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View Andrew Scheer Profile
Honourable Senators,
Members of the House of Commons,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us begin this day together by honouring in silent reflection those whose lives were tragically taken at Lac-Mégantic.
I come before you today as one proud Canadian among a vast nation of these, sincere in congratulation on this opening day of the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament of Canada. I bear the happy wishes and deep affection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, whose family has this year been blessed with the birth of Prince George.
Parliamentarians, you gather today with the high confidence and higher expectation of Canadians. Remember that our nation has embraced a unique set of indelible qualities that must guide your deliberations in this Parliament.
Consider this: we are inclusive. We are 35 million people gathered from every part of the world. We welcome the contribution of all those who inhabit this land—from the first of us to the latest among us. This year, we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. This extraordinary document is part of the legal foundation of our country. It recognized the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada for the first time and established the basis of their relations with the Crown.
Consider this: we are honourable. People of peace, we use our military power sparingly; but when we do so we do so with full conviction, gathering our forces as men and women who believe that the freedoms we enjoy cannot be taken from us. This clarity focuses our might in terrible times. And wherever and whenever we unleash that might, we raise our grateful voices and our prayers to honour those who have stood in harm’s way for us.
Consider this: we are selfless. Our survival has been sustained by humility and acceptance of our mutual interdependence. Giving lies in our very nature, certain in our hearts that none but the gift passed from an open hand will multiply as those we help better themselves, those they love and, at length, the country they call home.
Consider this: we are smart. We deplore self-satisfaction, yearning rather for self-improvement. We love learning and cherish our right to it. We are united, prosperous and free precisely because we ensure that Canadians have opportunities to learn, excel, advance, and thus to contribute.
Consider this: we are caring. Our abiding concern for the common good of our neighbours—in each community—makes us responsive. We do not abandon our fellows to scrape by in times of distress or natural disaster. Inspired by our common bond, we come swiftly and resiliently to the aid of those in need.
Today, as we contemplate our 150th anniversary, the eyes and ears and expectations of Canadians turn toward this Parliament, in trust that those who stand here in their place will relentlessly advance and uphold ideas that are inclusive, honourable, selfless, smart and caring at every turn without fail.
Let us not disappoint. And with that spirit and direction, let us turn now to the present.
Two and a half years ago, Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate: a mandate to protect jobs and our economy; a mandate to keep taxes low; a mandate to make our families and communities safe.
Despite ongoing uncertainty and instability from beyond our shores, our Government remains focused on these priorities. We made tough choices—the right choices for Canadian families. The results are clear: more Canadians have good jobs than ever before; families are paying lower taxes; our financial house is in order.
As the world looks to recovery, a rare opportunity now lies before us as Canadians: the opportunity to build on our ingenuity, our immense natural wealth, and our values and stability; the opportunity to secure the future, for our generation, and our children’s generation. It is the opportunity to lead the world in security and prosperity—not for the sake of doing so, but so that Canadian families who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules can get ahead.
This is Canada’s moment; together we will seize it.
And as we do, we draw inspiration from our founders, leaders of courage and audacity. Nearly 150 years ago, they looked beyond narrow self-interest. They faced down incredible challenges—geographic, military, and economic. They were undaunted. They dared to seize the moment that history offered. Pioneers, then few in number, reached across a vast continent. They forged an independent country where none would have otherwise existed.
In the words of Thomas D’Arcy McGee:
“I see in the not remote distance one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean. I see it quartered into many communities, each disposing of its internal affairs, but all bound together by free institutions...”
With hard work, sacrifice and common sense, those Canadian men and women built this country. In so doing, they founded a constitutional democracy, among the most enduring history has known. As we look to the 150th anniversary of our Confederation, we are reminded that ours is a rich inheritance: a legacy of freedom; the birthright of all humanity and the courage to uphold it; the rule of law, and the institutions to protect it; respect for human dignity and diversity.
Guided by these values, we Canadians—Aboriginal, French, English, people from all corners of the globe—strive together for our families and a brighter future. We are on the cusp of a moment that is uniquely Canada’s.
Just as our founders dared, so too must we.
We must seize this moment to secure prosperity, for Canadians now, and the generations to follow.
1. Creating Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians
Balanced Budgets and Reducing the Cost of Government
Creating jobs and securing economic growth is and will remain our Government’s top priority.
When disaster struck the world economy, our Government’s decisive and pragmatic leadership navigated Canada through the worst global recession in a generation.
Even before the recession hit, our Government was prepared. It maintained budget surpluses and paid down billions from the national debt. It lowered taxes for Canadians and job-creating businesses.
During the downturn, our Government’s Economic Action Plan took the steps necessary to safeguard our economy. It protected Canadian jobs. It invested in infrastructure and productivity. And it controlled spending, while maintaining growing transfers that support health care, education and retirement.
In spite of continuing risks from beyond our shores, our Government is leading the world by example. It secured the commitment of the world’s largest economies to put in place credible plans to achieve financial sustainability. And it set clear targets to bring our own deficit down. Canada now leads the G7—in job creation; in income growth; and in keeping debt levels low.
Canada is now among only a few countries in the world with a triple-A credit rating.
By taking decisive action Canada has stayed strong where others have faltered. But we cannot be complacent. The global economy still faces significant risks from factors that we do not control. We must stay the course. And sound management remains our Government’s guide.
Canadian families know they cannot prosper by continually spending more than they earn. Our Government is no different.
Last year’s deficit was less than forecast. Our Government will balance the budget by 2015.
And it will go further. Our Government will enshrine in law its successful and prudent approach. Our Government will introduce balanced-budget legislation. It will require balanced budgets during normal economic times, and concrete timelines for returning to balance in the event of an economic crisis.
Our Government has already set an ambitious debt-to-GDP target of 25 per cent by 2021. And it will reduce that ratio to pre-recession levels by 2017.
Just as our Government manages debt, so too is it tackling spending. Every day, Canadian families make tough choices about how to spend their hard-earned money. Guided by this example, our Government will continue reducing the size and cost of Government to ensure that taxpayers get value for money.
Our Government will freeze the overall federal operating budget, which will continue to restrain hiring.
Our Government will make further targeted reductions to internal government spending.
Our Government will reform the way the federal system manages spending.
Our Government will review federal assets; when it is in the best interest of Canadians, they will be sold.
Our Government recognizes the value of a lean, competent and committed public service. Public Service pay and benefit levels will be reasonable, responsible, and in the public interest.
Our Government has already reformed federal government pension plans, to ensure that parliamentarians and public servants pay their fair share. It will reform disability and sick-day entitlements and work with employees to get them back to work as soon as possible.
Our Government will amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act to ensure that the Public Service is affordable, modern and high-performing.
Our Government will increase performance accountability in the Public Service to provide better service to Canadians, at a reduced cost, and to better recognize dedicated and effective employees.
And we will make government more efficient and responsive to Canadians--by, for example, moving from 63 different email systems to one.
Jobs for Canadians
Canadians want good, well-paying, stable jobs. And our country needs Canadians working.
Canadians know that businesses create jobs. So our Government lowered their tax burden and cut red tape.
Canada now has the best job creation record in the G7—one million net new jobs since the depths of the recession. These are overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying, private sector jobs.
But our Government is not stopping here.
Canada has one of the best-educated workforces in the world. But there are too many people without jobs and too many jobs without people.
To address this job creation gap, our Government is implementing the Canada Job Grant. It will increase employment by ensuring Canadians are able to fill job vacancies.
Our Government will take further steps to see that those traditionally under-represented in the workforce, including people with disabilities, youth, and Aboriginal Canadians, find the job-training they need.
Our Government will work with provinces and territories on a new generation of labour market agreements to more effectively connect Canadians with disabilities to employers and in-demand jobs.
Canada’s youth unemployment rate is already much lower than many advanced countries. But it remains too high. Our Government will redirect federal investments in youth employment to provide real-life work experience in high-demand fields.
Our Government recognizes the tremendous potential of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations to strengthen the growing Canadian economy. It will continue working with First Nations to develop stronger, more effective, and more accountable on-reserve education systems.
In a dynamic economy, workers must be able to use their skills, wherever in Canada they choose to work. Provincial borders should not be employment barriers. Our Government will work with provinces and territories to improve credential recognition and enable the free movement of skilled workers.
Our Government will ensure that Canadians are aware of the opportunities offered by the skilled trades, and will assist apprentices with the cost of their training.
Our Government will complete reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians always have the first chance at available jobs.
And our Government will continue to create the conditions for new and better jobs for Canadians across all sectors of our economy.
From the days of the coureurs des bois and the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada has been a trading nation. Today, with one in five Canadian jobs dependent on exports, our prosperity hinges on opening new markets for Canadian goods, services and investment.
This is why our Government launched the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history. In less than seven years, Canada has concluded new free-trade agreements with nine countries and our Government is negotiating further agreements involving more than 60 others.
The Government will soon complete negotiations on a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union. This agreement has the potential to create 80,000 new Canadian jobs.
Our Government is also committed to expanding trade with emerging markets in Asia and the Americas through our engagement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and active negotiations with Japan, South Korea, and India.
To further promote the success of Canadian exporters, our Government will launch a comprehensive new plan to assist Canadian businesses as they expand abroad.
The United States remains Canada’s biggest and best customer. Our Government will continue implementing the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Action Plans to speed the flow of people, goods and services between our two countries.
Here at home, our Government will continue to work to remove barriers to trade between provinces and territories that cost jobs, inconvenience Canadians, and defy common sense. For instance, our Government will work with British Columbia and Ontario, and other willing jurisdictions, to set up a cooperative regulatory system for securities and capital markets.
And our Government will amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to allow Canadians to take beer and spirits across provincial boundaries for their own use.
Resource Development
Since Canada’s earliest days, our economy has been built on our abundant natural resources. Directly and indirectly, the natural resource sector employs 1.8 million Canadians, many in skilled, high-paying jobs. Resource development generates 30 billion dollars annually in revenue that supports health care, education and programs Canadians cherish.
Canada’s energy reserves are vast—sufficient to fuel our growing economy and supply international customers for generations to come. However, for Canadians to benefit fully from our natural resources we must be able to sell them. A lack of key infrastructure threatens to strand these resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring.
We must seize this moment. The window for gaining access to new markets will not remain open indefinitely. Now more than ever, our future prosperity depends on responsible development of these resources. At the same time, our Government has taken action to ensure that Canada’s resources do not fall under foreign government control.
Our Government will continue to ensure that our natural resource sectors remain open to foreign investment when it is market-oriented and in the long-term interests of Canadians.
Canada’s natural wealth is our national inheritance and our Government will ensure that the jobs and opportunities it brings are available to all Canadians. In particular, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples must have every opportunity to benefit.
Our Government believes, and Canadians expect, that resource development must respect the environment. Our Government’s plan for responsible resource development includes measures to protect against spills and other risks to the environment and local communities. Our Government will:
Enshrine the polluter-pay system into law;
Set higher safety standards for companies operating offshore as well as those operating pipelines, and increase the required liability insurance;
Re-introduce the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, to protect our oceans and coasts; and
Act on advice from the Expert Panel on Tanker Safety, to create a world-class tanker safety system in Canada.
Farms, Fisheries, Forestry
Canada was built on the work of farmers, fishermen, and foresters. They work hard to feed our families and sustain rural communities.
Our Government will continue to protect and promote Canada’s traditional industries.
Our Government has given farmers marketing freedom and is helping them adapt and innovate. It will continue to develop new markets around the world for Canadian products, while supporting supply management.
Our Government has supported fishermen by ensuring proper management of fish stocks and by opening new markets worldwide. It will continue to be open to solutions, supported by fishermen, that strengthen the economic competitiveness of this traditional pillar of our coastal economy.
Forestry remains essential to Canada’s rural economy, supporting almost 200,000 jobs across the country. Our Government secured and extended the softwood lumber agreement with the United States. And our Government will continue to support innovation and pursue new export opportunities for Canadian companies.
Infrastructure investment creates jobs, supports trade, drives productivity and contributes in a fundamental way to growth and long-term prosperity.
For Canadians balancing the pressures of work and daily life, investment in our roads, bridges and transportation networks means less congestion, shorter commutes and more time with family. That’s why, in Economic Action Plan 2013, our Government launched the new Building Canada Plan, the largest long-term federal commitment to infrastructure in Canadian history.
Over the next decade, our Government will invest 70 billion dollars in federal, provincial, territorial and community infrastructure. Projects such as building subways in the Greater Toronto Area, replacing Montréal’s Champlain Bridge, building a new Windsor-Detroit crossing and constructing Vancouver’s Evergreen Line will create jobs across our country.
Shipbuilding and Manufacturing
Our Government will work in partnership with industry to ensure that all major military purchases create high-quality jobs for Canadian workers. Our Government’s National Shipbuilding Plan will create 15,000 well-paying, skilled jobs over 30 years for Canadians and produce much-needed new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Canada’s automotive and aerospace industries are also key parts of our economy. That’s why our Government renewed the Automotive Innovation Fund and improved the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative. Both have a proven track record of generating results for Canadians—jobs, prosperity and increased foreign investment.
To foster Canadian productivity and global competitiveness, our Government provided 1.4 billion dollars in tax relief to manufacturing companies investing in modern machinery and equipment. And our new Advanced Manufacturing Fund will support new products and production methods.
Science and Technology
Our Government’s leadership in science and technology helps Canadian business remain competitive while creating high-paying jobs. Since 2006, our Government has invested more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies operating at the outer limits of knowledge.
Canada now leads G7 countries in post-secondary research investment.
Transformation of the National Research Council, doubling the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and the new Venture Capital Action Plan are all helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development.
Building on this strong foundation, our Government will release an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy.
Our Government will continue making targeted investments in science and innovation chains from laboratory to market in order to position Canada as a leader in the knowledge economy.
And our Government will continue to promote Canada as a world-class destination for international students.
Small Business and Tourism
Canada’s spectacular beauty attracts visitors from across the globe to every region of our country. These visitors create jobs and sustain local economies. Our Government will continue to work with industry partners to promote Canada as a top destination for tourism.
Our Government has reduced the red tape burden on small and medium-sized businesses. There are now fewer regulations and the cost of red tape has been reduced by nearly 20 million dollars annually.
Our Government will introduce legislation to enshrine the One-for-One Rule in law: for every new regulation added, one must be removed.
The Canada Revenue Agency will cut additional red tape and help businesses navigate the tax system.
And, following our Government’s return to balanced budgets, it will look at ways to provide further tax relief to job-creating small businesses.
2. Supporting and Protecting Canadian Families
Keeping Taxes Low
Canadians work hard for their money. And we know families are better placed to make spending decisions than governments. That is why our Government has lowered taxes, year after year—for families, for businesses, for each and every Canadian.
For example, our Government:
Cut the GST, from seven to six to five per cent;
Created Tax Free Savings Accounts, which now benefit more than eight million Canadians;
Established a 5,000-dollar tax credit for first-time home buyers;
Reduced the lowest personal income tax rate and increased the basic personal exemption;
Introduced income splitting for seniors;
Brought in arts and fitness tax credits for our children; and
Froze Employment Insurance premiums for the next three years, meaning that employees and employers will save 660 million dollars next year alone.
Overall, the federal tax burden is at its lowest level in half a century. As a result of our Government’s low-tax plan, the average Canadian family now pays 3,200 dollars less in taxes every year. Our Government has a proven record of cutting taxes for Canadian families. We have delivered on our promises. And, once the budget is balanced, our Government is committed to greater tax relief for Canadian families.
Defending Canadian Consumers
Canadian families work hard to make ends meet, and every dollar counts. While companies will look out for their bottom line, our Government is looking out for everyday Canadians.
When Canadians make decisions about how to spend their money, they must be assured of a voice, a choice, and fair treatment. For example, although Canadians are among the most digitally connected in the world, we also pay some of the highest wireless rates in the developed world. As families know—especially families with teenagers—the monthly bills add up.
Our Government has already taken action to achieve greater competition. Canadians know that competition is good for everyone. Competition lowers prices and keeps businesses from becoming complacent. As a result, wireless rates have fallen nearly 20 per cent since 2008.
But there is much more work to do.
Our Government will take steps to reduce roaming costs on networks within Canada.
Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.
Our Government will continue enhancing high-speed broadband networks for rural Canadians.
And our Government will take additional action to protect Canadian consumers. Canadians are tired of hidden fees. They deserve to know the real cost of paying by debit or credit card. And they should not be charged more in Canada for identical goods that sell for less in the United States.
Our Government will:
End “pay to pay” policies, so customers won’t pay extra to receive paper bills;
Expand no-cost basic banking services;
Work with the provinces and territories to crack down on predatory payday lenders;
Empower consumers by requiring disclosure of the cost of different payment methods; and
Take further action to end geographic price discrimination against Canadians.
Supporting Victims and Punishing Criminals
Our Government believes that the justice system exists to protect law-abiding citizens and our communities. For too long, the voices of victims have been silenced, while the system coddled criminals. Our Government has worked to re-establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions; where penalties match the severity of crimes committed; where the rights of victims come before the rights of criminals.
Our Government will introduce a Victims Bill of Rights to restore victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system.
Our Government will focus on protecting the most vulnerable of all victims, our children. Recent tragic deaths, including those of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, and Todd Loik, have shocked Canadians. Our Government will introduce legislation giving police and prosecutors new tools to effectively address cyberbullying that involves criminal invasion of privacy, intimidation and personal abuse. This legislation would create a new criminal offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
Canadians are rightfully alarmed when violent offenders found not criminally responsible for their actions are released into our communities. Our Government will re-introduce legislation to ensure that public safety comes first.
But we must do even more to protect our children. Child predators should never be let off with only a single sentence for multiple crimes against children. Canadians demand that those who prey on our children pay the full price for every devastated life. Our Government will end sentencing discounts for child sex offenders.
It is also unacceptable that dangerous and violent offenders are released into our communities before serving their full sentences. Our Government will end the practice of automatic early release for serious repeat offenders.
But for the worst of all criminals, even this is not enough. Canadians do not understand why the most dangerous criminals would ever be released from prison. For them, our Government will change the law so that a life sentence means a sentence for life.
Aboriginal women are disproportionately the victims of violent crime. Our Government will renew its efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Canadians also know that prostitution victimizes women and threatens the safety of our communities. Our Government will vigorously defend the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws.
Finally, our Government recognizes the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals. It will bring forward Quanto’s law in honour of them.
Safeguarding Families and Communities
Families are the cornerstone of our society. Families raise our children and build our communities. As our families succeed, Canada succeeds.
Our Government understands the daily pressures ordinary Canadian families face. And it is working to strengthen families, not replace them. That’s why our Government took money from bureaucrats and lobbyists and gave it to the real experts on child care—mom and dad. Our Government’s Universal Child Care Benefit provides 1,200 dollars a year to parents to help with the costs of raising kids.
Our Government will also support hard-working Canadian families in other ways.
Every day, parents make choices about what goes on the dinner table. Our Safe Food for Canadians Act was a significant milestone in strengthening Canada’s world-class food safety system. Our Government will work with the provinces and territories to further strengthen food inspection regimes.
Our Government will consult with Canadian parents to improve the way nutritional information is presented on food labels.
Our Government is also committed to ensuring that drug labels are written in plain language, and that the potential side effects of medication are accurately indicated. To help identify potentially dangerous drugs, and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs, it will introduce new patient safety legislation. This will include new powers to require reporting of adverse drug reactions.
Our Government will also:
Build on our caregiver tax credit by working with employers to better accommodate Canadians caring for older family members;
Help seniors quickly access information about programs and services they need and use in their communities;
Make adoption more affordable for Canadian families;
Renew investments in health research to tackle the growing onset of dementia, and related illnesses;
Prevent employers and insurance companies from discriminating against Canadians on the basis of genetic testing;
Collaborate with injury prevention organizations, to reduce the injury rate in Canada; and
Work with the provinces and territories and with the private and not-for-profit sectors to encourage young Canadians to be more physically active.
Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children. They want to address poverty and other persistent social problems, access safe and reliable infrastructure, and enjoy a clean and healthy environment.
Our Government will:
Re-introduce and pass the Respect for Communities Act to ensure that parents have a say before drug injection sites open in their communities;
Expand its National Anti-Drug Strategy to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse;
Close loopholes that allow for the feeding of addiction under the guise of treatment;
Act on the opportunities presented by social finance and the successful National Call for Concepts for Social Finance;
Build on the successful Housing First approach and its renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy to help house vulnerable Canadians;
Protect Canada’s rich natural heritage by unveiling a new National Conservation Plan to further increase protected areas, focusing on stronger marine and coastal conservation;
Complete, by 2015, its work to protect wilderness lands in Nááts’ihch’oh, Bathurst Island and the Mealy Mountains;
Work with communities, non-profit organizations, and businesses to create and protect more green space in our urban and suburban areas;
Take further action to improve air quality nationwide; and
Build on its record as the first government to achieve an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by working with provinces to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sectors while ensuring Canadian companies remain competitive.
Since before Confederation, Canada has relied on railways for the movement of goods and passengers. It is no different today. New economic opportunities still require rail to link Canadian goods to waiting markets.
Our Government has already amended the Railway Safety Act to further enhance the safety of rail transportation.
As efforts to clean up and rebuild Lac-Mégantic demonstrate, railway companies must be able to bear the cost of their actions. Our Government will require shippers and railways to carry additional insurance so they are held accountable.
And we will take targeted action to increase the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods.
The first responders and ordinary Canadians who came together to confront the recent disasters in Lac-Mégantic and Alberta showed courage under the most dire circumstances. The Government has always stood with communities in times of crisis and recovery.
Our Government will continue to support the citizens of Lac-Mégantic and affected communities in Alberta as they move forward.
Building community resilience can mitigate the worst impacts of natural disasters and other emergencies before they happen. Our Government will work with provinces and territories to develop a National Disaster Mitigation Program, focused on reducing the impact of natural disasters.
3. Putting Canada First
Supporting Our Armed Forces
Government has no higher obligation than the protection of national sovereignty and the security of citizens. And Canadians know that you cannot earn respect by projecting weakness. Serious countries have serious capabilities.
Look at the paintings that adorn this room—scenes of the Great War. They remind us of this, and of the profound sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. These heroes are the pride of our country and the backbone of our history.
After a decade of darkness, our Government has been living up to our promise to give the Canadian military the tools it needs to get the job done. Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, airman for airman, the Canadian Armed Forces are once again the best in the world.
No longer does Canada have to hitch a ride with our allies. Our serving men and women can now carry out their vital missions. The Royal Canadian Air Force is flying new heavy-lift C-17 and C-130J transport aircraft, and operating Chinook helicopters. New tanks, artillery and other equipment have proven their worth in combat. Canadian workers at Canadian shipyards will build new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. And our Government will complete our plan to replace Canada’s fleet of fighter jets.
Building on these successes, our Government will renew our Canada First Defence Strategy. Now and in the future, Canada’s Armed Forces will defend Canada and protect our borders; maintain sovereignty over our Northern lands and waters; fight alongside our allies to defend our interests; and respond to emergencies within Canada and around the world.
To be effective, our military must have more teeth and less tail. Our Government will:
Put front-line capability before back-office bureaucracy;
Respond to emerging threats to our sovereignty and economy posed by terrorism and cyber-attacks, while ensuring Canadians’ fundamental privacy rights are protected;
Incorporate a strong role for our military reserves, who are an essential link between the Armed Forces and Canadian communities; and
Assist employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions vital to the security of all Canadians.
As our Government takes these steps, it will always keep faith with those who have defended Canada with pride. Our veterans have stood up for us; we will stand by them. Our Government has made unprecedented investments to support our veterans.
Our Government has:
Increased support through its enhanced Veterans Charter;
Ensured dignified funerals for our injured veterans;
Reduced red tape so veterans can access the benefits they need; and
Invested almost five billion additional dollars in benefits and programs.
Our Government has worked to help returning veterans re-establish themselves. We will:
Reach out to homeless veterans and help give them the support they need; and
Build on our successful “Helmets to Hardhats” program to place veterans in good jobs.
Canada’s Northern Sovereignty
We are a northern country. We are a northern people. Canada’s greatest dreams are to be found in our highest latitudes. They are the dreams of a North confident and prosperous, the True North, strong and free.
Our Government is securing our Northern sovereignty; promoting prosperity for Northerners; protecting our Arctic environmental heritage; and giving the people of the North a greater say in their own affairs.
Our Government has made great strides by:
Opening the Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre;
Expanding the Canadian Rangers, our eyes and ears in the North;
Creating the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency;
Mapping Canada’s Arctic seabed to assert our sovereignty;
Investing in health care, education, and affordable housing for Northerners; and
Concluding a historic Devolution Agreement with the Northwest Territories and negotiating one with Nunavut.
But the eyes of the world increasingly look enviously to our North. Our Government will not rest.
Our Government will fulfill Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s historic vision by completing the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean, linking Canada from sea to sea to sea.
Our Government has established the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. This world-class science and technology research facility will open in time for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
With the arrival of our Government’s new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, Canada’s first deep water Arctic port at Nanisivik will be operational.
Our Government recognizes that the future prosperity of the North requires responsible development of its abundant natural resources. Northerners must benefit from this treasure. Our Government will work alongside Inuit, First Nations, territorial governments and industry to ensure that Northerners are well trained to take their full place in this new economy.
Our Government will also continue to defend the seal hunt, an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities.
The story of the North is the story of Canada. In order to tell that story for Canada’s 150th year, our Government will continue efforts to solve one of the most enduring mysteries of our past. We will work with renewed determination and an expanded team of partners to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition.
Promoting Canadian Values
Canada stands for what is right and good in the world. This is the true character of Canadians—honourable in our dealings, faithful to our commitments, loyal to our friends. Confident partners, courageous warriors and compassionate neighbours.
Canada does not go along to get along. Our Government defends Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, the lone outpost of freedom and democracy in a dangerous region. And our Government stands opposed to those regimes that threaten their neighbours, slaughter their citizens, and imperil freedom. These regimes must ultimately be judged not by their words, but by their actions.
Canada seeks a world where freedom—including freedom of religion, the rule of law, democracy and human dignity are respected. Our Government will continue to promote these fundamental values around the world, including through the newly established Office of Religious Freedom.
And Canadians know that freedom and prosperity march together.
Our Government will help the world’s neediest by partnering with the private sector to create economic growth in the developing world.
Tax dollars spent on foreign aid must achieve real results. Our Government’s international aid will continue to be focused, effective and accountable.
Canadians also know that free and healthy societies require the full participation of women. Canada has taken a leadership role in addressing the health challenges facing women, infants and children in the world’s poorest countries. These efforts are saving millions of lives.
In particular, Canada recognizes the courageous and inspiring example set by Malala Yousafzai in risking her life promoting education for young women. She faced down evil and oppression and now speaks boldly for those who are silenced. Recognizing her heroism, our Government will, on behalf of all Canadians, bestow honorary citizenship on this remarkable young woman.
Sadly, millions of women and girls continue to be brutalized by violence, including through the inhumane practice of early and forced marriage. This barbarism is unacceptable to Canadians. Our Government will take steps to ensure that it does not occur on our soil.
It is the reality of our country that Canadians of very different origins live and work side by side, together. New Canadians work hard to learn our languages, our values, and our traditions, and in turn, are welcomed as equal members of the Canadian family. Our Government inherited a broken immigration system, and has worked hard to fix it.
Our Government has:
Cut the backlog of applications by almost half;
Eliminated the backlog for economic immigrants;
Cut the right-of-landing fee in half;
Lowered wait times for skilled workers coming to Canada;
Increased protection for genuine refugees;
Reduced the number of fraudulent asylum claimants and deported more than 100,000 illegal immigrants; and
Remained on track to meet our goal of reuniting families faster.
But there is still more our Government can and will do.
We know that a job is the best path to social integration. Our Government will introduce a new model to select immigrants based on the skills Canadian employers need.
Our Government will reform the Immigrant Investor Program so that these investors make a real contribution in exchange for the security and pathway to citizenship that Canada provides.
Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.
Our Government will not hesitate to uphold the fundamental rights of all Canadians wherever they are threatened.
To strengthen and protect the value of Canadian citizenship, our Government will introduce the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.
2017: Anniversary of Confederation
As we look confidently to the future, we draw great strength from our past. Beginning with our Aboriginal peoples, Canada’s story is one of risk, sacrifice, and rugged determination. From the founding of New France, to the fight for Canada in the War of 1812; from the visionary achievement of Confederation, to our victory at Vimy Ridge, Canadians have repeatedly triumphed over long odds to forge a great country, united and free.
It is a story we recall with wonder and recount with pride. A story of how different provinces founded a federation in which our distinct strengths advance our unity. A federation in which Canada's two national languages position us uniquely in the world; where francophones thrive and celebrate a unique culture, in solidarity with fellow Canadians.
Our Government has recognized the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada. It will work with the Government of Québec to ensure our common prosperity. And our Government will continue to respect the division of jurisdiction at the heart of the Constitution adopted at Confederation.
Canada’s Confederation is worth celebrating. As we approach our historic 150th anniversary in 2017, our Government will join with Canadians in honouring this momentous milestone by:
Marking the 150th anniversaries of the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences;
Celebrating the 200th birthdays of two of our greatest Fathers of Confederation, Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. Macdonald;
Commemorating the centennial of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, and the enormous sacrifices made by Canadians and our Allies in both;
Re-dedicating the National War Memorial to the memory of all men and women who fought for our country;
Building a Memorial to the Victims of Communism, to remember the millions who suffered under tyranny;
Marking the end of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan by honouring the service of our men and women in uniform, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice combating the spread of terrorism;
Honouring the proud history of our Canadian Armed Forces by restoring military traditions;
Strengthening the Cadet and Junior Ranger programs;
Establishing the Canadian Museum of History to share the story of Canada with pride;
Supporting the Pan and Parapan American Games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, showcasing Canadians’ proud, competitive and united spirit under the maple leaf; and
Working with Canadians to support community projects, local celebrations, and other initiatives to commemorate this historic occasion.
The coming anniversary of Confederation is also a time to mark the contribution of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, who have had a defining role in shaping our country.
Our Government will continue our dialogue on the treaty relationship and comprehensive land claims.
And our Government will continue to work in partnership with Aboriginal peoples to create healthy, prosperous, self-sufficient communities.
The road to 2017 is a fitting time to strengthen our institutions and democratic processes.
The Government continues to believe the status quo in the Senate of Canada is unacceptable. The Senate must be reformed or, as with its provincial counterparts, vanish. The Government will proceed upon receiving the advice of the Supreme Court.
And, the Government will propose changes to Canada’s elections laws to uphold the integrity of our voting system. Legislation will be introduced in time for implementation prior to the next federal election.
Honourable Members of the Senate and Members of the Commons, as the dawn of our Confederation approached in the 1860s, our founding Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald said of Canada’s future that he saw “a great nation—great in thought, great in action, great in hope, and great in position.”
His vision has come to pass.
Today, Canada is a model for the world. Admired for our freedom. Respected for our principles. Envied for our openness, compassion and peaceful pluralism.
As we approach the 150th anniversary of our great land, we look to the future. A future we will face true to our character, the character of a determined and enterprising people: Canadians, whose shops and small businesses spur the growth of our towns and cities; who work factory shifts and drive taxicabs to help their families get ahead; who take the same pride in raising their children as they do in being citizens of the best country on earth.
These are the quiet, unsung Canadians who are building our country.
It is from them that we draw the inspiration to face an uncertain and unstable world.
It is for them that we will seize the moment before us.
Members of the House of Commons, you will be asked to appropriate the funds required to carry out the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament.
Honourable Senators and Members of the House of Commons, you are the holders of a profound trust reposed in you by Canadians.
May you be equal to that trust in all things and may Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.
150th Anniversary of Canadian ConfederationAbolition of SenateAboriginal land claimsAboriginal peoplesAboriginal reservesAction plansAdoptionAdvanced Manufacturing FundAdverse drug reactionsAerospace industryAgreements and contracts ...Show all topics
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2009-11-04 18:30 [p.6632]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to speak to this motion on increasing the cadet program in aboriginal communities. I am very excited about the motion. I have a lot of aboriginal people and communities in my riding and I am very supportive of the motion.
I am a bit disappointed at not having more prescription as to what we could do to facilitate the enhancement of cadets in aboriginal communities, but, nevertheless, I am very excited to support the motion. I thank the member for Wetaskiwin for bringing it forward. I also thank my colleague from Labrador for his eloquent speech on the motion and about the experiences in his riding. The member for Wetaskiwin spoke very passionately about how important this was to the people of Hobbema and he showed what a tremendous difference a program for youth could have on a community and the success of the program. It is these types of success stories that parliamentarians should support, try to continue and expand.
Some people do not understand the purpose of the cadet program. It is not a recruitment for the military, although some people inevitably go on to the military. It is a youth responsibility program. It is a chance for youth to work together constructively and learn a lot of skills that are important in life. In particular, they learn leadership skills, teamwork skills, they boost their self-esteem, they have a sense of self-discipline, they can hone their decision making and self-confidence and there is an important physical education component.
All those good qualities that are very important for the education of youth and for youth to have successful lives are great benefits of the cadet program. We are very supportive of the program itself and, in particular, in first nation communities it makes wonderful sense, especially when we can see, from the example of Hobbema, how well it has worked and how excited the young cadets from Hobbema were to be in that program.
I must also congratulate the RCMP officers for their great community service of being involved in and running that program. When a people come from rural Canada or from the north, from Yukon like I do, they see the important role the police play in the community, not just policing, but they are involved in all aspects of the community. They are part of the community and they are wonderful role models. In this particular exercise, the Hobbema Cadet program, the RCMP showed exactly that type of function. Some might say that is not related to why we hired the RCMP, but it is related. It is a point that we on the Liberal side have been making for so long, which is that prevention is the best tool to reduce crime. These positive activities for youth are a great step in that direction.
We all know the saying that idle hands are the devil's playground. When I was a youth, we had after-school programs and summer programs where we could get involved in activities at school. Those programs kept us doing positive and productive things, just as the cadet programs do.
I want to talk about how wonderful the cadet program is in my riding. We have a cadet camp and cadets come from all over Canada in the summer, the air cadets, the sea cadets and the army cadets. They have a wonderful experience. They not only learn all the important lessons of life, which I talked about, but they also get to meet other youth from right across Canada and understand where they come from. I go to a lot of the graduation ceremonies and it is moving to see how sad the cadets are to leave.
I am almost moved to tears sometimes to see very small Inuit children who have come and who have never seen a tree before in their life. They have come to this cadet program and met other Canadians from across the north and from across Canada. They have seen things they would not otherwise have seen.
It is such a positive experience in the lives of youth that I cannot help but promote this motion that I hope leads to more and more cadet camps in the aboriginal communities, as specified in this motion, to give the opportunity to thousands of aboriginal youth across the country to have the same positive experience that many of the youth in Hobbema had.
I also want to talk about another program that is very similar and also very positive, which I am strongly supportive of for the youth of the north, and that is the junior rangers. There is a range of programs in the north. A high percentage of the northern rangers who express our sovereignty across the north and that do our rescue across the north are northern aboriginal peoples who know how to live on the land and who are doing a great service for Canada.
We have been very supportive in our party of the rangers, of creating them, of making them grow and of their having more and more of a presence. There have been some problems in the past about uniforms or equipment, or not getting their remuneration for their supplies or equipment, or getting paid on time or in a way they could actually access it in remote communities where, for instance, there may not be a bank, there may not have been enough of a per diem or not enough of an amount for their equipment.
However, I think we need to all work together and remember that the rangers are a very important part of Canada's armed forces and that they should be treated with the equipment and respect they deserve and need. I think every Canadian is very proud of our northern rangers.
It only makes sense that we would therefore be very supportive of the junior ranger program, led by these rangers and others in communities across the north. Once again, it is a tremendous learning experience on the land and in the skills that are needed in the north to show our presence.
We did have an issue at one time. A community wanted both a junior ranger and a cadet corps but this was not allowed. This was a large enough community that I think it could have easily supported both. I hope that type of policy does not continue and that we can have both types of wonderful youth programs in a community when the community wants it, when the tremendous volunteers who are required to run all these programs are available, interested and are supportive of the programs.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I am very supportive of the motion. There are over 600 aboriginal communities in the country but not that many aboriginal cadet corps at the moment, and there is obviously room for expansion of it.
The wonderful show on CBC done on the Hobbema Cadet Corps shows what can be accomplished. It shows how crime can be reduced by investing in positive activities for our youth and giving them those opportunities in the north and in the south, in aboriginal communities so that they learn these valuable lessons of life. They interact with adults who are volunteers and role models, either RCMP or rangers.
I commend the member for Wetaskiwin for bringing this motion forward and the member for Labrador for his great support and examples of this motion. I certainly encourage everyone in the House to vote to support our youth, to support more activities for youth, to support the junior rangers and to support the army, sea and air cadets.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2009-11-04 18:39 [p.6633]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in favour of Motion No. 271 on behalf of the entire New Democratic caucus. If passed, this motion would call on the government to promote first nations community cadet programs across the country.
I want to thank and congratulate my colleague from the government side, the hon. member for Wetaskiwin, for bringing this motion forward. I understand that his motion is inspired by the success of a first nations cadet program that is running right now in his riding, the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program.
I would like to thank the hon. member for drawing our attention to this excellent program and the attention of the entire House and for giving us the opportunity to learn more about the fine work that is being done by RCMP officers, first nations leaders and other community members who have devoted their time and energy to this program and have made this commitment to the children and youth in Hobbema to offer them a vision of the future that is filled with hope, pride and success.
The first Community Cadet Corps started 10 years ago in Saskatchewan on Carry the Kettle Reserve near Regina. It was developed by RCMP Corporal Rick Sanderson. More than 40 chapters now exist in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Hobbema program was formed in November 2005 and it is the only program of its kind in Alberta. It is the largest Community Cadet Corps program in Canada.
These cadet corps programs were developed specifically to meet the needs of first nations youth because they emphasize aboriginal languages and cultures. This is a joint project between police officers and members of first nations communities to provide young people with leadership training.
The purpose of the programs is to foster positive attitudes and teach social development skills. Basically, these programs give young people hope and nurture a sense of pride in their identity and their communities.
These cadet corps programs are designed specifically with the needs of first nations youth in mind. They emphasize native culture and language. They are a collaborative effort by police officers and first nations community members to give young people leadership training. They aim to teach positive attitudes and social development skills. Fundamentally, these programs are about instilling in these young people some hope for the future and full pride in their identities and in their community.
As the New Democrat public safety critic, I commend the RCMP for creating these first nations programs. I commend the partnership between RCMP and first nations leaders. We need more of this co-operation to happen right across the country. We need more aboriginal youth to seek a career with the RCMP and other police forces. When first nations are able to take leadership in policing their communities, we have safer communities.
What a wonderful vision it would be to see RCMP and policing detachments across the country, in aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities, staffed by aboriginal youth who become the young men and women who police with their visions, their culture, their experiences and the special knowledge that they will bring to the types of issues that they have grown up with and know so well.
My riding, Vancouver Kingsway, is very different from the area that my hon. colleague from Wetaskiwin represents. Vancouver Kingsway is an urban riding 21 square kilometres in size. It seemed like more than that when I went door-knocking in the last election, but I am assured that it is actually quite small when compared with other ridings. Certainly it is small compared with my hon. colleague's constituency, which stretches over 15,000 square kilometres.
I point this out because, while we represent two very different parts of our country, we both have first nations populations in our ridings that are facing very difficult challenges.
I would like to talk a bit about the issues facing urban first nations, particularly in the Vancouver area. When we talk in the House about first nations in our country, we often look at first nations people who live on reserves or in rural communities. We deal with critical issues facing these people.
The issues facing rural first nations are important ones: ensuring that they receive a fair share of the natural resources that our country is blessed with; and ensuring that their voices are heard in land-use decisions on territories that they have traditionally inhabited and, in the case of British Columbia, much of which is unceded.
However, there are equally important issues facing urban aboriginal people and these issues are too often forgotten.
There are 1.2 million people in Canada who self-identify as aboriginal. The majority of those, 53%, are living in urban areas. That is over 600,000 first nations people living in urban communities across Canada. There is a large, vibrant first nations community in Vancouver. This community faces huge challenges. On nearly every social, health and economic measure, urban aboriginals are disadvantaged. Too many live in poverty and substandard housing. They face high unemployment and too many do not graduate from high school.
Members in the House know about these challenges. They see them in their ridings as well. I do not want to belabour these negative facts because I want to talk about the positive things that are happening in our community. I want to talk about some of the good work that is being done by people in Vancouver.
There is a first nations housing co-op in my riding. It is called the Synala Housing Co-op. I have had the opportunity to visit this co-op and it is an example of the good things that can be achieved to improve the lives of urban first nations. This co-op is filled with first nations families that are living together, building community, working together and raising families in an urban setting that preserves the important cultural identity that they must.
My youngest daughter, Cerys Davies, recently graduated from Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Vancouver, which is just outside Vancouver Kingsway. This school has a wonderful principal named Steve Agabob. I spoke with Mr. Agabob this afternoon and I asked him about the challenges facing aboriginals in his school. He told me that 12% of the population of his students was aboriginal.
He talked to me about the importance of aboriginal enhancement agreements. These are living documents that enable us to look at the issues facing urban first nations, youth and their families and examine the options we have to address them. He told me about the abysmal job that we were doing on graduating students.
We need better cultural programs, special literacy programs and more social initiatives. At Vancouver Technical Secondary School in Vancouver, I understand they are gathering just this week to discuss such issues.
The urban challenge is particularly difficult because there is no one first nations culture of course. In Vancouver we have Métis. We have northern aboriginals. We have coastal aboriginals. We have prairie aboriginals, so it is difficult to express and build one cultural identity, nor should we. However, what we can say is that these people are overrepresented in prisons and have lower educational outcomes. They are at greater risk for diseases such as H1N1 and poverty is the biggest factor that they face.
On the other hand, Mr. Agabob told me that there was a huge opportunity. Aboriginal youth represent the fastest growing population in our country entering the workforce. What a wonderful opportunity we have because this generation of first nations could be our next doctors, our next lawyers, our next architects, our next nurses, our next politicians.
I also want to single out the good work of Ms. Katanni Sinclair, a first nations cultural support worker at Mount Pleasant, who for years has quietly and competently worked with first nations people in that school and their families and is really making a difference in our country.
One of the ways the government can support urban first nations to come together as a community is also through friendship centres. Friendship centres are at the front lines of addressing the complex needs of the urban aboriginal community.
In May my office received a letter from Vera Pawis Tabobondung, president of the National Association of Friendship Centres. She heads a network of 118 such centres across Canada. She described the crucial role these centres play in improving the lives of urban first nations people. These centres offer recreational programs for aboriginal youth, cultural and arts programs. They have day cares, including supports for special needs children. They run literacy courses, offer parenting support services and advocate on behalf of children in transition with social services.
This is the kind of positive work that I call upon the government to support. However, I have heard from Ms. Tabobondung that friendship centres are struggling with crumbling physical infrastructure, outdated technological systems and escalating cost pressures. The financial difficulties have been exacerbated by the economic crisis.
I wrote the Minister of Canadian Heritage, asking him to include increased funding for friendship centres in the next federal budget so they could continue to provide the crucial services that Canada's urban aboriginal population desperately require. I echo that call today.
I want to congratulate the government side, and particularly the hon. member for Wetaskiwin, for championing what is a positive program in our country, one we can build upon so we can bring to our country the success that is owed—
View Phil McColeman Profile
View Phil McColeman Profile
2009-11-04 18:50 [p.6635]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate on the motion before us today. Our government has been committed to implementing effective crime prevention programs since we were first elected in 2006 and to ensuring that at-risk young people in particular get the help they need to avoid becoming involved with gangs and other activities that can lead them into a life of crime.
We have refocused the national crime prevention strategy to ensure that initiatives are targeted, effective and long term. We have also taken steps to ensure that funding is permanent rather than subject to the sunset provisions, which the previous government had put in place.
As well, as my hon. colleagues have pointed out, our government has set up the northern and aboriginal crime prevention fund, which supports innovative and culturally sensitive crime prevention practices that aim to reduce offending among at-risk children and youth.
All in all, our government has invested nearly $74.4 million in 46 national crime prevention centre projects across Canada this year alone, many of them targeted at helping aboriginal youth. I am therefore very proud of what we have accomplished to date and I am confident that we can and will do more.
Today the successive programs funded under the national crime prevention strategy rests largely on the fact that they are evidence-based and targeted to individuals most at risk of offending. They are also based on community partnerships and extensive community involvement and participation so initiatives are focused and will have the greatest impact among the young people who need it the most.
All of this is important, given that our goal is to help young people at risk make smarter life choices and avoid becoming involved in a life of crime. Equally important is the need to continually monitor and evaluate projects to ensure they produce lasting results. That is one way we can be sure that taxpayer dollars are invested in a way that makes sense and produces the desired outcome. So far that is exactly what our government has done.
We have invested, for example, in several projects this year alone targeted at aboriginal youth, which meet all of this criteria. As my hon. colleagues have mentioned, we have invested in projects such as the helping youth to help themselves project in Yellowknife.
The Government of Canada is also investing close to $166,000 over 15 months to help the department of justice, community justice division, of the Northwest Territories government continue to foster the creation of partnerships and networks to coordinate the crime prevention approaches and to support the practitioners to ultimately reduce crime.
The Government of Canada is also investing nearly $160,000 over 15 months to help the Department of Justice of the government of the Northwest Territories research the development of a culturally sensitive prevention program that will target men who are at high risk of using violence in intimate relationships.
The leadership and resiliency program is a model program designed to enhance youth's internal strengths and resiliency, while preventing involvement in substance use and violence. This program has shown to be very effective when it has been implemented in other places and it has a strong record of reducing crime. This is why we are supporting two educational institutions to implement this program in communities in the Northwest Territories.
Our government is also funding the South Slave Divisional Education Council's leadership and resiliency program with over $1.4 million over 60 months, and the Yellowknife Catholic Schools leadership and resiliency program, through the Public Denominational District Education Authority, with over $7.1 million, also over 60 months.
In Halifax our government is committing funds of $696,000 over three years to the Chebucto Communities Development Association so it can offer the seeds of change youth Inclusion program to youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who are at risk of criminal involvement.
This program will allow participants to learn new skills, get help with their education, and also focus on drug prevention and conflict resolution, so that young people can increase their social skills and sense of belonging.
As well, our government is investing $469,000 over three years, so that the Aboriginal Women's Association of P.E.I. can deliver the “Gathering Together” program to at risk children, youth and young adults in first nations communities across P.E.I. in an effort to reduce incidents of violent crime and property crime associated with substance abuse.
This program will involve communities, families, service providers and youth in culturally sensitive activities which will help develop the skills needed to support effective crime prevention and reduction.
Each of these initiatives is important. They are community-based. They are founded upon a demonstrated capacity and interest in the community to get them up and running. They are based upon demonstrated links to studies which clearly establish that they work, and indeed, experience shows that they have been and will be successful in helping to reduce crime among at risk youth in our communities.
The motion before us today proposes in this regard:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada.
Our government supports the motion in principle. Still, we need to move forward in a prudent and measured way in order to ensure that we continue invest taxpayers' dollars in projects that will work to help at risk youth and people to avoid a life of crime. That is what we have done to date and it is what we will do in the future as we continue to build safer communities for everyone.
View Laurie Hawn Profile
View Laurie Hawn Profile
2009-11-04 18:57 [p.6636]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in favour of this motion. I know that my colleague from Wetaskiwin has been working very hard in the preparation of this motion and is a great supporter of the cadet program that is bringing a positive choice to the youth of the four bands of Hobbema, all the while curtailing the tide of violence and the spread of gang recruitment that is plaguing those reserves.
Today, over 1,050 cadets have registered in this program. There are 65 registered cadet instructors. There is one Hobbema RCMP community cadet corps program coordinator and one RCMP provincial youth cadet program manager. There are also five parent volunteers and three senior cadets, who recently turned 18 and are waiting to be trained as adult cadet Instructors. That is real teamwork.
I want to take a few minutes to outline why this motion should be passed and to speak of the successes currently happening in the Hobbema community cadet corps program.
First, and foremost, the cadet program started with the four individual bands and brought them together as a collective unit to solve problems, learn tolerance and work patiently with each other, resulting in their parents and elders working jointly.
The cadet program has attracted hundreds of members since forming four years ago. It was developed and implemented by the RCMP as a comprehensive crime reduction initiative, while educating first nations youth on the dangers of gang activity, drug abuse and associated violence.
The program is recruiting first nations youth and is advising them on positive choices and alternatives to overcome daily negative obstacles that prevent them from obtaining future education and career opportunities. It has partnered up with local businesses to help members with scholarships and jobs.
I know that many of the involved youth are going to look back and think fondly of their experiences in the cadet corps as they embrace leadership positions as adults. Their time in the program might even lead to some becoming members of the RCMP, the Canadian Forces, or other similar groups.
The program is empowering young people to make decisions and solve problems affecting them and their cadet corps, as well as their families, schools and communities.
The cadet corps provides a safe, secure, positive peer group and a strong support system, allowing them to learn to grow and respect each other and themselves.
As well, the program teaches the Cree language to all the cadets, while the elders teach wisdom, knowledge and the understanding of the Cree culture.
With the co-operation of community agencies, such as social, mental health, police and fire and ambulance services, as well as youth development, the cadet corps is working collectively like never before. In light of this success story, it is my wish to see such an achievement repeated in first nations communities across Canada.
The Hobbema community cadet corps program is now known as the largest aboriginal cadet program around the world and has partnered up with the national inter-school brigade Jamaica police cadet corps program.
Since the cadet program was developed, school attendance has risen and crime has significantly been reduced in the community. The program's youth empowerment and crime reduction model has received national interest among aboriginal, academic and police communities. And with the passage of the motion, we can promote cadet programs in all of Canada's first nations communities.
I want to strongly encourage chiefs, elders, parents, sponsors, surrounding communities, and the RCMP to work with the cadet program organizers to ensure it continues and succeeds.
On a final note, I want the young people involved in the program to know that I am inspired and impressed with their dedication and hard work. They have built the program from the grassroots up and have made a tremendous difference in their community.
I represent an intercity riding in the city of Edmonton. The city of Edmonton has, as many people may know, or will shortly, the highest number of urban aboriginals in Canada. It is incredibly important that we address the challenges of aboriginal youth, whether it is in urban settings like Edmonton or rural settings like Wetaskiwin. They are some of our future leaders and we need to give them every encouragement and every opportunity to reach their full potential in a safe environment.
Again, I urge all members of this House to vote in favour of this motion, and I want to thank my hon. friend from Wetaskiwin, who has worked tirelessly to advance this issue.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2009-11-04 19:01 [p.6637]
Mr. Speaker, let me just say how delighted I am that this motion has been brought before the House of Commons. I want to thank all of my colleagues in all parties of the House who have spoken so eloquently in support of my motion to support, to enhance, and to monitor first nations cadet programs across our country.
I know I only have a few minutes, but I would like to take this wrap-up opportunity to thank all the organizers and founders of the Hobbema community cadet corps going back to Inspector Doug Reti, who in 2005 mounted a crime reduction initiative to disrupt gang activity, drug abuse and associated violence.
He assigned two people who have become two of my best friends in the line of work that I have as a member of Parliament, Sergeant Mark Linnell and Constable Richard Huculiak. These two extraordinary gentlemen are members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they dignify the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in ways that cannot be enunciated with words. They are pillars of the community. They typify the excellence that is found in so many front line police officers across our country. They deserve every bit of the congratulations and every bit of the praise and recognition for the success of this program to date.
I should also mention that we are fast approaching November 22 or November 23, I cannot remember the exact date, that will mark the fourth anniversary of this successful program. It has started. It has blossomed. It has evolved. Now it is on the national stage here in the House of Commons. I am so pleased that I will be able to have an opportunity to attend the fourth anniversary in the very near future.
I would like to thank Samson Oil & Gas. It has a large warehouse building that is probably the largest building on any of the four band areas. It provides indoor space during the winter months and provides much needed space for the cadets to practice their drill and to participate in some of their activities. The company certainly needs to be recognized and thanked for its contribution.
I want to thank the chiefs and councils of the four bands for their support. They have a remarkable opportunity to demonstrate further leadership and a commitment to their youth by continuing to support this excellent program. I certainly encourage them to do so. They should know that I stand ready to support this program alongside them.
I want to thank all of the donors and sponsors who have given their time, their resources, their money to help the program continue for the better part of the last four years. There is just too many of them to name, but without their support this program would have floundered and would have found an unfortunate end. But because of their support and their commitment, this program is still alive and well, and moving forward and doing so many good things for the young participants.
I also wish to thank some of the volunteers who have done so much to help lead the program: David Huculiak, Salty Lee, Noreen Buffalo, Bryan Makinaw, Deanna Roasting, Wesley McCarthy, Deb Swanson. These are the volunteers who volunteer their time, put in countless hours, almost immeasurable in value, volunteer their efforts to assist Mark Linnell and Richard Huculiak, and make the Hobbema community cadet program so successful.
I would like to thank the local media, regional media, and even the national media for the coverage of the Hobbema community cadet program. There is often a lot of bad news that comes out of that community generated by a few people in that community. My experience has been there are so many good people there doing great things. The media certainly has had a role to play through its coverage of various events and through the documentaries to make Canadians aware of what is happening there.
I want to thank my province; the ministers, Gene Zwozdesky, Harvey Cenaiko, and Fred Lindsay; my local MLA colleagues, Verlyn Olson, Dianna McQueen and Raymond Prins; and Ron Hepperle, the first nations policing manager for the province of Alberta. The province has been a stalwart supporter financially and with other gifts in kind. The province of Alberta should be recognized for this.
I wish to thank the Government of Canada. The Minister of Public Safety has visited with the cadets and has shown a keen interest in helping and further advancing this program. I certainly do appreciate the support that Public Safety and Health Canada and other agencies have provided in not only supplying services but also small amounts of financing from time to time to help.
With that, I would like to say this is all about those cadets. It is about those young people. They are an inspiration to all of us and I hope that this motion will pass unanimously to show these young people that here in the House of Commons we believe in them 100%.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2009-11-04 19:07 [p.6637]
The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2009-10-06 17:44 [p.5661]
Motion No. 271
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how excited and pleased I am to present Motion No. 271 to my colleagues here in the House of Commons.
I know the motion was just read, but so that my colleagues who are just coming into the House will know what it is we are debating I will read it again:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada.
My purpose in putting forward this motion is to bring to the attention of the House a unique and special community cadet program that is helping to bring a positive choice to the youth of the four bands of Hobbema, all the while stemming the tide of violence and the spread of gang recruitment that are plaguing those reserves.
Hobbema is located about 60 kilometres south of Edmonton with a population of approximately 13,000. The four Cree bands of Hobbema consist of the Samson Nation, Louis Bull Band, Ermineskin and Montana Bands.
Together, across these bands, high unemployment, family breakdown, and the rise of the drug culture have destabilized this once proud oil-rich community. Hobbema has been described as a very dangerous, unpredictable and unstable first nations community, plagued with crime, drug abuse, graffiti, school bullying, gang association and violence. Because some of the residents live in constant fear, it is very difficult to remove the negative criminal element or to reduce the violence.
In 2005 and 2006 there were over 150 drive-by shootings and other gun-related incidents in Hobbema. Thirteen gangs operated openly on the reserve and actively recruited young people. Age was not a deterrent for enticing children under 12 to join a gang, wear gang colours and show their allegiance. They were asked to commit felonies because gangs can exploit youngsters and the youth that are there with the protection that is afforded to them under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
With more than half of Hobbema's population under the age of 18, RCMP Constable Richard Huculiak recognized that the young people needed an option, so he started the Hobbema community cadet corps. They held their inaugural meeting under the leadership of Constable Huculiak on November 22, 2005. Instead of the free drugs and the status that the gangs were offering, the Hobbema community cadet corps offered an alternative, a chance to learn new skills, to make new friends, and to have new rewarding positive experiences.
Here is what their mission statements says:
Preparing today's youth to be tomorrow's leaders by providing positive social development, leadership and communication skills in a disciplined and respected Aboriginal community cadet program by culturally sensitive members of the Hobbema community.
Within its first year over 800 young people between the ages of 5 and 18 from each of the four bands signed up for this program. This brought an integration of young people, the likes of which had never been seen before.
Today over 1,050 cadets have registered in this program. There are 65 registered cadet instructors. There is one Hobbema RCMP community cadet corps program coordinator, which is Constable Huculiak, and one RCMP provincial youth cadet program manager, which is Sergeant Mark A. Linnell, five parent volunteers, and three senior cadets who recently turned 18 and are waiting to be trained as adult cadet instructors.
With over 1,000 participants this remarkable community cadet corps is the largest native cadet program in Alberta, and most likely the world. The phenomenal growth and success of the Hobbema cadet program is attributable to the commitment of the organizers and of course the cadets who come routinely. Hobbema RCMP Constable Richard Huculiak describes the program with the following words:
What we offer is a place to build relationships with others. A group of friends you can rally around to stay out of trouble together.
The program that started with four separate bands has grown into a collective unit that now solves problems as a team in the spirit of tolerance and patience. An added plus is that some of the parents and elders have also begun associating and working together.
The activities are specifically tailored to the needs and concerns of native reserve youth, and there is a strong emphasis on native culture, sports and of course a healthy lifestyle. It is closely associated with schools. As a matter of fact, the fundamental rule for becoming a Hobbema community cadet is that anybody participating in cadets must be attending full-time school, including correspondence, home-schooling, public school and alternate schools. As a result, school attendance has improved and there are fewer bullying issues, fights and other complaints on school properties.
This incentive based program has proven to be an effective crime prevention initiative that draws from the same age group that is targeted so frequently by the gangs. The program provides a safe environment where the young people can participate in structured, goal oriented activities as an alternative to becoming involved in the gang lifestyle. It is an important step in engaging young people in a positive, life-enhancing experience that will help them make the right choices for their future.
The Hobbema cadets are discovering that there is an alternative to gangs, drugs and violence. The youth crime rate has dropped significantly, thanks to the influence of the Cadet Corps. Everywhere they go, they are greeted enthusiastically by crowds. The cadets are immediately recognizable by their distinctive uniforms whenever they are called upon to demonstrate their drills at public events or to march in a parade.
They even received a standing ovation at the 2007 Models of Youth Excellence Provincial Congress in Toronto following the screening of the documentary Shades of Blue, which tracked their remarkable progress to that point.
With new-found confidence, these young people are on the road to becoming responsible future leaders who will ensure that the traditions and values of their heritage are upheld in a safe and vibrant community. Every effort is made to help the cadets with career planning by partnering with post-secondary institutions and other educational resources.
Government agencies and the private sector have come on board to offer information and to scout for potential future employees. Here are just a couple of examples of how cadets have used the program to set and achieve their own personal goals.
Teddi Baptiste Saddleback joined the Montana Community Cadet Corps in 2006 and left as a senior cadet in 2008 at the age of 18. Teddi worked as a summer RCMP student in 2008 and attended NorQuest College in Edmonton in the aboriginal policing program. She is now a full-time employee of Correctional Services Canada and is presently working in Hobbema at the Pe Sakastew Healing Lodge. Teddi continues to volunteer her time to the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program as a mentor and role model, and she assists with the Correctional Services Canada employment recruiting team.
Tyrone Cattleman joined the Montana Community Cadet Corps in 2006, and by the time he moved on two years later, he was to join the Canadian armed forces' Bold Eagle program. He is presently serving as a private in the Canadian armed forces reserves in Red Deer, Alberta. Tyrone is the communications and public relations liaison officer between the Canadian armed forces reserves in and around Red Deer and the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program.
Trent Young joined the Ermineskin Community Cadet Corps in 2005 and presently is a senior cadet with the leadership position of captain. Trent has been assigned the responsibility of commanding the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program with Sergeant Mark Linnell. Trent has prepared himself for a leadership position with the Ermineskin chief and council, to serve the community of Ermineskin and to support the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program. He has travelled across Canada and to Jamaica to promote and support the successful Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program. He was also given the rank of captain by the Jamaica Police National Inter-School Brigade Cadets when he was in Jamaica as part of an exchange. I would like to talk about that exchange that just happened recently.
Earlier this year, the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps accepted an invitation from the Jamaica Police National Inter-School Brigade Cadets to participate in its ninth anniversary, which was in April. Instead of a two week vacation in Spanish Town, Jamaica, 20 cadets met people who live in shacks made of scrap metal sheeting, where children had to sleep on bare cement. It was a real eye-opener for those cadets. As a matter of fact, 14-year-old Dean Bruno-Kelln was amazed to discover that “Hobbema would be like the cleanest city by comparison”. Those are strong words.
Their differences aside, both groups bonded over the shared goal of escaping gangs and the violence that plagues their respective communities. The Hobbema cadets then invited their international counterparts to visit Alberta in August. This would not have been possible without the generous help from Rob and Rose Paterson of the Ponoka Travel agency.
In addition to the rigours of the itinerary, they had the honour of meeting Canada's Minister of Public Safety.
Both the trip to Jamaica and the visit to Alberta became CBC documentaries. I hope many of my colleagues had an opportunity to watch the second installment of that documentary that aired just this past Sunday night. I would like to thank the CBC for its interest, and all the media, frankly, with the numerous articles that have been printed and the numerous reports that have been followed up o. The media's interest in this wonderful, positive story coming out of Hobbema cannot be understated.
If you had seen the show, Mr. Speaker, you would have had an opportunity to see the program at work and the challenges facing the cadets and the organizers. The Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program is considered to be the best police crime prevention and reduction initiative developed and implemented in Hobbema in the past 10 years that is still effective, efficient, accepted and active.
At their twice weekly meetings that are held at a warehouse on the Samson Band site, the cadets receive official recognition of their achievements through the use of badges and ranks. I have been to a couple of the ceremonies where the ranks have been handed out, the promotions have been handed out and the certificates, and to see the smile on the faces of these young people as they are promoted and gaining that confidence, I cannot say how wonderful that experience is and it is creating such a positive environment.
Although it is categorized as a program, there are no written manuals, policies or procedures that support the program. Despite the lack of an annual budget or paid positions, this program has earned the Hobbema cadets accolades and has sparked international interest. It may not be the panacea to solve all of the problems but it is a concept that has proven to be successful and can serve as a model for other troubled communities.
Most youth or crime prevention programs that were offered in Hobbema over the past 10 years lasted only from six months to a year and eventually failed. Studies have shown that gangs often target aboriginal youth as a means to increase their membership and to expand their territory. The gangs have not left town and the violence still exists on the reserve today but this and other initiatives stemming from the Samson Cree Nation safe community task force are making a difference. As a matter of fact, I mentioned earlier in my speech that there were 13 gangs operating. I believe that has now been reduced to eight gangs operating in that territory. So there is some positive take-back in that community and everyone involved should be congratulated.
One of the keys is to target programs for youth who are at risk and what we are trying to do through this program is reduce crime. I urge our government to get involved and to assist this extraordinary program and to develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor first nations community cadet programs rights across our country where those programs are wanted.
We often say that our children are our future and it is incumbent upon us to make every effort and to take every step possible to prepare them for the future so they can become the future leaders of tomorrow.
I would like to thank Sergeant Mark Linnell who is back home in Hobbema, Constable Richard Huculiak and Noreen Buffalo who is president of the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps Program Society. They are with us today here in Ottawa donating much of their time to the cadet program. The program would not exist or be so successful without their contribution and the help of other volunteers who work with cadets.
I especially want to thank Brian Makinaw, Salty Lee, David Hucilak, Deanna Roasting and Deb Swanson for their commitment and leadership of the cadet program. The countless hours of time and their constant involvement speak to their passion for making the cadet program a success for all who participate.
I want to thank and encourage the members and elders of the four Hobbema bands for their support to this date and their continued support of this worthwhile grassroots initiative.
I want to thank all of the sponsors and donors to this program. Their willingness to support these young people demonstrates to me that the community is behind this cadet initiative and I hope they will continue to support the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program.
I want to strongly encourage the chiefs, the elders, the parents, sponsors, surrounding communities and the RCMP to work with the cadet program organizers to ensure it continues and succeeds.
I ask our government to get involved by establishing a monitoring plan and to promote the concept of the community cadet corps on other first nations reserves and in troubled areas across our country.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the wonderful young people who participate in this program. They are my inspiration for moving this motion today. I have met too many of them to name every one of them but I do want to acknowledge some of the cadets I have come to know: Trent Young, Elishia Saddleback, Braylene Saddleback, Daniel Baptiste, Dean Bruno-Kelln and Telford Roasting. They and all their fellow cadets are excellent ambassadors of their community, their cadet program, their Cree culture and their the country. I am so very proud of all of them, as are many fellow Canadians. I know they will continue to make a positive choice not only for themselves but also for their fellow citizens.
I want to encourage all members of the House to give serious consideration to this motion and I look forward to their positive responses and questions for Motion No. 271.
View Alan Tonks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Alan Tonks Profile
2009-10-06 17:58 [p.5664]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all members of the House, I thank the member for bringing this private member's bill forward. I had the privilege, along with some of my colleagues, to see that program a few nights ago.
I shared that with my wife, who is from Spanish Town. Having taught in Spanish Town and the area myself many years ago, I was taken by the spirituality that was part of that visit from the Hobbema cadet group down to Jamaica and then when they came back to Alberta. It was a moving commentary on the capacity that exists within those young people, both from Jamaica and from Hobbema. It offers hope to all of us that those young people will make a difference.
The member has talked about a monitoring plan. Would it not be more important that resources be provided? Could he outline the kind of resources that we as a federal government, acting in concert with the community, could provide that will continue to make that real difference in those communities?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2009-10-06 18:00 [p.5664]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for those positive comments and his personal experiences as they relate to the exchange that just happened.
I chose the words in the motion very carefully. I know that the word “monitoring” may seem a little nebulous, but the member knows full well that when a private member's bill is brought forward that asks for money, it usually is something that needs to be taken into consideration
Of course, resources are always needed. Resources are needed for uniforms. Resources are needed to help with the administration and to ensure the website keeps operating. Resources are needed to hire people to come in and provide counselling and other forms of mentoring that are beyond the scope and grasp right now of the people who are able to keep this thing running on the wings of angels. It is absolutely incredible what these two RCMP officers and the few members of the community have done. They come out in small numbers but their dedication, commitment and love for the kids in Hobbema is inspiring.
There is such positive news coming out of this community that I had to share it with the House. The resources are there. We do not need a ton of resources but the right amount of resources coming into that community would provide an environment where that program could continue to blossom and succeed.
View Marc Lemay Profile
View Marc Lemay Profile
2009-10-06 18:02 [p.5664]
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member. I find this motion to be very interesting and I think it should be adopted by this House quickly. I will come back to that in a moment.
However, even if a motion is adopted, in order for it to mean something in time, more is needed. I will come back in a few minutes with the notes I prepared for my speech.
I would like the hon. member to tell us about the age of the participants. Are they young people? What age group are they in? Is there an age limit? Is this open to men and women equally? How does a cadet corps work in everyday life in a community like Wetaskiwin, for instance, or in any community?
I would like to know whether the hon. member can elaborate on this.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2009-10-06 18:03 [p.5664]
Mr. Speaker, I am very encouraged by my colleague's comments because it appears that there will be support, particularly from his side of the House, on this very important motion.
With regard to the current program that I am talking about in Hobbema, the ages are 5 to 18. One of the first people I met was a young lady who I mentioned in my speech, so it is open to males and females. Braylene Saddleback could not have been much taller than about three feet five inches and yet here she was in her uniform, all smiles about the opportunities that she had to participate in this program. Of course, she is still very active and involved and is on their drill team.
The program offers all kinds of opportunities for young people, and it is not restricted. As I mentioned in my notes, there are no specific program manuals or policies. It is a grassroots initiative. What the people in the community put into the program is what they get out of it.
What is needed are the resources, the funding, the initiative and the drive from public safety and the community to keep these things going. This program is so successful because it is a grassroots initiative. It is not a top-down approach but a bottom-up approach, which is what makes it successful.
View Todd Russell Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Todd Russell Profile
2009-10-06 18:04 [p.5664]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Wetaskiwin for this particular motion.
I hope I got the name right. If I did not, I will apologize to the aboriginal people, first and foremost, in the community and also to the member.
I know from the hon. member's speech that the motion was inspired by the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps. I want to thank the member for doing something in this House that is rarely done; that is, he put faces and names to what the motion means. He made us feel something in this House about how important a motion can be, in this particular case, to many aboriginal youth and their families. I believe in that way, the motion can inspire other aboriginal youth across this country and can inspire other non-aboriginal youth across this country.
I was also struck, as were many of our colleagues, by the documentary that was shown on the CBC. Again, we do not all have the benefit of being in these communities and seeing things first-hand, but the CBC gave us an insight into what this program is about. Again, it showed us the faces, and it allowed us to hear their voices and the excitement, the hope, the inspiration that a program like this can mean for so many people. It inspires something in them to do something better. It inspires, I believe, Canadians generally when they watch a show like this. So many times when we talk about aboriginal communities, all we ever hear are the bad stories, the things that are going wrong, and that becomes in itself sort of a prophecy that repeats itself over and over again.
So, it was fantastic to see this documentary which talked about something that is good and something that raises up people instead of bringing them down.
The Hobbema Community Cadet Corps has attracted participants from several of the Cree first nations in north-central Alberta. Like other cadet programs, it is meant to build leadership and teamwork skills and boost self-esteem. It is meant to develop a sense of discipline and hone decision making and self-confidence.
Who cannot be captivated by Trent Young, the captain who was featured in this particular story, and the scene where he put his arms around one of the RCMP officers and said he was the closest person to a father he had ever had? Those types of images kind of make us well up a bit inside. I commend Trent Young and the other participants of this program.
There is also an important physical education component and a holistic approach to the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps. I offer my congratulations to the RCMP officers who have spearheaded the cadet movement in Hobbema. It is a great example of community policing and of the RCMP's commitment to community building. I believe that many of us who live in small, remote communities can often see how integral the RCMP are to our communities, how they go out in communities like Hopedale, an Inuit community on the north coast of Labrador, and help build an outdoor rink with the youth, to give them something positive to do in their lives.
When I look at the RCMP officers who shaved their heads--and certainly if I were one, I would not need to do that--for cancer research and to find a cure for cancer. That is a real example of the RCMP getting involved in our communities. It is a real example of community policing.
In pursuing the aims of this motion, there are other examples of similar movements that we can look to. I think, for example, of the cadets program administered by the Department of National Defence.
When I use these examples, I want the House to know that I take nothing away from the uniqueness of that particular cadet program, because some of its uniqueness has to do with how it grew from the people themselves and those who participated in it and the way it came about; not, as the member opposite has said, from the top down, but from the bottom up.
We can use examples like the air, army and sea cadet programs for young people aged 12 to 18. They are programs that have long been successful. They are popular in my riding of Labrador and in many others around the country. Many of these youth proudly go about their duties. They are in our parades and in our Remembrance Day ceremonies, and many of our youth look up to them. Again, they set a positive example.
Another very successful and popular program similar in nature and intent to the cadets program is the Junior Canadian Rangers. The JCR program was launched in 1996 with local groups, led by members of the Canadian Rangers and the Canadian Forces.
There are over 100 communities across Canada that participate in the JCR program, which are organized into five Canadian Rangers patrol groups. There are 10 JCR patrols in my riding of Labrador alone, with participation by aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth alike. The program is very popular in rural, northern and aboriginal communities, offering recreational opportunities and life skills development that might otherwise not be available.
These patrols in Labrador have won repeated recognition at regional and national events. Again, recognition that people themselves gain is important, but sometimes reinforcement from the outside is also important.
The Junior Canadian Rangers also participate in many community events including local festivals and Remembrance Day celebrations. I saw the Hobbema cadets participate in many community events. They had, for instance, a pow-wow and they had their brothers up from Jamaica. We saw the cultural exchange. They were inspiring people not only within their own community but also from other countries. The reach, the breadth and the depth this program has had are remarkable.
I have seen a big difference in the self-esteem and leadership skills of many youth in Labrador communities who participate in programs like the cadets and the Junior Canadian Rangers. After watching CBC reports on the program in Hobbema, I recognize the same transformation. On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I congratulate the cadets and their leaders for what they have achieved and join in the recognition that they have received in Canada and abroad.
One key difference between the Hobbema program and others I have mentioned today is that the cadets and the Junior Canadian Rangers programs are formal programs with official support from the Canadian Forces and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. At the same time, they enjoy grassroots and community support.
However, the Hobbema program is truly being built from the grassroots up. Without interfering in that process, as I said earlier, I challenge the government to look at offering formal support to the community cadet corps in Hobbema or other communities and others who would emulate such an undertaking.
The experiences of the army, sea and air cadets and the Junior Canadian Rangers show the value of such programs to young people and their communities. The motion calls for monitoring and promotion. Given the very real benefit of youth programs of this type, perhaps the government should be willing to go further.
I think of the value with regard to crime reduction, combating gang and other crimes and violence. There may be lessons here and opportunities for first nations or urban aboriginal communities that are facing similar challenges. There is a health promotion component for all three aspects of health: physical, mental and social.
There are benefits as well that come from preventing alcohol and drug abuse. Though perhaps hard to quantify, the health benefits alone to aboriginal communities probably justify the modest cost of building cadet or other youth programs. Programs like these are instrumental in forming the next generation of leaders. We have already seen the benefits from the cadets and the JCR programs and now from the Hobbema program itself.
I would encourage youth in the Hobbema program to continue sharing their stories and experiences with other Canadians, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, as they may inspire similar efforts elsewhere in the country.
Again, I congratulate Hobbema and the path that so many of its youth have chosen for themselves, and I encourage them to lead others in Hobbema elsewhere along the same journey. I look forward to supporting this motion.
View Marc Lemay Profile
View Marc Lemay Profile
2009-10-06 18:13 [p.5666]
Mr. Speaker, it is rare that we see such a thing in this House. In fact, it is not even a debate, given that a motion like the one moved by my colleague from Wetaskiwin is extremely important, when it comes to things that really affect first nations people today, particularly, the lack of leadership, lack of academic success, poverty, alcohol, drugs and violence in the communities. I strongly suggested—and I think my suggestion will be adopted—that the Bloc Québécois support our colleague's motion. I am more or less convinced that the motion will be adopted by the entire House. I think the motion will be unanimously adopted, since it is so very important.
If I may humbly say so in this House, I would really like to see this motion, if it is adopted—which I do not doubt for a second—proceed through all the stages and its progress monitored in the years to come. We can adopt all the motions we like in this House, but if the government does not follow through on them, they are of no use. We must ensure that this motion, which will be adopted, is referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, so we can ensure that it is followed up on and that the necessary measures are established so that the example set by the Hobbema cadets can be followed.
There are all kinds of examples. I listened carefully to my colleague from Labrador, who gave a remarkable speech. I think that is precisely the situation. My colleague who moved this motion also gave an excellent description of the situation. I would like to talk briefly about Quebec, since I know it well, and there are examples of things that are working in various communities.
I would like to take a minute or two, if I may, to explain what is happening in Nunavik. There is a hockey player in Nunavik named Joé Juneau. Joé Juneau is an excellent hockey player who played in the NHL. He has met with the mayors of the Inuit communities in northern Quebec and, with them, has set up a program to encourage young people to go to school and complete their education. He has also developed a hockey program. Members may say that I am off topic, but there is a connection with the cadet corps, because in order to train tomorrow's leaders, aboriginal communities have to take ownership of the process. The initiatives have to come from these communities, because anything that is parachuted in from above will not succeed. I have sat on the aboriginal affairs and northern development committee for three years, and every time a great program is implemented in aboriginal communities, it does not succeed if the communities do not support or take part in it or if they have not developed it. This happens all the time.
I do not know whether the cadet program, which this motion concerns, would be adaptable across Canada. I do not agree with the idea of taking something that works well in one community and applying it everywhere, because it will not necessarily work. However, the Hobbema cadet program might be an extremely interesting model. I think we could at least find a way to extend these concepts to aboriginal communities so that they can adapt them and develop programs such as a cadet corps, patrols or an organization that reflects what is proposed in the motion.
I am wondering about something, as is the Bloc Québécois. It is obvious to me that this is a successful model but we cannot impose it throughout Canada. It is a good model, but it has to be adapted.
We must find a way to encourage communities to adopt or adapt this model for the youth in their communities. To this end, I strongly suggest, once the motion has been adopted, that the leaders of the Hobbema cadet corps visit the communities that would like to start up this type of cadet corps.
For example, I was talking about hockey and our youth. Similar situations can be found throughout Canada. However, in Quebec, hockey has been used to engage aboriginal youth and develop their skills. If you want to play hockey for a long time, you have to get to sleep early, not drink too much and avoid violence. That is a way of breaking up gangs. I can give examples in aboriginal communities in Abitibi—Témiscamingue where a number of hockey teams have been established with the same principle as the cadets mentioned by my colleague in this House.
Look at what happened in Nunavik in 2006 when the Kativik school board, the Kativik regional government and the Makivik Corporation launched the Nunavik youth hockey development program. The idea came from Joé Juneau, a former NHL player, and the goal was to put education first and use hockey to encourage aboriginal youth to stay in school.
The program had an extremely positive impact on reducing crime and improving academic performance. Young people stayed in school and did not drop out. The program was designed to support community development. We could spend a lot of time talking about this special program for Inuit youth.
The Maliotenam website provides information about the Kupaniesh program in Maliotenam. This is a great program that trains Innu youth to be in and respect nature. However, to take part, students must stay in school and stay away from drugs, alcohol and gangs.
I know that I have almost run out of time, but I want to say that we will support our Conservative Party colleague's motion, and I urge all members to support it.
I hope—we hope—that this motion will be more than just words on paper once the House amends and passes it. I hope that communities will use this motion to create their own cadet corps.
We will find the words, but it is very important for communities to take the idea and adapt it to meet their needs, because God knows that we have to reduce crime and encourage young people to stay in school. I am sure that this program will train the leaders of tomorrow. This motion is commendable, and I hope that the House will pass it.
View Jean Crowder Profile
View Jean Crowder Profile
2009-10-06 18:23 [p.5667]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of New Democrats and indicate that we support Motion No. 271 put forward by the member for Wetaskiwin.
For people who are listening, the motion we are debating today states:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada.
I know other members of the House have talked about how we put motions forward and then sometimes they languish. From what the members have said today, it seems that all parties will support this motion.
My motion in 2007 on Jordan's Principle was unanimously supported in the House of Commons. Although, the speed of implementation has been somewhat glacial, it is being implemented. We have two provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, that have reached some agreement with the federal government around the jurisdictional disputes for aboriginal children. Although it is not implementing the full intent of Jordan's Principle, there is at lease some movement. When we know other provinces, like the province of British Columbia, have indicated support in principle.
Therefore, for the member for Wetaskiwin, I know support in the House can signal some move. With the support of all members of the House, we could see some difference made in the lives of youth in their communities.
I want to touch briefly on a couple of points. In my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan in the community of Cowichan, the community justice coordinator, Calvin Swustus, has been in touch with my office about the need for support for these types of cadet programs. He has indicated to me that he sees Hobbema as a very good example of being proactive in dealing with some of the potential problems that are occurring with youth.
He has said that these proactive measures will lead to the avoidance of major problems, potential violence in communities, that youth will be healthier and have skills, knowledge and new tools to use, that they will also have a better idea of what they want in the future and will have healthier friendships. He sees the cadet program as an opportunity to help provide some support structure for healthier communities.
For people who do not know about Cowichan, the first nations in Cowichan are the largest on reserve first nations band in British Colombia and there is a significant number of youth. As a part of the legacy of residential schools, with poverty, a lack of access to education, a lack of access to adequate housing, we see problems with some of the young people.
The Cowichan people have not been sitting on their hands on this matter. They have been working proactively within their community to look for programs and services that will help youth make better choices with their lives.
One of the programs in place is called “Tribal Journeys”. Anyone who was fortunate enough to be present for the North American Indigenous Games saw Tribal Journeys like we have never seen in decades. We saw hundreds of canoes coming into the harbour at Cowichan Bay, paddled by the young people and the elders in their communities. Part of the Tribal Journeys teachings are that the elders provide the teachings as these young people paddle. During the Tribal Journey, young people make a commitment to be free of drug and alcohol.
What happens with these young people, and the elders in Cowichan will often speak about this, is we have to deal with the whole person. We have to deal with the mental, the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. As part of the Tribal Journeys, that is exactly what happens.
I was fortunate enough to paddle one day on the Tribal Journeys this year with some young people. I had nothing but admiration for those who were brave enough to get into this canoe and paddle great distances. These young people are paddling for 10 or 15 days depending on where they come from. One of the elders told me that one of the advantages of being together like this was that the young people were almost a captive audience in this canoe. The elder gets to talk about some of the spiritual significance of the paddle, of the journey. The elder said that they also had an opportunity to talk about the culture, about the language and how important it was for those young people to understand their roots.
That is certainly part of the cadet program in Hobbema. There are elders involved. The young people are exposed to their language, their culture and that grounds them in their sense of who they are and where they come from. It gives them a pride in their history and their ancestors.
I want to refer briefly to the mission statement from Hobbema, because it is important. The mission statement for the Hobbema Community Cadet program is:
The aboriginal affairs critic for the Bloc referenced the fact that programs did not work if they were imposed from outside. This program has been developed by the community, in conjunction with the RCMP, recognizing the important cultural aspects of that community.
Some other members have talked about from where the Hobbema program came. I want to reiterate from the Hobbema website that this program was initiated by the RCMP as a comprehensive crime reduction initiative to disrupt gang activity, drug abuse and associated violence in the Cree First Nations communities of Hobbema, Alberta. This positive crime reduction approach involved a number of enforcement and preventive strategies intended to engage, empower and mobilize the community members against the gang and drug activity.
It goes on to talk about the fact that the increasing gang and drug activities and expected phenomenon when culture, language and a sense of pride in the family, school and community begin to erode. I referenced residential school experiences earlier. We have seen that many young people no longer have their language or their teachings. Their parents, their grandparents and their great grandparents ended up in residential schools where they were punished for speaking their language. They were punished for trying to follow cultural traditions. In my province of British Columbia the potlatch was outlawed. People were put in jail for carrying on the traditions that their ancestors had carried on for thousands of years.
Again, from the website, it says:
One alternative the Hobbema RCMP implemented is the development of the First Nations Community Cadet Corps Program....The cadet activities are specifically tailored to the needs and concerns of the native reserve youth with a strong emphasis on native culture, language, education, sports and a healthy lifestyle. The goals and objectives of the Program are to prepare the youth for future leadership positions and challenges by mentoring the youth through positive attitudes and social development skills provided by culturally sensitive role models.
One of the comments that came up earlier in the House was that it would be great to have support in principle for cadet programs in first nations, and Inuit I would assume, communities from coast to coast to coast, but what is missing is the question of resources. Even in this program there needs to be money found for uniforms, for example, and for other program activities. It is always the fundamental question when we start to talk about programs and services that are to be delivered.
The other aspect is the importance of being proactive. New Democrats have always called for a multi-pronged strategy when we talk about crime reduction. This cadet program is touted as being a tool to look at, encouraging youth into a healthier lifestyle and away from gang activity. Prevention is an absolutely essential part of any approach when we talk about crime reduction.
The cadet program is a valuable asset, but I want to touch upon one other aspect. I think 77 members of the House have friendship centres in their communities. The friendship centres have youth components. There is an urban, multipurpose aboriginal youth centre initiative under the friendship centres. We have found that the program has been delayed in terms of calls for proposals. I urge all members of the House to look for ways to support the cadet programs and to support the youth aspect of the friendship centres. They are vital links in many of the communities.
If we go ahead and pass this important motion from the member for Wetaskiwin, we should also urge the government to provide adequate funding, long-term sustained funding, to ensure these communities have the resources to put this very good program in place.
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