Mr. Speaker, I rise today in remembrance of the tragedy that unfolded off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador six years ago on March 12, 2009.
On that fateful day, 17 of 18 passengers and crew lost their lives when a Cougar helicopter, Flight 491, crashed into the frigid North Atlantic Ocean while en route to the SeaRose FPSO and the Hibernia platform.
Among the 17 who died were my constituents Wade Drake and Burch Nash, both from the Burin Peninsula in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have long looked to the sea to make a living, whether by fishing or working in the oil industry. Unfortunately, all too often the sea has claimed the lives of many men and women who bravely risked their lives to provide for their families. The sadness that continues to be felt by the spouses, children, and members of the extended family of the 17 victims who died so tragically is shared by all who remember the tragedy.
I ask all members of the House to join me in remembering this solemn occasion and again offer our sympathies to those who lost loved ones.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Major Rhonda Stevens, originally from North Harbour in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
Rhonda has been appointed Officer-in-Chief of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax. Rhonda's interest in search and rescue was piqued at a young age. Her father spent 25 years with the Canadian Coast Guard. His team responded to many distress calls, including the Ocean Ranger tragedy, which occurred on February 15, 1982, and saw 84 lives lost.
After spending time as an air cadet in Clarenville, Rhonda left home at age 17 to attend the Royal Military College, where she honed her skills as a flight navigator. She has logged more than 3,000 hours of flying time, both as a pilot and a navigator.
Her 21 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, 15 of them with search and rescue, have ensured that Rhonda is well prepared to take on this new challenge.
Rhonda's parents, Art and Una Eddy, are understandably proud of her accomplishments. I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating Major Rhonda Stevens and wishing her all the best in this new position.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize three young men from Marystown, in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
The heroic actions of 18-year-old TJ Fitzpatrick and Justin Saunders and 17-year-old James Stapleton saved the lives of three people from almost certain death in a blaze that destroyed a hotel in the early morning of February 16.
When TJ noticed smoke coming from the hotel, he alerted the local fire department. While waiting for the fire department to arrive, he and his two friends forced their way into the building. Once inside the smoke-filled hotel, the trio made their way into rooms, looking for sleeping guests.
It was because of their efforts that two guests staying at the hotel and the receptionist were safely led from the building. Just 20 minutes after TJ came upon the scene, the hotel was completely engulfed in flames.
When asked about their actions, they said they just did what anyone else would do in the same situation: “You don't think about yourself. You just think about who might be inside.”
I ask all members to join me in recognizing the bravery shown by TJ Fitzpatrick, Justin Saunders, and James Stapleton.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Northern Harvest Sea Farms Group, a company with operations in Atlantic Canada, including in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
The company achieved four-star certification when its subsidiary in Stephenville, Northern Harvest Smolt Limited, earned its best aquaculture practices certification from the Global Aquaculture Alliance. This recognition makes it the first salmon company in the world to achieve such a designation. In addition to receiving best aquaculture practices certification for its hatchery, Northern Harvest has also received this certification for its processing plants, farm sites, and feed mills.
As well as the hatchery in Stephenville, the company has other facilities throughout the Coast of Bays region of Random—Burin—St. George's. The employees, who come from the small communities along our coastline, have proven to be the key ingredient in building the aquaculture industry and turning Northern Harvest into a world leader.
I ask all members to join me in congratulating Northern Harvest Sea Farms Group for this impressive accomplishment and wishing the company and its employees many more successful years in the aquaculture industry.
Mr. Speaker, if colleague has been in Francois, McCallum, and La Poile, he has indeed been in my riding, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It is also a riding where we have many men and women involved in the military, who do so much to represent Canada in fighting wars abroad.
The veterans in Random—Burin—St. George's avail themselves of whatever services are available to them, whether in a building, through other services, or whether they try to use the Internet. A lot of them of course do not use the Internet, and when they return to rural communities it is much easier if there is a short drive. A short drive, for instance, is to go from a small community like Stephenville, or Stephenville Crossing, to Corner Brook. The Conservatives have now closed that office in Corner Brook, so for any of those veterans, it is now at least a three-and-a-half hour drive to St. John's to be able to have the same service they could have received before the government closed the office in Corner Brook.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of a measure that would provide support for the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian veterans, to whom we owe so much. My concern is that while Bill C-27 may provide support for a small number of service members and veterans, it would not do nearly enough.
Bill C-27 is designed to amend the Public Service Employment Act to provide increased access to hiring opportunities in the public service for certain current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces. In Random—Burin—St. George's, over 700 men and women are serving in all branches of the military, and it is those young men and women and the repercussions of the experiences they have that I think about whenever we talk about veterans or going to war.
The proposed legislation in Bill C-27 would ensure priority is given to Canadian Armed Forces members who are released because of service-related illness or injury, and would extend eligibility to reservists and Canadian Rangers.
Bill C-27 would also provide increased access to internal public service postings for eligible members and veterans and increase their period of eligibility. This all sounds very good. We can all agree these changes are indeed positive steps.
However, what they are not is a substitute for a real plan to ease the transition of service members and veterans into civilian employment. The government can and must do more to assist veterans in finding work following their military service. Unfortunately, nothing in Bill C-27 actually ensures that veterans will get jobs.
We know that helping veterans find jobs is a crucial step in their return to civilian life and well-being upon release from the military. Under normal circumstances, placing injured veterans at the head of the civil service hiring line and increasing access for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces would be considered a valuable commitment and something to be applauded. In this instance, however, the promise is being made by a government that has already cut 20,000 public service jobs and is on track to cut 30,000 more.
Regrettably, Bill C-27 appears poised to have little impact on the day-to-day lives of the majority of Canadian veterans. In the words of Jerry Kovacs, a director with Canadian Veterans Advocacy, “In theory, it's a good bill. ... Initiatives to hire veterans are good initiatives. [But] if there are no jobs, how can there be any priority hiring? So it's kind of a hollow promise."
After years of cuts and hiring freezes, there are fewer civil service jobs for veterans to fill than ever before. Bill C-27 would do nothing for veterans who may be too ill or too injured to work.
In his recent report, Guy Parent, the Veterans Ombudsman, stated that “Severely impaired Veterans can face a lifetime of loss of employment and career progression opportunities". Simply put, even injured veterans who are already entitled to government assistance are not receiving it. The Veterans Ombudsman's report indicated that nearly half of the country's most severely disabled ex-soldiers are not receiving a government allowance intended to compensate them for their physical and mental wounds. The ombudsman also concluded that many of those who are receiving the permanent impairment allowance are only being awarded the lowest grade of the benefit, which is the minimum amount.
The federal government also has an obligation to assist injured and ill veterans to find jobs when they are released from the Canadian Armed Forces, but Bill C-27 should not replace the government's responsibility to help injured CAF members stay in the forces when that is their wish.
Furthermore, there is a genuine concern that soldiers may hide health problems so that they will not lose their income. The Conservative government must do everything it can to ensure Canadian Armed Forces personnel suffering from physical and mental injuries need not fear being set adrift and having to keep their wounds secret in order to qualify for their pensions.
Recently released government statistics show that approximately 1,100 of the 6,200 soldiers discharged because of health conditions since 2009 were unable to serve the 10-year minimum required to collect a full pension.
Under the existing policy, many Canadian Armed Forces personnel face the dilemma of having to choose between risking their physical and mental health or risking their financial future. Soldiers suffering from PTSD and other ailments can either avoid seeking help in the hope of making it to pension eligibility, or seek necessary care and risk losing their pensions. Bill C-27 is clearly just the latest example of the Conservative government attempting to hide its inaction on the many issues affecting CAF members and veterans today. The Conservatives boast how much they support our soldiers and care about veterans and their families, but the facts show otherwise. Shamefully, the Conservative government continues to abdicate its responsibility to care for Canadian veterans.
A few months ago the Minister of Veterans Affairs called into question the social and legal responsibility Canada has for its soldiers. On at least two separate occasions since then, the Minister of Veterans Affairs has literally turned his back on veterans and their families who have come to Ottawa to voice their concerns about the lack of respect and support they have been receiving from the Conservative government. When it closed nine regional Veterans Affairs offices throughout the country, including one in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, and committed to eliminating 781 jobs from the Department of Veterans Affairs by 2014-15, it claimed it was doing so in an attempt to cut costs. Meanwhile the Conservative government continues to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on partisan advertising while neglecting Canada's veterans. Then, at the last minute, when it knows the Auditor General's report is coming out, it comes out with a pot of goodies that we know are promises and only promises.
In his report today, the Auditor General concluded that Veterans Affairs is largely unconcerned with how well veterans are being served and whether programs are making a difference in their lives. While $1.13 billion in funding for veterans having gone unspent since the Conservative government took power, veterans have been forced to wait months for the mental health services they so desperately need. According to the Auditor General's report, about 15,000 veterans and serving military personnel were eligible to receive health support from Veterans Affairs through the disability benefits program at the end of last March. The number is expected to increase as more veterans of the Afghanistan campaign leave the military for civilian life in the coming years.
Over the past decade, 160 Canadian Armed Forces members have died by suicide, and 158 died serving in Afghanistan. Many more continue to struggle with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The Auditor General's report confirms what Liberals have long maintained, that the Conservative government simply is not doing enough to help our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much for their country. They have put their lives on the line and some have made the ultimate sacrifice, yet we are not there for them in the way they need us to be.
As Canadians we owe a debt of gratitude to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and their families. They require assistance in so many ways. Unfortunately, because the Conservatives are refusing to respond to the needs of our veterans, the latter are being forced to mobilize in a variety of ways to get their message out about how unfairly they are being treated. Bill C-27 does very little to address a much larger problem. This bill is a step in the right direction, as my colleague has said, but there is much that still needs to be done. It is time for the government to start treating our veterans and their families with the respect they have earned and deserve from those of us who get to live a much better life, and those throughout the world who get to live under better circumstances because of their efforts. This begins by listening to the concerns being raised by those who have already sacrificed so much, instead of ignoring them when they reach out for help, which unfortunately the Conservative government continues to do.
With regard to government funding, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group in the electoral district of Random—Burin—St. George's, providing for each (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the location of the recipient, indicating the municipality, (iii) the date, (iv) the amount, (v) the department or agency providing it, (vi) the program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) the nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Mrs. Marguerite Gillam, originally from Aguathuna, but now residing in Stephenville, in Random—Burin—St. George's.
On November 11, this remarkable woman will celebrate her 100th birthday.
Mrs. Gillam demonstrated an aptitude for and love of music at a very young age. She learned to play piano at age seven, and later the accordion. She performed with a local band, provided music during silent movies at the local theatre, and was the organist at her church for 35 years.
Mrs. Gillam enjoyed travelling, and among her favourite memories are the times she spent swimming in the Bahamas.
She spent several years as a teacher and has been an active member of her community, including knitting and crocheting items which she often donated to local charities.
When a storm destroyed the Anglican church in her community in 1948, she was instrumental in securing funding and free labour to build a new church.
Mrs. Gillam and her husband Israel raised three children. She has 11 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren.
I ask all members of the House to join me in wishing Mrs. Gillam a very happy 100th birthday.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the budget implementation bill no. 2. I only wish I could say that I am pleased to speak to this particular bill. However, Bill C-43 does nothing to address many of the challenges facing my constituents in Random—Burin—St. George's and Canadians in general.
This omnibus bill is clearly the product of a tired, void-of-ideas government that has completely lost touch with the people it is meant to serve. Once again, the Conservatives have introduced omnibus legislation full of changes that simply do not belong in a budget bill. At 460 pages, with over 400 separate clauses, Bill C-43 represents an abuse of power. To use a single omnibus budget bill to limit debate on a host of unrelated measures is undemocratic. If the government does not recognize this, it really is time to put it out to pasture.
Using a single omnibus budget bill to limit debate prevents members of Parliament from doing their jobs and properly scrutinizing legislation. Since forming government in 2006, in its rush to push through legislation, and by ignoring input from other parties, the Conservatives have cemented a disturbing number of preventable errors in law. By my count, Bill C-43 attempts to fix no fewer than 10 of those sloppy mistakes, including many from previous omnibus budget bills.
The government has proven time and time again that it is not interested in input from anyone outside the Conservative caucus and the Prime Minister's Office, even if it means that Canadians would be negatively impacted.
Take for instance the so-called EI tax credit proposed in Bill C-43. This flawed measure actually discourages job creation and economic growth. This measure in particular is bad for employers, bad for workers and those seeking work, and bad for the Canadian economy as a whole.
In a recent report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the Conservatives' EI plan would cost $550 million over two years and would create only 800 net new jobs. This translates to a cost of almost $700,000 to taxpayers for each new job created under the Conservative program. Canadians deserve a plan for jobs and growth. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has confirmed that the Conservatives' EI plan provides neither.
While the Minister of Finance claims that EI cuts for small businesses would produce thousands of new jobs, the numbers prove otherwise. The reality is that the government's changes to EI would encourage businesses to stay small and would actually punish them if they grew and were successful. For instance, the Conservative changes to EI would offer up to $2,234.04 to small businesses for firing a worker but only up to $190.52 for hiring a worker. Furthermore, there is no requirement for job creation. Regardless of whether a small business hired new workers, remained the same size, or even fired workers, so long as a business pays less than $15,000 in EI payroll taxes, it would qualify. This may be a tax credit, but it is certainly not a job credit.
There are currently over 6,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who had a job this time last year but who are now out of work. My constituents in Random—Burin—St. George's, and people throughout the province, face unemployment rates well above the national average.
For young workers, job creation is even more important. Youth aged 20 to 24 in Newfoundland and Labrador face higher unemployment rates than their peers throughout the country. At a time when many are struggling with high debt loads, youth unemployment is high and many young workers are forced to leave the province to seek work.
The Conservative government continues to compound the problem. What we need in Newfoundland and Labrador are more jobs, not fewer. Canadians from coast to coast to coast deserve a government with a plan to encourage job creation, not a government that is committed to limiting growth. As the Liberal leader said, Canadians from coast to coast to coast are generally worried about their future.
For the first time in our country's recent history, people are concerned that the next generation will struggle more than the present generation. Unfortunately, out of necessity, it has become common practice for adult children to live with their parents to make ends meet, and in doing so they have made it difficult, in some cases, for their parents to make ends meet. Such a practice was rarely heard of but is now more the norm than the exception.
That is why the Liberals are committed to helping create the right conditions for investment and economic prosperity, which will foster those badly needed jobs. Our proposed EI holiday on new hires would reward employers for creating new jobs instead of rewarding employers for firing workers. The Liberal plan has been applauded by job creators throughout the country, such as Restaurants Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Yet the Conservative government refuses to consider a proposal that would be helpful, preferring instead to forge ahead with a proposal that is fraught with problems. Unfortunately, this is nothing new.
Since taking office, the Conservatives have also shown little respect for Canada's democratic institutions. The government has often refused to work in partnership with the provinces and territories to help solve many of the challenges it currently faces.
Last week, we heard that the government is unwilling to listen to its provincial partners in terms of amending the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. According to an official, only Ontario was consulted about these changes, in spite of the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador would be affected by these changes. It and eight other provinces had absolutely no say. The Conservative government did not just ignore input from Newfoundland and Labrador, it ignored Newfoundland and Labrador altogether.
This amendment was not one the provinces asked for. In fact, the same official has confirmed that there had been absolutely no demands from any province for this change, none whatsoever. It is puzzling that the Conservative government is committed to pushing through a change that no province asked for and no province seems to want, while ignoring calls for policies and programs that would provide real benefits to Canadians.
In some cases, Bill C-43 would not add support. What it would do is add taxes.
Many of my constituents of Random--Burin--St. George's, as in other ridings, are seniors, who are often living on fixed incomes. For the government to add GST and HST to some services provided by non-profit health care facilities, such as residential services provided at an old age home, is simply wrong. At a time when the rate of poverty among Canadian seniors is rising, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is warning that current pension supports may be insufficient, adding to their financial burden is just not right.
Now I will speak about what is not in the budget.
In a 460-page document, with over 400 separate clauses, there is not a single mention of veterans. After years of ignoring the needs of Canadian veterans and their families, the Conservative government had an opportunity to finally act. Instead, it chose to remain silent.
In June, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs outlined a series of measures that would make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families, but without further legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs can only act on the recommendations that do not require any new money. This leaves it unable to implement many of the recommendations supported even by the government's own committee members.
In its response to the committee report, the government stated:
The more complex recommendations require further inter-departmental work, budgetary analysis, and coordination with a wide range of federal departments, as well as with the Veterans Ombudsman and Veterans' groups.
They will be dealt with at a later date.
Why do complex recommendations to support veterans require additional scrutiny, when the Conservatives maintain that many of the other measures proposed in the bill do not? Surely amending the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act is a complex measure. Yet without consulting with the provinces, the government saw fit to include it. Why will the government not give veterans the same priority? Bill C-43 was an opportunity to implement these recommendations. However, it has proven to be yet another opportunity wasted under the Conservative government. Sadly, Canadian veterans and their families will have to wait another year in the hope that the Conservative government will finally follow through.
This also would have been an opportune time to restore and enhance search and rescue capabilities; support Canadians with mental health issues, including PTSD; and address many more priority items.
Unlike the Conservatives and their flawed budget implementation bill, the Liberals are committed to growing Canada's economy and helping to create jobs by investing in infrastructure, education, environmental initiatives, our culture, and science and technology. We believe that government must not only create the right conditions for economic growth but must also ensure that growth is sustainable and will help struggling families.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
The department was recognized by Muscular Dystrophy Canada as its 2013-2014 Fire Department of the Year for the Atlantic region. This recognition was welcomed by a department that takes its commitment to help fight MD very seriously.
Approximately 145 fire departments in Atlantic Canada raise funds for muscular dystrophy. This past year, the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department held four fundraising events in support of MD patients, and since 1983 it has collected nearly $70,000 for this worthwhile cause.
Muscular Dystrophy Canada has 10,000 clients, 200 of whom are in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, the organization estimates there are approximately 50,000 people in Canada who suffer with MD.
I ask all members to join with me in thanking the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department for its work on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy Canada and in thanking all volunteer firefighters who raise money for this and other very worthwhile causes.
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to rise today to speak about our Liberal motion that first recognizes the terrible devastation that Ebola is wreaking in West Africa and that will require the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Canada's Chief Public Health Officer to appear monthly to report on Canada's efforts at home and abroad to ensure that the outbreak does not pose a threat to the health and safety of Canadians.
My colleague from Vancouver Centre and I began formally raising Ebola on the national agenda on August 3 by writing an open letter to the Minister of International Development regarding what Canada had specifically contributed to the Ebola response. We asked how many specialists Canada had sent to the World Health Organization to help out, and in what disciplines. We asked that the minister work with colleagues in relevant departments here in Canada in areas of air transport, border services, and protection of health care workers. We asked the government as well to give more funding. While the government responded with a donation of $5 million, the amount was tiny in the face of the overwhelming need and the generosity of other nations.
We wrote the letter because Canada had a moral responsibility to do more to help combat what was then an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola. We also understood that the best way to stop this devastating disease was to stop it at its source, before it spread more widely and became even more difficult to contain. We understood that if we want to protect Canadians from Ebola here at home, we had to end the suffering in West Africa.
During the emergency debate on Ebola on September 15, I asked the following:
...how is Canada working with other countries, particularly through the Global Health Security Action Group and the global health security agenda? How is the government working across departments and what specific departments are involved in each of preparedness, response and recovery, and what is the lead agency for each? What specific actions are each of the departments undertaking?
What is the government doing to ensure the safety of Canadians travelling to West Africa to undertake humanitarian work, commerce and trade, and to safeguard the well-being of those who are there now in areas where Ebola is spreading? What guidance is being provided to Canadians before they leave and while in areas in which Ebola has been reported? If they think they have symptoms compatible with Ebola, what should they do upon their return to Canada?
How specifically was the April 18 funding of $1,285,000 used to address the outbreak? How many specialists and in what disciplines did Canada send to work with the World Health Organization and/or to West Africa to help? How specifically was the August 8 funding of $5 million to address the outbreak spent?...
Although the risk is low, is Canada ready to isolate and care for someone if affected? Does the Public Health Agency of Canada have a public awareness plan to help Canadians understand the prevention, transmission, and signs and symptoms of the disease?
Does the government accept that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has become a real risk to the stability and security of society in the region? Does the government accept that Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone need more doctors, nurses, beds, and equipment?
Does the government accept that the international response has been inadequate and that we need to scale up international response?... In light of the United Nation's international rescue call, will Canada do more to help?
We followed up the August 3 open letter with another open letter on September 17, yet again calling on the Canadian government to do more to help West Africa, specifically to provide more money, more personnel, and more materials.
On September 24 I published an article entitled “Will Canada Do More to Help Combat Ebola?” Specifically, I asked:
Will our Government do more to help, beyond the most recently announced $7.5 million? Will the acting Chief Public Health Officer of Canada speak directly to Canadians to communicate the global impact of Ebola, and coordinate and support health workers who wish to assist efforts in West Africa?...
Will the Government explain to Canadians how it will facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies to the affected countries?
We asked as well if the government would offer much-needed field hospitals and other equipment, and more health care specialists, and whether the government would call on non-traditional partners to contribute in the areas of communications, health, information, and transport.
Because we lacked answers, my colleague from St. Paul's and I wrote to the Minister of Health to ask for a briefing for all parliamentarians on Ebola, as we needed answers on these important questions. We would like to thank the Minister of Health for granting our request, but Parliament needs to be updated on a regular, ongoing basis.
After the first patient suffering with Ebola arrived in the United States on September 20, the Government of Canada made two separate pledges, each for $30 million. Why did we not see the same pledge and the same sense of urgency to help in West Africa before North America's first case?
The government had two responsibilities when Ebola began spreading unchecked in West Africa: first, to join with the international community in trying to stop it; second, to be prepared should a case to be identified in Canada.
When the World Health Organization asked for $600 million in July, the government gave only $5 million. Why a sluggish response to what was identified then as an unprecedented outbreak?
For the longest time, the government largely made announcements. It announced vaccines, with a delay of three months between the announcement and sending them to the World Health Organization.
The government announced personal protective equipment, or PPE. On October 3, I asked in question period:
With Ebola patients and deaths tripling since August, West Africa needs personal protective equipment urgently, but Canada has failed to fulfill its September pledge.
I will ask again: what is the minister doing to ensure that the promised supplies get to where they are needed now?
Prior to this, Canada's only response was to auction off personal protective equipment until September, months after the alarm was sounded and after the Sierra Leone ambassador to the United States and aid organizations made a plea for personal protective support, and months after the World Health Organization said the same.
Shockingly, we learned just yesterday that only two shipments have been sent to the World Health Organization—with others to follow “in the coming months”, according to the assistant deputy minister of public health—and it is unclear whether the first shipments have in fact even been dispatched to affected areas.
The government has announced funding. Of the $35 million initially pledged, only $4.3 million for showing up as committed funding on the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' financial tracking website, suggesting no legal agreements have yet been drafted concerning the remaining funds.
As of October 19, Canada's actual financial contribution for the international response to combat the disease came in 17th place. The United States, with $206 million in committed funding, remains by far the largest donor.
Mere announcements cannot fight Ebola. Only commitments on the ground in West Africa can counter the epidemic. Canada's lack of commitment to short-term results is unacceptable with Ebola cases doubling every 25 days.
Yesterday we learned that Canada would not be sending any more medical personnel without a guarantee that they can be medically evacuated if they get sick. Of course we always want to ensure the health and safety of Canadians, but why does Canada not have this capability? When will a plan be in place? Has the minister met with anyone yet on this? When, and who?
The World Health Organization has been calling for urgent international support in sending doctors and nurses to the worst-affected countries.
Dr. Margaret Chan of the WHO has been clear:
But the thing we need most is people, health care workers. The right people. The right specialists. And specialists who are appropriately trained, and know how to keep themselves safe.
My contacts on the ground in Africa echo her call for more personnel. My contacts were, in fact, hoping that an announcement would be coming from Canada very soon regarding how it would coordinate those who wish to go and work in West Africa. Despite my asking repeatedly during the emergency debate on Ebola, we still do not even know how many Canadians are involved in the response in West Africa.
As the international development critic for our party, let me now focus attention on the needs of West Africa, and let me begin by sending strength, courage, and hope to the people of West Africa—namely, to the people of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, who have suffered so much—and to Canadians with families, friends, and loved ones in Africa. Let me also extend my condolences to everyone who has lost someone during the world's worst outbreak of Ebola in history. I want them to know that we feel their pain, that we stand by them, and that we will fight for them.
This past Sunday, I spoke via telephone with Professor Monty Jones, special advisor to the president of Sierra Leone and ambassador at large, who was responsible for overseeing the Ebola response in the country. Our Parliament should know that he was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2007. His Excellency President Ernest Kororma was briefed that the call was taking place and what transpired, and he gave permission for me to talk about the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and, particularly, the urgent needs of the country and the Canadian Parliament.
Twenty-five hundred people have been infected, 900 have died, and 580 have recovered in Sierra Leone. In the words of the special advisor to the president, the disease remains “very stubborn, despite all the measures taken”. In fact, five of the country's fourteen districts are quarantined, including parts of the capital.
Sierra Leone needs community-based care centres and 1000 more beds. The country needs more health care workers. Special advisor Jones says three to four health care workers are needed for each patient with Ebola. This means the country needs a minimum of 500 more doctors, 2,000 nurses, and 1,000 technicians with various specialties.
Burial remains a challenge in Sierra Leone, as the government wants to give a decent burial to everyone. Custom in Sierra Leone involves crying, mourning, and touching the body, but now there are no ceremonies, no touching, and burials are fast-tracked.
The special advisor to the president explained that a swab is taken from each of the dead, in order to ensure someone has not died of Ebola. The problem is that there are not enough ambulances, not enough laboratories, and not enough technicians to analyze the blood samples. As a result, there is a backlog of samples, which means there is a backlog of bodies to pick up. Sometimes bodies remain in houses for three days. The longer a body remains, the greater the chance that people will want to touch their loved one.
Special advisor Jones says labs currently process 50 to 100 samples per day, but the country needs more labs and more technicians so 500 samples can be analyzed per day.
The special advisor is particularly concerned about possible travel bans and what such bans might mean to the economy and the importation of food and desperately needed health care and medications.
Sierra Leone was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The World Bank ranked it the sixth-fastest reformer. Economic growth was at 11% and predicted to go to 14%, but has now dropped back to 7%. The special advisor explained that a ban would cripple the economy further and prevent much needed food and medical help from coming in.
He explained that people are thoroughly screened in Sierra Leone airports with thermometers and infrared temperature screening and if there is even a slight increase in temperature, they are turned back, to health care.
Special advisor Jones hopes that the international community will continue to respect the known science with regard to travel bans and not make political decisions that would hurt his country further.
As a final point, the special advisor to the president wants the Canadian Parliament to know that the economy and health care will need help after the Ebola outbreak and that we must not forget the people of Sierra Leone and, indeed, of West Africa.
Several humanitarian organizations have relayed the same point to me. Health care systems have effectively collapsed and will require substantial support to be rebuilt and strengthened. The government's investment in maternal, newborn, and child health and the gains in MNCH in the region will be reversed if we do not have a place to assist mothers after the outbreak.
I will now discuss the health care needs from people on the ground in West Africa, with whom I am in touch almost daily. However, before I do, I want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of health care workers, scientists, and humanitarian organizations in incredibly difficult, heartbreaking circumstances.
While there is a real push to create more treatment centres and holding beds, I also hear that there is a tremendous need for training, particularly training for local health workers to use personal protective equipment, PPE, to protect themselves. Even in developed countries, only a small number of health workers have ever used the required level of protection, which sadly was illustrated by the experiences in Spain and in the United States. Training that is taking place overseas involves three days, plus two days in a ward, then regular supervision and mentoring. There are no shortcuts.
The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is the most severe and acute public health emergency in modern times. Never in recent history has such a dangerous pathogen infected so many people so quickly over such a wide geographical area for so long.
It is past time that the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Chief Public Health Officer appeared in front of the health committee to update parliamentarians and Canadians on whether Canada is actually fulfilling its pledges on Ebola; that equipment and money is actually getting to the people who need it most in West Africa; and that parliamentarians have an opportunity to ask ministers and officials about Canada's state of preparedness. Parliamentarians will want to ask about preparedness of Canada's ports of entry, health care facilities, and other institutions to identify, diagnose, isolate, and treat Ebola patients in a safe and appropriate manner.
We have said from the very beginning that this is a non-partisan issue, and so in the spirit of compromise, I move, seconded by the member for Random—Burin—St. George's, to amend the motion as follows.
by replacing the words "the Minister of Health, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and the Minister of Public Safety to appear before the Standing Committee on Health twice monthly" with the words "the relevant minister or ministers to appear twice monthly and the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada to appear monthly before the Standing Committee on Health".
I call on all members of this House to support this motion to protect the people of West Africa so that we can protect the health and safety of Canadians here.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a talented young woman, Alaina Joe, from Conne River in the Coast of Bays area of my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
Alaina was a contestant in the Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador Pageant this past week. After winning the Miss Humanitarian and People's Choice Awards, she was crowned Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador on October 5, becoming the first member of the aboriginal community in Newfoundland and Labrador to receive the title.
Alaina is a level II student at St. Anne's School where she excels academically and participates in the school's extracurricular program She is also an active member of her community, where she is a Canadian junior ranger, a native cultural dancer and performance choir member. Despite her hectic schedule, Alaina still finds time to volunteer in Conne River. She says her career goal is to become a neurosurgeon.
Alaina's proud parents are Barry and Olivia Joe.
As we approach October 11, the International Day of the Girl, I ask members to join me in recognizing this remarkable young woman and wishing her and all girls around the world the very best in the future.
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition today on behalf of the residents of the community of McCallum, which is an isolated community in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's. The petitioners call on the government to change its mind with respect to the closure of Canada Post offices. They are also saying that the reduction in hours makes it very difficult for them to receive mail.
In a lot of cases in rural communities, the post office is the only federal presence that exists, and it is very much part of the social fabric and economy of the community. The petitioners are asking the government to go after Canada Post and to try to work with it to impress on the corporation not to follow through with its plans to close and reduce the number of hours of operation.
Mr. Speaker, I stand to present four petitions, again based on the reduction in postal services by Canada Post.
There is one from the community of Garden Cove in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's, another from Robinsons, another from Conne River, and another from the community of Heatherton.
The petitioners are saying that what is happening with Canada Post under the government and under its direction is in fact not fair. The government is cutting back on services in communities where sometimes the only federal presence is the post office. Not only is Canada Post cutting back on hours throughout the week, but it is also cutting out the entire service on Saturdays, the time when most people are able access service at the postal outlets.
The petitioners are calling on the government to reinstate the hours that have been reduced as well as to reinstate full-time service on Saturdays.
Mr. Speaker, I stand today to speak in support of our opposition day motion. I want to repeat it for those who may be listening in. It states:
That, in the opinion of the House, the Employment Insurance...plan announced by the government on September 11, 2014, and which will begin on January 1, 2015, will not create jobs and growth but will instead provide a financial incentive for employers to lay off workers; and therefore, the House urges the government to re-direct those resources by providing employers an EI premium exemption on newly-created jobs in 2015 and 2016.
This is yet another example of a hopelessly misguided Conservative policy. The Conservatives' small business job credit is so flawed that it actually discourages job creation and economic growth. Quite simply, the Conservative proposal is bad for employers, bad for workers, and bad for the Canadian economy.
The Conservatives' EI credit plan encourages businesses to stay small and punishes them if they grow and are successful. Under the Conservative scheme, only businesses with EI payroll taxes below $15,000 get any money back. Moreover, despite being billed as a job credit, there is no requirement that companies actually hire new workers to qualify. That in itself is mind-boggling.
The Conservative proposal lowers the EI rate of a business from $2.63 to $2.24 per $100 of salary paid for any employer paying less than the threshold, with no requirement for job creation. Regardless of whether a small business hires new workers, remains the same size, or even fires workers, so long as they remain below the $15,000 threshold, they qualify. This creates a perverse incentive for businesses to fire workers to get below the $15,000 threshold.
Mike Moffatt, professor of economics at the lvey School of Business, expressed his concerns about the effect of this policy on wages, stating:
...it is clear that firms under the $15,000 EI threshold have a big incentive to keep wage increases to a minimum so they do not lose their tax credits. Conversely, firms that are just over the $15,000 EI threshold have an incentive to cut the pay of their staff in order to gain the tax credit.
Wages are not the only thing in danger under this plan. In fact, the Conservative scheme offers up to $2,234.04 for firing a worker and only up to $190.52 for hiring a worker. This approach sets a dangerous precedent, especially in provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador, where over 5,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who had a job this time last year are now out of work.
My constituents in Random—Burin—St. George's and their fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians face unemployment rates well above the national average. On the Avalon Peninsula, unemployment is 8%. In Notre Dame-Central-Bonavista, the rate is 16.4%, and in the South Coast—Burin Peninsula region, the unemployment rate is 17.3%.
More and more of my constituents are telling me that they are struggling to make ends meet, and many of my constituents have had to look for work elsewhere. What we need in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in other parts of our country, are more jobs, not fewer. The current government must do more to help create jobs instead of helping to drive high unemployment.
For young workers, job creation is even more important. The situation faced by youth across Newfoundland and Labrador is even more troubling. Unemployment among youth ages 20 to 24 is 15.3%, which is higher than the average in Newfoundland and Labrador and higher than it is for their peers across the country. More and more young people graduating from college and university programs have high debt loads and absolutely no guarantee of finding jobs. They are forced to move back home with their parents, and in many cases, their parents, some of whom are also having trouble making ends meet, try to assume the debt load and living costs of their children, which jeopardizes the future for all involved.
The best way to combat youth unemployment and to help create secure financial futures for all is with new jobs. There is nowhere more important where this will come up than in Newfoundland and Labrador, where there is such a high unemployment rate and a need for steady employment. At a time when youth unemployment is high and many students and recent graduates are struggling to find jobs or co-op placements, the government is continuing to compound the problem through its actions.
Instead of providing incentives for businesses to eliminate jobs, Liberals believe in providing businesses with incentives to create jobs. We have a solution: an EI premium exemption for new jobs created in 2015 and 2016. This would represent a benefit of up to $1,279.15 for each newly created job. That is an incentive. That is an encouragement to a business. The Liberal plan would represent a benefit of up to $1,279.15 for every new person hired by a company, which, for the same price as the proposed EI premium exemption, could produce over 175,000 new jobs.
This is a plan we know works. Under a previous Liberal government, similar incentives were offered through the new hires program as part of budgets 1997 and 1998. That program, unlike the current Conservative plan, provided an incentive to create jobs rather than an incentive to eliminate them, and experts agree. Today Professor Moffatt concluded in his latest piece:
The New Hires Program provides a great framework for a new Small Business Job Credit. I hope the government will take [the Liberals'] suggestion seriously and correct the flaws in their current proposal.
I too hope that the government will realize its error and admit that there is another way of making sure that we respond to the needs of Canadians and the need for employment, especially among our young people. I hope the government listens to the experts and votes in favour of the motion before us today.
What Canadians from coast to coast to coast need the government to do is encourage job creation and growth, not stagnation. Businesses should be encouraged to create more jobs, whether the company pays $14,999 or $15,001 in EI payroll taxes.
What is more, small businesses agree. Just this afternoon, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which government members quote all the time, endorsed the proposed EI holiday for job creators, saying that it had, and I quote, “Lots of job potential”. It is also important to note that EI is a fund paid into by employees and employers, not the government.
According to a report from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada, in 2015 the government is expected to collect $3.5 billion more in employment insurance premiums than needed. Even with the estimated $225-million proposed tax credit, it still means the Conservative government will be taking in $3.25 billion more than necessary.
What this serves to do is to create the illusion of a larger surplus going into 2015, and we know that. We know what is happening with the cuts that are taking place under the government in terms of trying to create a surplus so it can do things leading up to the next election. As my colleague, the hon. member for Kings—Hants has said:
They're padding their books on the backs of workers and employers to fund a pre-election spending spree. At a time when employment numbers are soft and growth has stalled, it’s irresponsible for the Conservatives to maintain high job-killing payroll taxes just to fund their pre-election budget.
Canadians believe, and rightly so, that the government has a responsibility to not only create the right conditions for economic growth but to also ensure that growth is sustainable. We need to create the right conditions for jobs and growth to benefit all Canadians. What we have here is a tale of two policies: a Liberal proposal designed to create stable, long-term job creation and to spur economic growth, and a Conservative policy that creates incentives to fire workers and that discourages growth.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to add my comments to this important debate today. I will be splitting my time with the member for Random—Burin—St. George's, who will follow me shortly.
I rise today as the representative for York West, what I call the best riding in Canada, but I guess we all try to say that. I certainly believe it and we have the best constituents around. However, inasmuch as my riding is a wonderful place to live, work and play, like many communities, York West has been hard by the recession and the subsequent global economic slowdown.
People are asking for help and unfortunately the current government has again turned its back on my riding and others. On September 11, the government announced its so-called plan to create jobs, a plan that does not even begin for several months. Then after my constituents and others wait until January 2015 for help, they will be handed a strategy that has no hope of creating any jobs. Quite the contrary, the Conservatives' small business job credit has been panned by most economists. In fact, credible economists have called this plan exactly the opposite, a disincentive for companies to grow.
In contrast, the Liberal counter-proposal would reward companies that are growing and creating new jobs for my constituents and for workers across Canada. That is the choice: a government that keeps looking backward and trying the same failed and tired plans over and over again, or a Liberal plan that is forward thinking and very practical.
Time and time again the government has proven an ingrained ineptitude when it comes to financial management. The Prime Minister fancies himself an economist, but his ideas, which are growing more and more outlandish, are constantly out of step with industry, labour and the financial community. I now understand why the Conservatives spent $1 billion, taxpayer dollars, on advertising to boast about their so-called fiscal plan, because it takes $1 billion to create an ad campaign that tries to weave the words “Conservative” and “success” into a single commercial, but it certainly is not supported by facts.
For eight years, the Prime Minister has been telling Canadians, with a wink, to trust him. He says his plan will put a chicken in every pot, but after all this time, Canada's employment numbers still trail our major trading partners. Over the past year, Canada has experienced very little job growth. From August 2013 to August 2014, the entire country created a net 81,000 new jobs with only a fraction of those being full-time. Sadly a part-time job serving coffee, flipping burgers, or mending clothes is often not enough to raise a family. These jobs are important but they rarely offer pension security, growth opportunity or wages over and above the poverty line.
In contrast to Canada's dismal job creation performance, the U.K. created 775,000 jobs over the last 12 months and the United States created 2.2 million. This means that the percentage growth in total employment in the U.K. was up 2.6%. The U.S. was up 1.5% and unfortunately Canada was up a bleak 0.5%. The Prime Minister may like to crow about this record, but Canadians know that a flimsy crow is certainly not a chicken in every pot.
The government has dumped hundreds of millions of dollars on boardroom tables throughout Canada and then justifies that giveaway by promising that the payoff would protect Canadian jobs. As we watched last week the Stelco meltdown killing hundreds of good manufacturing jobs, Canadians are growing weary of empty Conservative promises. The Minister of Finance wonders why Canadians are carrying more household debt than ever before. This is why. The Minister of Finance wonders why Canadians are carrying more credit card debt than ever before. This is why.
People are not putting new yachts, cars and summer homes on their credit cards. People are not extending their lines of credit to finance new capital ventures or exotic vacations. People are accumulating debt to pay for food, rent, daycare, education, medicine and other essentials of life. The fact the government would see all of this and still table a strategy like this EI plan clearly shows that Conservatives are out of touch.
Of course, I understand why the need for intelligent policy would vex this particular Prime Minister and his front bench, so let me frame it another way. The Liberals have a real solution, an EI premium exemption for new jobs created in 2015 and 2016. This represents a benefit of up to $1,279.15 for each newly created job. For the same price as the Conservative scheme, our proposed EI premium exemption could help create over 175,000 new jobs.
We must create the right conditions for jobs and growth that benefit the middle class. In effect, we want success around the kitchen tables, not just the boardroom tables. This requires investments in infrastructure, training, innovation, and expanding trade, as well as competitive tax breaks.
Under the Conservative scheme, only businesses with EI payroll taxes below $15,000 get any money back, a move that creates a perverse incentive for businesses to fire workers in order to get below the $15,000 threshold. In fact, Conservatives are proposing that the maximum benefit for a company that pays just under $15,000 in EI premiums would be $2,234; however, a company that pays one dollar more would receive nothing at all.
Economists, save for the one across the way, have pointed out that this could result in companies holding back on pay increases, reducing hours, or in the worst-case scenario, laying employees off. As strange and as confounding as this may seem, the Conservative scheme to create jobs offers up to $2,200 for firing a worker and only $190 for hiring a worker. I suppose this reverse logic will be covered in the next round of commercials and ads the government will be commissioning at taxpayer expense, but I hope so because when presented with these numbers and when given the actual facts, Canadians will make their own determination. I know my constituents will see through this deception.
The NDP have spoken very critically today of the motion, but I fear that their opposition stems from partisanship rather than the facts. First, let us look at the NDP costing of our proposal. The NDP claims that our plan would create at least a million but probably closer to 1.5 million net new jobs next year. That is great, but given that there are 1.3 million unemployed Canadians, that would be quite a feat.
However, if it did create 1.5 million new jobs, the income tax generated alone by those new employees would more than pay for the cost of the credit. Just to be clear, on the one hand, the NDP is arguing that under our Canadian plan for the workers, Canadian businesses and governments would all be big winners, but on the other hand, it says it cannot support it.
Second, the NDP's last platform had this commitment. It specifically promised to establish a job creation tax credit that would have provided funding on a per-hire basis. Specifically, it promised to give employers a one-year rebate on CPP contributions for each new hire. According, though, to the NDP rhetoric today, it is accusing Jack Layton of having wanted to raid the CPP for his pet projects. Imagine.
Instead of trying to sow divisions in the House, I think the NDP should really take a second look at the motion and reconsider it. Possibly its members did not fully understand it.
In 2008, the Prime Minister said the recession and the global economic slowdown would never happen. When Liberals disagreed, Conservatives accused us of fearmongering. Starting in 2009, the Prime Minister raided the cupboard and spent nearly $100 billion on gazebos and other stimulus measures to end the recession that he said would never happen. When Liberals disagreed, again, Conservatives accused us of not being up to the task. Today, we are faced by another fly-by-night Conservative plan to fix an economy that they said was not broken, and again, they are dismissing Liberal objections out of hand.
For eight years, we have been listening to a Prime Minister with a legacy of being wrong on issues involving the nation's finances. Perhaps it is time for a fresh arm. Perhaps it is time to take a look at the Liberal plan, a plan that would create the right conditions for jobs and growth for Canadians and for Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the remarkable achievement of the Clarenville High School student choir from my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
I join the principal of Clarenville High School, Ian Davidson, and indeed the entire community, in congratulating music teacher and choir conductor Ann Lundrigan, along with her 52 student singers, on winning a gold level award while representing Canada as the only Canadian choir in its category at the Worldstrides' Music Festival in New York City on April 11. The public school choir placed third in its category, behind two exclusively fine arts schools.
During the competition, the choir members sang three pieces: Ain't Judging no Man, Praise His Holy Name, and We Rise Again. Their hard work and unmatched enthusiasm earned the students the Spirit of New York award for the entire festival.
I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating the Clarenville student choir and in wishing it every success. May its perfect pitch continue.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Christopher Coady, a talented 15-year-old from Newfoundland and Labrador who recently won the Karate Canada National Cadet Kumite championship in the under 63 kilogram division.
Christopher's proud grandparents, Patrick and Sarah Brake from St. Lawrence in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's, justifiably boast about his accomplishments at every opportunity.
As the Canadian Kumite champion, Christopher is looking forward to competing at the Pan-American karate championships taking place this summer in Lima, Peru.
Christopher's talent was obvious at an early age when he started training at the age of six. He has been successful on the provincial and national stage. In addition to being the current national champion, he is the current Atlantic Canada karate champion and represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2013 Commonwealth championships and the 2013 Montreal open.
I ask all members to join me in congratulating Christopher and wishing him all the best when he represents Canada at the Pan-American karate championships this summer.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to a question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster. He took issue with a comment that I made on the floor, which I will cite verbatim. I stated:
There are regular reports of people receiving multiple cards and using them to vote multiple times. That, too, can be found on the Elections Canada website.
The cards in question are the voter information cards Elections Canada provides to electors who are on the voters list to indicate to them where and when they can cast their ballots.
The second sentence in my statement is as follows:
That, too, can be found on the Elections Canada website.
That, of course, is used as a pronoun here and refers to multiple voting and multiple cards. Therefore, let us check whether Elections Canada's website does, in fact, have cases that deal with either or both of those. I turn members' attention to that website, and I will share a few URLs, which are too long to list here on the floor, but I am sure members will have no problem finding them.
For example, I turn members' attention to the Commissioner of Canada Elections' compliance agreement, which states:
This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections pursuant to section 521 of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9 (hereafter referred to as the “Act”).
On September 20, 2013, and pursuant to section 517 of the Act, the Commissioner of Canada Elections entered into a compliance agreement with Ms. Laura-Emmanuelle Gagné (hereafter referred to as the “Contracting Party”), of the city of Montréal, Quebec, who was an elector in the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie during the 2011 federal general election.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged acts that may have constituted a failure to comply with section 7 of the Act, which provides that no elector who has voted at an election may request a second ballot at that election.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that, on May 2, 2011, polling day for the 2011 federal general election, she voted in the Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie electoral district before proceeding that same day to the Laurier—Sainte-Marie electoral district and requesting and obtaining a second ballot.
Specifically, the Contracting Party has acknowledged the following:
During the period leading up to the May 2, 2011, federal general election, she received two voter information cards in her name, one for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, in which she resided, and one for the neighbouring electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, in which she did not reside.
On May 2, 2011, she went to polling division No. 103 in the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie with three unidentified persons and a hidden camera provided by those persons, and voted.
That same day, she went to polling division No. 002 in the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, and found that her name had been struck off the list of electors for that electoral district and moved to the list of electors for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Given that her name had been struck off the list of electors for the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, she asked to register using a registration certificate so that she might vote, then requested and obtained another ballot, which she completed before spoiling it.
She erroneously believed that spoiling the second ballot meant that she was not committing an offence under the Act.
The hoax in which she took part was broadcast on May 5, 2011, on Infoman, a show produced by Zone3 Inc., on Radio-Canada.
The Contracting Party has accepted responsibility for these acts, and she is now aware of section 7 of the Act and the offence provision at paragraph 483(b) of the Act.
There we have one example of someone receiving multiple voting cards, enabling the possibility of voting more than once. She obtained two ballots as a result of having two voter information cards and having been allowed to use those cards for that said purpose.
I have a second case, which is almost identical. I am not going to repeat all the same language, because it is pro forma, but the second example is of Mr. Simon Poulin, hereinafter referred to as “The Contracting Party”, and I quote:
...he voted in the Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie electoral district before proceeding that same day to the Laurier—Sainte-Marie electoral district and requesting and obtaining a second ballot.
It goes on to say:
During the period leading up to the May 2, 2011, federal general election, he received two voter information cards in his name, one for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, in which he resided, and one for the neighbouring electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, in which he did not reside.
On May 2, 2011, he went to polling division No. 103 in the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie with three unidentified persons and a hidden camera provided by those persons, and voted.
That same day, he went to polling division No. 002 in the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, and found that his name had been struck off the list of electors for that electoral district and moved to the list of electors for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Given that his name had been struck off the list of electors for the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, he asked to register using a registration certificate so that he might vote, then requested and obtained another ballot, which he completed before spoiling it.
This is evidence of people receiving multiple voting cards, which enables the practice of multiple voting.
I will move on to additional examples.
On December 5, 2011 the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 517 of the Canada Elections Act, entered into a compliance agreement with Mr. Jacques Nadeau (hereinafter referred to as the Contracting Party)...
The contracting party has acknowledged that he voted by special ballot in the office of the returning office for the electoral district of Mégantic--L'Érable on April 20, 2011. He also acknowledged that he wilfully requested a second ballot for the same electoral district at the advance poll on April 25, 2011.
That case, I should point out, did not involve the use of the voter information card. However, going back to my original statement, I referred in general terms to the phenomenon of multiple voting, and this case is one such example.
I will now move on to a fourth example of dealing with the issue of multiple voting. On June 27, 2006, the commissioner entered into a compliance agreement with the contracting party, who is from Montreal, and I quote:
In this agreement, the contracting party admits to acts that constitute an offence under section 7 of the Canada Elections Act, as she registered and requested a second special ballot on January 12, 2006, in the electoral district of Jeanne-Le Ber, after having already voted by special ballot in the same electoral district on December 5, 2005, with the mistaken belief that in the case of the first vote, it was in a by-election.
Now I move on to a fifth example of multiple voting, which is also on the Elections Canada website:
In this agreement, the contracting party admits to acts that constitute an offence under section 7 of the Canada Elections Act, as she registered and requested a second ballot on polling day, June 28, 2004, in the electoral district of Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, after having already voted at an advance poll in the electoral district of Huron—Bruce...
This case is where someone voted twice, once in each riding. This was based on the mistaken belief that if a person has two residences, a person can vote twice, something that is obviously not true and something that this particular elector has since learned and acknowledged.
I have a sixth example. On July 20, 2006, the commissioner entered into an agreement with the contracting party, of the city of Stephenville. It is an issue whereby the individual in question requested a second ballot on January 23, 2006, in the electoral district of Random—Burin—St. George's, after having already voted in the advance poll in the same electoral district on January 16, 2006.
There is a seventh example. The commissioner signed an agreement with a citizen from Woodstock, Ontario. The offence, again, was that the person requested a second ballot in the 2004 election in the riding of Toronto—Danforth after having already voted in the advance poll in the electoral district of Oxford.
I have just given seven examples of multiple voting, and I gave two examples where the receipt of multiple voter information cards occurred and led to electors seeking a second ballot after they had already voted. Therefore, if you look to my original comments, you will find that they were indeed accurate.
All the examples I have shared with the House are found on Elections Canada's website, which is precisely what I suggested in my statement. Therefore, my comments are an accurate reflection of the reality people would find if they went to that site, and I stand by the comments.
Order, please. Before we resume debate, I have the honour to inform the House that Mr. LeBlanc, the member for the electoral district of Beauséjour, has been appointed a member of the Board of Internal Economy in the place of Ms. Foote, the member for the electoral district of Random—Burin—St. George's. This is for the purposes and under the provisions of section 50 of the Parliament of Canada Act.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has the floor. He will have 10 minutes for his speech, followed by questions and comments.
The electoral district of Random--Burin--St. George's (Newfoundland and Labrador) has a population of 71,219 with 57,209 registered voters and 214 polling divisions.
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