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    Mar 09, 2015 11:20 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, Northern Ontario has now seen three train wrecks in less than a month. Two of them in Gogama and one between Hornepayne and Oba. The last two were only a few days apart this week.

    This most recent derailment had 94 cars on the train carrying crude oil. Thirty-five of them derailed, caught fire and several ended up in the Makami River.

    The people of Northern Ontario are concerned about their safety, about the destruction of air and water quality. Could the minister tell us what measures she has taken to protect the communities of Northern Ontario today?

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    Mar 09, 2015 11:05 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, autism takes many forms and is spread across our population with no exceptions.

    Often what families and individuals facing the challenges of a diagnosis need most is acceptance and community awareness. That was the goal of the second annual Espanola Autism Acceptance and Espanola Rivermen event that took place on March 1st. In the lead-up to World Autism Day on April 2, this event brought more than 150 people together to raise awareness and have lots of fun.

    Families from the North Shore and Manitoulin took in a number of activities, ranging from swimming, bowling, and Zumba to watching a hometown Rivermen hockey game.

    The event was coordinated by Dennis Lendrum, who has been a champion of this issue since his grandson, Alex Bertrand, was diagnosed on the spectrum.

    Dennis is already organizing for next year's event. Anyone who wants to stay informed or get involved can be in touch through the Espanola Autism Acceptance Facebook page.

    I am sure all members will join me in sending our heartfelt congratulations to the volunteers, organizers, and participants involved in this exemplary event.


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    Feb 26, 2015 11:50 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, the list of violations continues.

    Amnesty International believes that this government put natural resource development ahead of the rights of aboriginal communities. Amnesty International also criticized the discriminatory behaviour and chronic underfunding of child protection services in first nations communities. It is simply shameful.

    Will the government respond to this report and finally respect the rights of aboriginal peoples?

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    Feb 25, 2015 2:30 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

    This is an issue that affects all of us. I do not know that anybody in society, as I mentioned before, supports having offenders out there who prey on young people, but sexual offenders actually do not just prey on young people; they prey on all people.

    We will support this particular bill at third reading. However, we remain concerned with the type of legislation that the government keeps putting forward without providing proper resources.

    As I mentioned before, I worked at Probation and Parole Services in Ontario for 13 years. I must correct the record as well. I mentioned my daughter working at the Brampton youth correctional centre, but she is actually a correctional officer at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre. I just clarify that for the record. She has been working there for quite some time. She works mostly with level 1 offenders.

    People may wonder what a level 1 or a level 2 offender is. I think we have to look at whether or not an offender is high risk when we look at the prevention and rehabilitation aspect, but it is important that we actually do look at rehabilitation and prevention. Reintegration into society is also important, because at some point in time people do get released.

    Our perspective is that we are not opposed to the legislation, but when we put legislation in place, we need to make sure that it is the right legislation and that we provide the tools required to make sure it will actually be effective. We need to make sure that the statistics at the end of the day will show that it was the right thing to do.

    When we are look at the crime bills that the government has been putting forward, over and over again we see that the resources are just not there. On this particular bill, it is ironic that the government has tabled legislation dealing with an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the high risk child sex offender database act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts when we have just been advised that over $10 million in funding that was allocated to the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre went unused. The parliamentary secretary basically said that they did not spend all that money because there were human resource challenges stemming from the nature of the work.

    If there were these types of challenges, should the government not have acted? Should it not have said, “Let us make sure we have proper staffing.”? It is telling us there is a big demand and that a lot of casework needs to be dealt with on this issue; it is true that we have seen an increase in people being charged, but imagine all the other people out there who are not being charged because the RCMP does not have the proper resources. The government decided to pay down the deficit instead of investing in the protection of Canadians, of our young people, of our children. That is the big problem we see with the government.

    Earlier in the debate, Conservatives raised questions with respect to whether sentences should be consecutive and concurrent. As I indicated, the Conservatives can put all they want into the legislation, and I think that is what we need to do as legislators, but we also have to listen to what the judges have to say. We have to make sure that the people hearing the cases have legislation that actually works, but at the end of the day we have to allow them to do what they need to do in the judicial process.

    Having worked in the field for quite some time, I know that when a serious crime has been committed, especially when it involves a sex offender, the judge will order a pre-sentence or pre-disposition report that will give the whole story of what actually happened, along with the person's history. Judges make their decisions on sentencing based on that report.

    I want to go back to what was said in the House. One of the Conservative members tried to say that there was no rehabilitation for sex offenders, yet the ministry's website talks about rehabilitation for sex offenders. It states:

    More than most crimes, sex crimes instill feelings of fear and anger in citizens. When a past sex offender is released from custody, fear and anger can consume a community.

    It goes on to say:

    Media stories about sex crimes often serve to inflame emotions and rarely tell the whole story about the treatment and rehabilitation of sex offenders.

    It further states:

    Research shows that treatment of sex offenders does make a difference. Sex offenders who receive treatment are less likely to re-offend. Offenders who don't receive treatment are likely to re-offend at a rate of 17% compared to 10% for offenders who have received treatment. Indeed, most sexual offenders do not re-offend after a certain age.

    It is important that the conversation we are having is about the need to ensure that the proper resources are in place when we put this type of legislation in place.

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    Feb 25, 2015 2:25 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that this is a serious issue and discussion we are having. I do not think, nor would I hope, that there is anybody in this House who does not support the fact that we need to ensure the safety of young children or any victim when it comes to sexual exploitation or sexual assaults. However, we need to ensure that we invest our money wisely. We can make all the laws we want and change all the legislation we want, but without the proper resources it would not amount to anything.

    In a previous intervention, the member's colleague said that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. My question is geared toward the prevention and rehabilitation piece because on the government's website it states that research shows that treating sex offenders does make a difference.

    Does the hon. member support his previous colleague's comments that a sex offender cannot be rehabilitated? Does he not believe that if we invest in prevention and rehabilitation, we would help build a safer society?

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    Feb 25, 2015 1:35 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, this is up my alley because I worked for probation and parole for 13 years, and my daughter Mindy is a correctional worker at the Brampton youth correctional centre.

    One of the questions that was posed a while ago was about whether sentences should be concurrent or consecutive. I can say that the government and Parliament have a responsibility to ensure that the Criminal Code is clear about what an offence constitutes, but at the end of the day it will be a decision by a judge that will determine whether or not that sentence should be consecutive or concurrent, based on the assessment, the pre-sentence reports, the pre-disposition reports, and whether the offender is an adult or a youth.

    As well, it is a bit rich that we are studying a bill about sexual offences right now when the government did not spend the $10 million of funds that were earmarked for the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre. Maybe my colleague can elaborate on that.

    The other thing that I would like the member to elaborate on is the importance of prevention and rehabilitation and how that can help us as a society and ensure that we will all be safe at the end of the day.

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    Feb 25, 2015 11:50 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow families of the over 1,200 indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada will come together in preparation for Friday's national round table to offer their testimony, to find answers and solutions to end violence.

    Families will also be looking to the current government to finally change its rhetoric and come together with its provincial and territorial counterparts to act upon coordinated solutions and finally call for a national public inquiry.

    Will the government listen to their plea?

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    Feb 24, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, an investigation into the train accident near Gogama found that 29 cars derailed, 21 cars caught fire, and it took 6 days to extinguish.

    A million litres of crude oil were released. Even more disturbing, the new standards put in place in 2014 for tank cars are still inadequate. The safety board is urging Transport Canada to quickly introduce enhanced protection standards for more robust cars.

    When will the minister introduce higher standards to protect Canadians?

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    Feb 23, 2015 4:05 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Again, Mr. Speaker, I have to reiterate that the investment the Conservatives say they are making in shelters is for the same shelters, and there is no increase in dollars.

    This time, instead of talking about what the government is refusing to do, I will actually focus now on what New Democrats are proposing, which is significantly more than what the government is doing.

    We call on the government to work in collaboration with aboriginal, Inuit, and Métis women's organizations and provincial and territorial governments to address violence against aboriginal women through co-ordinated, strategic interventions, including, but not limited to, poverty; child welfare; education; housing; missing and murdered aboriginal women; the justice system dealing with communities, families, and individuals; empowering aboriginal women; and dealing with the impact of systemic racism.

    Items such as stable funding for programs and non-governmental aboriginal organizations will make a big difference, as will a plan to improve the quality and standardization of on-reserve primary and secondary schools.

    Our recommendations will take more time to go across than I have time for, but I wanted to show the member opposite that there are other options the government should explore, so I am asking if the government will finally announce a real action plan with real measures to address violence in the north?

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    Feb 23, 2015 4:00 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, every year in Canada, violence drives 100,000 women and children out of their homes and into shelters, where those options actually exist.

    In northern Canada, the problem is extreme. More women are facing abuse and there are fewer safe houses and shelters. Despite quantifiably greater rates of violence, 70% of northern and remote communities do not have safe houses or emergency shelters. Despite this skewed statistic, the government is not doing more to protect vulnerable women in the north. As the numbers show, it is clearly doing less.

    The Conservatives claim to take the problem seriously, but their words do not match their actions. Women are forced to remain in the homes of their attackers as a result. What we are seeing from the current government is the same kind of hand-dragging and inaction that it has used to hinder an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women.

    In spite of the government's claims that it is doing a lot for victims of crime, statistics show that just 53% of homicides involving aboriginal women are solved, compared to a solve rate of 84% for all murders in this country.

    These statistics seem quite acceptable to this government, even though they show that the government does not treat all victims of crime equally. Abuse crime rates are similarly skewed for women in the north, who are primarily aboriginal women.

    Statistics Canada shows that aboriginal women are vastly overrepresented among homicide victims. Statistics show that the rate of abuse against aboriginal women is also higher. If we consider the lack of housing in northern communities, the statistics point to a perfect storm, where women cannot get away from their abusers, which is the most basic step in escaping from a domestic violence situation.

    We cannot accept a frontier mentality that excuses abuse and violence as part of a rugged northern lifestyle. The current government is happy to ask immigrants to check their so-called barbaric practices at the door and adopt Canadian values—that is the government's language, not mine—however, we are not going to challenge ourselves to deal with our own patterns of violence perpetrated on women.

    The government likes to tout its so-called action plan to prevent violence against indigenous women. What it has failed to say is that this is merely a restating of old money that has already been promised. It is doing nothing new or further to help more women get out of harm's way. The irony is that action plan actually promises less money for funding of shelters than was given in past years. In addition, it will only flow to the 40 on-reserve shelters that already exist. There is nothing new and no real intention to do anything above and beyond. Also, because there is only funding for on-reserve shelters, none of that goes to address Inuit communities, which are arguably dealing with the worst rates of domestic violence in the country.

    There are multiple underlying causes of violence against aboriginal women. It is impossible to address the violence that aboriginal women experience without addressing wider gender inequalities and systemic discrimination that aboriginal people continue to face generation after generation. At the same time, the reality is that there are still far too few shelters and resources for women in the north, and that will not change until we move beyond the government's failed initiatives.

    Will the government stop reannouncing old money and find the money to create more options for women facing domestic abuse in northern Canada?

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    Feb 23, 2015 12:30 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, the member has indicated a lot of areas where there should be some oversight. On this side of the House, we believe it is extremely important to have oversight when it comes to CSIS and the RCMP. We need to have that oversight.

    However, the Liberal Party is willing to pass the legislation even though that oversight is not there. That is quite problematic. It is willing to do it afterward, either during a federal election by campaigning on it or doing it only later on, when they think they are going to form the government. Well, it is no surprise that we cannot predict the future. We need to ensure that the safety of Canadians is in place, but we also have to make sure that their rights are also protected.

    François Lavigne was a CSIS officer. He used to be with the RCMP as well. He spent years tracking dangerous radicals without the powers the government wants to give to CSIS. There are currently powers in place. There are mechanisms, practices, and laws necessary for dealing with terrorists in section 46 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

    Therefore, I wonder if my colleague could explain why this former CSIS worker is saying we should not be going down this route but Liberals are saying that we should go down this route.

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    Feb 23, 2015 10:50 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, we need to reiterate that Canadians do not have to sacrifice security over their rights. It has to be both. I am wondering if the member is aware that there is already legislation in place under the Criminal Code, in section 46, that takes on all of the concerns the Conservatives are indicating are their reasons for bringing the bill forward.

    The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness says Canada will not be intimidated. Why is it, then, that today we are debating a bill that actually says, yes, we are being intimidated? I think that is atrocious.

    The government says it is investing all of this money. All the Conservatives are talking about is how much they have invested. They are not talking about how much they spent, because if we look at how much they spent, we see that it certainly is not the appropriate amount of money that they have actually invested.

    On that note, it is about security and about the proper tools. Those tools are currently in place and can be used. Could the member tell me how many times since 2001 the government has resorted to the recognizance with condition provisions that allow police to make preventive arrests?

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    Feb 23, 2015 9:55 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, the previous government speaker talked about fearmongering. It is the Conservatives who are fearmongering. Now this colleague talks about the fight evolving on global terrorism threats and that they need to evolve as well. What Conservatives need are dollars to use the current legislation already in place, and they can only do that if they have enough staffing in place. We saw last week, with respect to the fight against sexual exploitation for children, where the government held back $10 million in unspent funding, basically to take down the deficit.

    We have current laws in place that are not being used, which would help to protect that. The Conservatives are the ones who are trying to instill fear in Canadians, in believing that they need to look over their shoulder day after day. That is wrong. We should ensure that the RCMP and police officers have the right tools, which takes dollars. The Department of Public Safety has seen a total of $688 million in cuts over the past three consecutive years.

    Does my colleague not believe that these cuts by the government are negatively impacting the ability of our public safety agencies to conduct their work and keep Canadians safe?

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    Feb 23, 2015 8:20 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, we have to honour traditions because they are very important. However, we recognize that changes happen and that we have to make changes as we progress.

    Take, for example, Canada's flag, whose 50th anniversary we just celebrated. It has been changed over the years. When we take a look at that, we see that Canadian society has evolved, as have our policies, and if those policies are discriminatory or do not recognize the fundamental need for equality, we have to make changes.

    The Prime Minister said that there would have to be changes, but we doubt that he will be supporting this excellent bill.

    Can my colleague comment further on that?

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    Feb 20, 2015 8:45 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives can fool some of the people some of the time, but they cannot fool all of the people all of the time with their rhetoric.

    Many first nations communities face underfunding and a lack of training when it comes to fire and emergency services. Communities across the country are without fire protection and dependent on the neighbouring towns. These communities experience major response time delays that can have devastating and tragic impacts.

    Will the minister recognize this crisis and work with these communities so they get the protection they need and deserve, or will the government continue to turn a blind eye and continue to put people at risk?

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    Feb 18, 2015 1:40 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    It's about taking Canadians' rights away.

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    Feb 18, 2015 11:15 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, every year in Canada violence drives 100,000 women and children out of their homes and into shelters, where those options exist.

    In northern Canada, the problem is extreme and more women face abuse. Yet, despite greater rates of violence, 70% of northern and remote communities do not have safe houses or emergency shelters.

    When it should be doing so much more, the government is doing less to help women in the north escape violence. With this so-called action plan, the government is doing nothing more than reannouncing money already promised.

    The irony of the situation is that the government has actually promised less money for shelters than was given in recent years.

    On this side of the House, we will not accept a frontier mentality that excuses abuse and violence as part of a rugged northern lifestyle.

    We call upon the government to challenge our own patterns of violence perpetrated on women and create viable options for women facing domestic abuse in northern Canada.

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    Feb 16, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, families of the over 1,200 women and girls who have disappeared or been murdered in Canada deserve better than the current government. They deserve to see real action to get answers. They deserve a genuine consultation process, where their names will not be used without their knowledge or consent to shore up an action plan that offers nothing but the status quo.

    Will the minister apologize to the individuals listed who were not consulted, and when will she finally listen and act on their ask for a national inquiry?

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    Feb 03, 2015 4:40 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, this is certainly an interesting bill that we are debating tonight given the fact that we have a government that has consistently said it is about transparency and accountability.

    I will quote the Prime Minister, who has said, “...bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison”.

    When looking at this bill, we have to take into consideration its intent and how we can best ensure that when we are elected or appointed as parliamentarians or senators, there is protection for the public trust.

    This bill is similar to one moved by the NDP in Nova Scotia, as my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest mentioned a while ago. That bill received royal assent on May 10, 2013. There are some differences between the bills. The Nova Scotia law targets MLAs who have been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of no less than five years. It also provides that any entitlement of a former spouse or a court ordered restitution may be deducted from the MLA's pension.

    The bill before us was tabled in the middle of the Senate scandal that was subject to raging debate in the House of Commons, a scandal in which many Conservative senators were under scrutiny for claiming expenses they were not entitled to. This has severely tarnished the Conservative Party's claim that it is the most ethical and transparent government Canada has ever seen. Indeed, we look at this, we see that it is an issue of ethical and transparent government. Just to go back a bit, we can look at some of the issues that have come forward from that. We just have to look at Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, the former Conservative spokesperson turned senator, who had to repay inappropriate living expenses. We had Mike Duffy being ordered to pay back more than $90,000 for false living expenses and claiming per diems while on vacation. Pamela Wallin was ordered to pay back more than $100,000 for improper claims. We have also seen Liberal senators who have had to make repayments.

    When looking at what has transpired since the Liberal sponsorship scandal, there really is not much difference in terms of transparency and accountability on this side of the House. Therefore, when bills such as this come forward, we think they look great but we have to scour through them to see what the hidden agenda is or how we can work with the Conservatives to make the bill functional

    During the analysis of the bill in committee, the Conservative Party changed the provisions that determined when a senator or MP's pension would be revoked by removing any retroactivity in the application of the bill and proposing an exhaustive list of Criminal Code offences that would trigger the removal of the pension instead.

    Experts had hesitations regarding this approach, noting that the choice of including some offences and not others did not make sense, particularly the fact that offences under the Elections Act were not included. The Conservatives refused to accept an amendment that would have revoked the pension of the former parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, as mentioned a while ago. We know that the Prime Minister stood in the House and defended that member over and over again until the member was found guilty of breaking the Elections Act.

    While the bill clearly aims at punishing the Conservative and Liberal senators who have abused taxpayers' money, Canadians are more and more convinced that the solution to the unelected, unaccountable, and under-investigated Senate is to abolish it, pure and simple.

    So much has been going on in the House with respect to accountability and ethics that we really have to look at the whole. We have to look at what happens at committees as well.

    We used to see committees as a place where we could count on people doing the heavy lifting for Parliament. It was said that although the chamber could appear to be a partisan mess, the committees were where sleeves were actually rolled up and petty differences were set aside, while some common good was served. That notion and those outcomes have been replaced by sideshow antics and committees are now a place where democracy rarely happens. By using their majority to go in camera, the Conservatives are actually gaining every aspect of committees and then telling Canadians, with a straight face, that this is what they voted for.

    There was a comment from one of the committee chairs at the time, the member for Winnipeg Centre. The Conservatives had voted to go in camera and he wanted to ensure we were not. As he was suspending the meeting he said the following. “while we clear the room of the Canadian public and go under the black shroud of secrecy once again”. That is how he ended that session of the committee in order to go in camera. Canadians need to know the truth. Therefore, when we are looking at this bill, it is important to look at all aspects.

    Let me reiterate what the bill would do.

    Bill C-518 would remove the privileges of retiring allowances or compensation allowances of former members of the Senate or House of Commons if they have been convicted of certain offences under the Criminal Code, and that is a great thing. The member of Parliament or senator convicted then receives an amount equivalent to the contributions he or she paid for his or her pension, as well as the accumulated interest on those contributions. They get what they put into it, but they do not get the rest.

    Following an amendment in committee, the member of Parliament or senator must now have committed certain offences in the Criminal Code that are listed in the bill. The Conservatives have also removed the retroactivity of the bill, meaning that Bill C-518 will only apply to senators and MPs that lose their position once the bill becomes law.

    Experts have warned against the use of a list of offences because it could be applied in a broad spectrum, for example, if an MP has been a public servant, and also because it does not include many offences to other laws that are relevant to an MP's or senator's function, such as the Canada Elections Act, the Income Tax Act and the Parliament of Canada Act. We found a solution to this problem, but the Conservatives simply chose to ignore it.

    We make proposals. We try to work with the Conservatives and the Liberals to try to find that common ground where we can have bills that are functional and that mean something.

    The changes that were introduced to the bill by the Conservatives in committee will exclude the offences. That is the part we want to ensure we emphasize. Too many laws that are relevant to the function of the MP or senator will be excluded. They were not able to justify why they refused the amendments brought forward by the NDP. It was a good amendment. By doing this, the Conservatives will allow the former parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, Dean Del Mastro, to keep his pension even though he was found guilty of electoral fraud. That is the important piece.

    Although the member across had mentioned the fact that it had to do with our duties, when we are running for an election, that is part of our duties as we are moving forward. That is how we get elected.

    We can talk about a lot of the misgivings on the Conservative side. Peter Penashue was one of them. He was found to be in contravention of how much money he was allowed to spend during the election. It actually had given him a hand up over other candidates because there was much more money spent on that side. We have a list of those where we have a lot of misgivings on the Conservative side.

    At the end of the day, we need to ensure that the laws we put in place will protect the public's interest when it comes to accountability and ethics as we take our positions in the House of Commons or in the Senate.

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    Feb 03, 2015 2:30 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, with regard to red tape, the public service of Canada has basically indicated that when regulations need to be changed, it has the opportunity to change them. The format is already there. It is not about removing regulations from environment or removing them from health and safety. Those need to be protected.

    However, when we are looking at red tape, I think it is extremely important to look at how the Conservatives have put so much red tape on the Building Canada fund that it is very difficult for small communities to access those funds.

    I know the member has a lot of small communities in his constituency, just as there are in Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, and I am sure that he could talk about the red tape that they have to go through to try to get a pittance of the money that is available.

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    Feb 03, 2015 2:15 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Bruce Carson.

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    Feb 03, 2015 12:45 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, although she attempts to make great points on this issue, the reality is that when we look at regulations and how the current government and the previous Liberal government have actually handled regulations, the record is quite contrary to what they are saying they are trying to achieve. The Conservatives do not have a good track record when it comes to safeguarding regulations and standards that protect the health and safety of Canadians.

    When we look back at 2013, we see that the former transport minister granted WestJet an exemption on flight attendant requirements under the Canadian aviation regulations, thereby allowing WestJet planes to fly with one flight attendant for every 50 passengers. We tried to have that reversed to ensure that the ratio of 1.4 was maintained, but the current government certainly went the other way.

    Then in 1999, the Liberals further deregulated rail safety by continuing to implement the safety management systems approach adopted by the Mulroney Conservative government.

    As I have indicated before, when it comes to regulation these are not people that Canadians can trust.

    The Conservatives promised to reduce exorbitant transaction fees, but if they really want to make a difference, why will they not pressure Visa and MasterCard about transaction fees? That is what would actually make a difference for small business.

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    Feb 03, 2015 12:10 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the time to ask my colleague a question on his very eloquent speech on this specific issue.

    We know that red tape is problematic. However, we do not see that the Conservatives are on the right track when it comes to safeguarding the regulations and standards that protect the health and safety of Canadians.

    As we look at what the Conservatives are saying they are trying to do, what we are seeing more and more is smoke and mirrors. The Conservatives have boasted that they are helping small businesses by eliminating red tape, yet they did not renew the hiring credit for small businesses. We have heard that on a number of occasions. Instead, they spent $500 million on an ineffective credit that would create only 800 jobs.

    Perhaps my colleague could elaborate on that a little bit, because while red tape is quite problematic for the thousands of small businesses that make a big difference in my community of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, the fact that the hiring credit is not there impacts them even more. Maybe my colleague could elaborate on that.

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    Feb 02, 2015 12:45 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, the federal government says one thing and then turns around and says something else. It is all about smoke and mirrors. The Conservative government cannot be trusted.

    As far as what the premier of Newfoundland has said, I will refer to an article in the St. John's Telegram on December 12. These are the exact words of the premier: “They're moving the goalposts. They've moved them so far that the fund is going to be unreachable”.

    The province thought it was negotiating with the federal government in good faith, only to be fooled again by a government that continues to ignore the needs of the provinces.

    The Conservatives are saying that there is a motion before the House only because of the NDP's position. It is not our position. We are bringing the concerns of Newfoundland and Labrador forward, because nobody else is willing to do that except for the NDP. We believe that a deal is a deal.

    Will the government abide by the rules of engagement it initially put in place? Will it ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador gets the funding it so rightly deserves?


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    Jan 29, 2015 2:05 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I find it really hilarious when we hear the Liberals talk about how important it is to meet with the provinces, yet when they were in government, it was something they hardly did, and when they did, they ignored what was being asked for.

    With respect to the government, one of the Conservatives' big 2006 campaign promises was to establish an open federalist framework and to build new bridges with the provinces. It has not happened. We know what happened when they said that they were going to forge a better relationship with first nations, as well.

    Paul Martin removed 40% from health care. He basically did away with social housing in the budget in 1995. Why should we believe the Liberals, when there is no difference between the Liberals and the Tories?

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    Jan 29, 2015 12:50 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I heard the member talk about long-term health care for the provinces and Conservative governments' impacts on this. I agree that the policies the Conservative governments are putting in place are creating a void in health care. However, let us look at the Liberal record. There was $25 billion in funding cuts in 1997, a broken promise on pharmacare, and there has been private delivery of health care. Under Paul Martin, the cut to health care funding was more than anyone could have imagined, and it created a waiting list.

    We have a government that is refusing to work with the provinces. We have a Liberal third party that is now saying that when it becomes government, it would want to meet with the provinces. However, when the Liberals were in power they met with the provinces and ignored or refused to meet them completely. Therefore, why should we believe the Liberals now?

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    Jan 28, 2015 4:15 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the suggestion I made or the sonographer made is a practical solution that most people would like the government to adopt. We recognize that there is a great deal of bureaucracy in this process. However, at the end of the day, the federal government is responsible for the health of aboriginal people and first nations.

    The government has spent much money moving patients to permanent scanners, which costs more than this solution does.

    Additionally, when the program seeks a replacement sonographer, the pool, as I indicated, will be limited to those who can both perform the specialized work and lug around a couple of hundred pounds of equipment too.

    Finally, equipment available today may not be in the future, and costs only go in one direction for highly technical machines.

    As I said before, we could be proud of the outcomes we have achieved on the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, but we should also look to achieve those at the best possible price. To have additional machines in these communities is the one that makes more sense, because the more we lug machines around, the more chances there are that something will break.

    Will the Minister of Health find a way to address this issue and ensure best maternal health outcomes at the best possible price?

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    Jan 28, 2015 4:05 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, 19 years ago, maternal health outcomes on Nishnawbe Aski Nation were more in line with the results we see in third world locations. The institution of the mobile ultrasound program has brought those outcomes in line with the successes we enjoy across Canada. The program can be characterized as a real success story and is something we can be proud of.

    In November, I raised a question about the program, which was struggling to acquire appropriate equipment that would also have a positive cost benefit. Put another way, we could be getting more bank for our buck. This issue is coming to the forefront, as the current sonographer expects to retire in the next few years, and any replacement will inherit an aging and burdensome system that must be lugged from community to community.

    The minister informed me that she would be happy to look into the issue and would get back to me. Officials in her office contacted mine, and we put them in touch with the stakeholders who had flagged the problem with me in the first place. It seemed that there would be movement on the issue, and the ministry would make some headway on a problem that, if addressed, could save taxpayers a significant amount of money over time while ensuring that positive maternal health outcomes were protected in the remote communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

    In December, an official in the minister's office contacted the current sonographer and suggested he contact the director of nursing in Ontario to see if that office could provide funding or had other ideas about where money might come from. I think that is called downloading.

    Although it sounded as if everyone was supportive of the project and might be able to access funds through a provincial body, a meeting that was arranged for the period leading up to Christmas was cancelled and was supposed to be rescheduled for some time in January. So far, nothing has happened, and the month is almost done.

    While the outcomes have improved, the job of the sonographer is truly taxing. The current and only sonographer to date carries hundreds of pounds of specialized equipment into remote communities to meet with expectant mothers. As I mentioned earlier, this person is planning for his retirement and is attempting to modernize the equipment to create a deeper pool of potential replacements. The equipment used is effective but heavy.

    Much has changed in 19 years, including the design of mobile ultrasound equipment. Now it is possible to have two-part machines with a heavier base and detachable computer type components that have been described to me as a brain the sonographer carries from location to location.

    The last time the program needed equipment replaced there was a six-month gap during which Health Canada spent half a million dollars moving patients to permanent machines in Sioux Lookout.

    The best option may be to equip these communities with the two-part scanners at a one-time cost of $15,000 each. It would allow the program to carry on with a larger pool of eligible replacement sonographers and to maintain the best health outcomes at the same time.

    It is a solution that would best protect these communities and our precious tax dollars. Will the Minister of Health decide to save taxpayers money and buy the scanners?

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    Jan 28, 2015 12:05 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, federal funding for the Algoma Central Railway will expire on April 1. Without that funding, hundreds of jobs will be lost from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst and between $38 to $48 million in annual economic benefits for the region will vanish.

    Time is of the essence. Why has the minister failed to meet with stakeholders and failed to respond to a proposal that will preserve passenger service in northern Ontario, reduce operating costs, and transition away from a subsidy in five short years?

    Why is she not doing anything to protect northern Ontario's fragile economy?

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    Jan 26, 2015 12:20 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    With regard to government spending in the constituency of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing: what was the total amount spent, from fiscal year 2010-2011 up to and including the current fiscal year, broken down by (i) the date the funds were received in the riding, (ii) the dollar amount of the expenditure, (iii) the program through which the funding was allocated, (iv) the department responsible, (v) the designated recipient?


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    Dec 11, 2014 11:55 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, despite the answer from the Minister of Status of Women yesterday, the reality is that the government's so-called action plan to end violence against aboriginal women ignores women living in northern communities.

    Inuit women are 11 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes, 11 times. Does the minister agree that it is not just about supporting victims, and that more needs to be done to address the causes of violence in northern communities?

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    Dec 11, 2014 10:50 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River is very well attuned to wilderness, given the part of the country where he actually lives. He talked about the mountains and about the magnificent wilderness.

    I will give another quote from the Parks Canada report, in which an elder says:

    The beauty and importance of the Nááts’ihch’oh area was highlighted by many consultation participants in the Sahtu. They stated that the area was very important to peoples of the Sahtu, Dehcho and Kaska.... One Tulita Elder described the mountain itself...as sacred to these peoples....

    When we talk about wilderness, the current government talks about consultation. It says it listens but, at the end of the day it took option three, which was the lesser option, whereas everybody wanted option one.

    Maybe he could elaborate on the fact that we need to take consultation into consideration when it comes to sacred ground or the issue here where the elder described the mountain itself as being sacred.

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    Dec 11, 2014 10:25 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that I am getting most of the questions. I am kind of dumbfounded that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals are even engaged in this issue. That is quite problematic. At the same time, my colleague fully understands the environmental aspect of this and our pristine wilderness.

    I would again like to quote from the report. This is from the report that came out of Parks Canada's own consultation process. It states:

    It was suggested by participants that protecting the water should be a higher priority than obtaining the employment and financial benefits of mining...While some participants saw a balance of economic and conservation values as beneficial...many others felt that mining should not be allowed at all in the watershed. It was suggested that the key concern in deciding on the boundary should be the conservation of wildlife and water.

    I know in the riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, which comprises 17 first nation communities, when it comes to water, the environment and their youth, who are their future, that is key. Could my colleague speak about the fact that these are things that we have to take very seriously when we put bills in place and that this consultation has to occur around these pieces?

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    Dec 11, 2014 10:15 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I want to refer my colleague to a quote from the report that was undertaken and instituted by Parks Canada. It states:

    A frequently expressed comment in the Sahtu region consultations was that it does not make sense to have a national park reserve if you also allow mining to exist in the watershed. Participants stated their distrust of the mining industry and environmental assessments to protect the natural environment, concerned that the impacts of mining would be harmful to the watershed downstream.

    I ask my colleague, how important is it to ensure that we protect the ecosystem? Is the member in agreement that there would be an opportunity to expand that at a later date?

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    Dec 11, 2014 9:30 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by my colleague from Alfred-Pellan.

    In our discussion here, we have talked a lot about the importance of the protection of species. Although we do support this bill, a lot of work remains to be done. This government can create all the parks it wants, but without funding and without strong protections for ecological integrity, that designation is virtually meaningless.

    Can my colleague talk about that a little more? How important is it to have the necessary funds to ensure proper protection and make things better?

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    Dec 11, 2014 9:20 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is obviously aware of the comments that were made. I am too, because I had those comments in my notes. Nonetheless, 10 minutes is not enough to cover everything we want to say.

    I can tell the House what we would do. An NDP government would properly fund the parks in order to achieve our conservation objectives, protect diversity and help the local communities develop the tourism and economic potential of our national parks.

    Tourism is very important. Under this government, we have seen a decline in investment in tourism. It is not too late for this park. We could even expand it. There is still room for that and 2015 is not that far away.

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    Dec 11, 2014 9:15 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated before, the government makes announcements, but at the end of the day it actually does not deliver very well on those announcements.

    Budget cuts have had a huge impact and have led to a 33% staffing cut in science in Parks Canada: 60 out of 179 positions. The Commissioner of the Environment highlighted a pattern of broken promises and commitments to change course and ensure protection that have not happened. He was quite disturbed about that.

    I can talk more about some of the numbers. The budget announced $391 million in 2013-14, over five years, to deal with crumbling buildings, roads, and dams. The amount will not even cover the backlog, but more importantly the amount the government is actually going to spend in the short term is ridiculous. This year, 2014, it will spend $1 million, in 2015 it will spend $4 million, and after the next election it will be $386 million.

    As we can see, there are some concerns with the numbers the government announces and what is actually delivered at the end of the day.

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    Dec 11, 2014 9:05 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate everything this member does in the House and in the ridings. My question, however, has to do with the funds the government claims it is allocating to certain projects and certain departments.

    According to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, there is a wide and persistent gap between what the government commits to do and what it is achieving. Budget cuts have had a serious impact, including the loss of 33% of Parks Canada's scientific staff: 60 out of 179 positions have been eliminated.

    Not only are there fewer people working in the management and maintenance of parks, but the government often fails to spend all the funds earmarked. Everything it does is meant to pad its own pockets, so it can say it has a surplus, even if it was accumulated on the backs of those who need help the most.

    Would the member like to talk about his concerns in that regard?

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    Dec 11, 2014 8:45 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, further to the previous question, which I am sure my colleague would want to speak to, the government keeps saying it is investing these dollars, but the fact is that budget cuts have had a huge impact and have led to a 33% staffing cut in science within Parks Canada. Out of 179 positions, 60 were eliminated.

    The government even allowed funding to lapse in the 2012-13 period. I am wondering what impact these lapses in funding have. The government is good at saying it has invested this money, but it does not spend it. I think my colleague can appreciate my question.

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    Dec 11, 2014 7:10 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to table petitions from people from Kapuskasing with respect to the right of small-scale family farmers to preserve, exchange, and use seeds.

    The undersigned are asking the government to adopt international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize that they have a vital role to play in the struggle against hunger and poverty, and ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds.

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    Dec 10, 2014 1:15 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition on behalf of the people of Hearst, Ontario, on respecting the rights of small family farms to store, trade and use seed.

    The petitioners are calling on the government to adopt international aid policies that would support small farmers, especially women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty. They are also calling on the government to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small farmers and that these policies protect the rights of small farmers in southern countries to save, use and freely trade their seed.

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    Dec 09, 2014 3:20 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, repeating announcements of old money is not getting the job done. There are a lot of communities that do not have crisis centres for these people to go to. There is a lack of funding from the government.

    Year after year, indigenous women face more violence than other groups in Canadian society. This is not about solving crimes. It is about showing respect and changing the cultural view of what is acceptable. Part of showing respect is allowing the families of the victims to be heard, which is what an inquiry would actually do.

    If we look at what we learned from Ipperwash, it was that it is possible to make big changes when we have big societal conversations. The appetite for that discussion only grows all through Canada, with one notable exception: the Conservative government here in Ottawa.

    Will the government listen to the growing chorus of calls from groups such as the Canadian Public Health Association for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women?

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    Dec 09, 2014 3:15 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to accept that in the 10 years since Amnesty International Canada released a major report documenting the violence against this country's indigenous women, there still has not been a strong federal response on this issue. There has been opportunity for both Liberal and Conservative governments, but a full decade later, we are so mired in the problem that the only reasonable response is a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

    That said, the current government refuses to budge, despite overwhelming and ever-growing support for an inquiry. Instead of recognizing the benefits that the process would have, it has managed to plug its ears and claim that these are all just crimes that are being dealt with by the police. All the while, the statistics keep mounting, and a direct line that runs from the brutal murder of Helen Betty Osborne to the discovery of Tina Fontaine's body in the Red River this past summer is being dismissed as nothing more than a number of unconnected crimes.

    The real crime, however, is inaction and indifference, as well as viewing these women and girls in the worst light far too often. Disappearances are too quickly dismissed as runaways or substance abusers, which is supposed to excuse a lacklustre effort to find missing people. In addition, when these instances are seen as nothing more than simple crimes to be dealt with by police, we are dismissing the fact that these women are almost seven times more likely to be the victims of violence than any other societal group in Canada.

    Too often, we have heard members of the governing party wonder what good an inquiry would do. My colleague from Timmins—James Bay did a great job of explaining that. He said that, among many other things, an inquiry would allow us to see what makes these women so vulnerable and how they can be taken without police investigations. It would let us talk about how children and young women can be taken from their homes because the federal government will not allow therapy and in-house support for their families. We would hear how they get put into foster care and so often end up on the street. Most importantly, an inquiry would send the message that these women were people who were loved and should be respected, and that our Canadian society is ashamed that so many people could be allowed to disappear or die.

    An inquiry is about a commitment to make societal change, like the change that came to the OPP because of the Ipperwash inquiry. That showed us that an inquiry process can and does work.

    With all this in mind, I ask the government if it will reconsider and call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

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    Dec 09, 2014 1:20 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the work the member has been doing in advocating for this missing persons DNA database, but I think, when we look at the amount of information that the Conservatives are putting in budget bills, we have to question why they are putting certain information in there when they could actually be debated in a better venue and get the proper support that they need.

    Just to this point, because his speech was quite emotional with respect to the DNA database, but what about the missing and murdered indigenous women of this country? We still have so much work to do.

    I am just wondering, because 1,181 cases of missing and murdered women have been reported between 1980 and 2012. Of these, 225 cases remain. When we look at the ongoing call, I am wondering why he will not support a national inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women.

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    Dec 09, 2014 12:55 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the fact that there are over 460 pages in this budget bill, with over 400 clauses, and there have been time limits on it as well. There are things New Democrats agree with and things we do not agree with, and that is why we cannot support this bill. If the Conservatives were willing to split the bill, we would be glad to discuss it in a little more detail.

    There was a question across the way about small businesses. We know that the government is not connected to this. Maybe the member would like to comment on this specific quote. It was said by Mike Moffatt, of the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario. He stated:

    ...the proposed “Small Business Job Credit” has major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries....

    The way this proposed system is designed is that the maximum benefit a company can receive from firing a worker and going under the $15,000 threshold far exceeds the maximum benefit a small business can receive from hiring an additional worker:...

    I am wondering if the member could comment on that.

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    Dec 09, 2014 12:35 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated my colleague's speech because she spoke about affordable housing.

    Today, I participated in a meeting at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. First nations are also saying that there is a shortage of housing. A June 2013 report by the Department of Indian Affairs indicated that $8.2 billion was needed to help fund the needs of first nations.

    It is important to understand that the annual budget for infrastructure on reserves is only $1 billion. The $8.2 billion includes $6 billion that is lacking for adequate housing and $1.2 billion for safe drinking water.

    In light of this, I would like my colleague to elaborate on the need for housing that is not only affordable but also adequate and talk about the cuts that the government has made to this department.

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    Dec 09, 2014 12:20 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's speech. He talks about airports, yet Bill C-43 would centralize more ministerial power over the expansion and modification of airports, raising the risk that local consultation would not occur in the face of controversial proposals such as the Toronto Island airport expansion. We see a bill that would remove the opportunity for people to have proper input when it comes to airport modification. Over and over again, we see a government that continues to limit debates on bills as important as this one, bills that would create such a great amount of change.

    Could my colleague talk specifically about the fact that the bill would actually raise the risk that consultation would not occur on this specific piece?

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    Dec 05, 2014 9:10 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to table petitions from constituents from Elliot Lake and Blind River with respect to CPP and QPP and the government's plan to continue going down the road of increasing the age of eligibility to 67. This would slash $11 billion from seniors, most of whom are living in poverty and would be living two extra years in poverty.

    The petitioners recognize that the CPP Investment Board is one of the most successful investment funds. They want the government to take note of what the experts are saying, which is that it should not be doing this. They are asking the government to reverse its ill-thought-out decision.

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    Dec 05, 2014 8:30 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, the advances the government is making in low-income housing are actually laughable.

    There are higher rates of violence against women and girls in the north. However, 70% of northern and remote communities do not have safe houses or emergency shelters. Yes, 70%. That is unconscionable.

    What is the government doing to address the lack of access to emergency resources in these northern and remote communities?

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    Dec 05, 2014 8:00 am | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing

    Mr. Speaker, as the holidays approach, our thoughts turn to giving, and who needs to be given something more than this government, which deserves to be given the boot?

    We are reminded of a Dr. Seuss classic, but with a twist. It is the Grinch who stole Canada, and while we all wait for the Prime Minister's heart to grow three sizes, sadly, it seems to only shrink.

    He said that if we give the Conservatives five years, we won't recognize Canada. How scary and true. He rolled back environmental standards and regulations, transforming our pristine wilderness into wastelands. He is making people who rely on a public pension work two more years before retiring. He maintained a mean-hearted freeze on first nations' education budgets so aboriginal children are forced to make do with less and less year after year. He made cuts to health care and hoarded money from every department, including Veterans Affairs. He is pushing injured members of our military out of the forces so they never become eligible for pensions. Food bank use is at an all-time high, and so is part-time, low-wage work.

    Are his shoes just too tight? Is his sweater at fault? It may be the stress of the job, but in the new year it will be the NDP that will get the job done.

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