Mr. Speaker, this week Canadians of Portuguese heritage all across the country are celebrating Portugal Week. From coast to coast to coast, there will be festivals, parades, folk dances, sporting events and many community gatherings.
This is a week to celebrate and recognize Portuguese cultural and historical heritage, which has been a part of Canada since the discovery of Labrador by Portuguese explorers more than 500 years ago. Making this year's festival even more special is the fact that this is the 60th year of large-scale Portuguese immigration to Canada.
The Portuguese community is well established and well integrated across the country, particularly in my hometown of Toronto, and in Montreal.
On behalf of our Conservative caucus, I want to thank all Canadians of Portuguese heritage for their contribution to our country. I wish them all a happy Portugal Week.
[Member spoke in Portuguese]
Mr. Speaker, first off, there is the personal, the political and the parliamentary in this matter. I consider my colleague from Peterborough to be a friend, so I feel some honest compassion for the strain that he and his family have been under. That was obvious in his speech to us here today.
We are going to take a look at all that he said here and we would like to reserve the right to come back on the substance and the merits of the question of privilege.
From my hearing of what the member said, there are two pieces to it. One was on the comments by the member for Avalon yesterday in question period toward the member for Peterborough. The second one, which perhaps is a privilege, is with regard to the treatment my colleague has received from Elections Canada and throughout the court process that he is now engaged in.
Let me address the first one briefly. I did listen to the comments that were made in question period yesterday. While question period sometimes can be quite a heated affair, and I myself perhaps have made numerous mistakes in crossing over certain lines that are sometimes not clearly laid down, I think yesterday my friend from Avalon did cross the line in terms of the personal nature of the attack on the member for Peterborough. We pass that to you, Mr. Speaker. I suspect my colleague from Avalon would want to come back to the House and perhaps retract his statements.
On the second piece, with regard to Elections Canada and a question of privilege, this perhaps will be a more difficult question to answer for you, Mr. Speaker, as often things that occur outside this place and the effects they have on the privilege of members of Parliament can be a difficult thing to ascertain.
I would offer to my friend that my colleague from Timmins—James Bay has posed questions in the House during question period previously. We were just discussing them as my friend was speaking and looking over the text that was used. We try to ask direct questions. For various reasons on that side, the member for Peterborough was unable to answer or prevented from answering questions about this particular case. I can understand there are some tensions that go on within any party. The Prime Minister's Office is obviously involved in something of this important nature.
The context of that is important, that questions have been put and the member has been unable or unwilling to answer. I am not going to pass judgment as to why he has chosen not to answer and other members have answered instead.
The further challenge for my friend, if I honestly reflect on the situation, is there are so many cases right now of, particularly, Conservative members of Parliament dealing with Elections Canada in a difficult way. We had a recent court ruling on the robocall event. It was quite condemning. I have not read a ruling like this before. The judge found that the Conservative Party lawyer had acted in such a way that the judge awarded penalties to the side that lost because of the contact of the solicitor.
The cloud, in general, with the robocalls, the in and out scheme, and the former member for Labrador, Mr. Penashue, creates a certain context in which my friend is arguing from and that has to be recognized. It creates a difficulty in understanding the clarity of his own case. I think context is everything in politics, as my friend knows.
We will reserve the right to come back to the House as soon as we can, once we have looked over what my friend has offered.
I would say that the fairness of our election process, that our electoral system is sustained and that Canadians have confidence in what happens at the polls, has taken a real hit. This is not an aspersion on my friend in this particular case, but in general, it has taken a real hit from some actions of either members or others in his party. Canadians' confidence has been shaken and that is an unfortunate thing. Whatever our political nature or orientation is in this place, the idea that Canadians can go to a ballot box and register their opinion in a free and fair vote obviously is something that is essential to our democracy. The weakening of that has unintended consequences to others across the spectrum.
Canadians cannot lose any more faith in this place. Cynicism is already at an all-time high. In order for us to do better, we all must do better. Therefore, I urge all those involved in the court cases that are going on right now, and right now there are two other Conservative members who are before the courts with Elections Canada, to deal with it, to settle it, to come forward and not do what happened in the robocall case and others, which was to drag it on.
I realize that is out of context for the privilege that we are dealing with, Mr. Speaker. Context is everything.
I will end on a personal note. This obviously has had great impact on my friend from Peterborough and his family. We live a very public life and those who are related to us, married to us, our kids, oftentimes are also impacted by the things that go on in that public life. I am sure all members in the House understand that. I hope that my friend's own case can be resolved quickly and that the courts decide what in fact occurred.
We will return to the House, and I thank the Speaker for that consideration.
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' nutrition north program, created by the Minister of Health, has done nothing but increase the cost of groceries across northern Canada.
From Labrador to the Yukon, people are paying outrageous prices for food: $16.29 for a can of beef ravioli, $13.39 for a box of spaghetti, $14.49 for a bag of muffin dust, $59.59 for a package of ground beef. Unlike the old food mail program which subsidized the cost of shipping food north, nutrition north subsidizes the cost of selling food, resulting in record profits for some northern grocery stores.
Northerners have taken to the streets to protest this failure, including a march by Inuit to Parliament Hill. However, there has been no action by the Conservatives. Now the legislatures of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have voted unanimously to have the Auditor General investigate this program.
When is the government going to listen to northerners and fix this boondoggle?
Mr. Speaker, I want to make a comment on the remarks of my colleague.
I had the privilege of joining the status of women committee for its study on violence against aboriginal women in 2010. We travelled to Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. We heard over and over again the challenges women in rural and remote communities faced with violence in their homes.
We have responded to calls from aboriginal women, parliamentary committees, international bodies and the Manitoba NDP. They have called for the elimination of the legislative gap that this legislation would fill.
The member referenced a study done by the Senate called “Still Waiting”. Could she justify to the House and tell us what she would tell aboriginal women? If she had her way, they would still be waiting to have the same protection that all Canadians enjoy.
The electoral district of Labrador (Newfoundland and Labrador) has a population of 26,364 with 20,175 registered voters and 66 polling divisions.
This action requires you to be logged into Politwitter. No regisrtation is required, just authenticate using your Twitter account.