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Feb 27th

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    Feb 27, 2015 7:00 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly

    Mr. Speaker, I hope you will indulge me for a few minutes. I would like to raise a point of order and seek your guidance on the absolutely outrageous actions of the Conservative majority on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security yesterday evening. I am raising that first thing this morning, because I believe it is a question that has to be put to you for keen deliberation over the course of the weekend and to provide the House with some guidance on the matter.

    Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, the bible on which our democratic practice and procedure that has evolved over a century and a half in the House comes from House of Commons Procedure and Practice. This is the bible, or the guide to the Speaker's deliberations, that guides all of our deliberations as members of the House of Commons.

    In House of Commons Procedure and Practice, on page 1057, is a very important regulation that guides our deliberations and guides the deliberations of committee structures in the House. It is a comment on the framing of the motion for the previous question. I will read for a moment how it is framed in House of Commons Procedure and Practice.

    The motion that “The question be now put” is known as the previous question. In the House, the previous question is a debatable motion. When the debate ends, the motion for the previous question is put to a vote. If the motion is carried, the initial motion under consideration is immediately put to the vote in the House.

    At committee, and this is on page 1057 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it says very clearly:

    In committee, motions for the previous question are inadmissible.

    That is black and white. There is no way of getting around what is a very clear regulation and very clear guidance that is given to committees. Motions for the previous question are inadmissible. I want to reference for a moment, as well, former Speaker Milliken's ruling on April 2, 2009, when he said:

    ...committees that overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports to the House will have them declared null and void.

    Former Speaker Milliken was very clear that the guidelines, the procedure and practice rules we are governed by that are contained within House of Commons Procedure and Practice, that clearly say that motions for the previous question in committee are inadmissible, are very clear direction to committees. Committees that then overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports will have them declared null and void.

    Last night, at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, exactly what I have just referenced happened. The Conservative majority on the committee threw out the rule book, threw out a century and a half of traditions that exist in our country and in this Parliament, and took matters into their own hands. The victims, of course, of this are all Canadians concerned about fundamental and sound principles of Canadian democracy and also the committee chair, who is the member for Prince Edward—Hastings.

    Last night the majority on the committee simply told the chair that his intention to stick to the rule book was simply not going to be followed by the Conservative majority on the committee. They ignored the rules. They ignored the practice. They ignored all the precedents. They ignored the clear direction, and they overturned a procedurally sound ruling by the chair, showing profound disrespect to the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, even more profound disrespect to the rule book under which we are governed, and perhaps the greatest disrespect to Canadians as a whole. Conservatives threw out those democratic principles, and they threw out the rule book.

    By ignoring the rules and forcing their majority will on the committee, the Conservatives have produced what is a real-life incarnation of the tyranny of the majority. The implications are pretty profound for our democracy. In the past, we have seen the government throw away the rule book. We have seen this with the Board of Internal Economy.

    However, this was done in a public forum. I think it makes it even more outrageous that this took place in a public forum, in front of the public.

    I am going to take a few minutes to recount what happened yesterday evening at the time the member for Northumberland—Quinte West stepped forward and moved a motion that was procedurally unacceptable.

    As you know, Mr. Speaker, in the rule book, it is very clear that motions for the previous question are inadmissible. The member for Northumberland—Quinte West, perhaps because he was unaware of the rule book, perhaps because he had not read it, or perhaps because he does not think the rule book applied to him, moved that motion.

    The chair, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, made the following ruling. He said, “ The chair cannot support this motion...due to the fact...that...we have other speakers on the list yet and our practice has been to continue the debate until the speakers are exhausted, and at the time then the motion would be brought forward”.

    Very clearly, the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, was following the rule book, and he clearly ruled it out of order.

    The member for Northumberland—Quinte West then threw out the rule book and challenged the chair.

    Now, at that point, the member for St. John's East stepped up and said, “I don't think that the overruling of the chair makes a motion” which was clearly inadmissible, “in order”. You know that when one moves a motion that is inadmissible, one simply cannot just overrule the chair. They cannot throw out the rule book.

    At that point, the chair, following interventions from the Conservative majority, pushed ahead just the same.

    The member for Alfred-Pellan also intervened to request clarification. She asked the chair if there was no longer any right to debate the amendment to the amendment or the main motion between votes. The chair replied that that was indeed the case.

    Mr. Speaker, what happened yesterday was that a clearly inadmissible motion, one that is clearly prohibited by the rule book, was ruled out of order, quite properly, by the chair, and the Conservative majority said, “The rules do not apply to us. We are just going to use our majority on this committee, and we are going to simply bulldoze through something that is clearly inadmissible, something that violates the principles, the democratic principles, under which we are governed and the rules that all of us, all members of Parliament, are supposed to follow”.

    It is not just that they ruled what is inadmissible admissible, throwing out the rule book. They also eliminated any debate, as the member for Alfred-Pellan stated very clearly, after the Conservative majority tried to push through on this. It also eliminated any debate whatsoever on the amendment and on the main motion.

    This is not some minor bill the Conservatives have brought forward. This is Bill C-51. This is a bill that has growing concern across the country about what it would mean to our democracy, what it would mean to democratic rights and freedoms. There have been questions raised in this House repeatedly. No answers have been forthcoming from the government.

    This is a bill that, in many people's minds, including former prime ministers and Supreme Court justices, would be a danger to Canadian fundamental precepts of Canadian democracy.

    To throw out the rule book on the debate on Bill C-51 and the extent to which, actually, Canadians would be consulted on the bill at the committee stage is no minor matter. This is a fundamental principle of Canadian democracy.

    On this side of the House, as New Democrats, we believe that Canadians are entitled to add their voices on Bill C-51 and that the experts are entitled to come forward and provide their recommendations on Bill C-51. We believe that this is a fundamental bill that could, in a very dangerous way, impact fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada, and we believe that Canadians have the right to be heard on the bill. That is what we believe on this side of the House.

    This is an important study. The freedom of committees, as you know, Mr. Speaker, is circumscribed by our rule book, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which is what all of us, as members of Parliament, are supposed to follow,.

    As you know, Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 116 says very clearly, as well:

    In a standing, special or legislative committee, the Standing Orders shall apply so far as may be applicable, except the Standing Orders as to the election of a Speaker, seconding of motions, limiting the number of times of speaking and the length of speeches.

    Since committees are regarded as creatures of the House, Standing Order 116 provides that the rules of the House have force in committees, so far as they are applicable. A member may speak on issues before a committee, and that is very clearly delineated in Standing Order 116.

    However, it is also the precedents in the past. In the past, but perhaps not in events as outrageous as what we saw last night at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, we have had issues with conduct in committees that have been brought to the House, and Speakers have made rulings on them. As well, for the guidance you will be giving us in the coming days, Mr. Speaker, I want to restate some of the Speakers' rulings and some of the comments previous Speakers have made on committee actions.

    First, Speaker Milliken, on March 29, 2007, said the following:

    At the present time, the chair occupants, like our counterparts in House committees, daily face the challenge of dealing with the pressures of a minority government, but neither the political realities of the moment nor the sheer force of numbers should force us to set aside the values inherent in the parliamentary conventions and procedures by which we govern our deliberations.

    Hon. members are all aware of situations in committees of this Parliament where, because decisions of the chair are subject to appeal, decisions that were procedurally sound have been overturned by the majority on a committee

    .....All the more reason then for the Chair to exercise its awesome responsibility carefully and to ensure that the House does not, in the heat of the moment, veer dangerously off course.

    Speaker Milliken also, on March 14, 2008, said:

    The Speaker must remain ever mindful of the first principles of our parliamentary tradition which Bourinot described thus: “To protect the minority and restrain the improvidence and tyranny of the majority, to secure the transaction of public business in a decent and orderly manner—”

    As well, Speaker Milliken, on April 2, 2009, as I mentioned earlier, said:

    As explained in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 857, decisions of committee chairs may be appealed to the committee. However, as I noted in rulings on March 14, 2008 and May 15, 2008, committees that overturn procedurally sound decisions by their chairs and choose to present procedurally unacceptable reports to the House will have them declared null and void.

    Finally, Speaker Fraser, on November 28, 1990, had this to say:

    I have to say to hon. members and to the public that the workings of committees is very important to the working of the House of Commons. I do ask hon. colleagues to make every effort possible to come to whatever agreements and understandings among themselves which are necessary to make these committees work.

    I do not want to state this too often, and I hope that I will not have to, but there is a general feeling across the country that somehow or other not only politicians, but maybe institutions, are letting down the country. This is why it is essential that everybody make an extra effort to try to make this system work.

    I am not happy with this situation, obviously. But, I am also bound by rules here and if I am to intervene in committees, it has to be in a very severe and outrageous situation indeed.

    I would submit that this is an absolutely outrageous situation, that the rules under which we are governed were clearly violated yesterday, and that the chair made a procedurally sound decision, based on the fact that motions for the previous question are inadmissible.

    Even more so, motions for the previous question eliminate all questions at once. With a sleight of hand, it simply eliminates any ability for opposition members of Parliament to speak on that issue at all.

    What could be next? If the tyranny of the majority means that at any time a procedurally sound decision made by a chair of a committee can be overturned by a Conservative majority, what is to stop Conservatives from saying that opposition members have no right to speak at all, or that opposition members have no right to appear at committee? At what point are they going to stop this tyranny of the majority?

    There is absolutely no doubt that what happened last night was a travesty. It ripped up the rule book on a fundamental piece of law that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about. I have no doubt that the government does not want debate on this bill. The more there is debate, the more Canadians are calling into question how this bill was put together and the vague language and loopholes that can lead to dangerous precedents in our country. There is no doubt about that. However, they do not have the right to completely shut down debate. They do not have the right to move procedurally wrong motions, to overrule the chair when the chair is ruling, having followed the rule book in the interest of Canadian democracy, and they do not have the right to simply shut down debate.

    Mr. Speaker, I am asking for guidance from you in the coming days. The House has an objective referee, and so should committees. When committee chairs make procedurally sound rulings following the rule book, they should be respected. Rules are there for a reason. The implications of allowing a wild west in committees in the final 11 weeks of Parliament are simply too serious to even contemplate at this point.

    I ask for the Speaker's guidance on what was an outrageous action by the Conservative majority last night at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and, as a member of the opposition, I also ask for his guidance as a Canadian. What happened last night was a travesty. It was outrageous, and it should not be permitted. We ask for the Speaker's wisdom and guidance so that these kinds of instances do not occur again.

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    Feb 27, 2015 7:30 am | British Columbia, Nanaimo—Alberni

    Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize that the hon. member has had a long career in law enforcement and working with communities to resolve safety issues.

    I wonder if he could express his opinion, from his own life experience, on why local communities ought to have a say if someone is considering having what is called a safe injection site with illegal drugs, perhaps in a residential neighbourhood, and why law enforcement officials, municipal leaders, and others in the area might need to have a say on a site opening up in their neighbourhood.

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    Feb 27, 2015 7:50 am | British Columbia, Nanaimo—Alberni

    Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be a part of the debate today about such an important bill, Bill C-2, the respect for communities act. I suspect that we all agree that illegal drugs have a terrible impact on our communities. There may be different opinions on how the challenges they pose should be addressed, but we all know that the worst drugs such as heroin have a terrible impact on our communities and destroy lives. These drugs also cause serious harm to public health and public safety.

    Bill C-2 forms an important piece of our government's effort to protect public health from the serious and negative effects of drug abuse and to maintain public safety from the impacts associated with drug use and addictions.

    It is always good to have the facts when we are debating important topics like this, so I would like to briefly mention a report from Justice Canada entitled, “The Cost of Crime in Canada”. The report estimated that the direct health care costs associated with illicit drug use in Canada totalled $1.3 billion in 2008. It is estimated that over $2 billion is spent annually on justice-related costs, such as law enforcement, courts, and correctional services as a result of illicit drug use. These are enormous expenditures and costs to society.

    Even worse when we consider the terrible impact on individuals, communities, and Canadian society, where the costs are enormous. These are the direct costs to the health and justice systems only. The impact on the individuals who suffer and the negative consequences for their families is immeasurable. No parent should have to suffer as their child gets involved with drug abuse and end up worrying about the broken dreams and perilous, uncertain future that addiction brings.

    This government is committed to preventing drug abuse and breaking the cycle of drug addiction so that our communities can be healthy and safe and that no family has to watch a loved one suffer from addiction. Part of our plan to address addiction is the national anti-drug strategy that was launched in 2007 as the federal government's comprehensive response to combat illicit drug use in Canada.

    With its three key action plans, the strategy focuses on preventing illicit drug use, treating drug dependency, and combatting the production and trafficking of illicit drugs. Today I would like to elaborate on our government's commitment to preventing illicit drug use through the strategy's prevention action plan.

    The prevention action plan contributes to reducing illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse in key target groups such as youth. It does this by funding the development and implementation of community-based interventions and initiatives to prevent illicit drug use and abuse of prescription drugs, especially among youth; discouraging illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse by providing information directly to youth, parents, and concerned adults; and supporting the development of awareness materials and the provision of awareness sessions to school-aged youth, parents, professionals, and other community members.

    The government also supports prevention activities through the drug safety community initiatives fund. This funding program supports Canadian communities and their collective efforts at health promotion and prevention of illicit and prescription drug abuse. The projects supported through the fund focus on informing and educating Canadians on illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse and their adverse health and social effects; offering tools to foster resiliency and coping skills among youth to deal with peer pressure regarding illicit drug use; and promoting healthy behaviours and supportive environments that discourage drug use among young people.

    Projects take place on the national, provincial, territorial, and local community levels and can include a wide range of activities, such as school-based and peer support programs and outreach. Project activities can also include the development and distribution of resource materials as well as the sharing of best practices.

    Since 2007, Health Canada has provided $75 million to fund some 140 projects to discourage and prevent illicit drug use among youth. As part of our ongoing commitment to curbing drug abuse in Canada, the government is supporting projects across the country to address a wide range of illicit and prescription drug abuse issues, especially among vulnerable youth, who have a higher risk of substance abuse and dependence.

    Many of the projects serve to equip young people with the knowledge and skills required to recognize and avoid situations where there may be peer pressure to use drugs. Others are designed to provide parents and those who work with youth with drug education and prevention strategies that will help families and communities deal with the growing problem of substance abuse.

    In addition to providing financial support for prevention work, our government also completed a successful five-year, $30 million mass media campaign known as “DrugsNot4Me”, which was aimed at youth and their parents. A key part of the DrugsNot4Me campaign was developing awareness by providing prevention materials for use in elementary and secondary schools. We also provided facts and background information for parents to help prepare them to engage in conversations with their children about substance abuse and staying off drugs.

    The campaign made a difference. There were over one million visits to the DrugsNot4Me website, and one in four parents reached out to the campaign and took action by engaging in discussions with their children about drugs. Even more importantly, there was an increase in the proportion of youth who said they knew about the potential effects of illicit drug use on relationships with family and friends, and they sought information on how to avoid drugs or to deal with drug-use issues.

    However, despite these prevention efforts, the challenges are far from over. Illicit drug use in Canada is changing, with prescription drug abuse becoming a concern. In 2012-13, more than 80,000 Canadian kids admitted to using prescription drugs to get high. This is a very serious and alarming situation. The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs carries the same health and public safety concerns as illicit drugs do.

    To combat the concern about prescription drug abuse, our government has committed an additional $44.9 million in funding over five years to expand the national anti-drug strategy to target prescription drug abuse.

    The health committee has recently been studying these issues and heard from a large number of expert witnesses. In fact, the committee recently completed studies both on prescription drug abuse and the health risks of marijuana.

    I know that my time is coming to an end and perhaps this is a good place for me to stop. I imagine I will have a little time left when the debate resumes after question period.

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    Feb 27, 2015 7:55 am | British Columbia, Nanaimo—Alberni

    Mr. Speaker, many Canadians are shocked that law societies across the country voted to discriminate against Trinity Western University law graduates.

    Compounding the alarm is the revelation that it is big banks and big money interests, led by the Bank of Montreal, that influenced the law societies. BMO and other large banks and corporations have been requiring legal and financial service contractors to reveal the diversity metrics of their associates, partners and management teams. The initiative branded “Legal Leaders for Diversity” is apparently opposed to religious diversity.

    Asking a perspective employee about their sexual preferences would be against the law. Denying economic opportunity to any individual or any law firm based upon religious belief is just as surely a charter violation. The Supreme Court of Canada, and now the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, ruled against such religious discrimination.

    Canadians expect our banks and our leading corporations to respect the charter rights and freedoms of all Canadians. We call upon the BMO and its recruits from corporate Canada to reverse this misguided initiative.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:00 am | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot

    Mr. Speaker, I regret to inform the House of the passing of Terry Kelly, from Oshawa, last month.

    I first met Terry when he offered me a job as an articling student. As many members will know, articling is only slightly removed from indentured servitude. Not with Terry. He was generous with his time, wise in his advice and reasonable in his expectations.

    Terry was Durham's super lawyer. In the morning, he would dominate the criminal docket and and in the afternoon, the civil one.

    Terry was also known as “superfan”. His idea of a good time was to go to seven different cities, on seven different nights and watch seven different sporting events. His idea of a quiz was to name the All England starting lineup for the 1966 World Cup. If we got that, then he would ask us to name the substitutes.

    Not only was Terry a super lawyer and a super fan, he was also a super citizen. His support for various civic projects are too numerous to list. Oshawa and Durham lost their biggest civic booster when Terry died. His generosity of time and spirit touched us all.

    Please join me in recognizing a life well lived; a super fan, a super lawyer and a super citizen, wise and generous to the end.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:05 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Rainy River

    Mr. Speaker, I will be attending, along with the Leader of the Opposition and other New Democratic MPs, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual conference in Toronto this weekend.

    As members know, mining is a very important part of northern and northwestern Ontario's economy, and new investment in the sector is needed more than ever. Why? Because nearly every other sector in our economy is in crisis or on the verge.

    The forestry sector has lost more than 38,000 jobs in northern Ontario alone since the Conservative government came to power. In Thunder Bay—Rainy River, we have seen hundreds of jobs lost in forestry and other sectors. With the closure of Resolute's pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances, 240 jobs were lost. Another 46 jobs were cut at Wasaya Airways on the Fort William First Nation. Another 160 jobs were announced last week at Teleperformance in Thunder Bay. Another 200 jobs will be lost at our Target store in Thunder Bay.

    We urgently need new investment in our fledgling mining projects, especially the $50 billion Ring of Fire project. As we head to the PDAC meetings this weekend, it is clearer than ever that the families of northern and northwestern Ontario want and need an active and engaged federal government that finally puts their interests first.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:05 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay special tribute to Geraldine Seely, a close personal friend who recently lost her battle with cancer.

    Gerri was a fighter. She fought and beat cancer once before. She overcame a kidney transplant. Even with the challenges she faced, she never lost her faith or love of life.

    Gerri married Dennis in 1969, and to see them together was truly special. They were a great team who, until the end, were inseparable.

    As much as we mourn her loss, we can also be inspired by her example. Gerri never stopped giving back to the community and despite the challenges she faced, always found time for others. Although only 67, she volunteered for over 45 years at our community's Markham Fair. She was a member of the church choir, a junior choir leader, hosted Bible studies at her home and facilitated others at her church.

    A full day would not be enough to explain the many ways in which she touched the lives of the people around her. To her entire family, I give thanks for sharing Gerri with us. She will not soon be forgotten.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:05 am | British Columbia, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo

    Mr. Speaker, our government has made it a priority to continue to take concrete actions to strengthen the confidence of Canadians in our criminal justice system. This is why I am pleased that earlier this month, our Prime Minister announced that we were moving forward with new legislation to better protect Canadians from serious criminals who would be released into our communities across the country after serving only two thirds of their sentence under this current system of statutory release.

    We have all heard of criminals who go on to reoffend, sometimes violently. There are too many criminals who commit serious offences while on statutory release, and Canadians refuse to accept this.

    This legislation would ensure that repeat violent criminals would no longer be automatically granted statutory release after serving two thirds of their sentence. This upcoming legislation would see the most serious criminals kept off our streets for as long as possible.

    I am proud of our government's strong action to keep our streets and communities safe, and placing the rights of victims ahead of those of criminals.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:05 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax

    Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, the Moncton Lumbersmacks take on the Rock Coast Rollers from Maine. This is a really big deal. Not only is roller derby the fastest growing women's sport in the world and not only are the Lumbersmacks the number one derby team in the Atlantic provinces, but this bout will make history as the first ever WFTDA sanctioned bout in Atlantic Canada.

    Roller derby is about competition, strength and athletics, but it is also about community. I am a proud member of the Anchor City Rollers in Halifax, and ACR is thrilled to cheer on the success of our Lumbersmacks sisters. In the true spirit of community, the Smacks have players from New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Nova Scotia, including Anchor City's own star jammer and blocker, Smashy and Box Blocker.

    As usual in derby, this is a community effort, bringing together multiple leagues, their tireless volunteers and their amazing fans. With big derby love from Halifax, from Anchor City and from the House of Commons, Lumbersmacks, vous l'avez. “You got this”.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont

    Mr. Speaker, in less than 100 days, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton will welcome the world when the FIFA Women's World Cup begins. This competition is the largest in women's sports, featuring 24 nations from around the globe. We look forward to welcoming them and the approximately 1.5 million spectators who will take part in the festivities.

    Having the best of the best in women's soccer competing here on Canadian soil will inspire women and girls to realize the benefits of physical activity and sport. This is a big year for sports in Canada, and our government remains committed to helping Canadians get fit and active. That is why we first introduced the children's fitness tax credit then doubled it last year, allowing more families to get their kids involved in organized sports.

    To our Canadian women's soccer team, we are proud. We wish it all the best in its quest for gold this summer. Know that all of Canada is behind them.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:10 am | Nova Scotia, Sydney—Victoria

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the contributions and dedication of Father Paul Abbass.

    Father Abbass is a good friend of mine. I have known him for 35 years back when he was first ordained to the priesthood. He was my local parish priest and works in many communities across Cape Breton. He is well known for helping men suffering from addiction and his commitment to helping our youth.

    Father Abbass has been instrumental with the Talbot House in Frenchvale. Talbot House is a place for hope and healing for men struggling with addiction. The men receive the help they need to get a fresh start. I had the honour of being on the board of directors with him.

    Father Abbass is retiring from Talbot House and he is leaving it in great shape. He is a man that never stops. Even as he retires from the Talbot House, he plans to continue to give spiritual guidance to many in our community. He is currently overseeing seven parishes.

    I ask my colleagues to join me in thanking Father Abbass for his many years of tireless service to those who are most vulnerable in our communities.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax

    Mr. Speaker, the government is trying to blame this crisis solely on indigenous men. That is shameful. Many of these women and girls met their fate in major cities. Some of the worst perpetrators were not aboriginal, including Robert Pickton.

    From mayors, premiers, indigenous leaders, and concerned Canadians around the country from coast to coast to coast, we have heard the call for an inquiry into this heartbreaking tragedy. Instead of blaming indigenous communities, will the government finally commit to a national public inquiry?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax

    Mr. Speaker, a month ago when the Prime Minister launched Bill C-51 at a splashy event, he was asked about the lack of oversight in the bill. His response was that the legislative process is the “first and foremost critical aspect of parliamentary oversight” of these new powers. That is funny because the Conservatives have spent the past month trying to get around just that.

    Why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians that he wanted a thorough review when the Conservative plan, all along, was to shut down debate?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:25 am | British Columbia, Beloeil-Chambly

    Mr. Speaker, over a hundred of Canada's leading law professors wrote to the government today saying it has to amend it, or kill the bill. How many of those law professors are going to be cut out because the government does not respect principles of law and justice and it does not want a study on Bill C-51?

    The fact is, Conservatives are fighting hard to avoid scrutiny on the bill, and that is a disservice to Canadians. This open letter from Canada's leading law professors raises even greater concerns about this dangerous piece of legislation. What are the Conservatives hiding? Why are they so afraid to subject this overreaching new law to proper scrutiny?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:25 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville

    Mr. Speaker, in 1984, 8% of Canadian women who were murdered were aboriginal. Today, it is 23%, or nearly one-quarter. That is an alarming deterioration. The government is engaging in unfounded speculation on the causes of this tragedy. It refuses to open a public inquiry, which has been called for by the families of victims, aboriginal communities, the provincial premiers, experts and just about everyone.

    Why is the government turning its back on history? Will the Prime Minister at least attend the round table today? I am asking my colleague. Will the Prime Minister attend the round table today, yes or no?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:30 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Rainy River

    Mr. Speaker, we heard the sad news yesterday that Ernest Côté, a Second World War D-Day veteran, passed away at age 101.

    Now we need to be there to better help our veterans today, like the story of Master Corporal Paul Franklin who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. Unbelievably, Veterans Affairs has required him yearly to prove that he has no legs. Yesterday we learned that he is once again being asked to prove that he is disabled.

    Can the minister explain this callous incompetence?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:30 am | Ontario, Newmarket—Aurora

    Mr. Speaker, Canada has been deeply committed to ensuring that children get education. We continue to work with our partners globally on these issues to look for ways that we can help. We have been one of the largest contributors to helping in Iraq to make sure that the children there are being taken care of, and in Syria as well.

    We look at the great success we have had in Afghanistan with getting the girls into schools, millions of girls in school today who were never there before.

    We are watching with our allies. We will continue to do that, and we will put our money where it gets the best effect.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:35 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe

    Mr. Speaker, under these Conservatives, veterans have endured failure after failure. Enough is enough. Veterans are still struggling to access the services they need and deserve.

    Nothing could be more emblematic of the Conservative government's indifference than the struggles of Corporal Paul Franklin who is trying to access his disability benefits.

    When will Conservatives finally take action so that retired Master Corporal Franklin does not have to prove yet again that he has lost his legs?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:35 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, gridlock in the 905 is not only a drag on the economy, it keeps families separated for longer every day. Instead of supporting our commuters, the Conservatives have cut the building Canada fund by nearly 90% for the next two years.

    What is their real priority, ads costing more than $100,000 a pop during the Oscars last weekend?

    Why is the government turning its back on York region and the 905 to fund its own self-promotion?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:35 am | Ontario, Kitchener—Waterloo

    Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, since our Conservative government took office in 2006, Canada has consistently ranked at the very top of the list of all G7 countries with respect to investments in infrastructure as a percentage of GDP. Contrast that to the Liberal years, when Canada was at the bottom of the list. Clearly we had a decade of darkness, not only for defence but for infrastructure as well under the Liberals.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:40 am | Ontario, Oshawa

    Mr. Speaker, it is well known that the main estimates are exactly that, estimates, and they do not represent departments' total budgets for the year. Our government will remain committed to a strong environmental assessment process. In fact, we have increased funding and opportunities for aboriginal consultations and public participation throughout the environmental assessment process.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:40 am | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot

    Mr. Speaker, just when Alberta and Canada could use an economic boost, the Prime Minister cancels a meeting with the president because he knows that the president will ask him about our ever-increasing GHG emissions. He should know that the president is also a serious basketball player. The PM lined up with a dysfunctional team of climate change deniers in Congress and the president dunked them both.

    Is that what the Conservative Party means by an economic action plan?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:45 am | Quebec, Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière

    Mr. Speaker, since 2006, the Economic Development Agency of Canada has invested more than $1 billion in all regions of Quebec. We are present throughout Quebec, with 14 regional offices, and we will continue working on developing Quebec's economy as a whole.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:45 am | British Columbia, North Vancouver

    Mr. Speaker, since elected, our government has taken numerous steps to combat terrorist financing. This includes strengthening FINTRAC's ability to disclose threats to Canadian law enforcement agencies. We are pleased that the international Financial Action Task Force has endorsed our government's anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime. Canadians should remain vigilant and always report any suspicious activities to police immediately.

    The NDP and the Liberals have voted against our efforts to combat terrorist financing. We call on them to start supporting our efforts to protect Canadians.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 8:45 am | Ontario, Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale

    Mr. Speaker, following the tragic attacks here in Ottawa last year as well as in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, we are reminded of the magnitude of the threat that terrorism poses to us and all Canadians. Today the international Financial Action Task Force that combats terrorist financing has announced that it will be pressuring governments that are failing to combat the flow of cash to the ISIL death cult.

    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please update the House on the steps the government has taken to combat terrorist financing in Canada?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:50 am | Ontario, Frontenac

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' plans for a monument to victims of communism has drawn criticism from Canada's Chief Justice, the mayor of Ottawa, Canada's leading architecture and design experts, local MPs, and local elected representatives. All parties support a memorial to remember those silenced by tyranny and to honour those who fought for change. However, Ottawa residents and their representatives were not consulted on the location, the size, and the design of the memorial.

    When building a monument to victims of communism, why is the current government ignoring democratic consultation?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:50 am | Saskatchewan, Nunavut

    Mr. Speaker, liquefied natural gas has the potential to diversify our markets, an energy product offering in energy markets, creating jobs and economic growth for Canadians.

    Our responsible resource development plan includes a world-class independent regulatory process that makes decisions based on science and facts, provides for clearer timelines, and reduces duplication to strengthen investor confidence in energy projects. That said, decisions respecting the development of liquefied natural gas rest primarily with the province, and we respect its jurisdiction.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:50 am | Quebec, Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Standing Committee on Official Languages received a request from the NDP to study this situation, and we will study the request in order to determine whether we will proceed.

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:50 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville

    Mr. Speaker, why is the government treating the regions in Quebec however it pleases instead of according to fair criteria?

    It is funding a natural gas network in Thetford Mines, which is good, but it is refusing to do the same in Lévis-Bellechasse. The Coalition gaz naturel Bellechasse did a good job bringing together the municipalities, chambers of commerce, local development centres and RCMs around an exciting project.

    Why are the Conservatives taking such an arbitrary approach to our regions?

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 8:50 am | Newfoundland, Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte

    Mr. Speaker, we know that Marine Atlantic's 2015 corporate plan has not yet been approved by cabinet, but until then, the crown corporation's operating budget is very uncertain. The company has said that there is absolutely no doubt that cabinet will approve its five-year plan before the delivery of the Minister of Finance's budget, and full details of their funding will be available this spring.

    Will the finance minister confirm that the five-year corporate plan will indeed be approved in this time frame, that more money will be in the budget for Marine Atlantic, and that this funding will be no less than last year's allocation?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:50 am | Ontario, La Prairie

    Mr. Speaker, that is actually not true. Consultation has taken place on this monument, and the fact that it was brought forward by the organizations involved should be respected by the member across. The memorial will honour more than 100 million lives lost under communist regimes and will pay tribute to the Canadian ideas of liberty, freedom, democracy, and human rights.

    Our government committed to honouring the victims of communism in our Speech from the Throne in 2010. We look forward to fulfilling that commitment.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 8:55 am | Ontario, Frontenac

    Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa Police Service is asking the government for funds to recover costs from the Parliament Hill shooting and for a renewal of the $2 million they received in 2009, in recognition of their crucial role in keeping the federal government safe.

    Ottawa's Police Service faces a unique challenge. Protecting the national capital is a huge cost to our city. This should not compromise the safety of the wider Ottawa community. Will the federal government give the city of Ottawa the support it needs to keep our community safe?

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    Feb 27, 2015 8:55 am | Ontario, Prince Edward—Hastings

    Mr. Speaker, the terrorist group, ISIL, is already responsible for countless heinous and barbaric war crimes. Now it appears that it is intent on erasing the record of an entire civilization from the history books. A new video has shown ISIL thugs destroying ancient and priceless Mesopotamian statues and other Assyrian Christian artifacts in northern Iraq.

    Can theParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please provide Canada's reaction to the destruction of these priceless artifacts?

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 8:55 am | Nova Scotia, South Shore—St. Margaret's

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for that important question. I am pleased to report to the House that Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, received royal assent this week.

    The bill will strengthen intellectual property rights for plant varieties, reduce red tape, improve how government carries out its business with the Canadian agriculture industry, enhance trade, and grow Canada's economy. Importantly, the bill also includes farmer's privilege, which explicitly permits farmers to use seeds from the crops they grow.

    It is absolutely shocking that the official opposition voted against the bill.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 8:55 am | Nova Scotia, Sydney—Victoria

    Mr. Speaker, municipalities across this country continue to find a financial black hole where federal infrastructure should be. The current government is all talk when it comes to infrastructure spending.

    In the Cape Breton regional municipality alone, $400-million worth of waste water system upgrades are required. Will the current government finally live up to its responsibility and bring the money to the table so we can get the job done, keep our water safe, and get our people back to work?

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 8:55 am | Ontario, Kitchener—Waterloo

    Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, as the Conservative government, our investments in infrastructure are three times higher than the previous Liberal government's.

    In addition to being at the top of the list of all G7 countries with respect to investments in infrastructure, I am also very pleased to report to the House that under our Conservative government, the average age of public infrastructure in Canada is now at its lowest level since 1980.

    With the new Building Canada plan, this progress will continue, creating jobs and prosperity for all Canadians.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:00 am | Ontario, Oshawa

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:00 am | British Columbia, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo

    Mr. Speaker, that is an absolutely absurd statement. We have the highest recorded health care transfer dollars right now in history. Since forming government, transfers to the provinces have gone up by 70% and will reach $40 billion annually.

    We have committed to increasing transfers year after year. I am very proud of our government's record on transfers, unlike the Liberals who, for many years, balanced their budget on the backs of the provinces.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:00 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Superior North

    Mr. Speaker, Thunder Bay's acute care hospital has been in gridlock for years. On January 26, the hospital designed for 375 acute care beds had 469 patients stacked up in public hallways.

    Tommy Douglas worked with the Liberals to create a world-leading system funded 50% by the feds. The feds' share now is less than half of that.

    Do the Conservatives have a plan to restore and renew our health care system?

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:05 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of Londoners who want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that on May 22, 2013, this Parliament voted unanimously in support of anaphylaxis Motion No. 230. As we all know, there are many victims of anaphylaxis, including children, who are vulnerable, particularly when travelling. The petitioners request that Parliament enact a policy to reduce the risks to anaphylactic passengers when travelling anywhere in this country, whether by plane, train, or forms of public transit so that they will be safe.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:05 am | Nova Scotia, Sydney—Victoria

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present this petition on behalf of the National Farmers Union and residents of Quebec calling upon the government to recognize the rights of farmers to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:05 am | Ontario, Chatham-Kent—Essex

    Mr. Speaker, I have a number of constituents who have signed a lengthy petition that Canada adopt international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize their role in the struggle against hunger and poverty; to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers; and to ensure that the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds are protected.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:05 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax

    Mr. Speaker, not too long ago my colleague from Beaches—East York introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act. Here I am holding in my hand a petition that many people have signed saying that they want to see this bill turned into law, that we need a climate change accountability act.

    They also point out the fact that the government has done things like cancelled the eco-energy home retrofit program and that it continues to give subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

    The petitioners are asking that we take action and pass this bill into law so we can start reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Ontario, Halton

    Mr. Speaker, Canada pPort aAuthorities, such as the Halifax Port Authority, operate at arm’s- length from the Federal Government and on a commercial basis, within the parameters set by the Canada Marine Act and associated regulations, and their individual Letters Patent.

    Each Canada Port Authority has an independent Board of Directors that which is responsible for determining the Port Authority’s strategic direction and overseeing the Port Authority’s operations, including expenditures, leases, legal services, business development, and travel. The Letter Patent for each Canada port authority contains a code of conduct that provides the principles and rules by which Directors are expected to carry out their duties, with particular emphasis regarding potential conflict of interest.

    As Transport Canada has no oversight over the day-to-day operations at Canada Port Authorities, questions regarding expenditures, leases, legal services, business development, and travel at the Halifax Port Authority should be directed to that the Port Authority.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    With regard to changes to the Large Business Audit Program, whereby audits may be performed by Canada Revenue Agency offices in cities other than the location of the business audited: what has been the effect of these changes for audits conducted after the change compared to those conducted before, particularly in terms of penalties, fines, and revenue collected per audit?

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Ontario, Oshawa

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 935, 937 and 943.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Superior North

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians from Thunder Bay—Superior North and across Canada are repeatedly sending me petitions about the Communist Chinese persecuting Falun Gong only because the latter have a spiritual belief in truth, compassion, and forbearance.

    David Kilgour, a former member, has compiled tremendous amounts of evidence about murders and organ harvesting, and so my petitioners request that we condemn the Communist Chinese government for murdering people for their organs, and to end the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Ontario, Parry Sound—Muskoka

    Mr. Speaker, the Policy on Information Management and the Directive on Recordkeeping outline the types of records to be maintained as well as the responsibilities for establishing mechanisms to maintain and make information available.

    The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat sets government-wide direction in targeted areas of management, including information management, IM; information technology, IT; and access to information and privacy and security. Mandatory direction regarding the management of information, including email and instant messages, can be found in the following instruments: Policy on Information Management, Directive on Roles and Responsibilities, and the Standard on Email Management. Guidance to departments is also available in the Information Management Protocol--Instant Messaging Using a Mobile Device, and the Guideline for Employees of the Government of Canada: Information Management (IM) Basics.

    The Policy on Information Management, 2007, and the Directive on Recordkeeping, 2009, are the primary instruments for information and policy direction within the Government of Canada. The Information Management Protocol–Instant Messaging using a Mobile Device, issued in November 2014, adds precision to existing requirements that pertain specifically to instant messaging.

    The Policy on Information Management, the Directive on Recordkeeping, and the Information Management Protocol--Instant Messaging using Mobile Device are available online at: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=12742 , http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=16552, and https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/im-gi/imp-pgi/mobile-eng.asp, respectively.

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Prince Edward Island, Cardigan

    With regard to contracts under $10,000 granted by Natural Resources Canada since January 1, 2013: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

  • retweet
    Feb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Manitoba, Winnipeg Centre

    With respect to electronic records and messages including, in particular, text messages, short message service (SMS), and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), broken-down by government departments, institutions and agencies: (a) what are the departmental policies for storage and retention of these records and messages, broken-down by record type; (b) if these records and messages are stored and retained, what are the storage and retention periods; (c) is there any policy in place to protect records or messages that are of business value; and (d) are there any planned changes to these policies, and if so, what will be proposed?

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