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            • MPlibblog Rodger Cuzner 158 post Business of Supply

              Mr. Speaker, for my friend and colleague from Acadie—Bathurst, I will try to help him out by finishing off some of the thoughts I am sure he did not have time to share.

              The $160 billion added to the national debt, the Conservatives got it done. A 66% increase in Canadians who work for minimum wage under the government, they got it done. A youth unemployment rate that is twice the level of the national average, congratulations, they got it done. Closure of veterans' offices from coast to coast, they got it done. Getting booted off the UN Security Council, the pride of the international community, the Conservatives got it done.

              How could meeting with the premiers of the country make it any worse than the job the Conservatives have done?

              • MPconblog BarryDevolin_MP 105 post Victims Bill of Rights Act

                It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Seniors; and the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Official Languages.

                Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

                • MPndpblog Yvon Godin 1358 post Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2

                  Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

                  I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-43. This is the 77th time the government has moved a time allocation motion. This time allocation motion is on a budget bill, which is very important. The government gave us two days to debate the bill at report stage and one day, today, for third reading stage. This is how much time we have had in Parliament to debate a bill that is more than 460 pages long, has more than 400 clauses and will amend a dozen of our country's laws.

                  We want to hold an intelligent debate on a budget that matters to Canadians. Ten minutes go by quickly, but I cannot ignore the comments made by our Conservative colleague, who said that the NDP wants to introduce a 45-day work year. Every time we ask a question about employment insurance, the government says that the NDP wants everyone to work only 45 days a year.

                  According to The Globe and Mail, the Minister of Employment and Social Development said that he would have to hire more than 400 employees to answer calls from seniors and workers, as a result of delays in processing employment insurance, old age security and guaranteed income supplement payments.

                  This same government wants to reduce employers' EI premiums by half a billion dollars, telling us that this will create jobs in Canada. However, Ms. Doucet, who runs a Christmas wreath company in a town in my riding, said that the EI reform was discouraging seasonal workers.

                  The government says that these cuts are justified. It says it wants to create jobs and help people work instead of being unemployed. The government thinks workers are lazy slackers. This is not the first time that I have criticized the government's actions in the House, and it will not be the last.

                  People have to wait up to 25 weeks to get their guaranteed income supplement, which helps the most vulnerable members of our society. I am talking about seniors whose only pension is old age security and who need a supplement. Can a person really live on $543 a month? These people are being made to wait 25 weeks.

                  This week and last week, the Minister of Employment and Social Development had the nerve to say that he had asked some Social Security Tribunal officers who were working on employment insurance files to work on old age security and guaranteed income supplement files. However, the tribunal already has a six-month backlog of employment insurance files.

                  Yesterday and today, the minister acknowledged this and said that 400 people would be hired. However, it takes 12 to 18 months to train a person on how to process an employment insurance or old age security file.

                  The government has even admitted that Service Canada offices received 10,000 complaints. The government closed offices and cut front-line staff.

                  In Pleasantville, Newfoundland and Labrador, 100 to 150 people are visiting the employment insurance office because they cannot reach anyone by telephone. Even if the government hired 400 people tomorrow morning to work at Service Canada, they would not be answering the telephone. The Conservatives have created a mess for Canadians. The government should be ashamed of tampering with a program and a responsibility they have toward seniors and workers, and they should be ashamed of laughing at at them.

                  Our colleague in the House of Commons from Madawaska—Restigouche said the following in the newspapers. I will not name the MP that he quoted, but it appears he is from Acadie—Bathurst. The member for Madawaska—Restigouche said:

                  The campaign of terror waged by [the member for Acadie—Bathurst] and company did not achieve the expected results. They scared people, and everyone across the region sees that.

                  Yes, people in that region clearly see that they cannot get employment insurance benefits. They see that they have to wait six months for the Social Security Tribunal to hear their case. In my riding, seniors see that they cannot get the guaranteed income supplement and they have to live on $553 a month. People see that they need to apply for welfare.

                  Rather than allowing MPs in the House to express their views, as in a democratic country, on Bill C-43, the Conservatives have imposed a time allocation motion so that we can only debate it for one day. This is shameful.

                  It is shameful to hear a government tell Canadians that the NDP is proposing, among other things, that people should work only 45 days a year. It is shameful that the government thinks that workers are lazy slackers. In fact, this is what they are actually saying in their speeches.

                  It is completely unacceptable for men and women who have worked all their lives and who want to retire. This is the same government that increased the retirement age from 65 to 67.

                  Yes, I am proud of belonging to the NDP and to say that we are going to bring back 65 as the age of eligibility to old age security. Yes, I am proud to say that I am with the NDP and not with the Conservatives who persecute workers, seniors and ordinary Canadians. They are going to cut $36 billion from the health care sector by 2017. Yes, I am proud of the NDP, which has said that this $36 billion is going to be returned to the health care sector.

                  We hope that Canadians are aware of what the Conservatives will do, if they ever get back into power.

                  The Conservatives are attacking the poorest and the most vulnerable people in our society. It is a shameful way to treat people who are just reaching retirement age after working all their lives.

                  This is the kind of thing that this bill does, in addition to decreasing contributions from employers. This is not something that will create 800,000 jobs, as the government would have us believe.

                  What do our entrepreneurs do when the Conservatives make cuts to employment insurance for seasonal workers? They go west, but that is artificial. Our national economy cannot be based on just one element, that is, only on oil wells.

                  The price of oil is going down. If there are layoffs in western Canada, what will happen to all the people who take the plane every week to go to jobs out west? The Conservatives boast about creating jobs, but those jobs have only been created in one place because the price of oil was going up. Jobs were created out west, but not here at home, in the Atlantic region, nor in the rural areas of the country. If they want people to stop needing employment insurance, they have to create jobs. This is absolutely not what is in this budget. The Conservatives should be ashamed of how they are leading the country.

                  It is to be hoped that Canadians will remember this when the next elections are held and that they will kick them out once and for all or for a long time.

                  • MPconblog bruce_stanton 78 post Rouge National Urban Park Act

                    Before resuming debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Rail Transportation; and the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra, National Defence.

                    • MPconblog bruce_stanton 33 post Business of Supply

                      I appreciate the clarification and the hon. member's bringing it to the House quickly.

                      Questions and comments, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

                      • MPlibblog Wayne Easter 382 post Privilege

                        Mr. Speaker, the member for Acadie—Bathurst certainly brought up a very serious point of privilege for us all. I am in a unique situation. I saw all the buses and cars lined up and I just kept on walking. I walked across the street in front of the Confederation Building and got in. However, I have heard quite a number of complaints from my colleagues who happened to be on the buses and were stopped, and I take at his word what the member for Acadie—Bathurst said and what the police officer said to him.

                        Certainly it is extremely important. This is our place of work. It is our precinct, and our privileges should not be denied for really any reason.

                        I am going to make it very clear, and I believe the member of the governing party made it reasonably clear, that we are not blaming either the Ottawa police or the RCMP. They were in a situation of probably not knowing. However, there was the president of the Federal Republic of Germany. I saw that convoy go down, about 10 cars, as I was coming up the hill, and from a policing and security perspective, from their point of view and probably not knowing us as individuals, they had to be concerned as well.

                        There was a failure somewhere in the system here, and there is another possibility, as I believe the leader of the Green Party mentioned in a blog. Is it always necessary that the heads of countries come to Parliament, or sometimes should they be going to Rideau Hall? That is an interesting angle that may need to be considered as well.

                        However, I just want to say that the member has a serious and legitimate point of privilege. Things happened here that should not have happened. I am certainly saying that I understand the policing point of view from a security aspect, that the police officers have their orders and concerns as well, so we have to look at that angle, but this should not happen again.

                        • MPndpblog Peter Julian 105 post Privilege

                          Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention of my colleague. My concern is because the votes were scheduled by the government at the same time as we had the protocol that was put into place that was not followed. As my colleague, the member for Acadie—Bathurst has clearly said, it is something that has come up before. Why did the government not plan to ensure that the votes on time allocation did not take place at the same time as the visitors were arriving on the Hill?

                          • MPconblog Tom Lukiwski 840 post Privilege

                            Mr. Speaker, I will keep my comments brief. I also want to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for his intervention and for raising this point of privilege. I agree with him totally.

                            He is right. The incident that happened today has happened before. I was a member of the procedures and House affairs committee in 2012 when we examined a point of privilege first brought forward by the member for Winnipeg Centre, who along with two other parliamentarians, was denied access to Centre Block during the visit of the Israeli prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu.

                            At that time, the procedure and House affairs committee called three witnesses. We heard from the Clerk of the House of Commons, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and an assistant commissioner of the RCMP in charge of policing services. All agreed that the rights of parliamentarians to come to this place, their place of work, as my colleague states, should never be impeded. In fact, the assistant commissioner of the RCMP apologized for the actions of one of its members who stopped three parliamentarians from getting to Centre Block. In two of those three cases, parliamentarians were actually told to take the East Block tunnel to come to Centre Block, rather than walk directly to Centre Block. I believe at that time it was for a vote as well.

                            During the testimony of the assistant commissioner of the RCMP, who appeared before committee, he said the RCMP would enhance its procedures to try to prevent this type of situation from ever occurring again. In particular, he said three distinct provisions would be taken.

                            First, all RCMP members who would be on duty during future visits of foreign dignitaries would be more aggressively and properly briefed on the rights of parliamentarians to gain access to Parliament Hill.

                            Second, he agreed to use the services of both the House of Commons and the Senate security services to assist in identifying parliamentarians, since as we all know, those security services are far more familiar with the faces of parliamentarians than are members of the RCMP.

                            Third, he agreed to have security from both the House of Commons and the Senate at key access points whenever there was either a state visit or a visit by a foreign dignitary that required additional security forces, such as the RCMP.

                            We thought at the time when we examined that issue at the procedure and House affairs committee that those three initiatives by the RCMP—plus a few other recommendations that we made at committee, such as encouraging all members to wear their MP pins, making sure they have proper identification, whether security cards, access cards, or that type of thing—that the situation would get better. We also recommended that all outside security forces, when on duty during the visits of foreign dignitaries, not only be briefed more aggressively and properly but have copies of the members handbooks so they could visually identify people who identified themselves as members of Parliament. We thought at that point in time that the situation would get better, because the RCMP had committed to making those enhancements to ensure that this type of incident did not occur again.

                            Obviously, something fell through the cracks, because it occurred today, and it should not have. At no time should there ever be any situation where members of Parliament, regardless of which party they belong to, are denied access to their place of work. That should never, ever happen.

                            I welcome the fact that we are going to examine the situation again. As a member of the procedures and House affairs committee, I might suggest in this place, and then later in committee, that if we had commitments from an assistant commissioner that were not followed through, perhaps this time we bring the Commissioner of the RCMP to committee to try to get his assurances that this type of situation will never occur again.

                            It is an important issue, one I think we should discuss. I will not take any more time because I firmly believe that all members of this place are in agreement with the intervention initially made by my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst.

                            I would also suggest that perhaps, if there is a willingness from all of my colleagues, we go to a vote right now and make sure this issue gets before the procedure and House affairs committee, because I think we are all in agreement that it should.

                            • MPndpblog Nathan Cullen 347 post Privilege

                              Mr. Speaker, it is only an intervention I want to make in this debate.

                              As the minister pointed out rightly, this has happened before, again and again. We have made changes to the way that security is meant to interface, particularly when foreign dignitaries are here on the Hill. We all can understand, and I am sure the member for Acadie—Bathurst understands, that when certain foreign leaders are here, security conditions change because of the higher security threat than when Parliament is doing its normal functions.

                              The challenge that I have, and I put this through you, Mr. Speaker, to the government, the powers that be in this place, is that we made accommodations before where off-site security forces, be it the municipal police or the RCMP, who may not be as familiar with the procedures in the House of Commons, because this is obviously a unique place constitutionally, are accompanied by House of Commons security at these points of intervention.

                              The House of Commons security, as all members of Parliament would know, have familiarity with us and have an understanding of the importance of what my friend from Acadie—Bathurst talks about, the ability to go forward and get into the House of Commons for sometimes critical votes.

                              My question to him and to all members is this. Can we not finally solve this thing that keeps happening to members of Parliament from all sides, where they are prevented from doing their lawful duties, and finally establish a security protocol that works both for the security services and members of Parliament who are simply trying to do what my friend was doing, which was represent the good people of Acadie—Bathurst?

                              • MPconblog andrewscheer 254 post Privilege

                                I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised earlier today by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

                                I also want to thank the hon. members for Winnipeg North, Burnaby—New Westminster, Westmount—Ville-Marie, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for their comments.

                                The denial of access by members to the precinct is a serious matter, particularly on a day when votes are taking place. There are many precedents to be found regarding incidents of this kind, including my own ruling of March 15, 2012.

                                In view of that strong body of jurisprudence and given the information shared with the House by the numerous members who have made interventions, I am satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie matter of privilege in this case. I would like to invite the member for Acadie—Bathurst to move his motion.

                                • MPconblog bruce_stanton 152 post Privilege

                                  I thank the hon. members for Acadie—Bathurst, Winnipeg North, Burnaby—New Westminster, and Westmount—Ville-Marie.

                                  I note the hon. government House leader reserves the opportunity to perhaps get back to the House once greater facts are known, and for the intervention of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

                                  As is customary in these cases, we will take these interventions under advisement and get back to the House in due course.

                                  • MPndpblog Peter Julian 146 post Privilege

                                    Mr. Speaker, when you look at the case of jurisprudence and tradition in the House, particularly in 1989, former Speaker Fraser ruled that a prima facie case of privilege existed. That is when a roadblock on Parliament Hill prevented members from accessing the House of Commons. In 2004, as well, a question of privilege was raised regarding the free movement of members within the Parliamentary Precinct.

                                    Therefore, the member for Acadie—Bathurst is absolutely right to raise this question. The reality is the government planned these votes and the visit. The government was responsible for both and it could have understood, given the importance of these precedents, that stopping members from coming to the House of Commons is an insult to the privilege of members.

                                    • MPndpblog Cash4TO 244 post Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act

                                      Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to and I am in agreement with the member for Acadie—Bathurst. Our leader is knowledgeable and experienced in the whole environmental field.

                                      Is this not just a reduction in the polluter pay principle, that polluters who can limit their liability through a bill like this can get away with a subsidy from our government because they do not have to carry the kind of insurance necessary to actually insure against the worst-case disasters?

                                      Look what happened in Quebec with MMA. MMA did not have enough insurance to cover the kind of disaster it wrought on the Province of Quebec and the people of Lac-Mégantic, and the Province of Quebec, the federal government, and the people of Canada are picking up the tab.

                                      Essentially what our party believes in is that if there is a disaster, the people who cause the disaster, the polluters, should pay.

                                      That is what this bill fails to do. It fails to force the companies that are doing what they are doing on our coasts, in our airspace and on our rails to protect Canadians. What happens is they are getting subsidized. I think that is wrong. Does the member think that is wrong?

                                      • MPndpblog Yvon Godin 1390 post Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act

                                        Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

                                        I will begin by congratulating the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, neighbouring my riding of Acadie—Bathurst. These ridings share Chaleur Bay, which is recognized by UNESCO as one of the 10 most beautiful bays in the world.

                                        I also thank him for his work on major issues, which we are also facing, since we share Chaleur Bay. For those who do not know, this bay has lobster. People like lobster. There are also all sorts of beautiful fish, as well as crab, and we want to protect them. We have a responsibility to protect them because they are fishers' livelihood. People also like to eat them.

                                        I rise today to talk about C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

                                        Even though we support this bill at third reading, we are extremely disappointed that the Conservatives rejected our proposals to broaden the scope of this bill. We proposed amendments, unlike the Liberals. They wanted to propose some at second reading, but they missed the boat, to use a Maritimes reference.

                                        Our approach shows that we are ready to make tangible and comprehensive changes to protect our coasts, whereas the Conservatives are not. I would like to expand on the Conservatives' lack of credibility when it comes to marine and air safety issues.

                                        If the true purpose of Bill C-3 is to promote greater tanker traffic safety, why did the government not seize the opportunity to cancel the cuts in the latest budgets and the shutdown of marine safety programs?

                                        The Conservative government wants to protect our coasts with this bill, but let us look at its record: the closure of the B.C. spill response centre, the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station and the gutting of environmental emergency response programs.

                                        It does not make any sense for the Conservative government to cut programs at marine communications and traffic service centres and environmental emergency response centres, because we know that tanker traffic tripled between 2005 and 2010 and is expected to triple again by 2016. Pipeline expansion projects are also expected to increase crude oil shipments from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels a day.

                                        When faced with these facts, it is difficult to believe that Canadians' concerns are really being taken seriously.

                                        I would like to remind hon. members that the scaling back of Coast Guard rescue capacity and facilities has affected more than just British Columbia. The Conservative government has threatened to cut facilities across Canada, including those in the eastern part of the country. Most notable is its irresponsible decision to close the Newfoundland and Labrador marine rescue centre.

                                        The Conservatives also planned to close the marine search and rescue centre in Quebec City, which, like the Newfoundland and Labrador centre, often conducts rescue and emergency relief operations. In fact, it responds to nearly 1,500 distress calls a year.

                                        As a result of public protest and the hard work of my NDP colleagues, the Conservatives were forced to reconsider their decision to close the marine search and rescue centre in Quebec City, and it is still open today.

                                        I would like to commend my colleagues and the people of Quebec, who stood up to show how important this centre is.

                                        If the Conservatives really want to protect Canada's oceans with this bill, why not broaden its scope?

                                        The measures that the NDP wants to see in a bill to safeguard Canada’s seas include reversing Coast Guard closures and the scaling back of services, including the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.

                                        We also want the Conservatives to cancel the cuts to the marine communication and traffic service centres, including the marine traffic control communications terminals in Vancouver and St. John's, Newfoundland. We have before us a bill that seeks to protect our oceans and tankers, but the government is closing the most important organizations for monitoring them.

                                        We are also calling on the government to cancel the closure of British Columbia's oil spill response centre. It is unbelievable that the government would put forward this bill in the House of Commons and at the same time seek to close the oil spill response centre in British Columbia. Earlier, I was saying that crude oil shipments would increase from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels a day. Marine traffic is growing and the Conservatives are cutting the organizations that might be able to prevent catastrophes.

                                        We are calling on the government to cancel cuts to the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research. The Conservatives even want to make cuts to a research centre. We are also calling on them to cancel cuts to key environmental emergency programs, including oil spill response in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia.

                                        It is scary. It is scary to see where the government is going with this. Canadians should be scared to see what is happening on the energy and oil fronts. It is not new, and each year we see an increase in the use of our rivers and oceans, both the Pacific and the Atlantic. The government is shutting down everything that has been put in place to protect and monitor these bodies of water.

                                        We are calling on the government to reinforce the capacity of petroleum boards—which is currently nil—to handle oil spills, as recommended by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board needs to build in-house expertise to manage a major spill, including an independent safety regulator.

                                        We want the Canadian Coast Guard to work collaboratively with its U.S. counterparts and conduct a parallel study to examine the risks additional super tanker traffic would cause in Canadian waters.

                                        If the Conservatives really wanted to take marine safety seriously, they could have—and should have—expanded this bill. We know that the Conservatives are making these modest changes in an attempt to calm British Columbians' well-founded fears about new oil pipeline projects and the inevitable increase in oil tanker traffic that would result from new pipeline construction.

                                        The people of British Columbia are right to be worried about potential spills resulting from the increase in tanker traffic. Oil spills have proven inevitable with oil tanker traffic. The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation has recorded nearly 10,000 accidental oil spills globally since 1970.

                                        That should tell the government to be careful. Given all the cuts it has made in various areas, it is, as I said earlier, very scary.

                                        The government needs to shoulder its responsibilities. This bill does not go far enough. We will support it because, while it is not much, it is better than nothing. However, it should go further.

                                        • MPconblog andrewscheer 25 post Employment Insurance

                                          Order. The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

                                          • MPconblog Cathy McLeod 98 post Business of Supply

                                            Mr. Speaker, previous to my colleague giving his speech we heard from the member for Acadie—Bathurst. He talked about how he thought the government was not taking good care of workers in this country. I would like my colleague to talk further about some of those measures that we have introduced that really have strong, positive impact and support for workers. He mentioned a few but I would like him to have an opportunity to talk more about those.

                                            • MPlibblog Rodger Cuzner 212 post Business of Supply

                                              Mr. Speaker, one of my favourite times in the House is when I get to join in the debate with my friend and colleague from Acadie—Bathurst.

                                              Let us be careful here. I had two calls in the office today, and I think my colleague will want to make sure the record is correct. Do not get me wrong: he did not mislead the House in any way with respect to this. He made reference to the fish plant workers and having respect for those fish plant workers who work for minimum wage, just as I have respect, as does anybody who lives in a coastal community where there is fishing. However, members must know that this motion would not impact anybody outside of the federal jurisdiction; so perhaps he could clarify that.

                                              I will go back and ask my other colleague this. I know where I got the statistic of 416 people. That was from the StatsCan study. I still do not know where the NDP are getting this 100,000 workers that it would impact. If the member could enlighten me, I would appreciate that.

                                              • MPndpblog Yvon Godin 1434 post Business of Supply

                                                Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to this motion on the minimum wage.

                                                People who know me know that I have a lot of experience in labour relations, negotiations and all those sorts of things. I was also a member of a committee set up by the New Brunswick government to study the minimum wage.

                                                I would like to respond right away to the member for Cape Breton—Canso. He rose and asked where the NDP members were in 1996, and he mentioned that they voted with the Liberals. The story there is that in 1996, the federal minimum wage was $4 an hour. It was higher in all the provinces. The federal government was lagging behind. Rather than keeping its minimum wage at $4 an hour and introducing a bill to make the federal minimum wage higher than that of all the provinces and thereby showing leadership to workers by ensuring that they would be treated well, it decided to do what the provinces were doing. The federal government would apply the provinces' minimum wage, which at the time was higher than the federal wage. It was a winning formula. To put it bluntly, it was better than nothing.

                                                If we look at the situation between 1996 and the present, I think that that had a negative effect. The federal government should have come up with a formula to increase the minimum wage in order to set an example for the rest of the provinces and show respect for workers. Instead, the federal government said that it was not generous, that it would align itself with the provinces and do as they did.

                                                The problem is that companies under federal jurisdiction act in the following manner. Instead of creating jobs in their province, they move from one province to another, wherever the minimum wage is the lowest. They want to exploit workers in Canada. This does not just happen in the third world; it also happens here in Canada.

                                                I will come back to this issue because, back in New Brunswick, I was part of the team advising the minister on the minimum wage. I remember I went before the committee saying that they should raise the minimum wage in New Brunswick by $1. I remember that the rest of the committee said that it would not work like that. The minister was prepared to raise the hourly wage by 25¢. Had the recommendation not been for 25¢, there would have been no increase. I for one was not there to say what the minister wanted to hear; I was there to advise him that the increase should be $1 instead of 25¢. That was my position on the issue.

                                                These wages resemble slavery. Today, people have minimum wage jobs. Most of these people are women and they need to have one, two or three jobs. I am sure that the people back home understand what I am saying because that is what they tell me in their community. There is not a member here, in the House of Commons, who can tell me that, when they met with their constituents, they were told that the minimum wage was too high. Not a single member, whether Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc, Green Party or whichever other party, went to their constituency and met with workers who said that the minimum wage was too high and needed to be cut. It is quite the opposite.

                                                The cost of living has gone up. The increases to the minimum wage have led to a completely unacceptable level of poverty. That is why I say that the federal government has a responsibility to show leadership and set a minimum wage that is higher than that of any of the provinces.

                                                It has to step up and tell the provinces that this is unacceptable.

                                                New Brunswickers are not second-class Canadians. Our minimum wage should not be lower than Ontario's, which is $11 per hour. People in New Brunswick work just as hard as people elsewhere in the country. They can do the same work, so they deserve to have the same minimum wage. Just because people are from the Maritimes does not mean they should be the poorest people in the country.

                                                The government has an opportunity to show leadership. The NDP wants to take the lead so it can help workers. I have never seen the Conservatives come to the House of Commons with a bill to protect working men and women. Quite the contrary. They pass bills to kill unions and undermine workers' strength. That is what the government is doing.

                                                When the time comes to vote on minimum wage, I hope they will take the workers' side for once. That is something they have never done since coming to power in 2006. They would rather talk about how the NDP voted against their budgets and how they wanted to lower the GST from 7% to 5%.

                                                When we suggest raising workers' wages, they say no right away. They would not touch that with a 10-foot pole. They legislated Canada Post and Air Canada employees back to work. They introduce private members' bills to get rid of unions, the very unions that worked so hard to negotiate pay increases, pension funds and health care for workers. The Conservatives are working against that.

                                                For once, they have the opportunity to stand up and say that the federal government will establish a federal minimum wage. It is not normal for a federal government not to have a minimum wage set in its legislation. The reason the previous federal Liberal government got rid of it is that the government did not have the courage to increase the minimum wage. Instead it shifted the responsibility to the provinces. It is too bad, but that was not the right move.

                                                Under the current circumstances, the right thing for the government to do for workers would be to show leadership and prove that it is taking care of them. These men and women get up in the morning and work hard to build our country. It takes more than money. They need money to feed their families and we owe them respect.

                                                As legislators, out of respect for the workers, we must legislate an increase in their salaries to ensure they are not being left in poverty as it is happening now.

                                                I would like to see a Conservative stand up and deny the fact that there are workers living below the poverty line because of minimum wages. They are forced to take on two or three jobs. These men and women have to work for one employer in the morning, another in the afternoon and a third one on the weekend.

                                                That is what the people of Acadie—Bathurst back home tell me. I challenge anyone here to stand up and tell me it is not true that workers are living below the poverty line. For example, fish plant workers earn minimum wage their entire lives instead of a decent salary.

                                                I am proud of this motion and I hope the other political parties are too. If they vote against it, their true colours will show, as they did during the vote on the cuts to employment insurance.

                                                The Liberals took $57 billion from the EI fund and the Conservatives made it legal to steal from the EI fund. Today, they are still not prepared to support workers. It is not right. Out of respect for the men and women who have built this country and continue to do so, we have a responsibility to legislate in order to provide them the best working conditions, not take them away.

                                                This motion gives us the chance to do that. It gives us the chance to show national leadership, across the country, and show what Canada is made of and what we want to do. This will then give the provinces the chance to follow suit.

                                                • ndpblog New Democratic Party of Canada political_party post NDP marks opening of the 6th Canadian Francophone Games
                                                  New Democrat MPs Françoise Boivin (Gatineau) and Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst) made the following statement on the Canadian Francophone Games, to be... read more
                                                  Jul 22, 2014 12:27 pm> |
                                                  • MPndpblog Niki Ashton 1495 post Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

                                                    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for putting forward our position as New Democrats on this legislation.

                                                    Bill C-20 is a bill that would implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras. It is a bill that we very much oppose and, sadly, it is a bill that reflects the Conservative government's agenda, which is to disregard human rights, environmental sustainability, and the reputation that we as a country have built over the last number of years, and throw it all away in the name of presumably creating some wealth for probably some of the government's friends.

                                                    We oppose the bill because of three fundamentally important criteria: is the proposed partner one that respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values? If there are challenges in these regards, is the partner on a positive trajectory toward these goals? We have also made it clear that we are concerned about the terms of the proposed agreement and the strategic value that this kind of relationship would pose for Canada. On these three criteria, this agreement fails.

                                                    We have indicated, and members have heard this tonight only from New Democrat members who have been speaking in the House, that Honduras is a country with undemocratic practices, a corrupt government, weak institutions, and low standards. It is of insignificant strategic value and it has a dark record of human rights abuses.

                                                    We have heard about the military coup d'état in 2009 in Honduras. We have heard about the attack on journalists and freedom of speech. We have heard about the persecution of trade unionists and human rights advocates. We have heard of the danger that LGBTQ Hondurans have faced in their country, and in fact of the murder of members of that community. We have heard of the incredible inequality that exists in that country. We have heard in so many ways that the situation for Hondurans in their own country is becoming worse, yet the Government of Canada is proclaiming that somehow it is fitting for Honduras to have a closer relationship with Canada, that somehow this agreement would make a difference for the people of Honduras.

                                                    We do not have to look any further than the free trade agreement with Colombia, as we have heard from my NDP colleagues tonight. The trade agreement with Colombia is a perfect example of the way in which the government pursued a hardball economic agenda and said that human rights and environmental sustainability would be regulated and encouraged through side agreements and mechanisms parallel to the actual agreement. However, the human rights violations in Colombia continue. Trade unionists and human rights activists continue to be under threat. Indigenous peoples continue to be displaced. Colombians are no better off as a result of that agreement.

                                                    As a Canadian member of Parliament, what I would like to focus on today is the way in which the Conservative government is steadfastly dismantling the reputation that Canadians have built for so many years, a reputation that we have worked at as leaders in human rights, equality, and justice.

                                                    Sadly, there is no shortage of examples of the way in which the government has sought to change Canada's reputation, has chosen to reverse its position when it comes to the importance of human rights and equality, and has removed itself from any sort of multilateral co-operative approach to making the world a better place. Sadly, this legislation is yet one more example of that failure to live up to a reputation that many Canadians value, and sadly, there are too many other cases in which we see the government support corporate interests that in turn take away our stellar reputation around the world.

                                                    Let us look at the mining sector. Around 75% of the world's mining companies are based in Canada. We know that most of these mining companies do not actually have Canadian operations, but they benefit from the market scenarios and government policies when they set up shop here. In fact, a number of these companies are doing business around the world in a way that no Canadian can be proud of.

                                                    Canada's mining reputation is beginning to be noticed in the worst way around the world. There are too many examples to speak of to illustrate the ways in which companies that get support through Export Development Canada or even through direct investments from the Conservative government are creating havoc around the world.

                                                    I got to see one of these examples first-hand in a country that I know well, Greece. A company based in Canada, Eldorado Gold, with the help of money from Export Development Canada, has pursued mining development without the support of the public.

                                                    It has employed security forces to beat protesters. It has destroyed a tremendously valuable environment agriculturally and in terms of its natural wealth in northern Greece, to the point where people see the Canadian flag as something with a negative connotation. People are extremely critical, and they are saying things like “What happened to Canada?” They are very clear in their opposition not just to this mining development but to the kind of agenda that they see Canada putting forward around the world.

                                                    That is not something that makes me proud to be a Canadian member of Parliament. I am somebody who takes pride in being in the House, but the actions of the Conservative government affect all of us through the very correct perception that people have of us around the world.

                                                    Let us look at another area, the environment.

                                                    We know that Canada used to be seen as a leader. Sadly, under the Liberal government, a lot was left to be desired. Now, under the Conservative government, we have gone from being a leader to a laggard to an obstructionist when it comes to making a difference in terms of the environment. If we keep reducing emissions at the rate that we are going now every year, we will reach our 2020 targets in 2057.

                                                    Let us look at areas like maternal health. I had the chance to speak to this issue over the last number of weeks in great depth. We saw the way that Canada, often seen as a leader when it comes to women's rights, was very explicit in its exclusion of a fundamental aspect of a woman's right to health, which is her reproductive rights. All of this was to pursue the government's own ideological agenda.

                                                    The list goes on. Let us look at peacekeeping, at our role in conflicts around the world, our role more broadly in terms of the United Nations and the multilateral work that we used to be involved with but have now forgotten about.

                                                    This bill, in line with so many other bills and, more broadly, the agenda of the Conservative government, would contribute to sullying our reputation around the world. It would allow us to sit by as situations become worse for people in countries around the world, as well.

                                                    I would also like to touch on the way in which this kind of free trade agreement would not benefit Canadians.

                                                    We know that in Canada, we are seeing worsening income and wealth inequality. We know that 86 of the wealthiest Canadian residents hold the same amount as the bottom 11.4 million Canadians combined. We also know that with greater inequality in our country, when there is inequality in our safety and prosperity, everybody suffers.

                                                    I also want to note that, sadly, while the bill should be another effort in driving our ability as a country to provide for our own citizens and build our own economy, it is only an attempt by the current government to continue to pursue an agenda whereby few would benefit from trade programs like this. I am proud to stand with the NDP in opposition to the bill and in opposition to the government's agenda around the world.

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Acadie—Bathurst

The electoral district of Acadie--Bathurst (New Brunswick) has a population of 78,948 with 66,509 registered voters and 220 polling divisions.


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