Mr. Speaker, I have been here for a good part of the day, listening to this debate, and I want to congratulate colleagues on their largely non-partisan debate. It is actually quite encouraging. I think that, for those who are watching, it is encouraging to see parliamentarians actually engage in an issue that is of deep significance to each and every one of us. I think that, frankly, over the course the day, we have done that in largely quite a respectful manner.
What brings us to this point, though, is the Supreme Court decision, which as my colleague just said, is only 18 days old and does put us under the gun, and the gun will explode one way or another on February 6, 2016. In my judgment, it is a carefully crafted judgment; it is also unanimous, it has a date, and it is also an exercise in deference to Parliament because the Supreme Court rightly thinks that Parliament is the appropriate place to craft a legislative response to its decision.
In that light, we have basically three alternatives before us.
We can do nothing. That is an alternative. The do-nothing alternative means that, in 12 months, we will have legal chaos, and I would extend that even to emotional chaos. I really do not think that Canadians would be very encouraged by their parliamentarians if in fact we did nothing over the next 12 months.
The next alternative is to ask for an extension. That is a perfectly legitimate response and has been raised by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, has been raised by the parliamentary secretary speaking on behalf of the government, and has been alluded to by the member from Winnipeg. That is, again, a second alternative and possibly an alternative that we might land on. However, I would not want to be the government lawyer on February 5, 2016, standing before the Supreme Court of Canada, asking for an extension. The first question out of the mouth of the Chief Justice would be to ask what we have done in the last 12 months. If in fact we have done nothing, then I would say that the Supreme Court would be very reluctant to grant the extension.
That basically drives us to the third conclusion, which is that we have to start doing something.
We have put forward to this chamber a motion to create a special committee to do something, because doing nothing or hoping like heck that somehow or another the Supreme Court would grant us an extension, in another year, are not reasonable alternatives in my judgment.
I think, because this is a decision that so uniquely affects 100% of the Canadian population, it behooves us to listen to what Canadians have to say, and so I adopt the reasoning of a former colleague and a good friend for many of us, Preston Manning, who outlined a nine-point process in The Globe and Mail just recently.
I will start where he ends. He says:
Let the people speak: The courts, the interest groups, the academics and the commentators have had a great deal to say on the pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide.
He is absolutely right.
Now it is especially important that our elected officials and legislators hear from rank-and-file Canadians.
Mr. Manning has put before us a challenge, as has the Supreme Court. I know Mr. Manning a bit, and I know his great respect for listening to what Canadians have to say.
In his article, he goes on to talk about when he was a member for Calgary Southwest and he actually convened a number of meetings with his own constituents.
His own constituents, by and large, were in favour of legislation involving physician-assisted dying. That was, frankly, contrary to his personal beliefs, so it was interesting for Mr. Manning to be in a situation in which his own constituents were asking him to promote legislation that was not consistent with his own views.
In the process, he outlined a number of areas where we need to be concerned.
His first point was that we need to be compassionate. I have heard various members over the course of the day talking about various personal situations. Those personal situations are deeply held views and range across the entire gamut of the human experience. The first point, if and when such a committee is composed, is that it be a committee that expresses itself in compassion.
The second point that Mr. Manning raises has to do with palliative care. I think it is a relevant point, and it has been raised as well by the member for Timmins—James Bay. I think we are a bit agnostic as to whether the motion needs to be amended to include reference to palliative care, but I know the Liberal Party would be open to such a suggestion.
However, our motion was drafted in response to what the Supreme Court said. I think a lot of air would go out of the balloon, for want of a better term, if the Government of Canada and all of the other legislatures in Canada responded to the committee report that the member for Guelph, the member for Timmins—James Bay, and the member for Kitchener—Conestoga put forward. If that response was there, then maybe there would not be as much animus in this debate.
The next point has to do with provincial legislation. I and quite a number of colleagues in the House have practised law. We have dealt, from time to time, with situations in which relatives are telling us one thing and the client is telling us something else. Even absent an impending death, or even outside of an impending death, there is conflict within families. I am not telling the House anything new. There is conflict within families, and the conflict frequently spills over into conflicts involving professionals. A clarification of living wills or in some other form through provincial legislation would be very helpful.
The next point has to do with the number of letters a lot of us are receiving with respect to doctors and where they find themselves in these difficult situations. A lot of doctors got into being doctors because they are very interested in preserving life and enhancing life, et cetera. They see physician-assisted dying as inconsistent with their own understanding of why they are doctors.
That needs to be clarified sooner rather than later, because a lot of doctors, if my correspondence is similar to anyone else's in this chamber, are very conflicted about where they stand without real legislation. If this Parliament does not act by February 6, 2016, to provide some clarification of the law, there will be a very difficult situation for our physician colleagues, who will not know where they stand in the administration of this whole matter.
Let me wind up there. Again I commend my colleagues for what I believe to be largely a respectful debate. I do think it is important that the people speak. I do think it is important that we get going on this. If we could start tomorrow morning, I would be happy about that. I am agnostic about whether it has to be a special committee, but my views are that it does have to be a special committee because all of the other committees' agendas are already filled.
I am conscious that we have essentially 12 weeks to get through this. It is possible. Where there is a will, there is a way, and I hope that tonight we will get that way.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga is quite right. We have tried to listen specifically to the small and medium-sized enterprises and their specific concerns when we had our round tables and our discussions. I continue those to this day when I do my pre-budget round tables across the country. This is one of the items upon which I always touch.
It is clear that small and medium-sized enterprises do not have the ability, many times, to specifically dedicate people to deal with regulation on a daily basis. We have heard that. Just through our administrative work prior to this legislation coming before the House, we have reduced about 100,000 hours of regulatory burden that small businesses face. That is a tangible number.
We also heard dozens of ideas from small businesses of specific regulations that have no impact on health or safety but perhaps had some meaning or purpose 20, 30, or 40 years ago, but those regulations now do not have that same purpose. We are working our way through their suggestions on how to make those regulations either disappear entirely or be less burdensome.
Order, please. The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
Mr. Speaker, members will know that I have the honour of representing the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, which is both an urban and a rural riding. I have many farmers in the riding. I am really proud of the work that our government has done in support of farmers. In the past, we have introduced the agricultural flexibility fund, we have offered support to hog farmers to restructure their debt, and we have allowed grain farmers to have marketing freedom. In every one of those cases, the New Democrats and the Liberals have opposed those measures.
This particular bill has a technical amendment in it that would extend the lifetime capital gains exemption of farm property. Basically, this would make it easier for farmers to pass their farms on to the next generation.
I know my colleague, the Minister of State for Finance, has done a lot of consultation over this period. I wonder if he has been able to figure out in his consultations why the New Democrats and the Liberals oppose measures that would improve the chances of our farmers to succeed in this country and produce some of the best-quality food in the world.
Mr. Speaker, the constituents in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga believe that mothers and fathers should be able to make the most important decisions that affect their own children. That is why our new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit will give 100% of families with kids an average of more than $1,100 per year to spend on their priorities. The majority of benefits flow to low- and middle-income families.
Our government trusts parents to invest in their children, but the opposition is against putting money in the pockets of hard-working families. They would rather take that money away and give it to bureaucrats here in Ottawa.
On this side of the House, we will not hike taxes, as proposed by the Liberals and the NDP. Rather, we are proud to be putting money back into the pockets of Canadians, where it belongs.
The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that it does include banks. However, I would have to double-check that.
However, I would like to highlight what I said during the moments I had for my speech.
We have to focus on the real issues that are part of this bill, especially for my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, which is a rural-urban riding, and the farmers there. Allowing farmers to increase the tax exemption on capital gains is important to us as we try to help farmers maintain their farms within the family context. We know that, if farms are in the family context, some of these farmers produce the best quality food in the world. I am certainly committed to continuing that process.
Mr. Speaker, when I rose earlier this year to speak to the budget, I began by thanking our friend Jim Flaherty for his work, on behalf of the people of Kitchener—Conestoga whom I remain privileged to represent. He managed one of the toughest portfolios in government through some of the worst challenging times in recent history. Looking back, I am very glad that I took that opportunity to pay tribute to Jim. Canadians are, indeed, indebted to him for his prudent fiscal leadership.
Looking forward, Bill C-43, the second budget implementation bill, would continue to move Canada forward along the road to balance, creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians. I am grateful to our new Minister of Finance, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, for his commitment to Canada's ongoing prosperity.
Contrary to a belief held by the third party in the House, budgets do not simply balance themselves. The previous Liberal government had to slash transfer payments to the provinces—much-needed funds for health care, post-secondary education, and social assistance—in order to balance the books. The current Liberal leader seems to feel the previous Liberal government cut support for health care just for fun, if he really believes that budgets will balance themselves. This government would bring the budget back into balance without taking such draconian measures. I think most Canadians would agree it is a commendable objective.
However, we are accomplishing so much more than just a balanced budget. We are building the foundation for Canada's long-term prosperity. My home of Waterloo region has seen world-class post-secondary facilities like Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, and Conestoga College all greatly increase their capacity for both teaching and research, all thanks to our federal government.
Our government has fostered entrepreneurship by supporting programs like the University of Waterloo's velocity program, which provides an entrepreneurial education. We invested in the Communitech Hub, a hotbed of high-tech entrepreneurial activity. We made it easier for business to access the expertise of Conestoga College to improve internal processes and designs. Both parties opposite refused to support any of these worthwhile activities.
Our drinking water is safer, our air is cleaner, our communities are more livable, our greenhouse gas emissions have dropped, and our competitive position in the global economy is now improved thanks to federal investments proposed in budgets that were opposed by the Liberals and the NDP. However, I am not here to review our past successes as a country, community, or government. I am here to highlight some of the measures in this bill of which I am particularly proud.
I was born on a farm just outside of Kitchener, Ontario. I have owned a farm most my adult life. Most importantly, though, agriculture remains one of the most important economic engines for Waterloo region. This bill would extend the lifetime capital gains exemption of farm property. That is a very technical amendment. Let me state it plainly. The family farmers of Waterloo region and elsewhere in Canada would find it easier to pass their farms on to the next generation, thanks to this government. On this side of the House, we stand in support of those families who provide the best quality food in the world. I invite the opposition to join us.
When our government created the agricultural flexibility fund to improve our agricultural sector's competitiveness, the Liberals and NDP refused to support our farmers. When we offered support to hog farmers to restructure their debt, the Liberals and NDP refused to support our farmers. When we allowed grain farmers to enjoy market freedom, the Liberals and NDP refused to support our farmers. With this bill, the opposition finally has the opportunity to turn the page, to look Canada's family farmers in the eye and say, “We support you; we want you to be able to keep your farms in your families”. Canada's family farmers would welcome their support, for once, just once.
This bill would also protect consumers. On this side of the House, we think it is wrong for big banks and credit card companies to charge pensioners and single parents for the so-called privilege of receiving a bill, and we are taking action to prevent it. Once again, I invite members opposite to take this opportunity to join us in standing with consumers just this once. Please support our measures to ban pay to pay policies on credit card statements.
Too often I have heard the NDP members accuse us of favouring the big banks. They like to present banks as the enemy of everyday Canadians. This is their opportunity to match their voice to their rhetoric or to demonstrate that their rhetoric is nothing more than empty words without commitment. I believe many of my colleagues in the NDP are very honourable people. I hope they will not let partisanship prevent them from voting on their principles.
Moving on, I am particularly pleased that the bill would enable charitable fundraising to enter the computer age. While we want as few Canadians as possible to depend on charities, we also want charities to thrive. I cannot believe we actually need to do this, but the bill would make it legal for charities to use computers to track their sales in certain fundraising activities. Right now it all needs to be done manually, which just makes no sense.
On this side of the House, we want as much as possible of every dollar donated to charity to be used for its intended goal and as little as possible lost to administrivia. I do not see any reason why members opposite could possibly be against this. Once again, I invite them to join us in support of Canada's charitable sector. This is only the latest action our government has taken to support charities in Canada.
We have already provided an exemption from capital gains when publicly listed securities or ecologically sensitive lands are donated to charities. Again, the Liberals and NDP opposed this. We reduced the administrative burden on charities allowing them to focus on charitable activities. It makes sense to the people I speak to across Waterloo region. The Liberals and NDP, again, are opposed to this as well.
We have encouraged Canadians to begin donating to charities by creating the first-time donor super credit on donations to charity. I must credit my friend, the hon. member for Kitchener—Waterloo, for bringing this common-sense idea to the table, another common-sense idea that the NDP and Liberals opposed.
The bill would also double the amount that parents can claim for the children's fitness tax credit. More importantly, it would make this tax credit refundable, making it a much stronger benefit for low-income Canadian families. As a parent of three children and grandparent to nine beautiful grandchildren, I understand how important it is for children to establish healthy lifestyles. Sedentary children grow up to become sedentary adults. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle in today's children will pay dividends in reduced health costs for years to come. I am especially pleased to see that this credit would now be refundable. We are making life more affordable for low-income Canadians. I hope the opposition will find it in their hearts to stand with us in supporting low-income Canadians.
Our Conservative government remains focused on what matters most to Canadians: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. We weathered the global recession better than our peers, and even through the recovery, we continued to chart one of the world's best economic performances. In fact, since we took office, we focused on five priorities to ensure Canada's continuing prosperity: a tax advantage, reducing taxes for all Canadians and establishing the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G7; the fiscal advantage, eliminating our net government debt within a generation; an entrepreneurial advantage, reducing unnecessary regulation and red tape, and increasing competition in the Canadian marketplace; a knowledge advantage, creating the best-educated and most skilled and flexible workforce in the world; and an infrastructure advantage, building the modern infrastructure we need to compete abroad and enjoy liveable communities at home.
Economic action plan 2014 continues this focus on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth. It continues to connect Canadians with available jobs. It continues to improve support for families and communities, and it continues our difficult road to balancing our budget. It provides good news to the families of Waterloo region as well as farmers and small businesses.
I ask the members opposite to put aside their partisan interests and look at the bill for what it truly represents, modest steps forward on the priorities of Canadians. I invite them to join me in supporting this important legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley East.
Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government's top priority is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. That is why we are working hard to open new markets to increase Canadian exports and investments in the world's most dynamic and fast-growing economies. This includes South Korea, an increasingly important country that is both a priority market and a natural partner for Canada.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement, Canada's first bilateral trade agreement with an Asian market, is projected to create thousands of jobs for Canadians by increasing Canada's GDP by $1.7 billion annually and our exports by about one-third over current levels.
The agreement is critical to re-establishing a level playing field for Canadian companies in the South Korean market, where major foreign competitors from the U.S. and the European Union currently benefit from preferential access because of their respective free trade agreements with South Korea.
The focus of my remarks today will be on the centrepiece of the agreement: the elimination of tariffs on virtually all trade between Canada and South Korea. Over 88% of Canada's exports would be duty free immediately and over 99% would be duty free once the agreement is fully implemented.
The potential benefits from such a huge amount of Canadian exports becoming duty free is why we need this agreement urgently. We need to restore our competitive position in the South Korean market, as I noted earlier.
The previous government ignored trade. While this Conservative government has been ambitious on behalf of Canadians, the Liberals offered only complacency. While the rest of the world moved forward, Liberals held Canadian enterprise back through their inattention, inaction, and incompetence.
Fortunately, Canadians have, for almost nine years now, chosen to have steadier, more visionary hands at the helm. We are, under this Prime Minister's leadership, repairing the damage from 13 years of neglect.
Over time, this agreement would result in the elimination of all South Korean tariffs on industrial goods, forestry and value-added wood products, and fish and seafood products. This is great news for workers in B.C., Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and my home province of Ontario, which needs every bit of good news on the economic front that it can find right now.
It would also eliminate the vast majority of South Korea's agricultural tariffs, including in priority areas for Canada, such as beef, pork, grains, pulses, oilseeds, vegetable oil, and processed foods. This would lead to substantial gains in these sectors, given that these are the areas most heavily protected in South Korea.
Allow me to go into detail on how tariff elimination would benefit Canadian exporters and workers in these industries and benefit the communities that depend upon them.
In 2012, 1.8 million Canadians were employed in the production and manufacture of industrial materials, which would include aerospace and rail goods, automobiles, information technology products, metals and minerals, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. If there is something that can be manufactured, chances are a Canadian is either producing it or working on ways to improve it.
With this agreement, over 96% of Canadian exports of industrial goods would be duty free immediately, more than 99% within five years, and the rest within 10 years.
I want to note the excellent results of particular interest and importance to Canadian exporters in such diverse fields as information and communications technology, aerospace, and rail goods. These are sectors in which South Korean tariffs would be eliminated immediately, creating new opportunities for companies in these sectors to expand their international business while at the same time creating jobs here at home. In the case of aerospace, over 80% of the sector's output is exported. This sector provides direct and indirect employment to 170,000 Canadians.
As well, there are very positive outcomes in the industrial machinery, chemicals, plastics, metals and minerals, pharmaceuticals, and textiles and apparel sectors, where most South Korean tariffs would be eliminated immediately and the rest within five years.
This would mean reduced barriers for these products in South Korea and an improved competitive position for Canadian exports. This is critical to industries such as chemicals and plastics, which export over half of their production abroad.
I would also note that South Korea is one of the world's largest energy importers, and Canada, of course, is a large and stable supplier.
While Canada does not currently export liquefied natural gas to South Korea, this agreement will result in the immediate elimination of South Korea's 3% tariff on LNG, thereby enhancing the prospects for energy exports to Asia from Canada's west coast.
I will now move on to forestry and value-added wood products, another industry that contributes substantially to Canada's economy. Under the CKFTA, 85% of our exports to South Korea would be duty free immediately, including pulp, paper, and some lumber products. Within three years of implementation, 98% of our exports in this sector will be duty free, and the rest will be duty free within five to 10 years. This will help our industry to diversify into Asian markets and to reduce its dependence on the U.S. market. It will also allow value-added wood product exporters in Ontario and B.C. to compete on an even footing with our competitors in the South Korean market.
I saved the best for last. From primary agriculture and processing to retail and food service, the agriculture and agri-food industry accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada and for 6.7% of Canada's GDP. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement will result in significant benefits for Canadian producers and exporters through the elimination of South Korean tariffs on around 70% of our exports in the agricultural sector within five years and on 97% of our exports once the agreement is fully implemented.
This is particularly important for my area in southern Ontario, the Region of Waterloo, and in particular the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, which I am privileged to have been elected to serve three times now. We are blessed to live in a community where the 100-mile diet is a privilege, not a chore. We are home to Canada's largest year-round farmers' market.
Food processing is one of the largest employment sectors in my area. The farmers I represent will be pleased to know that for beef and pork, we have achieved tariff elimination over periods ranging from five to 15 years. This is the same tariff outcome for beef that the U.S. and Australia obtained in their respective FTAs with South Korea, and it will level the playing field among Canadian, U.S., and European exporters for Canada's top-traded pork lines.
This means that producers and exporters like Conestoga Meat Packers, a co-operative of 160 southern Ontario family farmers, can compete on an equal footing to provide the large and growing market in South Korea with high-quality Canadian meat products. In fact, when I learned that I would have the privilege of speaking to this topic today, I contacted Conestoga Meats directly to get a first-hand perspective on this trade agreement. Conestoga's president, Arnold Drung, states that this agreement will solidify more than 50 jobs at his plant alone. In fact, it is already investing in new equipment and technology that will enable it to ship fresh product to the Korean market. He concluded by saying, “Our congratulations to the Government of Canada on concluding this important agreement.”
This agreement is important to all Canadians farmers, not just pork producers. For other agricultural products, we will receive immediate duty-free access for key Canadian export interests such as wheat, frozen french fries, and fur skins. This agreement will also provide for tariff elimination over time or for duty-free within-quota volumes for a variety of other agricultural products, such as barley, malt, wheat flour, soybeans, canola oil, forages, pulses, blueberries, and many processed foods.
Overall, the tariff elimination package represents a very strong outcome for Canada, particularly given that South Korea's current tariffs are, on average, three times higher than ours. This agreement compares very favourably to what our competitors obtained in their agreements with South Korea.
Despite all the evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, there do remain special interests who told us free trade with the U.S. would put an end to our sovereignty, who then told us that NAFTA would bring economic ruin, and who made similar fearmongering statements about free trade with Europe.
The Liberals completely neglected trade and took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. The last time the Liberals talked about free trade was when they campaigned to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement. Of course that promise was ignored, as were their promises on child care, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating the GST, and protecting health care.
Stakeholders from across Canada, in all sectors, have called for this CKFTA to enter into force without delay to secure Canada's competitive position in the South Korean market.
We must pass this legislation quickly so Canadians can access the benefits and opportunities of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker, I am taking this occasion to rise on this bill, titled the reform act, 2014. I would like to thank the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for presenting us with the occasion to debate that very subject before this chamber. This debate allows us to highlight the important improvements we have witnessed under this Prime Minister and this government in the area of democratic reform.
I understand that in politics, one of the idiosyncrasies with which we must be faced is that sometimes narrative departs a long way from the facts. People have a tendency to confuse, for example, strength with centralization, competence with control, and so it is when many critics in the public sphere judge the degree of central power in the various parties that are in the House today.
I think we should examine the facts to see how the parties actually add up on this very question. Let me examine some of those empirical facts.
The Globe and Mail published an analysis of 162,000 votes cast on the floor of this House of Commons by individual MPs. It found that during a two-year period, between June 2, 2011, and January 28, 2013, the Liberal Party voted as a unanimous block 90% of the time, with no difference of opinion whatsoever.
The Conservative Party had independent votes; that is, members of the caucus voted differently than the leadership in one in four votes on the floor of the House of Commons.
The NDP whipped 100% of its MPs 100% of the time. That is to say, in that two-year period, there was literally not one MP who dared disagree with their leader even once, which is an exceptional statement of the centralization of powers that has occurred in the NDP.
We move to the subject of the Senate. I think all of us are frustrated with the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on that question. However, it is important to note what was at stake. The reference to the Supreme Court on the question of the Senate was actually very ironic.
I am not aware of another occasion in our history when a Prime Minister has gone to court to ask judges to take powers away from him. He actually went to the court and asked the court to allow him to give the people authority over who would represent them in the Senate. He agreed that if provinces held elections, he would respect the outcome and he would oblige himself to do so in federal statutory law.
Equally ironic was that it was the courts that actually refused to let him give away the powers he wanted to cede, but no less, it is interesting to note that he wanted to cede them in the first place, an action and a motive that is not normally part of the constitution of any leader of government, but with this Prime Minister it is, as I will further elaborate when I come to our position on this particular bill.
On the question of private members' bills in general, I should note that under this Parliament, with a majority Conservative government, and this Prime Minister, we actually have had more private members' bills passed into law than at any time since 1972. In that Parliament, many of the bills were just name changes to constituencies.
In terms of legislating, this Parliament, under a majority Conservative government, led by this Prime Minister, has had more backbenchers enact legislation than at any time in history.
Some have become cynical about this fact and have said that it is actually just the government putting private members up to passing legislation. They offer no proof of that except that the government actually voted for the legislation.
There is the Catch-22. If the government had voted against this backbench legislation, they would say that the government was blocking it, but with the government having voted for it, they now say that it cannot be that independent if the government supported it at the end of the day. Members will see that with these critics, there is no winning.
However, Canadians are winning. They are winning because of the democratic action of members of this House, such as the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, who was able to introduce legislation to protect vulnerable people from human trafficking, and the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla, who was able to amend legislation from the Prohibition era that prevented Canadians from transporting wines and other spirits across borders. The legislation now allows Canadians to actually drink Canadian-produced wines and beers. We also had the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, who succeeded in passing suicide prevention legislation through the House of Commons. This was serious, substantive legislation passed by backbench MPs under this government.
We now have another bill before the House of Commons, the reform act. That bill would address the 45-year-old requirement in law that a leader sign off on the candidacy of every single person who is on the ballot for the party. Since 1970, it has been a requirement in law that a party leader sign off on every candidate. Without that signature, one cannot be a candidate. Even parties that would prefer to have another form of approval for their candidates cannot do so, because the statutory law in paragraph 67(4)(c) bans them from doing it.
When my friend in the Liberal Party, whom I congratulate on giving his maiden speech, said that these matters should not be codified in law, I point out the fact that they already are codified in law in this instance. That statute forces parties to give leaders veto power over their candidates, even if the party constitution disagrees. The treasured party autonomy of which he is in pursuit does not exist in the current law.
The member for Wellington—Halton Hills seeks to change that by removing this veto power from the leaders and allowing parties to select any officer or officers they think fit to approve their candidacies.
I suspect the Liberal Party would oppose that idea. The leader of their party has abused that power in order to prevent numerous people from running for the Liberal Party. Just today, six former MPs for the Liberal Party spoke out against their leader and said that he was abusing his veto power to impose his ideology on every single candidate who runs for the Liberals. He has further had preferences for friends whom he wanted to have on the ballot for his party. He has basically used the legal authority embedded in the Elections Act to hand nominations to those friends at the expense of other people who would probably have more merit and be able to win the nominations if they were held democratically.
In our party, that decision is left to local party members, the grassroots. In practice, our leader has not used his whip, his legal power, in an abusive manner.
Furthermore, in another instance of this Prime Minister acting in a manner more democratic than any of his predecessors, he becomes the first leader in half a century to declare his support for the removal of the legal veto power of party leaders over candidates. Once again, that speaks to his willingness to cede power to the Canadian people and to grassroots political participants so that they can exercise their own will. That gesture on behalf of our Prime Minister demonstrates that he is ahead of his predecessors on the question of democratic reform and certainly ahead of his competitors in the House of Commons.
The member who brought forward this legislation has congratulated the Prime Minister for creating a space in which this kind of debate can occur. The member is absolutely right that there is no other party, no other caucus, under no other leader, in which this kind of debate would ever have been permitted, because only on this side of the House and under this Prime Minister can we openly discuss the nature of our democracy and propose substantive reforms to improve it.
For that I thank our Prime Minister. I look forward to continuing this debate.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and express our government's strong support for Canada's dairy industry. Canadians look to our dairy farmers for the high quality, nutritious milk and cheese products to which they have become accustomed. Our hard-working farmers consistently deliver.
My riding of Kitchener—Conestoga is home to some of the most innovative and productive farmers in all of Canada. Whether it is on Huron Road or Pinehill Road in Wilmot township, Gerber Road in Wellesley township, or Floradale Road in Woolwich township, all through the beautiful riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, we will find well-managed and well-kept dairy farms that are producing high quality milk and cheese products. That is why when it comes to promoting Canadian agriculture at home and around the world, we ensure that the interests of our dairy farmers and their families remain at the top of mind.
Our government is proud to put farmers first, to defend our supply managed industries, and to promote the competitiveness of the dairy sector. This support extends to our international trade negotiations, including the Canada-EU free trade agreement. We are committed to the completion of this historic deal.
With the exception of a new tariff rate quota for cheese and the elimination of the milk protein substance tariff, Canada has not provided any additional access to the EU on any of Canada's supply management products. In addition, the three pillars of Canada's supply management system remain in place: production, border controls and pricing.
That said, we understand the concerns of the cheese and dairy industry. This is why our government has pledged to monitor the impacts from the implementation of the Canada-EU trade agreement on dairy producers' income, and to provide compensation to address such impacts if they materialize. It is a big “if”. I am very confident of the ability of our dairy farmers and the dairy sector to compete, and I am confident that there will be no negative impacts. In fact, I see great potential for positive impacts through the Canada-EU trade agreement for our dairy farmers.
We have been consulting with industry on this issue over the past five months and we continue to do so.
As members know, Canadians love cheese. They especially love Canadian cheese. In fact, demand for our great Canadian cheese made from our high quality Canadian milk has been on the rise in the past few years. In my riding, on the very road where my farm is located and where I have lived for over 60 years, I just recently visited Mountainoak Cheese. I tasted the cheese, and I am very confident that this cheese producer, which is producing cheese for a niche market, can compete with any cheese made anywhere in the world.
Across Canada, we have our classic cheeses, Monforte Toscano, Avonlea Clothbound cheddar, Grey Owl, Oka, and Mont-Jacob, which deliver exactly what we expect: mouth-watering flavour and great textures. Our cheeses are recognized globally for their taste and quality, and for very good reason.
This past December, at the 86th annual British Empire Cheese Show, the St-Albert Cheese Co-operative from eastern Ontario was crowned Grand Champion and received two prestigious awards for its aged cheddar. In addition, in October, Glengarry Cheesemaking, just north of Lancaster, Ontario, walked away with the Supreme Global Champion award at the Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, England. Its Lankaaster cheese was crowned the winner among 167 categories in Somerset, England, which is the birthplace of cheddar. This stuff is now flying off of the shelves in Ontario.
In fact, one cheesemaker told the standing committee meeting that she believed that there is an opportunity for Canadian cheese in world markets, including the European market, provided that exporters had the tools they needed to take the leap.
Beyond our award-winning cheese, there is a lot of good news on the horizon for Canadian dairy producers. Our government has boosted innovation investments and initiatives under Canada's new agricultural policy framework, Growing Forward 2. Growing Forward 2 is about helping farmers capture new opportunities, while building a strong agriculture sector for the future.
Under the previous Growing Forward framework, we invested in research clusters, including $7 million in the dairy research cluster. This cluster brought together industry experts, scientists and universities to focus on enhancing this industry's competitiveness.
Whether it is about the pork industry or the dairy industry, I am repeatedly hearing from farmers that they would rather see our government invest in research and marketing opportunities than go to their mailboxes for their cheques that come from the government. I am convinced we are on the right track.
Previous research found new practices to help improve the health of dairy cattle and the safety and quality of our milk. The Dairy Farmers of Canada did a great job in leading this initiative.
We followed up this great work by increasing our original investment under Growing Forward in the dairy sector by investing $12 million for a dairy cluster under Growing Forward 2. This investment will help to continue the cluster's great work over the next five years.
Overall, research in a new cluster is focusing on nutrition, sustainable milk production, as well as dairy genetics and genomics. In collaboration with our world-class scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, this leading edge research will make our dairy sector more competitive.
Genetic improvement for dairy cattle will boost productivity and profitability on the farm through greater health and feed efficiency. Canada is world famous for its dairy genetics, and the results of research and our strong dairy cattle improvement programs have helped to significantly improve milk production per cow over the last 30 years. We have opened markets in the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and South America, with exports of over $90 million in dairy genetics last year.
We appreciate the valuable role of the numerous organizations working alongside Dairy Farmers of Canada and our scientists who advance the work of the cluster, including the Canadian Dairy Network. I am proud that our government is supporting what industry has identified as the highest priority research by the best experts in the field.
Overall, through Growing Forward 2, we are boosting innovation spending to roughly $700 million at the federal level. With proactive investments of $3 billion by federal, provincial and territorial governments over five years, Growing Forward 2, as it is called, is driving sector growth and productivity. We are helping to achieve these goals by increasing our focus on strategic investments and innovation, markets and competitiveness. As we know, the dairy industry is a key economic driver, creating thousands of jobs across Canada.
Our government is committed to keeping this sector strong and profitable and helping all producers stay on the cutting edge. This is just part of the government's broader commitment to growth, to jobs, and to long-term prosperity, not just for the agricultural sector but for Canadians everywhere.
This is why our government will be supporting Motion No. 496. In fact, we have already taken action on a number of the initiatives that are described in this motion. Through the new dairy research cluster and Growing Forward 2, we can all look forward to continued growth and prosperity in this great industry in our rural communities and for our hard-working Canadian farmers.
I am thankful for the time that I have been given to express my support for the dairy industry, which has really been the backbone of the agricultural sector in the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. I am very proud to represent the farmers there. I have had many opportunities to exchange ideas with them. Just recently, I hosted a round table with the dairy farmers and we were able to dialogue about some of the challenges that this presented. However, it would also provide to them with the opportunities that would be given to dairy farmers as they could benefit from the Canada-EU free trade agreement.
I appreciate the member for Kitchener—Conestoga's reference to a comparison on this point. As has been raised on other occasions, especially during questions and comments, we do try to keep the questions relevant to the matter that is before the House. I am not so sure that area is relevant to this question, but I will certainly let the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley field the question if he so wishes.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for that great question.
Yesterday, we introduced new multi-sector air pollutants regulations. These proposed regulations will establish, for the first time ever, mandatory national emissions standards for major industries across the country. These regulations will help to lower smog levels and improve air quality for all Canadians.
This announcement builds on the promises we made two years ago to put in place a new air quality management system. Canadians can count on our government to follow through with its promises.
Order. I know we have been away for a week and you want to resume long-term friendships, but would you do that outside the chamber so I can hear the petitions as they are presented.
The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to stand in this House, having been given the honour to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay who put their trust in me.
I want to thank my colleague from Guelph for his support for our motion, my motion, Motion No. 456, but also thank the New Democratic Party for its push to establish a national palliative care strategy.
This is an issue that transcends partisanship because it touches each one of us, and it touches us in our most personal and sacred space, which is the moment between life and death and the moment when a family deals with the loss of a loved one.
I would be remiss if I did not thank for their excellent work all the parliamentarians of all political parties in this House who have worked on the issue of palliative care.
Certainly, the language of the motion comes from the work of the all-party committee, with my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga, my colleague from Guelph, and my colleague from Windsor—Tecumseh.
My colleague from Guelph talks about the need for a conversation. I think this is what a motion is. A motion is a statement of principle and a statement of intent by the Parliament of Canada. It can be a very profound moment when parliamentarians are asked to say what it is that we need in order to move forward as a country. Certainly, we recognize, in this federal House, that the delivery of health services in this country is better served at the provincial level. We understand the jurisdictional divisions in the country, and they make sense because, as we move health care closer to the ground level, we can certainly see more proactive and better results.
However, in terms of palliative care, we are faced with a problem because there is a patchwork response right now. All too often, on the issue of palliative care, we see it is considered some form of charity or it is volunteer work, as opposed to an essential, fundamental principle, in terms of where we need that health care in the 21st century. Particularly as we deal with an aging population, as my colleague from Vancouver East has pointed out again and again, the future of health care will be moving more and more out of the hospitals and into the need to have an understanding of ongoing care to ensure that all Canadians have the quality of life they need, particularly when they are faced with a traumatic illness.
Therefore, the mission statement that we are asking for, as all parliamentarians here, is to say that in this House, this federal House, we have a role to play in talking about what palliative care should look like. It is not to dictate how it will be delivered, but we can play an essential role, a powerful role, as a federal government in saying there are models that work.
We see in various parts of the country that the delivery of palliative services is done in an integrated fashion, and where the services are integrated, families are able to receive the care and the support they want and need. However, where the services are not integrated, this money is still being spent. In fact, I would argue, and medical doctors would agree, that we are spending more money and yet people are still falling through the cracks.
So, the palliative solution is the common-sense solution staring politicians in the face. They just need to say, at this time, that we need a political will to talk about end-of-life care.
I would like to say that when we mention “palliative” to Canadians, they suddenly think, “Oh, God. Why are you talking about death?” It will do us good, I think, to look at some of the fundamental definitions, for example, used by the Canadian Medical Association.
When it talks about palliative care, the word “death” is not there. It is about life. It is:
...an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, assessment and treatment of pain and other symptoms, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
I would also point out the definition of “dying with dignity”, which has been a term that we see often in the media. The Canadian Medical Association says:
“Dying with dignity” indicates a death that occurs within the broad parameters set forth by the patient with respect to how they wish to be cared for.... It is NOT synonymous with euthanasia or physician assisted death.
This is a very powerful statement that the Canadian Medical Association has brought forward for us.
I would like to speak a little bit about the amendment that was brought forward by my colleague from Vancouver East, who has been so committed to the issue of ongoing care and has done much more work on the issue of palliative care than I have over the years. In her amending language to this, she would clarify:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should establish a Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy by working with provinces and territories on a flexible, integrated model of palliative care that: (a) takes into account the geographic, regional, and cultural diversity of urban and rural Canada as well as Canada’s First Nation, Inuit and Métis people; (b) respects the cultural, spiritual and familial needs of all Canadians; and (c) has the goal of (i) ensuring all Canadians have access to high quality home-based and hospice palliative end-of-life care, (ii) providing more support for caregivers, (iii) improving the quality and consistency of home and hospice palliative end-of-life care in Canada, (iv) encouraging Canadians to discuss and plan for end-of-life care.
Tonight, I would just like to focus for a second on the importance that we recognize in the House the cultural, spiritual, and familial needs of families. This is not just about the individual. The death of a loved one and the passage through to that other place is one of the defining moments in the life of a family. When there is palliative care and support, it can be a very transformative moment. When the support is not there, it can be a moment of crisis that families sometimes never recover from.
I would like to say that this motion, as I said at the beginning, is not about the partisanship in the House. This has been a very bitter and toxic Parliament, but we all need to say that we are going to put some of our own political agenda aside.
I know that some of my colleagues in the Conservative Party are made nervous by the word “strategy”. The strategy is the language that came from the all-party committee, and I certainly believe that the notion of strategy is important. Some of our Conservative colleagues would prefer to use the word “framework”. It does not matter to me if it is a strategy and/or framework. What matters is that we stand in this House and say that we will support this.
I would like to try to find a way that, tonight, we can make an agreement. I would like for us to find the language that makes everyone comfortable so that we will all stand in the House. No matter what happens with this motion, we have to show Canadians that we understand this.
The simplest way to do this is to ask for unanimous consent for the following motion: that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the amendment to Motion No. 456 standing in the name of Ms. Davies of Vancouver East be deemed adopted, and that the main motion as amended be further amended by adding after the word “Strategy” the words “and/or Framework”.
The amendment is in order and will be accepted.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize my caucus colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga, who last night was recognized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health as a champion of mental health for 2014. The alliance, known as CAMIMH, is a coalition of more than 20 national mental health organizations representing Canadians who have lived experience with mental illness and their care providers.
Champions are selected through a national nomination campaign that takes place every year and generates dozens of nominations. CAMIMH then narrows the list down to six champions, one of whom is our colleague, the MP for Kitchener—Conestoga. His work on suicide prevention and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness has been truly inspiring. I am very proud of him today as we celebrate Mental Health Week across Canada.
I ask all colleagues to join me in congratulating our colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga and all 2014 champions of mental health.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for raising the importance of mental health support, and I want to thank him for all his leadership and the good work that he has done on this file.
As he knows, it was our government that created the Mental Health Commission to share best practices to benefit Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We invest over $112 million annually to support community-based health promotion activities for families and invest in projects in over 230 communities across Canada. These all contribute to the mental well-being of youth and families and are important elements for reducing the risk for mental health problems.
Mr. Speaker, today marks my 3,000th day serving as the member of Parliament for Kitchener—Conestoga.
I can no longer count the number of times I have risen in this House to speak to issues regarding mental health, mental illness, and suicide prevention. In Canada, we suffer about 4,000 deaths by suicide each year. About 90% of those victims suffered from a diagnosable mental illness.
Today, members of the Canadian Psychiatric Association are on the Hill, raising awareness of the policies, programs, and investments to prevent and treat mental illness. The CPA asked our government to continue to strengthen the mental health services we deliver, and it expressed its willingness to partner in this effort. At the CPA's breakfast this morning, I heard the stories of Matt and Rachel, two ordinary Canadians, and how they are successfully managing their illness and leading productive lives.
To break the stigma surrounding mental illness, we need to talk about it.
Congratulations to Matt and Rachel for their courage, and our thanks go to the CPA for ensuring that their story is heard.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for that question and for his commitment to this very important issue.
In fact, since 2006, our government has invested $43 million to support palliative care research, and today I was very pleased to deliver an additional $3 million to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to support training in palliative care for front-line health care workers.
Our government remains committed to delivering support to Canadian families who are caring for loved ones in need of palliative care at their end of life in a compassionate and high-quality way.
The electoral district of Kitchener--Conestoga (Ontario) has a population of 114,405 with 84,665 registered voters and 209 polling divisions.
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