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View Denis Blanchette Profile
NDP (QC)
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2015-06-19 10:18 [p.15335]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for his speech.
Something about the government's attitude toward this subject really bothers me. They are acting as though mechanisms to ensure public safety were not already in place. Specifically, I would like to talk about the Parole Board of Canada. Its mandate gives it the power to refuse parole when public safety is at risk, and victims have opportunities to have their say.
My question for my colleague across the way is therefore a simple one. What tools would his bill create that the Parole Board of Canada does not already have? I do not see what this bill adds.
View Laurin Liu Profile
NDP (QC)
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:23 [p.15336]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with the member for Trois-Rivières.
Today I rise in the House to speak to Bill C-53, which we will oppose. First though, since this is probably my last speech in the House for this 41st Parliament, I would like to thank all of the staff who have supported us over the past four years: House of Commons staff and the people working in my riding office and my parliamentary office, the interpreters, who do amazing work, the pages, and the people who work for my caucus.
A special thanks goes to my constituents in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for placing their trust in me over the past four years. It was a tremendous privilege and an honour for me to meet them and talk to them about their concerns. I hope that they will support me again during the next Parliament.
Today we are talking about Bill C-53, a justice bill that was introduced by the government in power. This bill represents yet another step backward. I will digress for a moment to talk about this government's record on justice over the past few years.
First, let us talk about the issue of the missing and murdered aboriginal women. The current government is refusing to conduct an inquiry into this phenomenon, even though aboriginal groups across the country have been calling for such an inquiry. We know that an inquiry is necessary to put a stop to this terrible phenomenon in Canada. The NDP has already committed to conducting a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. That is a priority for us, and it is one of the first things that we are going to do if we take office.
The Conservative government also introduced Bill C-51, which undermines our fundamental freedoms and violates our right to privacy. I received a number of letters on this subject from my constituents, who spoke out against the approach the government took with Bill C-51.
The NDP took a stand based on conviction and principles. Of the three main parties in the House, we are the only one that opposed this bill, which seriously infringes on the freedom of Canadians.
We can say that the Conservatives have fallen short when it comes to street gangs, whether it be in Montreal or Surrey, British Columbia. I talked with my colleagues from British Columbia about how a big a problem street gangs are. This is a serious and urgent problem that the government continues to ignore.
Bill C-53 is broadly based on misinformation and electioneering. What is more, we know that the Conservatives used this bill to stir up fear in order to raise more funds for their party. Right after this bill was introduced, the Conservative member for Scarborough Centre sent a fundraising email on behalf of the Conservative Party. The subject line was “Murderers in your neighbourhood”. That is obviously a campaign to spread fear and then capitalize on that fear to generate more support for the Conservative Party. That is the desperate act of a tired and ineffective government that is jeopardizing Canadians' safety.
The Conservatives should tell Canadians the truth. In the current system, the most dangerous criminals who pose a threat to public safety never get out of prison.
That is the current reality. We in the NDP want to protect victims and create an approach that puts victims first. We also believe in evidence-based policy. Any reforms made to the sentencing regime should focus on improving public safety, not playing political games. That is what the Conservatives are doing right now.
Decisions regarding people being released from custody must be based on an assessment of the risk each individual poses to the community and to public safety. The Conservatives introduced this bill, which, in fact, gives the minister control over these decisions. The Conservatives want to politicize the release process. We believe that this is a step backward for Canada.
The Attorney General has a duty to ensure that all of the bills put forward by the government are constitutional. As we know, since the Conservative Party has been in power, it has introduced a number of bills that could be considered unconstitutional. Once again, Bill C-53 will probably wind up being challenged in the courts. In other words, the Conservatives have introduced yet another problematic bill that is really much more about playing politics, instead of working to find solutions to the real problems.
Currently, if an offender gets parole, he will live the rest of his life under the conditions of his parole and the supervision of a CSC parole officer. Offenders who are sentenced to life never enjoy total freedom, since they have committed an offence resulting in a life sentence. Not all offenders who are given a life sentence get parole and some never will because of the high risk of recidivism they continue to present. We know that in the current system, there is legislation already in place to protect public safety and keep our neighbourhoods safe.
We know that the Conservatives are playing politics with this bill. The fact that they have been talking about this bill since 2013 further proves that point. They waited until just a few months before the election was called to introduce a real bill in the House. We know that this is an election bill. It has been criticized by eminent lawyers and experts because it is a complete botch-up.
In the past few days, we have had to discuss other bills that the Conservatives introduced in the House at the last minute. That is very undemocratic because we do not have enough time to debate these bills before the House rises at the end of the parliamentary session.
We also know that this same government invoked closure for the 100th time a few weeks ago in order to limit debate in the House. That move was strongly condemned by this side of the House, because Canadians want their MPs to do their homework, do their job and carefully study these bills. However, the Conservatives want to ram their platform down Canadians' throats without discussion and clear debate.
At present, it is the Parole Board of Canada, the PBC, an independent administrative tribunal free from political interference, that decides whether to grant or not grant parole. Taking this power away from independent experts and putting it in the hands of government is tantamount to turning back the clock 50 years. With this Conservative government we are going backwards.
The Parole Board of Canada was established in 1959, and Canadians rejected the politicization of the administration of justice a long time ago.
Canadians deserve better. They deserve a government that will take public safety seriously rather than using it for political purposes.
View Laurin Liu Profile
NDP (QC)
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:35 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
When I go door to door in my riding, my constituents speak out about the cuts the Conservatives have made to the RCMP and border services, which are preventing officers from doing their jobs to protect us.
This Conservative government has done nothing but make cuts. It claims to stand up for victims, but we know that is not true. Furthermore, the comments by the member opposite do not reflect our public safety realities.
Last year, 99% of offenders released on day parole did not reoffend and 97% of offenders released on full parole did not reoffend either.
Instead of introducing a bill that could politicize the current situation, the Conservatives would be better off investing more in the public safety services that Canadians depend on.
View Laurin Liu Profile
NDP (QC)
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:37 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree.
I would like to share the opinion of many Canadian experts who have spoken out against this Conservative bill. One such expert is Allan Manson, a law professor at Queen's University. With respect to the current situation he said, and I quote:
The most heinous cases do not get out so this is not an issue of whether the Clifford Olsens will be released.
With an election looming this fall, this is political opportunism of the crassest sort. This is surely the worst approach to public policy-making, and to criminal justice policy-making in particular.
With respect to the changes in the bill he said, and I quote:
This change will not achieve a single penological objective.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-06-19 10:38 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, since this is one of the last times I will rise in the House, I would like to thank the people of Pontiac for placing their trust in me. I humbly hope that they will do so again in the next election.
With respect to the question I would like to ask my colleague, it seems to me that this is not the first time public safety issues have been politicized. I would still like to know where to find the facts and the statistics that this bill is based on.
Did my hon. colleague find any?
View Laurin Liu Profile
NDP (QC)
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:39 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, there are no facts, and the Conservatives are fearmongering. They want to use this bill to win political points for their campaign over the summer. This bill is flawed and very problematic.
Not only does the current system protect Canadians from the possibility of the most dangerous criminals returning to our communities, but studies also show beyond a shadow of a doubt that extreme penalties are not deterrents.
We would sure like to know why the government introduced a bill that has no basis in fact.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 10:40 [p.15338]
Mr. Speaker, what a sensitive subject this is, and we are debating it in the context of a bill that was introduced at the very last minute. If there is one thing I find absolutely fascinating about my work here, which I feel very fortunate to do, thanks to the support and trust of the people of Trois-Rivières, it is the opportunity I have to learn so much about a whole range of subjects that are not necessarily in my area of expertise.
The subject we are dealing with this morning is a good example. I am not a lawyer or a criminal law expert, but in Ottawa, thank goodness, all members are lucky enough to have access to expertise, experience and relevant information. These things allow us not only to form an opinion, but also educate people who may be watching regarding the ins and outs of a bill like the one before us now.
If I were an ordinary citizen and a government said that its bill would enhance public safety, I imagine that I would probably start listening and I would likely believe that there must be some truth in there somewhere. Based entirely on facts, however, what we have before us is a bill that is designed purely to win votes and promote an ideology that is clearly the polar opposite of the NDP's ideology. The entire population, all Quebeckers and Canadians, will have to make their decision on October 19.
The Conservative government is proposing a vision of a society based on fear. I hope I will have time later to give some clear examples that directly relate to some election fundraising campaigns, for example, which have nothing to do with the substantive issue or the NDP's vision, which proposes developing a society based on public safety.
The Conservatives just introduced Bill C-53, which—to remind those who may not have been following this debate from the beginning—will make life imprisonment without parole mandatory for the crimes of first degree murder and high treason. However, life imprisonment without eligibility for parole is widely regarded as unconstitutional.
To plug the holes in their bill, the Conservatives included a clause that gives offenders a chance for parole after 35 years in prison. Parole will not be granted on the merits of the case or after a thorough review by the Parole Board, but after an application is made to the minister, because the minister is some sort of expert on this. I do not want to make any assumptions about the next Minister of Public Safety, but the current minister does not inspire a lot of confidence in me when it comes to making these types of decisions and leaving partisanship out of it.
Instead of spreading misinformation and electoral propaganda, the Conservatives should tell Canadians the truth. Under the current system, the most dangerous offenders who pose a risk to public safety never get out of prison. This bill is partisan to say the least, if not full-blown propaganda. The government's goal here is to give the impression that it is tough on crime, when it knows that these measures will have little to no real effect on the situation.
What is the current state of the situation in this area? For the benefit of those watching us I will briefly describe our system as it pertains to people convicted of first degree murder. An offender convicted of first degree murder is not eligible for parole for 25 years. I want to emphasize that “eligible” does not mean he will get parole, but that he can apply for it. It is up to the Parole Board to grant parole or not. We will come back to the conditions.
Protecting society is the primary criterion on which the Parole Board bases its decision to grant parole. Even if the offender is granted parole, he will spend his whole life reporting to a Correctional Service Canada officer. In other words, the current system already includes mechanisms for making public safety the priority.
The Criminal Code already includes special provisions to ensure that dangerous offenders do not threaten our safety.
If they are deemed to pose a serious risk to society, these inmates can be sentenced to an indeterminate prison term. That seems to be quite clear and strict. Public safety is the goal for this side of the House.
As we are on the eve of an election campaign, the Conservatives will use any means to fundraise and score political points, and there are still people who believe in that approach. I will just mention one example. On the day this bill was announced, the member for Scarborough Centre sent her constituents an email with the very moderate subject line: “Murderers in your neighbourhood?” That is their approach. Once again, the Conservatives' cynicism is in full view, and they are resorting to propaganda and fear-mongering. Instead, the NDP is focusing on safety.
Instead of engaging in blind partisanship, the government should instead listen to the findings of experts. I would like to elaborate on the expertise I mentioned earlier. A number of studies indicate that extreme sentences are not the solution to crime. That is backed up by statistics. After the death sentence was abolished, the murder rate dropped by 50%. That is rather curious. Here is what the Correctional Investigator of Canada had to say about that:
When you take all hope away from somebody, you don't give them any incentive to follow rules or to be at all productive and to contribute in any way.
A criminal can be released on parole and reintegrate into society. As I already mentioned, our current system has several provisions that protect society from the actions of these dangerous criminals.
In this case, there is no confusion. Everyone in the House agrees that it is important to protect society.
How will this bill protect us any better than the existing provisions of the Criminal Code? That is an interesting question. Did the government introduce this bill to do a better job of that? That is a question that the government has completely failed to answer.
According to Allan Manson, a law professor at Queen's University, there is a good chance that this bill is unconstitutional. Why? First, many studies have shown the negative effects of long-term incarceration. Prisons are becoming more dangerous for the people who work there. Second, this bill lacks a penal objective. The bill may in fact violate the very principle of fundamental justice.
If the Conservatives start breaking the backbone of our justice system, then they are doing exactly the opposite of what other democracies are doing in their legislation. It is often a good idea to compare ourselves to other countries to see whether we are heading in the right direction. However, is seems that the Conservatives are once again going against the tide.
Bill C-53 shows that public safety is not the Conservatives' primary concern. They would rather raise money through fearmongering and cobble together bills that are not based on evidence. The NDP is strongly opposed to that way of doing things. We want all criminal measures to be based on facts. We will ensure that our criminal measures seek only to enhance public safety.
We are deeply committed to the independence of justice. That is why only the appropriate authorities should decide whether an individual is eligible for parole. On the contrary, as they do in almost all of their bills, the Conservatives are once again placing more and more power in the hands of ministers, when those ministers are not necessarily qualified to exercise those powers.
I will stop there because time is flying by. That is too bad because I still had a ton of things to say. I will likely have a chance to talk more about this as I answer my colleagues' questions.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 10:50 [p.15339]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, and I have to tell him that he seems to have inadvertently fallen for the trap.
In the preamble to his question he mentioned that the Conservative government comes across as being really tough on crime, but they are not. They would love to have us believe that they are tough on crime and that they are stronger than all the other parties. However, it is Canada's own system that is strong, and the measures proposed in Bill C-53 contribute absolutely nothing to our existing public safety regime.
The Conservatives have launched a branding campaign and are trying to make the public believe that they are tougher on crime than the other parties, when that is not the case. The truth is that they are more partisan on crime issues than the other parties.
We will continue to protect public safety, as the existing measures already do. Bill C-53 adds nothing. Moreover, as members of Parliament from Quebec, I think we have made it quite clear that we must focus on real solutions such as prevention, support and rehabilitation measures in order to lower crime rates across the country and to ensure that our communities feel safe instead of afraid.
View Marc-André Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Marc-André Morin Profile
2015-06-19 10:52 [p.15339]
Mr. Speaker, this bill reminds me of pharmaceutical companies that are randomly searching for new molecules, and as soon as they make a discovery they try to match it with a disease. It is nothing but improvisation.
On the other side of the House, the Conservatives claim that hundreds of dangerous criminals will go out and murder people in their homes at night. This theory has absolutely no factual or scientific basis. Even if this theory had some kind of basis and if hundreds of criminals ended up in prison up to the age of 102, what does allowing these hypothetical hundreds of seniors to die in prison do for society? It makes no sense. It is designed solely to win votes, and that is its only merit.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 10:53 [p.15339]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for his analogies, which always bring smiles to our faces or at least a bit of a smirk.
To pick up on his analogy about big drug companies, the big difference is that in their search for molecules, they sometimes find them, and while research aimed at finding a drug to treat one disease can fail, it can result in a drug to treat another disease. In the case before us today, for one thing, nothing is ever found, and for another, there is not much to fix because the parole system as a whole does not permit automatic parole for dangerous criminals after 25 years. That is all there is to it. Members of an organization not bound by politics judge whether applications can be approved, and their number one criterion is always public safety. Those people are not politicians. They are experts.
Parole is a conditional release. Offenders might not be granted parole, but if they are, it comes with conditions that they must fulfill for the rest of their lives.
As I said, the number one criterion is always public safety, not creating a climate of fear for the purpose of raising money.
View John Rafferty Profile
NDP (ON)
View John Rafferty Profile
2015-06-19 11:00 [p.15341]
Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is National Aboriginal Day, and by happy coincidence I will not be in Ottawa this year but will have the privilege of joining my brothers and sisters of Fort William First Nation at Mount McKay in their celebrations.
In addition to the traditional celebrations, this year we will also reflect upon the findings and recommendations of Justice Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I would also like to personally wish Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy a happy and well-deserved retirement and thank him for his strong leadership over his many years of service in his many important roles.
With the election of a New Democratic government this October, Canadians will finally have a federal government that accepts responsibility for the immense injustices perpetrated upon our founding people by those who came later, a federal government that will make a solemn promise to ensure that these injustices are never repeated, a federal government that will finally work on a nation-to-nation basis with Canada's first peoples so that we can walk together, hand in hand, towards a better future.
Mino-giizhigad. Happy Aboriginal Day. Meegwetch.
View Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, today is World Refugee Day, and I would therefore like to salute the courage and determination of all those who have been displaced from their communities as a result of violence or danger. They face unspeakable challenges, which is why it is so important to give them a warm welcome when they arrive at our borders.
It is no secret: Canada is no longer the open, generous country it once was. The Conservatives have brought in a number of measures to discourage people from coming to our country for help and to deport them faster. In just over a decade, refugee claims to Canada have dropped from 40,000 to 10,000 a year, to say nothing of the lack of leadership shown by this government.
For instance, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who took so long to announce his targets for the number of Syrian refugees to be welcomed, still has not given his department the means to meet his own commitments. I must also point out the violence and tense political situation in Burundi, which have displaced tens of thousands of people—and yet Canada continues to deport people to that country.
Canada can and must do more for refugees.
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
2015-06-19 11:09 [p.15342]
Mr. Speaker, I am Gabrielle and Maisy Odjick, women victims of violence. I am Carole Parent, who will have to make some tough choices because the Conservatives are refusing to save social housing. I am the one in six unemployed workers who do not have access to employment insurance.
Our social safety net is disintegrating. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing. Our children are the first generation to be less prosperous than the generation before them.
Bill C-51 attacks our rights and freedoms. Advocacy groups are up in arms. Environmental protection is falling victim to financial gain. The Conservatives are making decisions on paper while turning a blind eye to the actual consequences.
We need a government that reflects who we are and that supports us. I am the average Canadian. I am the proud NDP member for Hochelaga, and I am going to continue to stand up for Canadians' rights.
View Denis Blanchette Profile
NDP (QC)
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2015-06-19 11:11 [p.15343]
Mr. Speaker, as this parliamentary session winds down, let me tell you about the injustice one of my constituents is facing.
The son of a soldier, Edney Charbonneau joined our armed forces himself. After eight years of service, he became a federal government customs officer and investigator. He obtained a very high security clearance.
For his service he received commendations from Prime Minister Martin and Prime Minister Chrétien. Unfortunately, now that he has reached retirement age, Mr. Charbonneau cannot get his old age pension. Why not? He is not a recognized Canadian citizen. When his father was deployed to England during World War II, he married a British woman. Mr. Charbonneau, the child of that union, arrived in Canada at the age of two months.
Regardless of the circumstances—worthy of a novel in themselves—that led to this injustice, this man spent his entire life in Canada and paid all his taxes like a good citizen. Mr. Charbonneau deserves his old age pension, and this government should remove all the obstacles in recognition of his life's work.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, these are finally the last days of the Conservative government, and Canadians are ready for a change. Our record is clear: while the Conservatives have chosen to give the wealthy billions of dollars in tax credits and spend public money on polls and partisan advertising, the NDP has presented a solid plan to help families make ends meet, which includes our national plan for affordable day care and our tax cuts to support SME job creation.
We have taken practical steps to make life more affordable such as putting an end to the tax on feminine hygiene products and successfully fighting the banks' and telecommunications companies' pay-to-pay fees. The winds of change are blowing, and on October 19 Canadians will finally be able to vote for a party that will defend their interests through good times and bad. That party is the NDP.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
View David Christopherson Profile
2015-06-19 11:17 [p.15344]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Office has used its power to protect entitled senators—heck, it even orchestrated a cover-up for them—and throughout, Conservatives have defended corruption instead of defending the public dime. Now senators who abuse taxpayers' trust can simply pay the money back and avoid any consequences. It is no wonder that Canadians are ready for change and looking for new management.
If Conservatives would not allow a thief to simply pay back the money and avoid any consequences, why is he allowing senators to do just that?
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
View David Christopherson Profile
2015-06-19 11:18 [p.15344]
Mr. Speaker, it is always good to hear now and then from the member for Medicine Hat.
Remember when Conservatives used to care about defending taxpayers' money? Not anymore. Since Conservatives came to power, they have spent a staggering $750 million of public money on Conservative advertising: TV ads, radio ads, polling, and even almost $2 million on Facebook ads, all paid for by Canadians. No wonder people are ready for change.
When exactly did these former Reformers forget what it means to be frugal when it comes to respecting taxpayer dollars?
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
View David Christopherson Profile
2015-06-19 11:20 [p.15344]
Mr. Speaker, given the two protagonists who were just up, I am not sure which one you were speaking to, but I think we will both take it under advisement.
While Conservatives were using taxpayer funds to promote themselves, they have not done the job on important issues like military procurement. They bungled the F-35s, and the Sea Kings replacement, the Cyclone helicopters, due to be fully delivered by 2008, are now—wait for it—seven years late. Seven years late is bad enough, but now DND is questioning whether the engines are even strong enough to do the job.
Why have the Conservatives bungled yet another important military procurement?
View Sadia Groguhé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Sadia Groguhé Profile
2015-06-19 11:21 [p.15345]
Mr. Speaker, after 10 years of Conservative rule, the list of poorly managed procurement contracts just keeps growing. Everyone remembers the F-35s. Today we learned that the project to replace the Sea King helicopters with Cyclone helicopters, which was supposed to have been completed in 2008, is seven years behind. Furthermore, the Department of National Defence is now wondering whether the engines are powerful enough.
How can the Conservatives have mismanaged this priority file so badly?
View Sadia Groguhé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Sadia Groguhé Profile
2015-06-19 11:22 [p.15345]
Mr. Speaker, after 10 years of Conservative rule, families are struggling to make ends meet. We have lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs. The GDP has seen its biggest drop in six years, and our exports have fallen for the second straight quarter. It is no surprise that BMO is forecasting the slowest economic growth outside of a recession in 30 years.
Do the Conservatives realize that their job creation plan is a failure and that it is time to change direction?
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
2015-06-19 11:27 [p.15346]
Mr. Speaker, Sunday is National Aboriginal Day, and we have sadly just learned that the economic conditions in aboriginal communities have gotten worse under the Conservative government. According to The Aboriginal Economic Progress Report, the employment rate for people on reserve is 9% lower than that for other Canadians.
How does the minister justify such a disastrous record?
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
2015-06-19 11:28 [p.15346]
Mr. Speaker, with answers like that one, I think that Canadians need a real change in government.
Today the RCMP will release a new report on missing and murdered aboriginal women. The families of these victims, aboriginal groups, the provinces, the territories, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and even the United Nations all agree that we need a national inquiry to understand and put an end to this tragic problem.
Will the government stop ignoring this issue and launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
2015-06-19 11:29 [p.15346]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' idea of tangible action to end violence against indigenous women is funding a website. It will take a lot more than a website to end this horrendous violence. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, national aboriginal organizations, Amnesty International, and victims like Rinelle Harper have been very clear: we need a national inquiry.
Canadians are tired of the current government playing partisan games with the lives of women. When will the Conservatives agree to a full inquiry into the murders and disappearances of indigenous women?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
2015-06-19 11:31 [p.15347]
Mr. Speaker, a website is not action, and that is not the end of it. Canadians know that under the current government, aboriginal unemployment has increased and the wage gap has increased. Instead of helping aboriginal communities, the government does not even count unemployment on reserves. It allows businesses on reserves to bring in temporary foreign workers. The Conservatives have failed to invest in education or infrastructure that could help communities develop. They have been left in dire poverty. Why are the Conservatives ignoring our indigenous communities?
View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2015-06-19 11:32 [p.15347]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect Parliament to get results on issues that matter. A bill by an NDP member to ensure that transgender people have the same rights as everyone else and a bill to give more autonomy to members of Parliament have both passed in the House. Yet the undemocratic Senate is killing them, just like it did with Jack Layton's climate change bill. The government ordered its senatorial troops to pass Bill C-51 without amendment. Why the double standard?
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-06-19 11:33 [p.15347]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can say that the Senate expenses scandal has nothing to do with him, but he cannot deny that he is the one who appointed Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau and the others.
He also made Housakos Speaker of the Senate, and it was his office that tried to cover up the Duffy expenses scandal. People are tired of these vague answers, and they are ready for real change.
Will the Conservatives stop defending the Senate's corruption?
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-06-19 11:34 [p.15347]
Mr. Speaker, senators charged Canadian taxpayers for rounds of golf, fishing trips and their spouses' personal travel to organize a Valentine's Day ball.
People are sick and tired of these privileges being granted to the governing party's cronies. They want this archaic and undemocratic institution to be abolished. It is time to chart a new course.
Why are the Conservatives so determined to maintain the status quo?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2015-06-19 11:35 [p.15348]
Mr. Speaker, every time Canadians turn on their TV, it seems the waste and the unethical spending just gets worse. Either they see news stories about Conservative appointees using public funds like their own personal piggy bank, or they see their money being wasted on government advertising: $750 million of their money, public funds, on nakedly partisan propaganda.
Canadians have had enough. They are ready for change. How can the minister stand here time and time again and defend this misspending? Why will he not take responsibility and end this grotesque waste?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2015-06-19 11:37 [p.15348]
Mr. Speaker, it is so sad. This is a party that came to Ottawa claiming that it would do things differently, and then the Conservatives went to work for themselves, just like the old corrupt Liberals. They are making an embarrassing mockery of question period, of course. Conservatives are tired, out of touch, and under criminal investigation.
Canadians are sick of the Senate scandals. They are sick of the wasteful spending. They are sick of the entitlements of the government, and Canadians stand ready for change, so why will Conservatives not get on board with the NDP leader's practical plan to bring real change to Ottawa?
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2015-06-19 11:42 [p.15349]
Mr. Speaker, Alberta's jobless rate has risen to 5.8%, the highest in more than four years, with little job growth since the start of the year. In the past six months, Alberta has seen unemployment numbers jump by 50%. Lower oil prices and job losses mean rising bankruptcies and lower home sales. Experts are predicting more job losses and growing economic challenges ahead, including in the drilling sector.
When will the Conservatives finally understand that we need to invest in a more diversified, sustainable economy for western Canada?
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 11:43 [p.15349]
Mr. Speaker, let me tell you about another Conservative failure.
Some 230 former Aveos workers just won a major victory thanks to the hard work of lawyer Hans Marotte. The Employment Insurance Commission spent over two years asking the workers to pay back on average $18,000 in benefits received after they lost their jobs. Their only crime was to receive the severance pay to which they were entitled upon losing their jobs.
When will the Conservatives acknowledge that employment insurance belongs to workers and that they are entitled to the benefits they have paid for?
View Jonathan Tremblay Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, after four years, it is time that the government stopped taking Canadians for fools. On October 19, an NDP government will be there to show them some respect.
Despite opposition from Canadians and municipalities and despite the fact that Canada Post is clearly improvising, this government has done nothing to get the mail delivered. Canadians know that an NDP government will stop slashing our public services and restore home mail delivery.
Will the government finally recognize that the Canada Post plan is not working and direct the crown corporation to do its job, which is to deliver the mail?
View Wayne Marston Profile
NDP (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Canada Post's plan to impose community mailboxes in our community of Hamilton, without municipal approval, was so flawed that the city went to court. Many residents there are so upset they are even blocking the installation of these boxes.
Canadians have had enough of not being consulted in cuts to services that impact them. It is no wonder that Canadians are ready for change.
Why is the minister not listening to our communities and telling Canada Post to withdraw its plan and restore home mail delivery?
View John Rafferty Profile
NDP (ON)
View John Rafferty Profile
2015-06-19 11:48 [p.15350]
Mr. Speaker, after nearly a decade of Conservative government, Canadians still have no protection from unfair gas prices.
Prices have jumped 40% since mid-January, rising way faster than oil prices, and leaving consumers in Thunder Bay—Rainy River and across the country gouged at the pumps.
Canadians are ready for change. The New Democrats have long called for the creation of a gas ombudsman to ensure competition and protect consumers. Will the Conservatives finally support the creation of a gas ombudsman, or are they okay with Canadian consumers paying these unfair prices?
View Laurin Liu Profile
NDP (QC)
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 11:49 [p.15350]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative approach is not working. In the 10 years the Conservatives have been in power, they have done nothing to reduce gas prices. What is more, the gap between the price of crude and the price at the pump has never been higher than it is right now. For years now the NDP has been calling for an ombudsman to monitor the price of gas, and for years, the Conservatives have been coming up with all kinds of excuses for doing nothing.
Why are the Conservatives allowing consumers to be gouged at the pump?
View Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, under the Conservatives, Canada has become inaccessible as a country for too many refugees. For instance, the minister is not giving his department the means to meet his own targets for welcoming Syrian refugees. I have another example. Canada continues to deport people to Haiti and Burundi.
In short, the Conservative record is shocking. Over the past 10 years or so, Canada has been receiving fewer and fewer refugee claims. We saw a drop from 40,000 claims a year to 10,000 claims in 2013. It is shameful.
Why do the Conservatives continue to tarnish Canada's reputation on the world stage? Why are they turning their backs on refugees?
View Andrew Cash Profile
NDP (ON)
View Andrew Cash Profile
2015-06-19 11:51 [p.15351]
Mr. Speaker, the government may be proud of its record on refugees, but the rest of the country is ashamed of the government's record on refugees.
Almost 60 million people around the world were forced from their homes, the highest number since the UN started counting. Syria alone counted for 11.6 million of the displaced. As refugees hit an historic high, Canada's response to the global calamity has hit an historic low.
Helping the world's most vulnerable is part of who we are as Canadians. It is a value that the Conservative Party has forgotten. Why is Canada not living up to its global commitments?
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 11:55 [p.15351]
Mr. Speaker, my bill to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday is finally back from committee after 205 days in study by 2 parliamentary committees. The bill would add exactly one word to the Holidays Act.
Last November, the Minister of Veterans Affairs said of my bill:
The specifics of the bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s...
This bill passed second reading with overwhelming support. Will the government help to end this 41st Parliament on a high note and vote “yes” to elevating Remembrance Day to the same status as other important Canadian holidays?
View Jinny Jogindera Sims Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, on June 11, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said in the House that 20 RCMP officers were in Surrey and “that boots are already on the ground”. The Conservatives even had the gall to repeat that in the House yesterday and today. Unfortunately, it is not true.
The city of Surrey has confirmed that not one of the 100 promised RCMP officers is on the ground in Surrey. Why are the Conservatives misleading the public and saying that new officers have arrived when they have not?
View Sana Hassainia Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I asked a question that I never got an answer to, so I would like to ask it again today.
Does this government know that people who were adopted and are not aware that they are not Canadian citizens in the eyes of the law can add themselves to the voters list since no proof of citizenship is required? This loophole in the legislation can lead to fraud and allow people who do not have the right to vote to vote anyway.
The last time I asked this question, the government avoided answering it by telling me all about the process for becoming a Canadian citizen. That was not what my question was about.
Does the government know how many people vote who do not have the right to do so, and does it plan to tighten up the process to ensure that it takes more than just answering a yes or no question to exercise one's right to vote?
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 12:07 [p.15354]
Mr. Speaker, although time is running out, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That in the opinion of the House, the government must adopt a contingency plan to help and support pyrrhotite victims, which includes: (a) increased quality standards for aggregates used in concrete; (b) the rapid implementation of a tax deduction for pyrrhotite testing; and (c) the implementation of a fund to advance the amounts granted to victims by the courts during the court proceedings.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2015-06-19 12:13 [p.15355]
Mr. Speaker, I have two sets of petitions.
One petition is on defined benefit pension plans, with signatures from all over the country. The petitioners draw attention to the fact that the conversion of defined benefit pension plans to target benefit plans, or so-called shared-risk plans, strips pension benefits of legal protections.
The petitioners call on the government to reject any such change that would allow employers to renege on existing defined benefit pension promises, and instead move to improve the retirement security of the 62% of workers who do not have workplace pensions.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2015-06-19 12:13 [p.15355]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is yet another one in this place calling for the government to restore home postal delivery. The signatures are from all over the cities of Victoria and Esquimalt, and the petitions are before the House for tabling.
View Claude Gravelle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Claude Gravelle Profile
2015-06-19 12:14 [p.15355]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present petitions from dozens of people from the great riding of Nickel Belt.
They are calling on the Government of Canada to work collaboratively with the Province of Ontario to defend and strengthen public health care for northerners, including reducing prescription drug costs, expanding public coverage for essential medication, focusing on disease prevention, and putting patients' needs first.
Since this is the last time that I will be rising in the House for this session, I want to thank the people of Nickel Belt for the last seven years. I look forward to the next four years.
View Alexandrine Latendresse Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am in the House today to present a petition to stop the cuts to our postal services.
I was able to collect the signatures of thousands of people. The petition today is smaller than the others, but I presented the petitions with the rest of the signatures earlier this week. It is very important to stand up for Canada Post and our postal services across the country, and to stop the completely unwarranted cuts that are now under way.
View Denis Blanchette Profile
NDP (QC)
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2015-06-19 12:15 [p.15355]
Mr. Speaker, as members of their committee on rights and humanity, a number of students at De Rochebelle high school expressed their disapproval of the continued involvement of child soldiers in several armed conflicts around the world.
Consequently, they wanted to speak out against the abysmal psychological and physical condition of these children and raise public awareness about this issue.
To that end, they prepared a petition, which they circulated this spring. They collected 346 signatures. I am pleased to present this petition on their behalf.
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
2015-06-19 12:16 [p.15356]
Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting three petitions that have all been signed by the people of Hochelaga, and which shows just how committed my constituents are.
The first petition calls on the government to support Bill C-448, sponsored by my colleague from Toronto—Danforth, which would repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code and put an end to discrimination against members of the LGBTT community with respect to their consensual sexual activity.
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
2015-06-19 12:17 [p.15356]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the Government of Canada to implement concrete and effective measures that will make life affordable for middle-class families.
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
2015-06-19 12:17 [p.15356]
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, the last—but certainly not the least—petition, calls on the Government of Canada to reject Canada Post's plan for reduced service and explore other options for updating the crown corporation's business plan.
Thank you and have a good summer.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:19 [p.15358]
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, how befitting that we should engage in a slight bit of time travel to end this Parliament. That brings me back to a quote from the veterans affairs minister when he spoke in favour of this bill at second reading and said:
The specifics of the bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s, when the Holidays Act treated Remembrance Day slightly differently from the way it treated Victoria Day and Dominion Day, now Canada Day. I am proud that it seems most members of this House will support the member for Scarborough Southwest in rectifying this oversight to ensure that as a federal holiday, Remembrance Day is treated in the same way as those other days that are important to our country.
I would now like to thank my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier for seconding my motion today and for her excellent work on the military file in her role as deputy national defence critic. I would also like to thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for seconding my motion at second reading and for having served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Remembrance Day has always been a very important day for my family, and the reason I wanted to bring this bill forward is to rectify that drafting error from the 1970s so that Remembrance Day would stand on an equal footing under the Holidays Act with Canada Day and Victoria Day, the other two legal holidays that we observe in Canada.
Yesterday I had a very touching moment when I took part in a special ceremony at my father's elementary school, Donwood Park Public School in Scarborough. My father is retiring this year after 28 years as a teacher in Scarborough, the last 25 of them at Donwood Park Public School. During the ceremony at the school yesterday, one of the other teachers, Shane Matheson, said that when he joined the teaching family at Donwood Park, he asked the principal and other teachers which of them took care of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, because usually one teacher is designated. All of the teachers immediately shouted out that it was Mr. Harris.
Of course I mean my father, David Harris, who has taken care of the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the school for years and years. He had a talk with my father to find out how he could help to further improve the ceremonies. They actually got a letter from the current Minister of Veterans Affairs to thank my father for the tremendous work he has done over the years in teaching the next generation about the importance of Remembrance Day here in Canada. It is particularly important work for communities that have a large number of new citizens.
The veterans affairs minister wrote the letter, and it was a very touching moment for us. As I have said in the House before, my family has a long-standing military tradition. My great-grandfather served in the both world wars; my grandmother was in the Canadian Women's Army Corps; my great-uncle, Bill Riley, was in the service in the Second World War and served in Europe. Last weekend, for the very first time, we were able to find and visit his tombstone in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough. My father just happened upon the tombstone. He was there for a memorial service for a friend of his and happened to walk by the tombstone. That was certainly a very sombre but important moment for my family.
This bill went before committee. It went before two committees, in fact. It was there for 205 days before it was reported back to the House. Witnesses appeared multiple times both in the heritage committee and the veterans affairs committee, and there seemed to be some confusion about what the bill would actually do.
Let me clear that up now.
Just as the Minister of Veterans Affairs said, this bill would correct a drafting error from the 1970s. It would elevate Remembrance Day to the same status as the other holidays.
This does not create a statutory holiday. We in Parliament cannot impose holidays on the provinces. That is provincial jurisdiction. The provinces get to decide which holidays to observe, and of course, every province does it a little bit differently.
With respect to Remembrance Day in particular, six provinces and three territories treat it as a statutory holiday. In Manitoba, businesses have to be shut down until 1 p.m. so people have the chance to go to ceremonies, and Nova Scotia has its own Remembrance Day Act. There are lots of models to follow. Ontario and Quebec do not do anything special with respect to a holidays act or changing the normal course of business.
I would like to quote my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley in Nova Scotia. He said:
I want to thank you for bringing this legislation forward. I think it is a very interesting discussion.
I'm from Nova Scotia. We have the Nova Scotia Remembrance Day Act. It means a day off school. Businesses are closed. It's a really big event. It's become bigger over the years. I think your legislation is timely, considering the age of our World War II and Korean War veterans. I can remember, as a child, watching the World War I vets. All of them are gone. My grandfather was in World War I. I have military history in my family that is very similar to yours.
As a former elementary school principal, I can tell you that the local legions, in the 19 cenotaph services in my riding, are very active in all the elementary schools, the junior highs, and the high schools in the area, but particularly in the elementary schools. The schools embrace the legions. There's a really strong partnership.
That is the important point. Everyone who works towards honouring and remembering our veterans and the brave service and sacrifice they have all made works together so that we can continue to impart to future generations the importance of that sacrifice and so that we never forget.
Regardless of what different provinces do, whether it is a day off school or not, that relationship between the kids and all the other groups that participate in Remembrance Day is what will help keep the spirit of that day alive for us so that we never forget.
I am certainly hoping today that we can actually end the 41st Parliament on a high note; more than likely we will not be coming back here until the election. We all came together as a Parliament on November 5 to vote on this bill. It was indeed fast-tracked through second reading. It passed second reading with a vote of 258 to 2. We were all able to come together in November to move the bill forward, and I certainly hope that now, in the waning hours of this Parliament, we will be able to do so again and get the bill through third reading before we all rise for the summer.
Some of our colleagues, and you, Mr. Speaker, are not coming back. I would like to thank you for the wonderful job you have done in that chair over the last four years I have been here. I am certain that you did a great job in your previous capacity, but I was not witness to it.
I just want to thank all the people who make Parliament work on a day-to-day basis: the clerks, the folks at the table; the pages and the incredible work they do; and the constables and security services here that work to keep us safe every single day. We would not be able to do the work we do on behalf of Canadians without all of them, and I just want to say thanks to them before we rise for the summer.
I am going to cut my remarks short, because I want to make sure that we get to the other speakers and that we actually have a chance to wrap up debate and move things forward. If we do not horse about here today, the bill will get through. I am certainly hoping that my colleagues, in particular those across the way, will agree to wrapping up the debate.
Again, I quote what the Minister of Veterans Affairs said:
The specifics of this bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s,
He went on to say:
Bill C-597 would make it clear where the federal government stands with respect to the importance of Remembrance Day to our country. It would give provinces the opportunity to revisit whether they want to make it a statutory holiday as well.
It would not force them to do so.
That is what this bill does. It clarifies Remembrance Day within the Holidays Act by according it the same status as Canada Day and Victoria Day. It changes exactly one word by adding the word “legal” in front of Remembrance Day so that it matches what is says for Canada Day and Victoria Day.
I think it is a simple change that we can all get done today.
I want to thank all my colleagues and everybody who has been a part of this 41st Parliament. It has truly been an honour and a privilege to sit here and to represent the constituents of Scarborough Southwest, where my family has lived for almost 90 years.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:31 [p.15359]
Mr. Speaker, the bill would not create a statutory holiday, so there would be no cost with respect to that.
It is actually a little difficult to calculate the exact cost with respect to adding Remembrance Day as, say, a statutory holiday. If we were to add another new holiday, something else, it does not matter what, that would impact the entire country, it would be easy to measure that.
If Remembrance Day was made a statutory holiday, it would not impact six provinces and three territories; it would slightly impact a couple of provinces, and it would impact two provinces.
It is hard to find out what the cost would be to businesses right now. Businesses I have spoken to have said it is very confusing if they have an operation in Ontario and one in B.C. The folks in B.C. would be off for the day and the folks in Ontario would not be and if they tried to conduct business between the two, they could not get it done. That has a cost as well.
Businesses want predictability. Sometimes uniformity across the country is actually helpful to business. We only have to look to our neighbours to the south, the United States, for an example. The U.S. federal government passed a bill, and then every single one of the states passed their own bills. Now they have uniformity with respect to the observance of Remembrance Day, which they call Veterans Day.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:34 [p.15360]
Mr. Speaker, with respect to Remembrance Day, we have a situation here in Canada where every single Canadian who wants to go and pay their respects, however they want to do that, should have that opportunity. The model in Manitoba where businesses are shut down for half the day, certainly in the vast majority of instances would allow that to happen.
That is also why I have not been pushing specific suggestions with respect to what to do. Some of the provinces have done different things. Manitoba has gone in one direction. Nova Scotia has gone in another direction. Six provinces and three territories have decided to make it a full statutory holiday.
When we were hearing witnesses in committee, Canadian Veterans Advocacy said something that was quite poignant, that we were supposed to go and pay our respects and lay down our poppies, but afterwards we are supposed to carry on and continue to live our lives.
If families were to have that opportunity to spend the rest of the day together and choose to use the day however they wished, I do not see a problem with that. They would get to spend time together. It would also offer the opportunity for Canadian society to perhaps even do something for veterans and their families if we were to start organizing things. However, that would be a much larger discussion and a different debate on a different bill at a different time. However, I am always happy to talk about Remembrance Day.
View John Rafferty Profile
NDP (ON)
View John Rafferty Profile
2015-06-19 12:55 [p.15362]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-597, on the last day of the 41st Parliament. This bill would amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday. That is an important distinction. People watching and listening to this debate might be a little confused with the words “legal” and “statutory”. It is not calling for a statutory holiday. A statutory holiday would be a holiday like Canada Day, a day off that celebrates Canada right across the country. That is not what this bill is asking for.
It is simply asking for a one-word change to section 3 of the Holidays Act. I will read that section with the change in it. After this bill passes, section 3 would read as follows:
November 11, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a [legal] holiday and shall be kept and observed as such throughout Canada under the name of “Remembrance Day”.
It would simply add one word, “legal”. Again, I have to emphasize that we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday. I will say a few more words about that in a moment.
Remembrance Day is important, and this change is important. There are four reasons why I think this change is important and I will go through each of them. The first is to commemorate and honour our fallen soldiers and veterans on a national level. Remembrance Day is celebrated and talked about in many different ways across the country, and there is no real unanimity. As we know, every year the number of veterans from past wars diminishes, and I think it is time that we show our support on a national level. Modern and wartime veterans are to be thanked for preserving the democracy that we live in and thrive in today.
I can only go by the experience in my own riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River of what happens on Remembrance Day now. It is interesting to note that with the one-word change, things would likely not change in my riding.
In 1970, Thunder Bay became the city it is today from two separate cities. My riding encompasses the south side of Thunder Bay, which is the old Fort William. In Fort William Gardens every Remembrance Day, without any exaggeration, there are 3,000 to 4,000 people. The complete ice surface, which then is a cement surface, is covered with veterans, presenters, wreath layers, honoured guests, and so on. It is a wonderful celebration of what Remembrance Day means to so many people in Thunder Bay.
On the other side of town, in Port Arthur, there is also a celebration on Remembrance Day, which happens at exactly the same time. However, what is interesting is what happens in the rest of my riding on that day. I attended the Atikokan ceremony last year. I have to pick and choose each year and rotate where I am at 11 o'clock on Remembrance Day. I was in Atikokan last year, where there was a wonderful event put on by the legion. I should also mention that in Thunder Bay the legions are terrific, both on the day before Remembrance Day and the day of, in terms of how they treat everyone who attends to be part of Remembrance Day with them.
In the far west of my riding, at 11 o'clock, Fort Frances has its Remembrance Day ceremony. That is supported and organized by the legion. As one goes down Highway 11 to the end of my riding in Rainy River, the Remembrance Day ceremonies are staggered so that when I am in the west end for a ceremony, I can actually get to Fort Frances, Emo, Stratton, all the way to Rainy River without any problem to be part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies.
When I am in Thunder Bay, I attend the 11 o'clock ceremony. That is eastern time, do not forget. We gain an hour going to the west end of my riding because it is central time. I then hop in my car and drive all the way to the other end of my riding, 500 kilometres, to be at the legion supper in Rainy River. I know that many other MPs do the same sort of thing when they have large ridings.
The point of my talking about that is to emphasize that under this bill what happens now for schoolchildren attending and everybody else making time to be part of the various ceremonies right cross my riding. It would not really change under the bill because we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday.
A legal holiday would help to provide an equal opportunity for everyone in Canada to observe November 11. It is really a symbolic change and hopefully it would entice provinces that currently do not observe November 11 as a holiday to change their practice. Six provinces and all three territories already observe November 11 as a holiday. Again, the bill would not force the rest of Canada to have a holiday, but it would give it a slightly different status by using the word “legal”, which is an important distinction.
Many people in constituents in my riding, young and old, all attend Remembrance Day ceremonies. It is a solemn time in my riding. Members may or may not know that thousands of young men and women have been involved in war efforts over the years, including, most recently, in Afghanistan. There is a real understanding in Thunder Bay in particular of the importance of Remembrance Day.
While a lot of people already do attend, the bill would go further to encourage all the provinces to give an opportunity for everyone to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies.
My last point is that it important to have an additional opportunity to educate the next generation. I want to say just something very briefly about that. The school boards right across my riding make a terrific effort to have veterans come into the schools. The children enter the poster contests with the legions and so on. There is not one schoolchild in my riding who does not have an understanding and appreciation of Remembrance Day and what that means. The education of the next generation is already happening, and the next generation after that. I suspect it is much the same right across the country in just about everybody's riding. A lot of things would not change with the bill, but it would increase its status somewhat, and I that is important.
I am going to finish off with just a brief recap of the bill and bills like it, and what the history has been in the House. I hope people will get the idea that it is high time to give support a bill like this.
I will talk about the NDP first. The NDP has put forward similar bills in the past. In 2006, our MP for Hamilton Mountain brought forward Bill C-363. She did the same in 2009 with Bill C-287. There have also been two motions in the past: Motion No. 424, in the year 2000 by Nelson Riis; and Motion No. 27, in 2006 by our member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.
It is also interesting that in the past the Conservatives have brought forward similar bills. Inky Mark brought forward two bills: one in 2004, Bill C-295; and one in 2006, Bill C-354.
The Liberals have also brought forward bills that are much the same in the past. They brought in two bills and a motion. Ronald MacDonald from Dartmouth brought forward Motion No.699 in 1990, another one in 1991, and another in 1994. Roger Gallaway from Sarnia—Lambton brought forward Motion No. 298 in 2002.
Given the history I have ended my speech on, I can see no reason why we cannot get unanimous support right through the House for this.
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 13:18 [p.15365]
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It seems as though all parties have been supporting this bill all along the way and congratulating me for this work. However, for some reason, the Conservatives seem to want to talk out the clock today instead of getting this bill over to the Senate for study and adoption. Here is the last chance.
Therefore, I would seek unanimous consent for the following motion: that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House—
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
View David Christopherson Profile
2015-06-18 10:08 [p.15256]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled, “Chapter 4, Access to Health Services for Remote First Nations Communities, of the Spring 2015 report of the Auditor General of Canada”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
I also extend thanks to all the members of the committee, all the staff, and the Auditor General, who does an amazing job for us.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues, I have the honour to present the official opposition's supplementary opinion on the future of forestry. Over the course of 10 or 11 very full meetings, we heard some high-quality testimony that showed us how important the forestry industry is and shed light on the obstacles the industry will have to overcome to achieve greater success. Although the report does reflect the quality of the testimony, I have to say that we were disappointed in the committee's recommendations. The testimony is included in the report; that is why we supported it. However, in response to that testimony, we are pleased to present 39 official opposition recommendations about the future of forestry.
I will close by wishing the committee chair, the member for Vegreville—Wainwright, all the best because he will not be running again. The committee was run well and functioned very efficiently. I would like to thank him for his work and wish him good luck in his retirement.
View Christine Moore Profile
NDP (QC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-700, An Act to Establish National Perinatal Bereavement Awareness Day.
She said: Mr. Speaker, every year, thousands of families are affected by perinatal bereavement. This kind of loss is considered one of the hardest things anyone could ever go through in their adult life, and it can cause physical and psychological suffering for the parents and the extended family. These parents often isolate themselves, since it is such a difficult experience to go through.
I therefore ask my fellow parliamentarians to recognize the importance of raising awareness about perinatal bereavement. That is why I want October 15 to be declared national perinatal bereavement awareness day.
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