Mr. Speaker, U.S. Steel Canada has filed for bankruptcy protection. It is a major blow to families in Hamilton and Nanticoke. It is a cold reminder of the failure of the Conservatives to stand up for workers during foreign takeovers.
In failing to hold U.S. Steel to production and employment commitments, the Conservatives turned their backs on thousands of workers in Hamilton and Nanticoke.
Will the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, who is also the MP for Haldimand—Norfolk, finally stand up for steelworkers and join us in the fight to protect their jobs?
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present a petition from residents of the riding of Haldimand—Norfolk.
The petitioners point out that Canada's 400-year-old definition of a human being says that a child does not become a human being until the moment of complete birth, contrary to 21st century medical evidence. They mention that Parliament has a solemn duty to reject any law that says some human beings are not human.
The petitioners call on the House of Commons to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian law as human by amending section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence. About half of those 25 signatures are women.
I have a second petition to the same effect from the Oxford area with 75 signatures, 35 of them women.
I have a third petition from the same area, from Toronto, Mississauga and Burlington with 304 signatures, of which 154 are women.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Annaleise Carr from the riding of Haldimand—Norfolk. Last August, Annaleise, at age 14, was the youngest swimmer to make the 52-kilometre journey across Lake Ontario.
A strong heart was needed for Annaleise's 27-hour journey through high waves and cold currents. An even stronger heart is one that undertakes this journey for the benefit of others. Her mission to raise $30,000 for the great work that Camp Trillium does to help children with cancer and their families improve their quality of life turned into an amazing $230,000, and still counting.
Annaleise, a true ambassador for Canadian youth, recently earned the Spirit of Sport Story of the Year award.
Annaleise is here in Ottawa today. Please join me in saluting this incredible young woman and those around her who helped make the trip possible.
With regard to government employment levels, for each of the federal electoral districts of Parry Sound—Muskoka, Macleod, Haldimand—Norfolk, Halton, Edmonton Centre, Central Nova, Mégantic—L'Érable and Eglinton—Lawrence: (a) what is the current total number of federal employees in the riding; and (b) what is the total number of anticipated job reductions in the riding for the fiscal year (i) 2012-2013, (ii) 2013-2014, (iii) 2014-2015?
It has been that long. We have been able to get hundreds of Canadians on the record in Hansard. It is a wonderful thing when Canadians speak and can have their voices transmitted directly to the floor of the House of Commons.
I am going to go through some of the many tweets. Tweets tend to be very quick. Some members of Parliament have derided tweets as a form of feedback from Canadians. We disagree. We believe that Canadians who tweet or post on Facebook have as much right as any other Canadian to be heard. From one woman, “Shocking what the Conservative budget is doing to environmental protection. Sustainable development includes jobs and the economy.” Another said, “Is it even constitutional to weaken environmental processes in a budget?”
Another Canadian is cheering the member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, saying she is enjoying the supportive demeanour of the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. I certainly agree with that one.
A writer says,“Canadian fisheries policy is an international tragedy”. Newfoundland and Labrador's comments are at the hands of what he considers to be the tyranny of our majority political system.
Another writer says, “Wouldn't it be wiser to eliminate the deficit by seeking to create jobs and a tax base rather than throwing tens of thousands of workers on to the street?” I certainly agree with that. As we saw earlier today, the first economic analysis of the budget shows 60,000 jobs will be lost because of the budget. He goes on to say that economist Toby Sanger says, “The scale of cuts to the public sector will lead to the loss of 60,000 jobs in both public and private sectors. The 2012 budget is a book of deception. How can it be a job-creating budget when the government will axe 20,000 public sector jobs?”
A proud Canadian writes, “Repeating Conservative talking points is not debate either. At least what the NDP is doing is bringing Canadians' voices to the House of Commons”.
“Why make major cutbacks at Elections Canada when it is investigating what may be the biggest case of electoral fraud in Canadian history? Hmm…” asks one woman who is wondering why, as remarked earlier, these major cutbacks are being made at Elections Canada.
She says, “Cuts to the CBC are equivalent to turning off the lights so people cannot see what is happening. You don't like the message, you kill the messenger”.
Another individual writes, “Thank you to the NDP. It's hard to admit, but I really am afraid for my generation's future. Just hearing someone talking about is comforting”.
To continue on, another writes, “Well done, sir. Keep getting the real Canadian voices heard in the House. The truth can never be silenced”.
Then there are a number of other comments, such as this one, “Thank you for raising our comments in the House of Commons”.
Another writes, “Thank you for being my voice in Parliament on the budget. My member of Parliament, who's a Conservative, doesn't care”.
A constituent from Alberta writes, “The CBC is very important to Canadians and cuts are appalling. We need them for a strong media that is truthful”.
There was also a student who writes, “I am a student from the riding of Leeds and Grenville. With all of these services cut, how will I get a job and pay off my student debt?”
Another writes, “Can the next government undo food regulation downgrades that the Conservatives have put into effect?” Members will recall I mentioned earlier the substantial cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
A constituent from my riding on the west coast says that she is proud that I am her member of Parliament. I am certainly proud of her as well. She writes, “This budget attacks the most vulnerable. Thanks for speaking out so strongly on this”.
Another writes, “I'm staying at work until the NDP is done standing up for public servants, pensions and Katimavik”.
Another writes, “I think it's great that the NDP is reading concerns of the citizens in the House of Commons. It sounds like democracy. Finally, our voices are being heard”.
This is a compliment from an individual who writes, “In the early 1990s Liberal senators read names off a GST petition into the record. I think what the NDP did today was spectacularly better on the budget, hearing from Canadians”.
I will move on to a couple of comments posted on Facebook.
My colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie will check the Twitter and Facebook accounts in the next hour—the 13th hour of debate so far on the budget—to get as many comments from Canadian families as possible.
On Facebook, an gentleman says, “Katimavik has been the single largest factor contributing to the formation of my own personal Canadian identity. Through Katimavik, I lived, learned, shared and worked with French, English and Aboriginal youth from all walks of life”.
This is another, “I am from the Haldimand—Norfolk riding in Ontario, which is also a Conservative-controlled riding. The Prime Minister wants to get tough on criminals to make Canada safe from crime. The people of Canada think that he should start with his own party, since there seems to be more fraud and corruption in his own party than ever before in Canadian politics. There has not been one week since the last election that this government has not been exposed for some allegations of some kind of criminal behaviour”.
A constituent from Alberta who says, “I am very sick of the Prime Minister's Canada. It sure is not my Canada. I will be affected by every aspect of this budget. I will be affected by the old age security changes. I will be affected by environmental issues. I work in a public sector job and I care about all of these cuts. We must stop this agenda”.
A constituent from northeastern Ontario, I think, in a Conservative-held riding, says, “Ask the Speaker of the House if Canadians can take the Prime Minister's paycheque back and put it into the Canada pension plan, because we are not getting value for money”. That is a very interesting comment from northeastern Ontario.
Those are some of the tweets and some of the Facebook comments that have come in. I am going to turn back to some of the letters and emails that we are getting as well. They are flooding in, so I am going to try to ensure I can get in as many as possible over the course of the next hour.
Tomorrow, with the debate being different, we are not going to be hearing from Canadians. What we will be hearing tomorrow, unfortunately, for the most part because that is the way the speaking order works, will be primarily from Conservative members of Parliament, primarily giving what is a packaged message from the Prime Minister's office.
For those many Canadians who have been excited and galvanized and who have been sending in information, in letters. tweets and postings on Facebook, this has been an Ottawa spring. It has been spring in the House of Commons, where Canadians can actually have their voices heard directly.
Tomorrow it will be more of a very packaged political messaging that comes from the Prime Minister's office. People will be hearing more of the same that we heard last Thursday, unfortunately. We will endeavour to get as many comments in as possible.
Another Twitter reads, “The fisheries and oceans cuts as the Prime Minister signs a trade deal with overfished Asia, is that a coincidence?”
There are a number of comments that have come in during the period of question period. I want to ensure I get those comments in. Comments are flooding in. That is the only way to put it, really. We are seeing an avalanche of feedback, with so many people writing in. That is the only way I can put this.
I am going to start with New Brunswick, another Conservative-held riding. That is what we have been endeavouring to do, to let those voices from Conservative ridings be heard in the House of Commons. We are getting all of these comments in.
This is from a constituent in New Brunswick. She writes, “I live near Oromocto, New Brunswick, the busiest Department of National Defence base in our great country. Today my husband retired after 33 years—Afghanistan twice, the Gulf War, Serbia, et cetera, to many places to protect this free land. His severance package will be here in 12 to 16 weeks. Because of this budget, the future severance of brave men and women will be no more. This was discussed at his farewell luncheon today. Instead of what I expected to hear, I listened as they said, 'Well, we'll just soldier on'. I was amazed and this government should be ashamed. Where are their clawbacks? Why don't they lead by example or step aside, learn from this extraordinary group I've just had lunch with and save this country as they have”.
On behalf of the NDP caucus, I would thank her for writing in. Also, we rise today and thank her husband for his 33 years of service to the country. We will certainly commit to continue to fight for the families of service men and service women and veterans
As we have heard, the cuts that are taking place are not cuts to the F-35s, the bloated fiasco that we have seen unfold before us, where Conservatives have been willing to spend any amount of money for these fighter jets. What was started as a $9 billion budget has now morphed into a monster of somewhere around $40 billion. Nobody on the Conservative side of the House has the least idea of how much it all costs.
These substantial cuts in the budget hurt the men and women who serve our country and impact the benefits of veterans, the men and women who have served our country. This is the world upside down. Those who have shown the most bravery and commitment to the country are the ones who are being treated the worst, most disrespectfully by the Conservative government. It is treating our service men, service women and veterans with disrespect.
We are saying loudly and clearly that the men and women who serve our country and the veterans who have served our country deserve respect from the government. They deserve better than what the government has done in this budget.
I will move on to another heartfelt comment from a Canadian resident of the Toronto area, who writes, “I just got off the phone with Michelle, my daughter, who has mental health issues. She was crying because today was the last day she got to see her worker who lost her job, a victim of the cuts in the budget. I didn't know what to say to her. She lives in assisted housing and on a good day you wouldn't know she even has mental health problems. Unfortunately, she desperately needs a case worker to help her have more good days than not. I'm not a professional in that field and the only thing I can do for her in this situation is to listen and to write to let you know that the statistics have a face and that the impact of budget cuts affect a real person now, not to mention the additional heartbreak of her family.”
This is what we are getting from across the country. Hundreds of Canadians have written in expressing, in such a poignant way, their lives and reality of those lives. This mean-spirited budget that strips away services, casts away jobs and in a fundamental way denies all the commitments that the Prime Minister made prior to the last election is not something that takes place in some kind of isolated vacuum where real people are not profoundly hurt. For three days now, time after time after time, we have heard heartfelt expressions of what this budget will do to families across the country, how it will impact them, how it will make their lives worse, how it will turn them backward.
That is the point we are making. For the government to table a budget in such a mean-spirited and callous way, to rip apart those services, the veteran services, the supports for servicemen and service women, to rip apart all of these other things, has impacts on the lives of Canadians that will be felt from coast to coast to coast.
We do not believe that the tens of billions of dollars the government wants to throw away on the F-35s or the tens of billions of dollars the government wants to throw away on prisons are the appropriate priorities. We have been hearing from people from all across the country, from virtually every riding, certainly every region, and not a single Canadian has said, “We think the resources of this nation should be devoted to jets and jails”. Not a single Canadian has said, “Oh yea, we share this government's obsession with fancy fighter jets at $40 billion and shiny new prisons, when the crime rate is falling, at $15 billion or $20 billion”. Not a single Canadian has expressed that. This tells us that Canadians simply are not on the same wavelength as the Conservative government. That is profound.
Members will recall, and it is important to note, that the first letter I read out today was from a person who had voted Conservative all his life, a Mr. McKay from Surrey, British Columbia. He said that when the government plays with people's lives as it is doing, by cutting jobs and playing with the pension plan and cutting funding to the youth of this nation, it is heartbreaking to so many Canadians and sickening. What he says is, “I am talking to people, friends my age, and we are all thinking of changing the way we think about our government”. Even though this is a small partisan note, I think it is important to mention that he concludes by saying, “Even though I've never voted NDP, I just might think of changing my mind because of this government's actions”. Finally, he adds, “Please, NDP, keep up the good work you're doing on these issues”. That shows a real sign of change as we get these heartfelt expressions from across the country. We are getting former Conservative voters who are saying they do not agree with the direction this country is going.
A Mr. Becker writes, “All I get from my [Conservative] member of Parliament in response to inquiries, feedback and requests for information are form letters with the Conservatives' talking points”. He adds the hash mark for worthless.
From the Toronto region, Mr. McCart says, “We cannot allow anymore cuts to our not-up-to-par health-already care. Raising the age of retirement from 65 to 67 can't happen. This is a scam by our government, hoping that by raising the age we will start to die off so as not to have to pay out. Maybe the government should be downsized or fired if they don't do a good enough job for us Canadian citizens”.
We saw today what happened with the Conservative government's economic performance. We were 130th in the world in 2011 for economic growth, and now in 2012 the government is doing even worse at 152nd worldwide for economic growth, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the new member and wish her luck.
I also take this opportunity to thank the good folks of Haldimand—Norfolk for once again placing their trust in me. I pledge to honour that trust to the best of my ability.
During our economic action plan, we made tremendous investments in social and affordable housing. Some 26,000 projects are under way right across the country. Unfortunately, the hon. member's party did not support those initiatives that are helping so many people who are vulnerable.
With regard to government expenditures in the communities of Niagara, on an annual basis and broken down by department, what is the amount spent: (a) in the ridings of Welland, Niagara West—Glanbrook and Haldimand—Norfolk from 2004 up to and including the current fiscal year; (b) in the former riding of Erie—Lincoln between 1997 and 2004; (c) in the former riding of Erie between 1993 and 1997; and (d) in the ridings of Niagara Falls and St. Catharines from 1993 up to and including the current fiscal year?
The electoral district of Haldimand--Norfolk (Ontario) has a population of 107,775 with 79,362 registered voters and 212 polling divisions.
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