Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
View Nathan Cullen Profile
2011-03-25 10:26 [p.9248]
Mr. Speaker, it is with some sadness that we are all involved in this debate today. It is a historic moment that a government of Canada is being found in contempt not just of Parliament but of the Canadian people.
All members come here in an effort to represent constituents back home. There is a list of concerns and serious allegations, some of them being founded by the public prosecutor charging four Conservatives and two may likely go to jail, cancelling the long form census, and firing independent government officers and agents.
Members are meant to hold government to account. It concerns me that just last night an email was leaked from the Minister of Industry who instructed his Senate colleagues to kill the generic bill for drugs to Africa. That is very similar to how the government instructed its people in the Senate to kill the climate change accountability act introduced by the leader of the NDP.
A government is being found in contempt, which has never happened before. There have been bad governments, lying governments, and contemptuous governments in this country before, but the present government has achieved this low bar of ethics and morality. How is it we find ourselves in this position and what must we all do collectively to never allow this to happen again?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2011-03-25 10:43 [p.9250]
Mr. Speaker, the government House leader certainly has been trying very hard to spin Conservatives' record as something that is supporting Canadians.
We have seen him do this day after day in the House of Commons. I think he has become very familiar with it. Maybe in the most generous of moments I could give him an A for effort. There he is smiling. He could not even keep a straight face yesterday as he tried to ram through a whole bunch of government bills that he knew was impossible.
The fact is that the real record of the government is that it has the worst record on scandals in this country. It has the worst record of disclosure and of not providing information, not only to parliamentarians but to the people of Canada. It has the worst record on insider scams.
Day after day we have had to go through a litany of these issues and expose what the government refuses to disclose to the people of Canada. The fact that we are now, at this moment in this Parliament, finding contempt surely must be something that deeply disturbs even Conservative members.
We are talking about the institution of democracy. We are talking about the work that we are sent here to do—
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2011-03-25 11:03 [p.9254]
Mr. Speaker, a few days ago I joined hundreds of machinists at a rally in Vancouver. These highly skilled workers are fighting to keep their jobs in Canada. Similar rallies were held on the same day in Montreal and other parts of the country.
These machinists are simply asking the government to make sure that Air Canada actively obeys the law passed in Parliament, the Air Canada Public Participation Act. They need the support of this government to pressure Air Canada management to keep heavy maintenance facilities across Canada. While these workers represent decades of expert commitment to serving the Canadian aviation industry and ensuring safety, Air Canada management is preparing to export well-paying full-time jobs to low-paying countries. This has clear safety implications.
The government is in defiance of the laws of the land and ignoring critical safety concerns, as well as the strategic interest of Canada to maintain and grow highly skilled jobs. This is clearly not acceptable. We call upon the government today to oblige Air Canada to respect the law and make sure that these highly skilled jobs are maintained here in Canada.
View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
View Nathan Cullen Profile
2011-03-25 11:12 [p.9255]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Frank Howard, who passed away recently on March 23.
Frank was first elected to the provincial and federal governments in 1957 and served this place for 17 years as the representative for Skeena.
He was a logger and a trade unionist. He fought as a lead advocate for modernizing Canada's divorce laws. Equally as important, he fought to bring the vote to first nations people in this country for the first time.
He believed that average, ordinary working Canadians could achieve the highest levels of office and effect change. He believed in the courage of one's convictions, and that a smart intellect and a strong principled character could make change happen in this country.
He was a courageous man and offered me advice from time to time that I greatly appreciated.
We will all miss Frank Howard. He was a great man and a great parliamentarian.
View Jack Layton Profile
NDP (ON)
View Jack Layton Profile
2011-03-25 11:29 [p.9258]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's stubbornness is remarkable. He has been sulking in his office for three days. Why? If he truly wanted to avoid an election, he could have shown some initiative and some flexibility. He could have picked up the phone and called the others to try to find some common ground. But no. The truth is that the Prime Minister would rather have an election than—
View Jack Layton Profile
NDP (ON)
View Jack Layton Profile
2011-03-25 11:31 [p.9259]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives actually had an opportunity this week to help Canadian families by listening to practical, affordable New Democrat proposals: to take the federal tax off home heating, because constituents do not like it and it is making life hard for them; to lift Canadian seniors out of poverty, all of them; to ensure Canadians can retire with some dignity and security by doing something significant about the Canada pension plan; and to take immediate action to help the millions of Canadians who do not have a family doctor.
Those things could have been done. Why not help Canadians instead of provoking an election?
View Jack Layton Profile
NDP (ON)
View Jack Layton Profile
2011-03-25 11:32 [p.9259]
Mr. Speaker, when we persuaded the Conservatives to put $1 billion forward to help the unemployed, we voted for it. They accepted our good and practical proposal.
I will match the Conservative stubbornness to not work with other people with a relentless focus on helping Canadian families, day in and day out.
The Conservative government does not have to go down like Joe Clark or Paul Martin. The Conservatives could change their ways and they could change their budget. However, they are just plain stubborn. If they are serious, we are ready to work.
Why are the Conservatives intent on provoking an election?
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2011-03-25 11:49 [p.9262]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry wrote to the unelected Conservative senators and directed them to kill the medicine for all or drugs for Africa bill despite the fact that Bill C-393 was passed by the majority of elected members of this House, including 26 Conservatives. The minister's contempt for democracy is appalling.
The Conservatives may be in the pockets of big pharma but Canadians did not elect big pharma. They also did not elect the Senate.
Why is the minister putting the interests of Conservative insiders and big pharma ahead of saving lives?
View Pat Martin Profile
NDP (MB)
View Pat Martin Profile
2011-03-25 11:51 [p.9262]
Mr. Speaker, if we thought sabotaging the drugs for Africa bill was the last contemptuous act of a government in contempt of Parliament, we would be wrong, because now those same toadies in the patronage parlour are going to be on full salary while running the Conservative election campaign.
The most enduring metaphor for the ethical standards of the government is the image of a convicted fraudster and his twinkie in a teddy.
Is that not why the Conservatives are really provoking this election? Are they provoking an election before more Canadians wake up to what really goes on behind closed doors under the veil of secrecy by that government?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
2011-03-25 11:57 [p.9264]
Mr. Speaker, over 900,000 people use food banks in Canada. Among them are some of our bravest men and women who served our country proudly. In Calgary alone, 204 veterans depend on food banks and in London, Ontario, veteran hospital beds are being closed. This is a national disgrace and all because of Conservative inaction.
Why did the government decide to provoke an election instead of working with us to help veterans?
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
View Peter Stoffer Profile
2011-03-25 11:58 [p.9264]
Mr. Speaker, the legacy of the Conservative Party is a 38% increase in food bank use in this country by 900,000 people, 38% of them children. Also, in 2005, the Calgary food bank for veterans had 58 veterans and now it has 204.
My father, who was liberated by the heroes of Canada, would be rolling around in his grave to know that the heroes of Canada who liberated the Netherlands have to beg for food for their sustenance. That is the legacy of the Conservative government.
When will the government do something to help veterans in this country?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2011-03-25 12:16 [p.9267]
Mr. Speaker, you have given a decade of service to all members of Parliament as our Speaker. Maybe this day is no different from all those others spent occupying the chair, listening to endless points of order that really are not points of order, making your rulings and seeking order, seeking order, and still more order.
Of course, it is different today, in that this appears to be the last such day. So it is fitting that we pay you tribute, and I do so on behalf of our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, and our entire NDP caucus.
Mr. Speaker, you were elected or acclaimed as Speaker on four occasions, and it is no small feat in itself to have earned the respect of the House so many times over. You presided at many critical moments, including being the only Speaker ever to decide a confidence vote in 2005.
Mr. Speaker, we remember you for your fairness, your impartiality and your good humour.
You know this place inside out and all of its strange practices that no one really understands but which, at certain moments, become important, even critical, to how we function and do our work for Canadians.
Most of all, though, Mr. Speaker, you will be remembered for your historic rulings on the disclosure of documents dealing with Afghanistan, other document disclosure and questions of contempt, which bring us here today.
You have been our guardian and the guardian of our Parliament. I think it was best said in an article just yesterday in Maclean's magazine, which concluded:
Amid much gnashing of teeth over the state of our parliamentary democracy, [the Speaker] reasserted the power and preeminence of the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP members, we wish you well. We hope you are not left to muttering “Order” in your sleep. We thank you for your service as an honourable Speaker, and we thank your family for sharing you with us and for the work you have done so well.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2011-03-25 12:50 [p.9270]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-645, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (gratuities).
She said: Mr. Speaker, it may seem a bit futile to introduce private members' bills on a day like today, but after working so hard with the community to get this done, it is definitely worth putting on the record.
I am very pleased to present a bill that aims to rectify a gap in our employment insurance regime. Currently, EI payments for qualifying restaurant servers are not calculated so that the servers' tips are taken into account, even though they are included when they pay taxes. That means that the EI payments servers receive are not based on their actual income but on their wages, which are very often low, as is a custom in the restaurant industry. This leaves servers at a significant economic disadvantage when they lose their jobs. It is unfair and discriminatory.
This bill would make it mandatory for servers to claim their tips as income and that EI calculations be based on that total amount. It would give servers the economic security and equal footing that they deserve.
I would like to extend my thanks to a constituent of mine, Caitlin Rooney, who brought this to my attention and for her help in the development of this bill.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2011-03-25 12:52 [p.9271]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-646, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (victims of trafficking in persons).
She said: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be tabling a bill that takes real steps toward better ensuring the safety and security of victims of human trafficking and their ability to seek help and advocate for themselves and their rights.
The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act within this bill would provide for victims of trafficking protection permits that authorize a foreign national who is a victim of human trafficking to remain in Canada as a temporary resident. Provision is made for holders of such permits to be eligible to receive the same federal health services as a person who has made a claim for refugee protection in Canada.
We have long touted Canada as a nation that prioritizes human rights and this bill would do just that. It would also help in the efforts to prosecute the persons guilty of human trafficking by easing the fear of coming forward that is held by many victims of trafficking.
I thank my colleagues from Vancouver East and Burnaby—Douglas for their work on developing this bill and their tireless efforts toward ensuring that the legislation passed in this country is based on human rights and social justice principles first and foremost.
View Claude Gravelle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Claude Gravelle Profile
2011-03-25 12:56 [p.9271]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-648, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act (enhanced ministerial oversight).
He said: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Windsor West for allowing me to work on this file.
I am so pleased to table this important legislation that would provide substantive improvements to the Investment Canada Act. This bill is the culmination of consultations with stakeholders, experts, academics and labour organizations.
This bill, entitled “an act to amend the Investment Canada Act (enhanced ministerial oversight)”, would, among other things, require the Minister of Industry to consult with representatives of industry and labour, provincial and local authorities and other interested persons in exercising their powers under the Investment Canada Act; lower the threshold for ministerial review to $100 million; invite submissions from interested parties; require sureties from non-Canadian investors; broaden the minister's consideration when evaluating net benefits; eliminate the prohibition against communication of information related to the investment; and extend the timetable for review from 45 to 90 days.
In other words, this bill would strengthen the Investment Canada Act to protect workers and their communities, something the Conservative government and previous Liberal governments have refused to do.
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