official opposition colleagues who made very relevant speeches, the first being the NDP's international trade critic, the member for Vancouver Kingsway.
    I want to get off to a good start by quoting the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, verses 15 to 17:
    If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
     But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
    If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
    Despite all of our efforts and all the times we have reached out, the government has shamefully imposed time allocation for the 52nd and 53rd time, in front of millions of witnesses, the millions of Canadian we proudly represent with dignity here in the House of Commons.
    Despite the fact that I always try to treat government members like my sisters and brothers, the Conservatives have repeatedly spit in our faces. That is what they always do. Democracy has been denied from the outset. Now, we are studying a bill that, if passed, will be another source of shame for the people of this country. This is very serious.
    Before thinking about my speech and delivering it here in the House, I took the time to listen to what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade had to say. I also listened to the entire speech given by my esteemed colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, who is the NDP's international trade critic.
    To begin, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade tried to create a smokescreen by extolling the virtues of the future free trade agreement between Canada and Europe. He did not disclose a single word of it, though. We are still in the dark about this free trade agreement, which we may support. The government is completely refusing to co-operate on that front.
    As the member for Vancouver Kingsway said so well, other than the bill that was introduced in the House of Commons, we know nothing about the impact this agreement will have. The real problem goes beyond the government's claims that it wants to create jobs and bolster the Canadian and Honduran economies. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and the entire Conservative government—with active, enthusiastic support from the Liberals—are defending the indefensible. If this agreement goes into effect, it will go against the spirit of key international human rights treaties. That is unspeakable, not to mention completely immoral. Beyond the so-called economic arguments—which are more like wishful thinking, astrology or some other pseudo-science—there is no argument as convincing as denouncing the fundamental immorality of the bill introduced in the House.
    Now I would like to focus on my Liberal colleagues. I was shocked to hear the speech from the hon. member for Toronto Centre. The Liberals are advocating a position that is very far removed from the position of Lester B. Pearson's government.

  (1550)  

    The Liberals' philosophy is some 500 years behind, stuck in a time of slavery and exploitation of the colonies and entire populations, the world over.
    It is not so surprising to see the Liberals getting on board with the Conservatives. It has been said time and again in the House: there are major problems in Honduras. Organized crime is widespread. Democracy was wiped out in 2009, and there is no indication or meaningful evidence that this democracy is really vibrant or beneficial to the people of Honduras.
    It is very easy to understand why this government is defending tooth and nail the bill we are considering and debating in the House for such a horribly limited amount of time. We know that the Conservatives have a penchant for fraudulent ways. They were caught using an in and out scheme and allowing their data bank to be used to voluntarily lead thousands of voters astray to false polling stations during past elections.
    It is incredible that I am standing here in the House right now denouncing things that no party should even imagine or consider doing.
    Currently, the party in power is denying its responsibility, denying reality and, in fact, is continuing along its merry way as though nothing happened. It even suggests that there were administrative issues at play when we talk about the in and out scheme. So it comes as no surprise that it is defending Bill C-20, a bill that might just be a blight on Canada's reputation.
    I hope that my Conservative and Liberal colleagues will listen to reason and change their positions on this.
    The situation has been described at length, but I want to go over it again. It is chilling to think about the murder rate and the number of people who live in fear in that country. In fact, it is not complicated; the entire population of Honduras lives in fear daily, except of course a very limited group of people that must represent, at best, a few thousand people. In fact, it is probably just a few hundred people only. They live in comfort, safety and luxury. In Honduras, a truly very small elite group enjoys this type of benefits.
    How can they justify supporting a government that tolerates the reign of organized crime? Can any of my colleagues on the government or Liberal benches answer that? I have asked the question several times. Nobody has had the guts to give me a straight answer on that.
    In closing, I would like to debunk an urban myth that the government has slyly, though crudely, tried to cultivate. It would have us believe the warped logic that if we support economic development, democracy will just materialize. That kind of logic is anything but divinely inspired. First of all, that is absolutely not the case, because there is no mention of the economy in this.
    This urban legend belongs in the same category as the urban myth perpetuated all over social media and the Internet about how if you pass a car at night that does not have its headlights on, you should not flash your brights at it because it is part of a gang initiation ritual. Before I was elected, I had a little free time, and I researched that. I discovered that no law enforcement organization in North America had ever recorded a crime related to that kind of thing.

  (1555)  

    The government is making things up and trying to mislead the Canadian public, just like it does with other issues. Enough is enough.
    Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, Canada is a respectable country.
    If Canada signs free trade agreements with countries that violate rights and commit acts of violence against their own citizens, does this not give other perhaps less respectable countries permission to do the same thing? Does this not also tarnish Canada's reputation?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Hochelaga raises an excellent question.
    A little earlier in the House, I had the privilege of talking about one of the many things I am reading right now, an essay on economics by the renowned economist Esther Duflo, who is one of President Obama's advisors in the United States. I think she still is. Her essay is entitled “Repenser la pauvreté” or “Rethinking Poverty”.
    The economic framework and the framework of democratic institutions are crucial factors when we talk about developing countries, poor countries and extreme poverty.
    One thing that all economics experts can agree on is that it is impossible for a country to provide economic security and favourable conditions for economic development if it does not make people feel secure and if there is no sound government that guarantees individual rights.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. He talked a lot about morality, particularly at the beginning of his speech.
    I get a feeling that the fundamental disagreement we have with the government has to do with how we look at free trade agreements. Indeed, the government looks at them only from a market standpoint, which is completely amoral. I did not say “immoral”, but rather “amoral”. That is very important. We examine these agreements from a moral standpoint.
    I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.
    Mr. Speaker, I continue to appreciate the nuanced thinking of my colleague from Louis-Hébert, with whom I have worked for a long time, nine years to be exact. We went into politics in 2005.
    I find it very interesting that there has been no reaction to my speech from the government or even the Liberals. That probably says a lot about their inability to credibly maintain their position and their embarrassment at being a party to what the House will unfortunately be asked to do, which is pass this free trade agreement bill.
    Under what conditions and how can we blot out this stain on Canada's reputation? I do not know what to answer.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech.
    This government has often brought in free trade agreements. Some have been beneficial for Canada, Quebec, the other provinces and the signatory countries.
    However, in other cases, such as the Colombia agreement—that is the most recent example I can think of—there have been reprisals against journalists, arbitrary imprisonments and environmental and labour rights violations. I believe that we will see the same pattern with the Honduras free trade agreement.
     Should the government not be setting an example when ratifying free trade agreements? Should it not be showing the world and the country concerned that a