- MPndpMon 11:45 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, one has to only look at London, Ontario, to see how Conservatives are failing Canadian workers.
Since 2006, London has lost over 10,000 manufacturing jobs. Even today, almost 3,000 more people are unemployed, yet the minister of tourism is senselessly attacking Canadians on EI, and an EI whistleblower has confirmed that Conservatives unfairly targeted first nations and new Canadians applying for EI.
When will the Conservatives end this attack on unemployed Canadians and on Londoners?
- MPndpThu 11:45 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, in the last 10 days, Canada has lost four soldiers to suicide. The reality is, soldiers worry that if they come forward with their mental health issues, it will end their careers.
Because of universality of service, soldiers who admit to symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome could soon face a discharge. How can the government just tell soldiers to come forward when they might face losing their careers and pensions?
- MPndpWed 2:15 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague because I believe he has important insights that all parliamentarians would do well to appreciate, listen to and respond to.
I have the good fortune of joining my colleague on another committee. It is the committee looking into the deaths and disappearances of 600 aboriginal women. One of the things that has become very clear in that committee work is the frustration and anger we hear from first nations women about the lack of response to their situation. It seems to me that in ignoring the first nations of the Northwest Territories, we are exasperating that frustration and concern.
Would the member care to comment on the fact that we have not done a very good job of listening to the needs of the community that we owe so much to in their treatment and understanding of the land and how we can move forward as a nation?
- MPndpWed 12:20 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. The first is a petition in response to a bill introduced by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Mountain. Her bill would amend the Income Tax Act so that travel and accommodation for tradespersons would be allowed which would therefore enable many of those tradespersons to find work. As members know, unemployment is a serious problem in our region.
- MPndpDec 04, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, Canadians who serve our country expect their government to be there for them in their time of need. Instead, the Conservatives are closing Veterans Affairs offices and failing our service men and women. Almost two dozen of our brave heroes took their own lives in 2011, and there were four more apparent suicides this past week.
Instead of hollow words, will the minister acknowledge that more must be done and tell us what action he will take to ensure our armed forces have the support they need?
- MPndpNov 28, 2013 1:40 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very thorough investigation of the bill.
She pointed out something particularly troublesome and particularly relevant; that is, once the images go out on the Internet they can be very damaging. Far too many young people do not have a real sense of just how serious it is when they send these pictures and how it can destroy a life, how it can impact a young person's life for many years in very upsetting and dangerous circumstances.
In addition to the key part of the bill, the provision whereby it is not permitted to send out explicit images, might it not have been better for the government to include funding for anti-bullying programming so that we could make that effort to warn young people, to give them some tools with regard to protecting themselves?
Instead, we have all this extraneous and rather troublesome government add-on. It is far better to have a prevention program.
- MPndpNov 28, 2013 12:15 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and for his ideas in regard to this important legislation.
I would like to know what concerns or fears he has in regard to the add-ons that the government has placed in the bill. These add-ons perhaps give too much power or opportunity for persons in authority to undermine the privacy of Canadians.
- MPndpNov 19, 2013 2:15 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore for his work and his passion in regard to the people who live in the Atlantic provinces, not just in his riding but all along the coast. He truly is an advocate, whether it is for veterans or workers. I am very proud that he is indeed my colleague.
The member made mention of safety issues. We know that the North Atlantic is absolutely unforgiving when it comes to weather and we know the dangers, whether for fishers or for those working on the oil rigs. Some time ago I read a novel called February. It was about the sinking of the Ocean Ranger. That novel talked about the devastation for families and what happened to the kids of the dads who never came home and to the wives and lovers. It truly underscored how absolutely critical it is that we take into account the safety of the workers in this country. This bill does, and so it should.
My colleague made mention of the impact on families and communities. If we want to be absolutely pragmatic, perhaps the economy is at the root of the work that goes on. If we do not have proper safety rules and regulations, the things that protect families, how on earth can we grow our economy?
Would people be willing, by any stretch, to put themselves and their families at risk if there were no safety regulations? If we do not have workers, then we do not have an economy.
- MPndpNov 18, 2013 12:45 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting. As members may tell from my vintage, I am a veteran of Liberal campaigns. I remember all the red books. There was a red book in 1993, and then again in 1997 and 2000. There was one red book after another. In each and every one of those red books, there were promises for child care, pharmacare, and improving the lives of Canadians. I ran in a couple of those elections when the Liberals won, and strangely enough none of those promises were kept. They talk a good game and are very persuasive. They have the name recognition and the coiffure to influence. However, when it comes to substance and to standing up and effecting change when they have power, it is not there.
I thank my colleague for the question. I can only say that we should judge them by what they do, because they do not do much.
- MPndpNov 18, 2013 12:35 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by making it clear that the NDP and I oppose Bill C-2. The bill is a thinly veiled attempt to arbitrarily shut down InSite. Beyond Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Bill C-2 would make it next to impossible to open a safe injection site anywhere, no matter how desperately a community may need one, no matter how much suffering exists.
It is not pleasant to think about intravenous drug use. However, it exists, and it is happening on a scale that makes it a public problem in need of a public solution. Bill C-2 is a move in the wrong direction and will only exacerbate the problem further.
There are approximately 100,000 Canadians who say they have injected themselves with drugs like cocaine, heroin, OxyContin, and crystal meth. Bill C-2 does nothing to help Canadian drug addicts. It does nothing to address this as a public health issue.
Though the short title of the bill is “respect for communities act”, we must make no mistake that this legislation will hurt our communities. The title is the usual Conservative Orwellian newspeak, meant to pretend that the government is acting positively. If Bill C-2 is passed and communities that need supervised injection sites cannot build them, where does the government want drug users to go? There certainly has not been any real answer articulated on that question.
Let me tell members about the impact that Bill C-2 will have. It will push drug users into our communities, into the alleyways, on to our town streets, and into our neighbourhood parks. There will be nowhere else for addicts to go but to the public spaces in our communities.
One year after InSite opened, there was a significant drop in the number of people injecting on the streets and much less injection-related litter, such as discarded syringes. If for no other reason than to keep intravenous drug users off the streets of our communities, we need supervised injection sites like InSite. The element of protection that these sites provide is not just for the drug users but for the community at large.
We must also remember that supervised injection sites facilitate contact between drug users and those specialists who can help them to get off drugs or become sober. InSite has proven that its frequent patrons are one and a half times more likely to eventually enrol in detox programs.
Standing in the way of supervised drug injection sites means standing in the way of helping people to get sober and kick dangerous habits. Therefore, I wonder why the government is so hostile to supervised drug injection sites. Does it want an increase of unsupervised drug users? Perversely, could it be that the government wants to fill its prisons with drug addicts? For those who mindlessly support the prospect of more prisons, the prospect of more full prisons must be quite satisfying.
Bill C-2 does nothing to stop drug use or encourage sobriety. It does not deter Canadians from injecting themselves with drugs. Denying Canadian drug addicts access to supervised injection sites unfortunately denies the people who use drugs a safe and clean way of doing so. We do not have to condone drug use to see the benefit of supervised injection sites. We must face reality. Drug addicts use drugs. The least we can do is to reduce the harm around this activity and try to steer addicts toward help. They deserve this offer of help. There is no such thing as a throwaway human being.
It is not an exaggeration to say that access to facilities such as InSite is a matter of health and safety, life and death. Let me remind members that in 2011 the Supreme Court ruled in support of InSite. The Supreme Court told the federal government that it could not inhibit safe injection sites from operating. The ruling was based on section 7 of the charter. Therefore, according to the Supreme Court of Canada, legislation such as Bill C-2 is against the fundamental right to life, liberty, and security. The people in this chamber demand those rights for themselves. Why on earth would they deny these rights to others?
Elsewhere in the world, safe injection sites operate in 70 cities in six different European countries and Australia. Safe injection sites reduce harm. They improve a community's public health, reduce disease and have absolutely no negative impact on public safety. In fact, they enhance public safety, all the while preserving human lives. These are the lives of people who are someone's brother or sister. They are people who were once beloved children, cherished family members. They were not always drug addicts. These are the lives of people who deserve to be saved and respected and who deserve to be healthy and safe.
Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has been described as home to as many as 5,000 injection drug users. Despite being drug users, these 5,000 people remain Canadians, much to the chagrin of the current government. Even if we do not agree with their life choices and drug use, the government must not abandon them. They are Canadians. They are human lives, and they are vulnerable. If their government is able to help, it is morally obligated to do so. However, Bill C-2 does not help; in fact, it hinders.
In Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, InSite has made a positive difference. Human lives have been saved since InSite first opened. The number of accidental drug overdose deaths has been reduced by 35. Those who use InSite once a week have been shown to be 1.7 times more likely to enrol in detox programs than those who visit infrequently. Injection drug users who use InSite are 70% less likely to share needles. Reduced needle sharing is an internationally recognized best practice to reduce the rate of HIV-AIDS and various other diseases. Finally, InSite patrons are more likely to seek medical care through the program, which results in fewer emergency room visits and improved health outcomes. It might also be of interest to the Conservative government that fewer emergency room visits equal cost savings to our health care system.
This is just a smattering of InSite's positive impact. This impact has been proven in over 30 peer-reviewed studies, published in journals like the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal. Further, the experts at the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association are also against Bill C-2.
I implore the government to listen to the science, to Canadian doctors and nurses, and abandon Bill C-2.
InSite does good work. It must be allowed to continue to operate. More than 80% of people surveyed in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside want it to continue to operate. Will the Conservative government listen to the only community in Canada that currently has a supervised injection site? Will it listen to the people of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and respect what they want because they support InSite?
We can only ask why the government refuses to respect the scientific and medical communities that support safe injection sites. Why does the government want to abandon those who have been so vulnerable and unfortunate as to become drug addicts? Why does the government not understand that safe injections sites are part of a community harm reduction strategy? Such sites improve the community for everyone who lives alongside drug users.
Bill C-2 goes against all scientific evidence and experts who show that supervised injection sites reduce harm. The bill goes against the charter and the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Conservative government goes against the moral obligation to reduce harm to drug users.
We must not give up on people, even if they seem to have given up on themselves. Without solutions to address substance abuse, we must at least try to implement harm reduction strategies.
We must not abandon people, particularly when they are in despair. Without a solution to drug addiction, we must, at the very least, try to implement harm reduction.
For these reasons, the New Democratic Party and I oppose Bill C-2.
As a sideline, the Heinz company just announced the closure of its plant in Leamington. U.S. Steel is shutting down in Hamilton. In my town of London, Ontario, we have lost far too many good-paying jobs. Despite all that, the Conservative government chooses to assault the vulnerable instead of focusing on the economy and the good jobs that we need to support families and communities.
I rest my case.
- MPndpNov 18, 2013 12:10 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition regarding my private member's bill, Bill C-498. The petitioners are asking that the Thames River be reincluded in the Navigable Waters Protection Act, granting heritage protection to the North Thames, Middle Thames, and Thames Rivers. This would ensure that any development that would impact its navigation would undergo a strict environmental assessment.
The petitioners want the government to realize the detrimental impact that reckless changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act have on these treasured waterways across all of southern Ontario and, indeed, across this country.
- MPndpNov 18, 2013 11:05 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, October 31, Mohamed, Shyroz, and Qyzra Walji were found dead in their London, Ontario, apartment, the victims of a murder-suicide. Qyzra had cerebral palsy. Their tragic deaths have left the community heartbroken and asking difficult questions.
Sadly, we may never know all the factors that led to this tragedy, but we do know that this family was facing deportation to Tanzania, despite living in Canada for the past 15 years, building a life here and making significant contributions to the community and our city.
We cannot bring the Walji family back, but we can look at the rules governing our immigration and refugee system to determine if the immigration process is a fair one for this family and others. Surely, there could be some discretion to take into account all factors affecting residency decisions.
I fear for other families facing deportation orders. My plea to the House is that Canada once again become known for its compassion.
- MPndpNov 06, 2013 11:15 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, the 2013 Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign kicked off in London on November 1.
The goal of this month-long campaign is to raise awareness of the abuse of women in our communities by turning towns and cities and even regions purple.
In the city of London, the purple wave is bathing 30 buildings in purple light this month. Purple is the colour of courage, survival, and honour.
Women in abusive relationships often feel trapped. Their homes are no longer safe places. Women need to know that any shame or blame they may feel does not belong to them but to their abusers.
I invite all Canadians to show their support in the fight to end violence against women by wearing purple on November 15 and throughout the month of November.
- MPndpNov 04, 2013 11:50 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
That is just not good enough, Mr. Speaker.
Months ago the Minister of National Defence stood in a legion in my riding and promised legion members that injured soldiers would no longer be cut loose, but the practice continues. Two injured soldiers in my riding, Corporal David Hawkins and Corporal Andrew Knisley, are being pressured to leave the military just before qualifying for their pensions. This is callous. It is disgraceful.
Will the minister put an immediate halt to this practice and stand up for those soldiers?
- MPndpOct 30, 2013 1:15 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, far be it from me to try to peer into the Conservative mind, but I am profoundly concerned about this reinvention of history, the creation of history in their image. I wonder if it is as honest and honourable as they might try to present.
As a point of fact, the Conservatives are cutting local archives and abandoning national historic sites all across this country. They have cut 80% of the staff at Parks Canada. There are only a dozen archaeologists left to care for 167 of Canada's national historic sites, and the Conservatives want to invest tens of millions of dollars to remove exhibitions from a very popular museum. What is it about the Hall of Canada or about postal history that so upsets them that it must be removed?
- MPndpOct 30, 2013 1:05 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, New Democrats oppose Bill C-7, which proposes to change the name and mandate of Canada's most visited and most popular museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Let me explain why I have taken this position and why this House should vote down this bill. First, the process the government is using to change the museum is flawed and it lacks transparency.
Second, the changes to the mandate of the museum are unacceptable. The government wants to shut down the Canada Hall social history exhibit. It wants to ignore the contributions of hard-working, salt-of-the-earth Canadians, contributions they made to Canadian history.
My third and strongest objection is to the government and its apparent desire to dictate how the history of Canada is to be told. Governments should not be involved in determining what its people know and do not know about themselves. Museums must be left to the museum professionals.
The Conservatives should stick to politics and leave history to the experts. They have no business rewriting what Canadian history is and how it is told.
As to my first point, members might ask how changes to the Museum of Civilization lack transparency. We are told that the re-branding, renaming and remaking of the Museum of Civilization is going to cost $25 million, but where is this money coming from? Which programs in the Department of Canadian Heritage are being trimmed and cut in order to pay for these unneeded changes?
The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages has refused to answer these questions. Besides the lack of transparency around the money, the Canadian Postal Museum, which was housed within the Museum of Civilization was unceremoniously closed, without notice or consultation. What possible reason could the government have to still the voice of the pioneers of our postal service?
Even though the Museum of Civilization performed national consultations about the changes at the behest of the government, these consultations appear to have been an empty public relations exercise giving the false appearance of transparency.
According to experts, these public consultations were not true consultations. Notes were not taken. Concerns were not addressed. The real decision-making is not happening out in the open. The decisions are actually being made behind closed doors. How is that transparent? How is that democratic?
As for my second objection, to the reorientation and renaming of the museum, my colleagues across the aisle might be wondering what the harm is in changing the name of the Museum of Civilization to the museum of history. In fact the name change is just a hint of the larger changes in the museum's mandate. Besides, most of the museum is already dealing with historical content and, until now, did not require a change of name.
The Conservatives want to eliminate all things at the museum that are anthropological or part of social history. They want the museum to be all about the heroic and a “who's who” approach to history. They want to emphasize dates and events. Anthropology has been part of this museum's mandate since 1907, but now the government seems to want Canadian history to be a simple and tidy story.
Let me remind the House that history is messy. History is complicated. History is best told from a holistic approach. History is more than just famous people and famous events. The museum currently uses a broad approach, and this is what we want to see remain.
Let me ask my colleagues across the aisle why they want to cut out the history of ordinary folk. What is wrong with the history of how things really were for everyday Canadians in the past? What is it in the current museum that they want removed? What do they want Canadians to forget about, besides the Senate scandals?
This country was built both by its famous people and its ordinary people. However, the government wants to sideline different stories, including stories of first nations and those marginalized due to class, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
The Conservatives want a museum that ignores the contributions of diverse and ordinary Canadians. That is why the government wants to eliminate Canada Hall. That is why it wants to get rid of what has been called the largest and finest social history display in the country.
Canada Hall took 20 years to build and is made up of a series of life-size replicas of historical Canadian cities. This exhibit is a benchmark for the telling of social history in this country. It displays the lives of a wide breadth of ordinary Canadians from coast to coast to coast. These displays encapsulate an entire uninhabited history of this land.
I, for one, defer to and support museum professionals such as historians, anthropologists, archivists and archaeologists, and they are telling us not to reorient the museum to concentrate only on famous people. Famous people are not the only important people in Canadian history. Allow the museum to continue to tell the history of regular Canadians, of the people who built this country by their devotion to the land and by their determination to carve a future.
Canadian social history should not be sidelined. Canadians and visitors to Canada ought to be able to learn about all the different people who made this country, even those who are not famous.
Social exhibits like Canada Hall are about all of us. I am calling on the government to leave the mandate of the Museum of Civilization alone. If people could vote with their feet, then the 1.2 million people who visit and enjoy the Museum of Civilization annually would seem to agree with me.
The Museum of Civilization has been hailed as the crown jewel in our national network of museums. People love its approach to Canadian history. It is not a broken museum. Bill C-7 is a solution in search of a problem.
In my riding of London—Fanshawe, in the area around the city of London, we have excellent museums that are about our community's history. I am proud of the Strathroy-Caradoc museum and how it helps people discover our story.
The Fanshawe Pioneer Village, located in my riding, does a fantastic job of enabling people to learn about and understand local history, showing rural and urban life and the lives of everyday farmers and tradespeople in the 19th century.
Nearby, the Ska-Nah-Doht Village and Museum, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary, is a display that is devoted to the social and cultural history of first nations people. It is a testament to the contribution and reality of the people who lived in the Thames River valley.
My constituents love learning about and discovering their own history. The broad approach used by the three aforementioned museums is to be commended and shows Canadians want to know about their communities.
In his book, Museum Politics: Power Plays at the Exhibition, Timothy Luke talks about how museums, like the Museum of Civilization and the ones I mentioned from the London area, are places where Canadians first learn and later reassure themselves about their culture and their history.
He describes how, in other countries, museums have become a battleground in culture wars. He describes how politicians have tried to influence national identities by meddling with these public institutions of memory and history. He warns that “Museum exhibits may not change public policies, but they can change other larger values and practices...”, that is to say, what people know about their history and what they know their community. I quote: “...that will transform policy”.
This is the reason I object to Bill C-7, and this brings me to my third and final argument. The changes being made at the Museum of Civilization have not been asked for by museum professionals, our country's historians, anthropologists and archaeologists. These academics have said they too are against these changes. We are listening to these experts, and the museum experts do not want Bill C-7.
Why are we going through with this charade? It is absolutely essential that we take a very close look at the motives behind these changes and that we consider what this museum means to Canadians and what its impact is on our understanding of ourselves. If we do not do that, we have failed.
If we allow the government to ram through this bill without any comment, without any discussion, then we have failed the people of Canada. We have failed those who have made our history and those who choose to preserve it.
- MPndpOct 30, 2013 1:00 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to share my time with the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.
- MPndpOct 30, 2013 12:20 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of people from the London area who want to draw the attention of the Minister of Health and this House to the fact that the federal government needs a national strategy for dementia and the health care of persons afflicted with Alzheimer's.
The petitioners ask that the Minister of Health and the House of Commons pass Bill C-356, which was introduced by the MP for Nickel Belt, and they ask the minister to initiate discussions within 30 days of the act coming into force.
The petitioners want specific national objectives to be set, and they want to encourage greater investment in research for the discovery or development of treatments that would prevent and reverse the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's.
- MPndpOct 23, 2013 1:55 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very good overview of this budget bill. All I can see here is a tax on Canadians: municipalities, veterans, civil servants, credit unions, scientists, and environmentalists. I can only assume that this is the government's new enemies list.
What concerns me most is how this budget bill would target Canadians in the workplace and change Canadians' absolute right to healthy and safe workplaces. Every April, I go to a day of mourning that recognizes the workers, the men and women, who have lost their lives in preventable situations, in situations where these tragedies should never have occurred. I wonder how putting this kind of change in a budget bill can possibly be good for Canadian families.
- MPndpOct 23, 2013 11:05 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to welcome home Dr. Tarek Loubani and Mr. John Greyson. Their detention caused great concern for all Canadians during the 50 days they spent behind bars at Cairo's Tora prison.
Tarek is an emergency room physician in London, Ontario, and John is an acclaimed filmmaker and professor.
Their unlawful arrest sparked an amazing campaign led by the families, colleagues and community supporters of John and Tarek. When they finally landed on Canadian soil on October 12, we were all profoundly relieved. I would like to thank all those who contributed to their release: their families who campaigned so tirelessly; NDP consular affairs critic, Wayne Marston; and NDP foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar. Most of all, I would like—
- MPndpOct 21, 2013 12:35 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I want to talk to the House very briefly about the role of democracy.
When I go out to schools in my community, I talk about how the government is responsible to Parliament, the peoples' representatives. We have not seen anything like that in this particular government. Every time the Conservatives bring in a time allocation, it is more and more clear that the current government does not respect the people of Canada because it does not respect the role of Parliament. It wants to change the rules at a whim. That is what this is about. This is about changing the rules to suit the Conservatives so that we can all pretend, or at least they can pretend, that the Prime Minister did not prorogue this place.
I would like to know if the government intends to continue with omnibus motions. We have certainly had our fill of omnibus budget bills that have allowed the Conservative government to push through incredibly destructive legislation, such as all the repeals to environmental protection and the changes to the Navigable Waters Act.
Just this past weekend I was in a community that is suffering in terms of those changes and is facing a dump being foisted upon them.
I would like to know from the Conservative government when it is going to respect communities, respect the role of Parliament, and respect the rules of this place.
- MPndpOct 17, 2013 8:10 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured, as a member of Her Majesty's Official Opposition and as the deputy critic for Heritage, to speak to the government motion today. We do indeed celebrate the arrival of another heir to the throne.
New Democrats stand in support of the government motion and I am delighted to have been asked to present this address to Her Majesty The Queen marking the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George on July 22, 2013.
July 22 is an auspicious day in history and in legend. Legend has it that on July 22, 1376, the Pied Piper acted to end the plague in the town of Hamelin to secure the good health and safety of the people of that town. It was also on July 22, 1812, when English troops, under the Duke of Wellington, defeated the French at the Battle of Salamanca in Spain. On July 22, 1926, Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat and baseball Hall of Famer, caught a baseball at Mitchell Field in New York City. Now this would not seem so historically remarkable except that the ball was dropped from an airplane. On July 22, 2000, astronomers at the University of Arizona announced that they had found the 17th moon orbiting Jupiter.
Therefore, as members can see, before July 22, 2013, the day was already a day set aside in history to mark feats of emancipation, military victory, human achievement and discovery. However, certainly none of these rivals the joy with which the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth responds to the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis on July 22. May I also add that there is no prouder community in Canada than Prince George, British Columbia.
It is in that light that the New Democratic Party members of the Queen's Official Opposition of the Parliament of Canada join the other members of the House in congratulating Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the safe and healthy delivery of their first born child, as well as offering congratulations to Prince Charles on becoming a grandfather.
Of course, we gather in the House today to especially offer most hearty and sincere congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh on the arrival of their great-grandchild and heir to the Throne of England.
As royal biographer Christopher Warwick has noted:
Obviously the great thing is that the new royal birth secures the line of succession for the third generation, which is the first time since 1894, since the birth of Queen Victoria’s great-grandson, the future Edward VIII.
That succession has been secured to the third generation.
In addition to ruling the United Kingdom, George Alexander Louis will one day be the king of 15 other Commonwealth countries, including our great nation of Canada.
Prince George shares his name with his great-great grandfather, King George VI, her Majesty's father. The name "George," has most appropriately come to stand for the continuity of the monarchy. As many of us know, Prince George's great-great grandfather, George VI, showed, through his great courage, the ability to overcome the vulnerability of his stammer and became the symbol of one who stood steadfastly for his nation and his people.
George Alexander Louis comes from such stock and, as Mr. Warwick has noted, his birth on July 22 ensures the succession of the throne for three generations, well into the 22nd century.
Of course, as every family knows, a new baby heralds joy and renewed hope for the future. We all look forward to the milestones of our children's first words, first steps, first day of school, first love, and we stand by as parents ready to provide steady support through the challenges that may arise out of all those firsts. Along with the joy and hope a new baby brings, all parents know the feeling of renewed commitment to working toward creating a legacy worthy of the next generation. It is no different when we speak of the Commonwealth family and the legacy we would, as the nations of the Commonwealth, wish to pass on to our royal heirs, and all our children and the children of the future.
As New Democrats, we are committed to creating a peace-filled world, where human rights and equity are upheld as values, where no child goes hungry, where clean air and clean water and the health that comes from them are accessible to all, and where freedom and democracy are an integral part of everyday experience.
We wish for our children unfettered access to education, both formal and through life experience, that enlightens and enriches their lives. We wish for our children the prosperity of abundance and the satisfaction that comes from engaging in meaningful work. We wish for our children the understanding that none of us has made it until we all have, and the love of community engagement that comes with that understanding.
These words of thanks from the New Democratic Party founder, J.S. Woodsworth, come to mind. He said, as we reflect the happiness and hope we share with the Commonwealth on the birth of a royal heir:
We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they are a part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world's work and the world's struggles.
I believe that with these kinds of hopes fuelling us, we are well-equipped to forge a future that we will be happy and proud to entrust to the heirs of all our families.
Nothing says better what we wish for the Commonwealth and for the world than the words of our late New Democratic Party leader, Jack Layton, in his letter to Canadians. He said:
Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one--a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world...consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done. My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.
This is the legacy of leadership and humanism. It is certainly what we wish for Prince George as he grows into his role as a leader: love, hope and optimism.
As an executive member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, I can say from first-hand experience that the values and aspirations of Canadians are shared throughout the Commonwealth. The birth of an heir serves to galvanize our focus on these common goals with renewed energy and enthusiasm as we naturally look to the future together and want to do what is in our power to make sure it is a bright one.
Canada is a country rich in natural beauty, cultural history and artistic achievement. New Democrats work daily to ensure that this heritage is preserved, protected and promoted within our borders and around the world.
Canadians already enjoy a warm relationship with Her Majesty and her family, and welcome royal visits with enthusiasm, joy and boisterous celebration. We recall fondly her first visit in 1951, as Princess Elizabeth. Six years later, in October 1957, following her ascension to the throne, Her Majesty returned to Canada, a country she called "wonderful" and "exhilarating". In all, there have been 22 royal visits to Canada by Queen Elizabeth II. She has visited every province and territory. This is clearly a demonstration of her love for Canada and the loyal people who have always welcomed and celebrated her as their Queen.
In the same spirit of joy and celebration, we look forward to welcoming Prince George when he accompanies his parents on future visits to our home and native land. What a wonderful opportunity we have to further explore and expand the relationship between our two sovereign countries and, indeed, the relationship of the entire Commonwealth.
Again, all the members of my caucus stand with me in this joyful expression of congratulations and hope for the future. We celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis. May he live a long and glorious life and may he know the love and respect in which he is held by the people of Canada.
- MPndpOct 17, 2013 7:10 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many Londoners regarding the protection of Canada's oceans. As we all know, our oceans are in a rather poor state of health, which affects our climate, our ecosystems and our economy. Canada, unlike other countries, has only protected 1% of our oceans. The Americans have protected 8% of theirs, and the Australians, 40%.
Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to protect our oceans by establishing enough marine protected areas to protect at least 10% of our oceans, which is the international target to which Canada has already committed, and thereby ensure the future health of our oceans, our economy, our environment and this important asset for decades to come.
- MPndpJun 18, 2013 11:50 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, it may have skipped their notice but the CFIB is not the premiers of this country.
The required support among the provinces exists and the Minister of Finance has previously stated support for enhancing CPP and QPP.
Is the lack of leadership because the minister is flip-flopping, or will he work with the provinces and set a date for this important and promised meeting?
- MPndpJun 17, 2013 9:30 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech, but I have some concerns. It was very clear from my discussions and my hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan's interventions with first nations people that not every community acknowledges or buys into what the Conservatives are putting forward. There are legitimate concerns.
I am wondering if the member could advise the House as to what degree the government is willing to acknowledge those concerns and sit down with first nations to resolve issues that affect communities across this country.
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have a short memory when it comes to their promises.
Last December, the Minister of Finance made a clear commitment to meet with his provincial counterparts this month about CPP and QPP. CPP and QPP are the backbone of out pension system. Our communities and all Canadians will benefit from CPP-QPP expansion.
Will the minister tell us when this meeting is happening and will he be keeping his promises to strengthen CPP and QPP?
- MPndpJun 04, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, the CPP and QPP are the backbone of our pension system.
Every working Canadian pays into the plan, and we all benefit. Experts agree that increasing CPP benefits can help all Canadians retire with dignity and security.
After years of delay, the Minister of Finance promised he would call together provincial ministers in June to take action on improving CPP.
When will the Minister of Finance meet with the provinces, and where is his plan for increasing CPP?
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 1:15 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, indeed the age of eligibility for OAS-GIS has increased to 67. This is extremely difficult for people who do jobs that require hard labour or who are dependent upon provincial programs. The government did not discuss any of that with the provinces or with pension providers.
The truth is that this country can afford to look after its seniors. The OECD, Bernard Dussault and Kevin Page have made it very clear that the GDP will increase on a par with the number of seniors and we can indeed maintain the age of eligibility at 65.
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 1:10 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, you may have noted that when I began my speech, I spoke about talk, talk, talk, with no action. We are not seeing anything that is tangible and real.
Yes, of course, there is unemployment in my town, thanks very much to the lack of action of the government. When Electro-Motive Diesel and Caterpillar threatened workers with a 50% reduction in pensions, wages and benefits, the government sat on its hands. Yes, there is unemployment because the government continues to sit on its hands.
About a month ago, I visited one of the employers in my riding, Great Lakes Copper. It is managing. It does remarkable work and has a very strong workforce of about 300 people. It pays decent wages and provides benefits. However, it told me that the government allows the dumping of cheap copper into the Canadian market. There is no support or help for entities like Great Lakes Copper, and no practical training either. Within that particular manufacturing facility, multiple skills are required, and the government has provided nothing with regard to the multi-skilled levels for companies like Great Lakes Copper. Conservatives can talk, and they do talk, but I want to see some action.
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 1:00 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this so-called budget bill. This Conservative omnibus bill goes far beyond any legitimate budget implementation. It contains an entirely new department of foreign affairs act and would amend nearly 50 pieces of legislation. This is the Conservatives third attempt to avoid public scrutiny and proper parliamentary consideration of their proposals.
By tabling such an unwieldy and wide-ranging bill, with such a short timeframe for deliberations, the government is not only trying to deny both Parliament and the public the chance to study the implications of these sweeping changes but is undermining democracy.
It is interesting to note that the Conservatives claim that this legislation would lead to growth in the Canadian economy. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that this last year's trifecta of budget bills and fiscal upgrades would lead to a loss of 67,000 jobs. The PBO predicts that the unemployment rate will remain stagnant at over 7%.
In my own city of London, the unemployment rate sits at more than 9%, with little hope of improvement in the near future. Families are suffering. Small and medium businesses are suffering. The community is facing real hardship, and the Conservative government is without any meaningful remedies. We hear a great deal of high talk from the Conservatives, and we certainly see their expensive action plan commercials, but we have not seen any creative or innovative ideas when it comes to economic stimulus and relief for communities such as mine.
Bill C-60 contains nothing to make these economic conditions more manageable for families. There are no job creation measures, yet there are tax hikes on everything from hospital parking to credit unions. Those tax hikes for individuals will cost Canadians over $8 billion. Additionally, the Conservatives are raising tariffs on over 1,200 goods by $333 million but are doing nothing to ease record levels of household debt.
The Caledon Institute, in its budget analysis, notes that good jobs have disappeared in Canada. We know that. I am going to quote from the institute report:
The decline of manufacturing has meant the loss in the past 10 years of more than 700,000 better-paying jobs that typically came with decent benefits and pensions. Its demise has contributed to the hollowing out of the middle class not only in Canada but throughout the developed world.
The only government response to problems in the manufacturing sector has been austerity, cuts to programs and belt tightening. Sadly, these austerity measures have not worked. Around the world, austerity has only led to deeper recession, and here in Canada, the unnecessary focus on the deficit has resulted in a sluggish economy.
An article in The Economist said that the government's plan, which relies on spending restraint and unusually high revenue growth, is seen by many as wishful thinking.
Carol Goar, writing in the Toronto Star, said:
Since he [the Minister of Finance] began chopping programs and expenditures, the economy has drooped, the job market has sagged, consumers have pulled back and the corporate sector has hunkered down, sitting on its earnings. The same formula has delivered worse results in Europe.
The federal government has the opportunity to avoid the disastrous consequences of austerity to jump-start the economy and make a long-term investment in our social, economic and environmental future. Instead, the Conservative budget plan offers a host of proposals that will only weaken families, workers, the environment and seniors.
Seniors are often vulnerable to even the best of economic climates. This legislation would do nothing to address the retirement security of those who face a loss of their savings.
In a previous budget bill, the government made changes to old age security and GIS and raised the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS from 65 to 67. The receipt of GIS and OAS has a critical impact on poor seniors in this country. By raising the age of eligibility, the government is callously denying those who are struggling at hard, physically demanding jobs and those trying to manage on provincial support programs any hope of a dignified retirement at age 65.
In this budget, Conservatives offer only a vague and unexplained reference to low-cost and secure pension options. Instead of raising the GIS to ensure every senior is lifted out of poverty, or opening up the CPP/QPP to allow seniors to increase their savings, the Conservative budget would implement the kinds of policies that are of no real value to the retirees of this country. The Conservatives' pooled registered pension plan does little to help with pension savings for the vast majority of Canadians.
Although numerous organizations, from the United Nations to Statistics Canada, have released reports emphasizing the need to address affordable housing and poverty issues for seniors, this budget makes no mention of either of those. In point of fact, the Conservative government has absolutely no interest in the lack of affordable housing in Canada, and even less interest in the fact that more than 250,000 seniors live in poverty.
By contrast, the budget bill before us has several measures to improve the government's ability to catch CPP/QPP overpayments and ensure the government is able to recover that money. While the recovery of inappropriate payments is a good thing, we need look no further than the controversy surrounding certain senators. I am concerned that, on the other hand, the government is failing to ensure that Canadians have access to money owed to them. The Social Security Tribunal set up by the government is not only rife with partisan appointments, but many fear the reduced number of tribunal members will make it painfully slow in its decision making, leaving poor people waiting and waiting.
The Conservatives seem to have the attitude that the taxpayers are out to cheat the government, and that must end. I believe that the government should be serving the taxpayer and that our priority should be to ensure that Canadians are receiving the benefits and services they require and have earned. It is a good thing to ensure that overpayments are recovered, but not without ensuring that those who are slipping through the cracks are caught and helped as well.
I would also like to highlight here the pension income splitting that the Conservatives introduced in a previous budget. The Caledon Institute of Social Policy stated:
The Budget also pats itself on the back for the pension income splitting provision, a very expensive ($920 million) and regressive tax break introduced in 2007 that favours wealthy senior couples. A senior couple with a modest private pension of $20,000 a year will realize a grand total of $310 in federal income tax savings as a result of income splitting. For a couple with $30,000 in pension income, the savings increase to $802. However, a well-to-do couple with $100,000 in pension income will see a tax reduction of $7,280 — more than nine times that of a couple with $30,000 in pension income, and more than 23 times that of a couple with $20,000 in private pension income.
And what of single seniors? There are many single women and men who are unable to benefit at all. I would also like to highlight that seniors are still living in poverty in this country. Those particularly affected are single senior women who tend to have significantly less pension savings. We can and should do more for those living out their senior years making the tough choices between housing, food and medication. It is shameful that this budget would do nothing to address the poverty faced by seniors in Canada.
In fact, the priorities of the Conservative government seem out of touch with the priorities of many Canadians. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides a good example of how exactly to remedy the lack of good public policy. It calls on the Conservatives to address poverty in a meaningful way by prioritizing improvements in the incomes of all low-income and middle-income households, better public pensions, higher minimum wages, the widespread adoption of living wage policies; and improving support for the ill, the unemployed, the young and the old.
This is a travesty of a budget. That is the best I can say of it. It borders on neglect for those who need support the most.
As members can see, there is a good deal more to this budget bill than just budget making. It would go far beyond anything that is legitimate, and I have to question it. I have to say that it is deceptive, it lacks transparency and I hope in 2015 Canadians will hold the Conservative government to account.
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 12:25 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from many Canadians who are very concerned about the changes that the government has made to old age security by increasing the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. They point out that this change has a profoundly negative impact on the poorest seniors and that in fact those two extra years of waiting for OAS and GIS would take about $12,000 out of the pockets of the average senior. This creates profound instability in households where there is not enough money.
In that regard, petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to return the age of eligibility of old age security to age 65 and increase the investment in the guaranteed income supplement in order to lift every Canadian senior out of poverty,
- MPndpMay 28, 2013 9:15 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the member that the NDP has actually drafted legislation that would help to address privacy breaches. The member for Terrebonne—Blainville has introduced Bill C-475. This bill would create mandatory data breach reporting in the event that a data breach causes a risk of harm to an individual. The bill would also increase the enforcement powers of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that organizations comply with PIPEDA when handling the personal information of Canadians.
This kind of protection has long been called for by key experts and citizens groups. It is time to act to meet the challenges of the digital age, not just for today but tomorrow as well. Bill C-475 is scheduled for debate at the end of June. I would like to know if the member opposite will support this legislation that will better protect the privacy rights of Canadians.
- MPndpMay 28, 2013 9:10 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here, even at this late hour, to follow up with the government on the HRSDC data breaches. It is a very important issue and Canadians deserve to hear the answers, no matter what the hour.
I am hopeful that the Conservative government will finally take the privacy of Canadians seriously and investigate the decade-long data breaches of government departments. The Conservatives owe an explanation to Canadians and have an obligation to ensure that proper rules are put in place to protect the personal information of individuals. The federal government, quite frankly, dropped the ball on this and allowed the release of private information for millions of Canadians. Many questions still remain about how this happened.
The NDP has been very clear on this issue and has been asking the tough questions. In a written response to the member for Timmins—James Bay, the government admitted to more than a million breaches of personal data over the past decade, with little or no action taken nor any follow-up done with the office of the Privacy Commissioner.
It remains unclear exactly how many Canadians were affected, nor is it known if any of the data breaches were used in terms of identity theft. This is unacceptable and the government's actions are slow and scattered.
The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development admitted that the department lost personal information for more than half a million people when an external hard drive went missing last November, exposing those individuals to the possibility of identity theft.
The privacy breach is one of the biggest ever seen in Canada. The personal information of 568,000 individuals who took out student loans through the Canada student loan program between 2000 and 2006 is at stake, including names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and financial information about loan balances of borrowers, in addition to personal contact information of about 250 HRSDC employees.
The breach is yet another reminder that the Conservative government refuses to take privacy rights seriously.
It is imperative that the government take the privacy rights of individuals in Canada seriously. The government needs to offer a more comprehensive, long-term solution to the individuals affected by this privacy breach, such as long-term credit monitoring or identity fraud insurance.
I would like to add that the response to this breach has been dismal. The government merely expressed concern and offered limited assistance, and still refuses to cover the cost for credit monitoring that those affected have to incur.
The minister, more than 10 weeks after the breach was discovered, finally announced a policy change in the department so that portable hand-held devices will no longer be used.
New Democrats will hold this minister to account. I would very much like to hear how the government plans to address the privacy concerns of Canadians who have been affected because of what the government has done. What it has done at this point is nowhere near enough.
- MPndpMay 28, 2013 8:00 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to have an opportunity to ask my colleague a question. I must say that I enjoyed his interpretation of what we might see in the new museum.
I want to come back to what has actually been announced. The government announced that in this new museum there will be an emphasis on dates, events, heroes and narrative timelines. Unfortunately, that departs from any sort of humanistic approach to history: a look at the contributions of women, first nations, immigrants, and the reality that their contributions have brought to this nation.
I would like the member to comment on that, since it seems to me that dates and timelines are a tad sterile for a country as incredibly diverse and humanistic as Canada.
- MPndpMay 10, 2013 8:40 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, Senator Mike Duffy was tipped off about his inappropriate expenses by the senator overseeing the investigation; then when he was caught, there were no consequences for breaking the rules. Those are more reasons that the Senate cannot be trusted to investigate itself.
Does the government agree that it was inappropriate for the head of the investigation to tip off Senator Duffy, and if so, what will it do about this leak?
- MPndpMay 10, 2013 7:15 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, it is a troublesome kind of reality that the current government is so busy losing money, $3.1 billion, and covering up scandals that it does not seem to have the time to do the positive international and domestic work we very much want to happen in this place.
This is an important bill. I am very sorry that it did not come from the government, that it did not come through the House of Commons, because we, as elected members, have an obligation, as I said, to our families, to our country and to the world community. No Senate can do that work.
- MPndpMay 10, 2013 7:10 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, certainly moving expeditiously on this particular piece of legislation is a first step.
However, it is not just nuclear security and the threat of potentially dangerous scenarios we should be cognizant of. Canada has signed a lot of international conventions and a lot of UN conventions. We signed a convention to protect women against inequality, to protect first nations women, to protect first nations rights and to protect children against hunger and poverty, and we have not followed through. It is not just this convention, it is all conventions. I would like to see this Parliament move expeditiously to honour all of our international agreements.
- MPndpMay 10, 2013 7:05 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party believes that we must seriously address the issue of nuclear security and comply with our international obligation in order to better co-operate with other countries on a counterterrorism strategy.
The bill before us is unique inasmuch as we usually oppose the introduction of a government bill through the Senate, because an unelected chamber is not the place to begin the legislative process. However, for Bill S-9, one can see a helpful use of Senate time to do the first vetting of legislation that is intended merely to be technical to create compliance with international obligations.
This bill fulfills Canada's treaty obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, CPPNM, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, ICSANT. This includes extending international measures beyond protecting against the proliferation of nuclear materials to now include the protection of nuclear facilities. It reinforces Canada's obligation under UN Security Council resolution 1540, from 2004, to take and enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as chemical and biological weapons.
In this case, the implementation of the treaty requires amendments to Canadian legislation. The treaty is ratified only when such amendments or new legislation have been passed. To date, Canada has not ratified either the ICSANT or the CPPNM amendments. This is because Canada does not have legislation in place to criminalize the offences outlined in the ICSANT or some of the offences outlined in the CPPNM.
The amendments Bill S-9 introduces into the code represent Canada's efforts to align its domestic legislation with what is required by both conventions. If these amendments become law, Canada will presumably be in a position to ratify both the conventions, something Canada, and other countries, committed to work toward at both the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, held in Washington, D.C., and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea.
New Democrats are committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of great common concern, such as nuclear terrorism. We thus need to work with other leading countries that are ratifying these conventions. Moreover, Canada has agreed to be legally bound by these conventions. It is important to fulfill our international obligations and ratify these conventions through the domestic implementation that Bill S-9 undertakes.
To emphasize the seriousness of nuclear terrorism, I wish to quote from Professor Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University.
Dr. Bunn testified before the Senate committee on this particular bill. He said:
The danger of nuclear terrorism remains very real. Government studies in the United States and in other countries have concluded that if terrorists manage to get enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium, they might very well be able to make a crude nuclear bomb capable of incinerating the heart of a major city.
In the case of highly enriched uranium, making such a bomb is basically a matter of slamming two pieces together at high speed. The amounts required are small, and smuggling them is frighteningly easy.
The core of al Qaeda is, as President Obama mentioned the other night, a shadow of its former self, but regional affiliates are metastasizing and some of the key nuclear operatives of al Qaeda remain free today. With at least two terrorist groups having pursued nuclear weapons seriously in the last 20 years, we cannot expect that they will be the last. Moreover, some terrorists have seriously considered sabotaging nuclear power plants, perhaps causing something like what we saw at Fukushima in Japan, or dispersing highly radioactive materials in a so-called “dirty bomb”.
Should terrorists succeed in detonating a nuclear bomb in a major city, the political, economic, and social effects would reverberate throughout the world. Kofi Annan, when he was secretary-general of the United Nations, warned that the economic effects would drive millions of people into poverty and create a second [terrifyingly significant] death toll in the developing world. Fears that terrorists might have another bomb that they might set off somewhere else would be acute. The world would be transformed, and not for the better.
Hence, insecure nuclear material anywhere is really a threat to everyone, everywhere. This is not just an American judgment. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that nuclear terrorism is one of the most serious threats of our time. Mohamed ElBaradei, while he was head of the IAEA, called it the greatest threat to the world.
Russia's counterterrorism czar, Anatoly Safonov, has warned that they have “firm knowledge” that terrorists have been given specific tasks to acquire nuclear weapons and their components....
Fortunately, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we've made tremendous progress around the world in improving security for both nuclear weapons and the materials needed to make them. No longer are there sites where the essential ingredients of a nuclear bomb are sitting in what you and I would consider the equivalent of a high school gym locker with a padlock that could be snapped with a bolt cutter....
At scores of sites around the world, dramatically improved nuclear security has been put in place. At scores of other sites the weapons-usable nuclear material has been removed entirely, reducing the threat of nuclear theft from those sites to zero. More than 20 countries have eliminated all weapons-usable nuclear material on their soil, and the nuclear security summits have provided new high-level political impetus, which has accelerated this progress.
Mr. Safonov stressed a few more dangerous areas that still exist.
In Pakistan, a small but rapidly growing nuclear stockpile, which is under heavy security, I believe, faces more extreme threats than any other nuclear stockpile in the world, both from heavily armed extremists who might attack from outside and from potential insiders who might help them.
In Russia, which has the world's largest stockpiles of both nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material dispersed in the largest numbers of buildings and bunkers, the nuclear security measures have dramatically improved, but there are still important weaknesses that a sophisticated theft conspiracy might exploit. And sustainability remains a major concern, as Russia still has neither the strong nuclear security rules effectively in force nor sufficient funds allocated from the federal government to sustain security for the long haul.
At more than 100 research reactors around the world, you still have highly enriched uranium used as fuel or as targets for the production of medical isotopes, and in many of these reactors, security is very minimal. Some of them are on university campuses.
At the moment, unfortunately, the mechanisms for global governance of nuclear security remain weak. No global rules specify how secure a nuclear weapon or a chunk of plutonium or highly enriched uranium ought to be. There are no mechanisms in place to verify that every country that has these materials is securing them responsibly.
Without a doubt, Canada strongly supports the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Canada was, in fact, one of the architects of the CPPNM amendment and the ICSANT, and we are encouraged by the adoption of these two conventions by a significant number of countries. We actively encourage others to follow through on the their commitment to become parties, as Canada is doing.
Bill S-9, once passed and followed by the ratification of the CPPNM amendment as well as the ICSANT, would give credence to Canada's commitment to the strengthening of the global national security architecture. It would provide Canada with additional tools to counter this threat as well as enhance our ability to work with partners to mitigate the consequences, should this threat ever materialize.
We must be vigilant. We must work toward disarmament. We must ensure the safety of our world, our country and our families.
- MPndpMay 09, 2013 11:50 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, just to be clear, six weeks ago, the Prime Minister gave his word that he would resolve the case of the mother with cancer who was denied EI benefits, but as we have already heard, Jane Kittmer is still waiting, with no word from the government.
When are the Conservatives going to follow up on the Prime Minister's own commitment in this House? Will Conservatives drop the appeal and resolve this case? Is the government prepared to do the right thing for Jane Kittmer today?
- MPndpMay 08, 2013 4:50 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, that is more lip service. The proof is in real action. In the case of the government, there is no action. I should not have to remind the member opposite that these men and women who are veterans and who served in our armed forces put their lives on the line for us. I should not have to remind the member that to support our troops means that we have to support veterans too.
When will the government stop with the platitudes and start looking at the issues that our veterans face every day?
It is the least the government can do, and it is the morally right thing to do. Care for our veterans is part of the contract, the covenant that we undertake with people who enlist and protect our country. We asked them to serve. Now it is our turn to serve them.
- MPndpMay 08, 2013 4:40 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I want to take the time this evening to discuss the plight of veterans who are trying to get care for their very specific needs. Finding access to long-term care beds is difficult for all Canadians, but finding those beds in facilities that have the expertise to deal with the specific needs of veterans is even more difficult.
It is important to note that the government is shutting and phasing out long-term care facilities for veterans and offloading the responsibility to the provinces. I want to remind the minister that the responsibility for veterans is federal, and that should include their care as they age or after they are injured in the line of duty. At a time in life when they are fragile and vulnerable, the government is refusing to live up to its responsibility to them.
The member opposite will tell us that we have provincial health care, that we do not need to have separate veterans' hospitals. This is a shameful cop-out.
The men and women who put their lives on the line deserve respect and dignity. Veterans' hospitals have the expertise to deal with the very specific issues that veterans face, while other facilities do not have that capacity. Space is available in hospitals with this particular expertise, but veterans are being turned away.
I have had veterans approach me and tell me that they need a long-term care bed. There are empty beds at Parkwood Hospital, in London, Ontario, a veterans' hospital in my riding, but people cannot get in because of the technicality about the mandate of such hospitals. Doctors have said very clearly in the case of a 33-year veteran that his spinal deterioration was most likely because of his service, yet their opinion was dismissed and the veteran in question was denied a bed.
There was nothing available in a nursing home, so after much cajoling, Colonel Russell did receive a community bed. However, he has to pay for it. He has to pay for it because the government does not recognize his service. It is as if he had never served his country. That concerns me very much, and it should concern this Parliament.
I asked two questions in the House regarding Parkwood Hospital and the case of Colonel Neil Russell.
Neil was without a bed in a long-term care facility, and he quite simply had nowhere to go. After months and months, after going to the media and after many letters to the minister responsible, Neil was finally promised a bed. Then he was told that he had misunderstood and had to split the cost of the bed with the province.
It is a relief, in some ways, that he now has a place to stay, but it makes very little sense to me that he had to fight so hard to get it.
This situation is part of a larger picture, a picture of how low a priority veterans are for the current government and how out of touch it is.
First, according to the Royal Canadian Legion, there are 150 homeless veterans in Ontario. It is a disgrace.
Second, the costs of a funeral and burial services have not been met adequately by the government. Some years ago, the assets cut-off to provide monetary help through the Last Post Fund was $24,000. That was reduced by the Liberals. Now it is just over $12,000. That means that 67% of veterans receive no help. This is simply not the way that we, as a country, should be treating our veterans.
I want to say that we on the opposition side will oppose the treatment that veterans receive from this ungrateful government.
- MPndpMay 07, 2013 12:00 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, back in 2010, the Minister of Finance said he believed we should consider a modest, phased-in and fully funded enhancement to defined benefits under the Canada pension plan. However, then Conservatives flip-flopped, backtracked and set arbitrary criteria for provincial consensus. The required level of provincial support already exists. Why are Conservatives adding new and blatantly unnecessary roadblocks to essential CPP and QPP expansion?
- MPndpMay 06, 2013 11:00 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, manufacturing is a vital part of my community. It is not just about jobs; it is also about the quality of life in London. Despite the steady decline of manufacturing jobs in the area, the manufacturers in my region continue to not only provide employment but contribute back to our community.
On May 1, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters of southern Ontario presented its annual scholarships to eight lucky London students. Alex Boothby and Robert Green received scholarships for Western University. Angela Searay and Christopher Billington received scholarships for Fanshawe College. Secondary school students, Josh Percival, Jacob Schembri, Coletyn Thompson and Nicole Williamson received scholarships to assist with their post-secondary education.
My sincere thanks to the manufacturers in London area for supporting the next generation of skilled trades and the young people of our community.
- MPndpApr 25, 2013 12:00 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, it is not so. The reality is that more than 67% of applicants to the program were rejected.
The Conservative government can find $28 million to celebrate the War of 1812 but refuses to find the money to ensure our veterans are buried with dignity. Low-income veterans deserve a proper burial service, equal to the sacrifice they made for this country.
Will the Conservatives commit today to raising the $12,000 survival estate threshold?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 4:05 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I want to add my voice of support for this legislation and thank its sponsor.
A growing body of research has shown that gender-diverse corporate boards are more effective. They perform better across the widest talent pool, are more responsive to the market and lead to better decision-making. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that in your own home you have seen that a good decision was probably a balanced decision made with the influence of a woman.
Because women are active participants in the democratic government of the country, both as voters and as politicians, they should have balanced representation in the management of crown corporations. According to reports based on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. According to this information, an investment in women is an investment in Canada's future and will undoubtedly lead to economic growth and prosperity.
To create and maintain gender-diverse corporate boards, every opportunity to recruit new board members must ensure that the appointment process facilitates the consideration of qualified women. It is evident that women are actively involved in the corporate community as business owners, shareholders, executives, managers and employees. They play an equally important role in the marketplace as consumers. Women, however, are not yet equally represented on the boards of directors that make the decisions that impact the lives of these same women.
Although women are excelling and represent 47% of the Canadian labour force, they still represent only 14% of board seats among the 500 largest Canadian companies surveyed in 2010. The same survey also indicated that organizations that have a higher representation of women on their boards have much stronger financial performances.
Going hand in hand with corporate boards is the representation of women in this Parliament, and in any parliament. We women have great ideas and a lot to offer here in Canada and around the world. Yet all too often, women are left out of the decision-making process. Globally, women make up only 20% of elected officials. Only 14 heads of state are women. In 2011, Canadians elected 76 women to Parliament. Now nearly 25% of Canadian MPs are female. However, this is still far from the 30% minimum recommended by the UN as necessary to ensure a critical mass of women able to influence policy and needed change. I suggest that it is important that women be there to influence policy. We do not often see that from the government.
Our Parliament now ranks 45th in the number of women elected to Parliament, behind Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Canada, women represent more than half of university graduates and comprise half the workforce. However, statistics indicate that only 25% of Canadian MPs are women, a rate that has changed very little over the last five election cycles. This must change.
We need women in leadership roles, be it in Parliament or on the boards of corporations. It is important to note that many women work in occupations requiring higher levels of education and that provide better levels of pay, but these women are still relatively concentrated in the public service and social services. We need women to contribute their remarkable talents across the job spectrum. We need to encourage women to break the patterns that have been established on boards across this country.
This bill would be a step in the right direction. It is not a new idea. As we have heard, many industrialized countries, such as Switzerland and Norway, have enhanced legislation to achieve greater parity in the corporate world. We should, as Canadians, be added to this list. As others have said, let us move forward instead of allowing the status quo to hold us back.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 1:00 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member has cited the news report outlining that authorities have managed to find and control a planned terrorist plot. With that very clearly stated by the member, and given our position that the Criminal Code contains sufficient means to find and detain terrorists already, does it not seem that the extra measures are not needed? Clearly it worked in just the last few hours. I do not understand this need or this obsession with increasing the powers of the government.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 12:30 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from several members of my community who are very concerned about what is happening to the Great Lakes. As we know, we have just spoken in the House about heritage rivers. The Great Lakes basin is part and parcel of that important watershed. Many people from London spent much of their youth, some of it ill-spent perhaps, on the shores of the various beautiful lakes. Since 1999, the water level has dropped between four and five feet, and there is no sign of it rebounding.
Therefore, the petitioners are asking the federal government to provide support and help through the Minister of Natural Resources so that the environmental, fisheries and transportation value of these lakes are enhanced and protected.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 12:25 pm | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-498, An Act to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act (North Thames River, Middle Thames River and Thames River).
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to join my colleagues and present this bill to protect the Thames River, which was designated a heritage river in 2000.
The Thames flows 273 kilometres through southern Ontario to Lake Saint Clair, meandering through communities large and small, the cities of London and Chatham included.
Along much of its length, it is flanked by rich Carolinian forest, tulip trees, pawpaw, Kentucky coffee trees and sassafras. Wildlife and fish species include many that are rarely found elsewhere in Canada, such as the eastern spiny softshell turtle, the queen snake, the southern flying squirrel and the Virginia opossum.
There is also a rich cultural heritage around the Thames. Its fertile valley has been home to people for over 11,000 years. The Battle of Longwoods, led by Chief Tecumseh, was fought near the Thames. Also, commercial farming in Canada has its roots right here in the Thames River valley, much of it still the same as it was 200 years ago.
From a recreational viewpoint, the Thames is a most diverse watershed. In 1877, renowned artist Paul Peel explored the river by canoe and produced exquisite works of art depicting the local people, scenery and flora and fauna of the Thames.
It is truly a remarkable river, one that must be protected.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 10:45 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, in a democracy, one of our chief aims is to protect. What could be more important than protecting children from whatever is out there, and apparently in this case, protecting them from their own government?
It seems to me that we go far too far. We need to remember that three people died on the streets of Boston a week ago. We have to respect that. We have to honour that. To see the government using it for its own nefarious purposes makes all of us feel dreadful. It is sickening in terms of what kind of response we should have.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 10:40 am | Ontario, London—Fanshawe
Mr. Speaker, my point about a refusal to listen was illustrated quite effectively just now.
At any rate, as I was saying, a Liberal opposition day was abruptly cancelled in order to bring this legislation forward. Last week, Bill S-7 was not deemed a priority, but suddenly it needed to be debated today. The explanation given by the members opposite was that this bill needed to be passed in light of recent bombings at the Boston Marathon. I would like to point out that the House unanimously condemned those attacks and members rose in silence and respect for those who suffered.
It is unfortunate that members opposite are using the Boston terror attacks to reintroduce controversial measures. These measures go far too far. They endanger Canadians just as much as any other terrorist. New Democrats believe we need to work in strength and use our intelligence and law enforcement networks to deal with the threat of terrorism. However, the Conservatives are choosing to ignore that, to cut border intelligence units in half and end funding for police programs. It is very clear that this is an act of political expediency and not one of genuine concern.
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