Mr. Speaker, yesterday, municipal elections were held in Quebec, and I would like to congratulate all of the mayors in Quebec, as well as all the new councillors, and particularly those in my riding, with whom I will have the privilege of working.
The people of Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière have vision, and they show a lot of talent and leadership. Our municipal officials are the ones who will realize the aspirations and carry out the constructive and unifying projects that are important to our constituents.
Municipal officials play a very important role. They are involved in various key sectors, including infrastructure, the economy, community and culture.
I believe that the key to progress is for the federal, provincial and municipal governments to work together to build strong communities in Quebec, within a united Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill C-49 which will establish the new Canadian museum of history.
It will come as no surprise to Canadians that our government believes in our national museums. We recognize the tremendous value that they hold for all Canadians. As we approach Canada's 150th birthday, it is an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate our history and those achievements that define who we are as Canadians.
This government cannot overstate the important role that Canada's national museums play in preserving and sharing the Canadian story. Museums reach out in a myriad of ways to all communities across this great country, through travelling exhibitions, publications and online programming. Indeed, the digital age has expanded the reach of heritage institutions in this country and around the world. It has made it possible for us to share our stories in a way that was never imagined.
Mr. Speaker, I will also be sharing my time with the member for Lotbinière-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
The Canadian museum of history, like all our national museums, will reach out to Canadians and share our history through new digital initiatives. However, this is only one aspect of the Government of Canada's approach to capitalizing on the digital aid in service of Canada's history and heritage.
I would like to take this opportunity to draw to the attention of hon. members another important tool that the government has established to preserve and share our history, the Virtual Museum of Canada. The Virtual Museum of Canada was created as a result of the close partnership between Canada's museum community and the Department of Canadian Heritage. At the leading edge of this initiative is the Canadian Heritage Information Network, a special operating agency of the department.
The Canadian Heritage Information Network is a national centre of expertise in the use of digital technologies by museums, and it has been assisting our heritage community in taking full advantage of new digital technologies. The network and virtual museum are well-known and recognized as models by heritage communities in Canada and abroad.
The Virtual Museum of Canada receives millions of visits annually, from over 200 countries. It includes a detailed directory of more than 3,000 heritage institutions. That directory also allows Canadians and tourists to better understand and access these valuable repositories of our history.The Virtual Museum of Canada is also home to Artifacts Canada's inventory of almost four million objects and nearly one million images that showcase museum collections nationwide.
The Virtual Museum of Canada is also a highly interactive learning tool and resource for Canada's schools, teachers and students. Its teacher centre brings museums into the classroom. It offers teachers access to museum collections in the form of digital learning resources created by educators and museum professionals. It offers them a secure and customizable space to create and share lesson plans with each other and to interact with students. The teacher centre currently has over 3,000 registered users, students and teachers, and provides access to over 1,700 learning objects.
One example of a learning object collection is the one produced by the Royal Ontario Museum called “Shaping Canada: our voices and stories”. It provides teachers with the opportunity to demonstrate, by examining key artifacts, so we gain insight into Canada's collective history. At the end of the day, the Virtual Museum of Canada is essentially Canada's national online museum. It is designed to enable museums to work together in the development of an important and visible online presence. As its name suggests, the Virtual Museum of Canada is currently home to over 700 virtual exhibits, promoting the content of Canada's museums.
Connected with those exhibitions are more than 150 interactive resources, including “History matters”, which presents a series of audio and video podcasts, as well as short engaging stories of historical relevance. Both of these programs invite the viewer to say why history matters to them.
This is an absolutely fascinating aspect of the Virtual Museum of Canada. I urge all members to take a peek at it, at virtualmuseum.ca.
The range of virtual exhibits available for viewing, free of charge, of course, to everyone visiting the site, is extraordinary. The stories they tell us about our history are important, but they are not always easy. One example is "The Beginning of a New Era: the Quiet Revolution" , produced by the Musée québécois de culture populaire de Trois-Rivières. This fascinating online exhibit chronicles the in-depth political, social and cultural transformation that took place in less than a decade in Quebec, in the 1960s.
A further example is the exhibit presented by the Air Force Heritage Museum, in Winnipeg, entitled "For Valour: Canadian Airmen and the Victoria Cross" . This exhibit tells the amazing story of seven Canadian airmen who were awarded the Commonwealth's highest decoration, the Victoria Cross. It allows the viewers to imagine themselves flying in a bomber at 20,000 feet in total darkness, only to have their aircraft strafed and rendered inoperable by enemy fire. In the midst of this experience, we learn about the bravery and sacrifice of individual Canadians who earned our nation's highest honour. This story is even more compelling as we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
I could go on with more fascinating examples of stories of our history that are brought to life through Canada's museum and the Virtual Museum of Canada. I would encourage everyone here to explore them online, as millions already do.
The point I would like to make in closing is that the Virtual Museum of Canada shows that there is not just one way to preserve and share Canada's history with Canadians. The Canadian museum of history will be an important addition to that toolkit. It will provide the public with the opportunity to appreciate how Canada's identity has been shaped over the course of history. Canadians deserve a national museum that tells our stories and presents our country's treasures to the world.
I urge all of my hon. colleagues to support this new museum and to support Canada's history. Let us pass this bill as expeditiously as possible. I am sure that my friend, the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, will have more to say on this subject after a few questions and responses.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this afternoon and share my time with an outstanding person, namely the member for Ottawa—Orléans. He represents a community in the suburbs of the greater Ottawa area, which includes a large French-speaking community, and he serves it very well.
He also serves veterans very well. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion. I can always count on him. He always attends events organized for veterans. I want to thank him and tell him that I am extremely proud to be with him in a Conservative caucus that is working every day to improve the quality of life for the entire Canadian population.
I want to say in no uncertain terms that I will be supporting our government’s 2013 economic action plan without reservation, for three very simple reasons.
First, this budget is tailor-made for Canadian families. It is consistent with our policies. For example, we have the lowest taxation rate for families. What we want is for the money to stay in the pockets of our families, so they can use it for their many needs.
We want to be an efficient government that is at their service. That is why we have reduced taxes more than 150 times since 2006. As a result, an average family with four children has $3,200 more in its pockets because it is paying less in taxes. Young families, among others, are also receiving grants to raise their children up to age six. People are also paying less in GST. We are naturally staying the course on the economy, and a return to a balanced budget.
Second, every person elected represents municipalities or cities. I have the privilege of representing a large portion of the city of Lévis, with my colleague the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière. Now, the city of Lévis has significant infrastructure needs in order to support families and economic growth, and to be able to provide a quality of life in a changing environment. The city of Lévis has infrastructure projects, but so does the municipality of Bellechasse and the Des Etchemins regional county municipality. I am also thinking of Beaumont, which is growing very quickly, and Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague. These municipalities have infrastructure projects.
I support the economic action plan because the huge sums involved will enable municipalities to invest in infrastructure not only this year, but in the years to come. More than $50 billion in infrastructure spending is planned. For example, we are making the transfer of the excise tax on gasoline permanent. That will enable our municipalities to invest. We will be partnering with the provincial governments to enable them to generate leverage with the investments they make in infrastructure. This will consolidate the economic prosperity of our country.
Third, I support this budget because it is designed to serve people who have put their lives at risk for our country. They have served under Canada’s flag. Whether they are still in the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces or have left, they are our veterans and their families.
I would like to take a few moments to show how much this budget respects the government’s responsibility towards its veterans and their families.
In the economic action plan, we have, so to speak, an investment that will represent huge sums in the years ahead for veterans and their families. Among other things, there is one specific measure in the budget: the war veterans’ allowance. For this measure to come into force, however, the economic action plan must be supported. I will talk a little more about it.
What struck me first in the budget with respect to benefits for veterans and their families is the need for support when a veteran dies. The funeral and burial program has been substantially improved with respect to funerals for eligible veterans. We are receiving constructive comments from the veteran community on this matter.
We are also improving our contribution to the important date coming up in 2017, namely the 150th anniversary of our country. That will also be the 100th anniversary of a landmark event in our history: the Battle of Vimy Ridge, where Canadians fought together for the first time. We were victorious, but we suffered substantial losses. That is why it is important that we, as a nation, make sure that people do not forget their sacrifice. That is also why we will be investing $5 million in an interpretation centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
The measures contained in the economic action plan 2013 take our unprecedented support for Canada's veterans and their families to the next level and demonstrate our continued commitment to veterans. We can see this commitment clearly in our government's response to a Federal Court ruling last spring.
The judge who made the decision did not specify its scope. However, he did indicate that there is no connection with the programs provided by National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada. That said, under the leadership of our Prime Minister and with the support of the Conservative caucus, our government has decided to go beyond this decision, which involved only National Defence, so that the harmonization of our programs also covers those delivered by Veterans Affairs Canada.
This is an envelope of nearly $1.9 billion. Our government therefore decided immediately to go beyond the court’s decision and to stop deducting the disability pension from Veterans Affairs Canada in calculating the monthly payments as an allowance for lost revenue from the department and as an income support allowance from the Canadian Forces. We were able to do it immediately because that was what we wanted to do.
We wanted to accomplish a third item: the war veterans allowance. To do this, we need regulatory changes. That is why we need support from all parliamentarians for the approval of this measure, which is included in the 2013 economic action plan. Some 2,500 modern-era veterans and survivors should benefit from these changes in the first year alone. We also intend to adjust this veterans allowance in the same way.
Economic action plan 2013 calculates that the total impact of these measures, when we combine National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada together, would be $1.9 billion over seven years. That is an extra $1.9 billion in the pockets of disabled veterans and men and women in uniform. We think this is the right thing to do and we seek support from the House to do so. This includes an additional $95.4 million to veterans above what was announced previously when calculating the earning loss benefit and the Canadian Forces income support benefit.
I want to reiterate how important it is as a government to support the budget for three reasons.
The first is the major increase in the funeral and burial program for those who need it.
The second is the support for the commemorations that would occur at the Vimy memorial centre, which is important. We actually have the Vimy memorial on our new $20 bill. It is our duty to remember.
The third is the harmonization of all of our programs, especially the veterans war allowance.
That is why I invite members to support the budget not only for all Canadian families, but especially for what it does for our veterans and their families.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell you about the video made by people involved in the St-Étienne-de-Lauzon Scouts, an organization in my riding. The video is posted on the official Scouts Canada site.
Every year, more than 125 young people in my riding, and Scouts across Canada, have the opportunity to participate in a movement that emphasizes sharing, respect, adventure, teamwork and family. The Grande tournée du bonheur is an event that reflects the wonderful values of this movement. The scouting movement helps develop leadership skills and a sense of community; it ignites and reignites passions.
The scouting movement was established in Canada 45 years ago. Every year, during Scouting Week, we celebrate the wonderful success of the movement founded by Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, Olave.
I am very proud to highlight the outstanding contributions of everyone involved with the young Beavers and Brownies in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
We can never say it enough: our young people are our greatest treasure.
Order, please. The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
Mr. Speaker, the people in my riding are proud of the success of David Desharnais from Laurier-Station, who is enjoying a budding NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens.
At just five foot seven, David has carved out his place among the big guys. Looking back at his journey, we see that our homegrown idol never gave up on his childhood dream. After his many minor hockey successes as leader and captain of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, and after playing in Cincinnati, he returned full force, a year later, joining the Habs' farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
David Desharnais was called up to the NHL last year and scored his first NHL goal on January 12, 2011.
He had a very good year this season, playing forward on the first line and ending up as the third-highest scorer on his team.
To all of us in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, David is a shining example of perseverance and determination.
Congratulations, and we wish you a long career in the National Hockey League.
The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House today as Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and I welcome this opportunity to share our government's solid commitment to the people and businesses in the London area.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
As member of Parliament for Cambridge, North Dumfries, I know that the global economic downturn was felt particular hard in southern Ontario, but our government responded in a very big and immediate way. In 2009, we created the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario, or FedDev, as we prefer to call it, to help the region recover from the effects of the global economic downturn and set the foundation in place for future prosperity.
Since that time, we have been working with communities, businesses and residents all throughout southern Ontario to help reshape the region's economy and achieve a sustainable and prosperous future. This, of course, includes the London area where, to date, we have made investments in about 69 projects, almost 70 projects, totalling more than $61 million.
Our government took immediate action by targeting funding through programs, such as the recreational infrastructure Canada program and the community adjustment fund, to create jobs and grow the economy in the short term.
As the economy began to turn, we expanded our programs. We refocused and provided resources to invest in projects designed to enhance the growth and competitiveness of local businesses and the communities in the area for the longer term.
Through FedDev, our government committed funding for the Canadian manufacturers and exporters. I can tell the House that 10 manufacturing businesses in the London area applied and benefited from $330,000 to help them improve their productivity and reach out to global markets. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against this kind of funding.
We also invested $8 million in the construction of the International Air Freight Transshipment Centre at the London International Airport to help diversify London's economy, to help bring products, including supplies, to companies like EMD and to help businesses in the area export their wares, but, of course, the NDP voted against that type of funding too.
In 2010, FedDev announced a new suite of initiatives designed to push the envelope of innovation and to ensure that southern Ontario would continue to grow and attract the smartest minds, the most skilled personnel and talent, as well as build and bring to market the most promising products and ideas. This is the key to securing a sustainable and prosperous economic future, not just for the London area but throughout southern Ontario.
Our strategy begins with young people and it ends with fresh ways of thinking, novel approaches to the challenges and opportunities that we face, and exciting new innovations. We know the importance of encouraging our youngest minds to explore the benefits of pursuing an education and a career in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics field. That is precisely why we designed the youth stem initiative. Through the youth stem program, we are helping to expand the educational outreach that teaches our young people that science is not only fun but also provides meaningful and, in many cases, very high-paying careers.
That is also why, under this initiative, the Prime Minister announced up to $2 million for Let's Talk Science, a London-based charitable organization that delivers science learning programs to children and youth helping them discover the world and pick a career in science, engineering and technology. The NDP voted no on that kind of funding. This is an investment that will have an impact, not just across Ontario but into our future as, so far, over a million children in southern Ontario have had a positive exposure to this program.
However, that is not all. We also committed close to $200,000 that will help the London Regional Children's Museum provide hands-on programs aimed at helping children learn about science and discover careers in the scientific field. This project is not only drawing visitors to London but those visitors are spending money in London.
Our investment of more than $985,000 for the London-based Partners in Research is helping the organization expand its interactive science-based teaching programs all across southern Ontario, linking researchers with students from grades five to twelve, our future leaders. Unfortunately, the NDP members voted against that type of funding too. However, we are confident, regardless of their obstruction, that these investments will create future leaders and that more new inventions, discoveries, innovations, technologies and processes will be sold to the world, helping that local economy and our national one.
We are also working with post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations to support skills and leadership development and foster innovation and productivity. Through the graduate enterprise internship, we are building a talent pool of highly-skilled workers, something we often hear from the NDP as being needed.
To continue on this theme, from grade three through to graduation and beyond, we launched another initiative called the scientists and engineers in business initiative. Again, we are working with not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario that offer programs and services or fellowships to improve the success rate of stem related start-up businesses.
While it is important for small and medium size businesses to have access to skilled and well-trained workers who generate new ideas, we also recognized that they needed access to research and development capacity to help get their ideas tweaked, perfected and into the marketplace. Therefore, we recently announced the applied research and commercialization initiative. This initiative is helping small and medium size businesses partner with our colleges and universities. This helps businesses to grow, students to learn and local economies to compete. The NDP voted against that type of funding. The NDP stood in the way of the University of Western Ontario getting a $750,000 investment under the first round of this initiative, but it is now eligible for another round of funding that we just announced.
Through the technology development program, we invested more than $19.5 million in the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, including funding to help the University of Western Ontario, the City of London and local industry partners on a testing site for water treatment technology. This project will not only bring innovative water related technologies to our local market, but the global market is estimated to be $400 billion. The NDP voted against that type of funding.
We have programs for venture capital to help businesses grow and compete on a global scale. That is why we set up the prosperity initiative.
I could go on and on but I think I have made my point. It is very clear that our government and the Conservative members on this side of the House support the investments in and around London, as well as across southern Ontario, despite the obstruction of the NDP.
However, we continue to look for more people, businesses, applicants and organizations to work with us to seize even more opportunities and benefits for London. It is through these programs and our investments in projects in the London area and throughout southern Ontario that we will ensure that our region can make the most of every opportunity to improve its innovation, productivity and competitiveness. Our approach continues to be supporting jobs and growth for families, businesses and communities, in particular London.
Mr. Speaker, Sunday evening, I had the privilege and honour to be with some young graduates from Charny and their families.
Again this year, active and dynamic students in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière are reaping the rewards of their efforts as they receive their Secondary 5 diploma.
They are undoubtedly destined for success, since our region will be needing many more people in the labour force in the years to come. For some of them, their diploma will give them access to the labour market; for others, it will lead them to vocational or college programs. Each of them is a proud member of the next generation in a field that will excite them and will lead them to actively participate in our society.
I wish all of the graduates in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière success and I encourage you to follow your dreams!
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Governor General for his gracious remarks. I am happy and honoured to second the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Mississauga South, regarding the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I also want to thank the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity to do so.
It is an honour to continue to serve my constituents here in the 41st Parliament. I am proud to be part of a government that has always focused on priorities, a government that has always been dedicated to the priorities of Canadians.
My hon. colleague spoke about our government's plan to stay on track during the economic recovery. This is the number one priority for Canadians, which is why it will remain the number one priority for our government.
In support of my hon. colleague's motion, I would like to point out some other key features of our government's agenda, which was outlined by His Excellency.
These are priorities of another kind, but no less important to the well-being of Canadians. These priorities are at the heart of the principles of peace, order and good government that we must ensure are respected in our country.
Our government has always believed that it is our most solemn duty to protect Canadians, to ensure their personal safety, to secure our borders and to defend our country. We also believe that our government must be accountable to Canadians as it accomplishes these tasks and fulfills its duties.
Our government is taking action and will continue to advance these priorities. Our constituents expect us to do so. That is why I was pleased to hear His Excellency briefly summarize the next steps in our government's law and order agenda.
As the Prime Minister has said, Canadians deserve to feel safe in their homes. They want to be able to walk the streets without constantly looking over their shoulders. They expect to find their vehicles where they parked them. The constituents of Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière believe in the rehabilitation of criminals, but we must also ensure that the rights of criminals do not take precedence over the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must support victims' rights.
Despite the many obstacles, our government has already made considerable progress toward these goals. We are now well positioned to implement all the measures of our crime-fighting agenda.
His Excellency spoke about measures to protect children from sex offenders, to help at-risk youth avoid gangs and criminal activity, and to encourage courts to impose tougher sentences for those who abuse seniors.
We will take swift and decisive action to tackle these problems and other serious issues. We will focus on protecting the most vulnerable people in society. We will work to restore Canadians' confidence in the fairness of our justice system.
Both expert advisers and my constituents in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière support what our government is doing to fight crime. They believe that even one victim of crime is one too many. They believe that a sentence must reflect the severity of the crime. They believe that our system should put public safety first.
Canadians know they can trust our government to act according to these principles. They know that we are committed to ensuring their safety. They know that we are determined to protect our country and defend the principles on which it was founded.
Canadians cherish our tradition of tolerance and harmony. We welcome newcomers who seek to build a better future for themselves and their families. We know they are a key factor in ensuring the strength of our economy and our communities. That is why Canadians support our government's efforts to secure our borders and protect the integrity of our immigration system.
Canadians support our plan to crack down on human smuggling, which dissuades criminals who put the lives of immigrants in danger and abuse our country's generosity. New Canadians often understand better than anyone the importance of taking action. They followed the rules to come and establish themselves in this country. They know what it means to be Canadian. They share our government's desire to ensure that Canadians have confidence in our immigration system.
His Excellency mentioned other measures that will advance the values we share as Canadians. I am proud of our government's plan to create a new office of religious freedom.
As the Prime Minister said, respect for religious pluralism is inextricably linked to democratic development. By defending the rights of religious minorities throughout the world, we are promoting the universal principles of human rights, which are rights that new Canadians deeply appreciate, sometimes because of the persecution they endured in their home countries.
The values that we cherish as Canadians—liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law—have always guided our actions abroad. They led us to join our allies in protecting the people of Libya, and they will guide us when we hold a parliamentary debate on the future of this mission. They lead us to continue to protect the homes and rights of Canadians. That is why our government will continue to support our men and women in uniform. We will honour our veterans, our heroes, who are the greatest Canadians. We will continue to defend our national sovereignty, particularly in Canada's north. For our government, defending our country also means promoting our shared history and protecting our natural heritage.
Our government is eager to invite Canadians to celebrate Her Majesty's the Queen's diamond jubilee in 2012. We share Canadians' enthusiasm for the idea of welcoming their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a few weeks.
We will also be proud to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, an extremely important event in the development of our Canadian identity. We will commemorate these events while looking forward to the future, and we will build on our achievements.
Our government has an impressive track record when it comes to preserving our country's magnificent lands and waters.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our national parks system, we are taking steps to create new national parks, including a new urban park in the Rouge Valley in the greater Toronto area.
In closing, I would like to emphasize the measures that will enhance integrity and accountability within the government, as announced today by His Excellency.
Our government was first elected on its promise of accountability. The first legislation it introduced was the Federal Accountability Act. Through conversations I have had with my constituents in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, I know that this government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, has proven itself worthy of the trust of Canadians. As the Prime Minister said this week, we are determined to keep earning that trust.
As part of our efforts, we will take measures to reform the Senate and restore fair representation in the House of Commons.
Canadians want our government to remain focused on the economy.
They also expect us to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens, strengthen our national sovereignty, defend and celebrate the values that unite us as Canadians, and continue ensuring integrity and accountability in government.
Canadians have given our government a mandate to implement our plan in order to achieve the objectives presented today by the Governor General.
I encourage all hon. members of this House to support today's motion. For me it is both an honour and a pleasure to support the motion on the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, members of the government have said repeatedly that our government does not want an unnecessary election. We want to focus on the economy. We want Canadians to keep their jobs and we want the fruits of their labour to stay in their pockets.
Our government believes that the opposition is being unethical by refusing to at least look at the budget. I am certain that many Canadians, including the people of my riding of Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, think it is unreasonable that the opposition refuses to wait and see what is in the budget before deciding how to vote on it.
If the trend continues, the Bloc will do what it does best: vote against the interests of Quebeckers. The Liberal leader, with all his deep-thinking ideas, has also decided to vote against it.
Our government still believes that working together for our country is the best way to defend the interests of Quebeckers and Canadians.
The electoral district of Lotbinière--Chutes-de-la-Chaudière (Quebec) has a population of 100,454 with 79,721 registered voters and 206 polling divisions.
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