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                    • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 179 post Taxation

                      Mr. Speaker, As tax season approaches, constituents in Newmarket—Aurora have been overwhelmingly supportive of the tax-free savings account.

                      The Canadian Association of Retired Persons agreed that the tax-free savings account is extremely important for seniors. This is another example of how our government is helping seniors, middle-class families and indeed, all Canadians.

                      Unlike the Liberal leader, they cannot rely on their trust fund to pay for their retirement or their kids' education. The Liberal leader wants Canadians to pay more tax and the NDP voted against the tax-free savings account.

                      Overall, 11 million Canadians of all ages and income levels have opened an account, allowing them to save, tax-free, for their own priorities.

                      Our Conservative government is fulfilling our promise to keep taxes low, and we will continue to do so while putting more money back in the pockets of families.

                      • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 197 post Charity Hockey Game

                        Mr. Speaker, February 15 was an exciting day in Newmarket—Aurora. Not only was it the 50th birthday of Canada's national flag, it was also the Battle of York charity hockey game between the Newmarket Hurricanes and the Aurora Tigers.

                        The annual matchup between the junior A hockey club rivals, hosted by the Newmarket Hurricanes, has raised an impressive $111,000 to date. Dozens of individuals donated their time and resources to make the Battle of York 2015 one of the most successful yet. This year's proceeds will go toward the cancer centre at Southlake Regional Health Centre.

                        It was a thrilling game, played during this Year of Sport in Canada. With hundreds of fans cheering players on both sides, it was more than just a game; it was sport at its finest, bringing hockey lovers and community together together for a tremendous cause.

                        I congratulate all the players involved and to the Newmarket Hurricanes and the Aurora Tigers junior A hockey clubs on a job well done.

                        • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 175 post Taxation

                          Mr. Speaker, thanks to the new initiatives recently announced by our Prime Minister, every single family with children under 18 will benefit from our government's new measures to assist Canadian families.

                          Our family tax cut will benefit every family with kids by an average of $1,100 per year. Soon families in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora will receive just under $2,000 annually per child under the age of six. When added up, a family with five children will receive nearly $60,000 by the time their children turn six years old.

                          However, the Liberal leader ensured that he will take that money away from families and put it into administration, including the creation of new tax hikes.

                          We will never let that happen. Our government will continue to make life affordable for hard-working Canadians.

                          • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 186 post Veterans' Week

                            Mr. Speaker, during Veterans' Week, I encourage everyone in Newmarket—Aurora and, indeed, across Canada to remember those who defend our shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

                            Newmarket residents may pay their respects on November 9, at the Newmarket remembrance parade and ceremony. The march begins at 1:30 p.m. along Doug Duncan Drive to the cenotaph at D'Arcy Street for the official laying of the wreaths. There is also the Newmarket Veterans Association Remembrance Day service November 11, at the Newmarket Cemetery, at 10:30 a.m.

                            Aurorans can pay tribute November 9 at the Aurora legion's Remembrance Day parade. Marching off at 10:30 a.m. from Williams high school, the procession will end at the Aurora Cenotaph for a remembrance service. A service will also take place at the cenotaph on November 11, at 11 a.m.

                            These are just some of the ways we can remember the heavy price that has been paid to defend our cherished way of life.

                            Lest we forget.

                            • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 1390 post Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2

                              Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to speak on behalf of my constituents in Newmarket—Aurora on the second implementation bill of economic action plan 2014.

                              This is a tremendous piece of legislation that would benefit residents in Newmarket—Aurora and indeed all Canadians. It responds to the priorities of my constituents by putting tax dollars back into their pockets, increasing transparency in government, supporting Canadian families, and helping to create jobs and opportunity.

                              Newmarket—Aurora is home to thousands of families, residents who work hard to raise their children and contribute to their community. Every day in my riding, thousands of children and youth participate in a myriad of sports and fitness sessions that include soccer, hockey, dance, baseball, gymnastics, swimming, and martial arts, just to name a few.

                              The benefits of fitness activity in children are well known. In addition to the physical health benefits, participation in sports can help build self-esteem and confidence, motivate children to excel academically, and build valuable social skills. That is why, in order to help parents afford the cost of enrolling their children in organized sports activities, economic action plan 2014 proposes to double the children's fitness tax credit from $500 to $1,000. This credit would also become refundable, increasing its benefit to low-income families claiming the credit.

                              I remind Canadians that since 2006, our Conservative government has reduced federal taxes to the average Canadian family of four by over $3,400 each and every year. Indeed, the overall federal tax burden is now at its lowest level in 50 years.

                              How did we do this? We reduced the GST by nearly 30%, a measure that benefits all Canadians whether or not they pay taxes. We also increased the basic personal amount, the amount that all Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax. We reduced the lowest personal income tax rate and we introduced the tax-free savings account. Doubling the children's fitness tax credit and making it refundable is just one more way that our government is putting more money back into the pockets of families.

                              Canada is ranked as one of the world's most attractive countries for business. Bloomberg rankings recently saw Canada leap into second place, behind only Hong Kong. This did not happen by itself; it is a direct result of our government's strong, continued focus on jobs and economic growth.

                              Economic action plan 2014 continues this focus through the introduction of the new small business job credit. The small business job credit will cut EI payroll taxes by 15%, saving small businesses more than $550 million over the next two years, money that can be reinvested into hiring or into upgrading equipment and increasing productivity.

                              This is yet another action by our government to grow the economy and help create jobs. Indeed, through this government's focus on jobs and economic growth, over 1.1 million net new jobs have been created, 82% of them full-time jobs, with 78% in the private sector and 67% in high-wage industries. Almost 90% of businesses in Canada, about 780,000 in total, will directly benefit from the credit.

                              We know that small businesses like those in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora are the backbone of the economy and the economic engines of our communities. In Canada, they employ approximately 70% of the total labour force in the private sector.

                              This credit builds upon our government's strong support of small business since 2006, which has included measures to cut red tape, freeze EI premiums, and reduce the small business tax rate.

                              Economic action plan 2014 and, more specifically, this second budget implementation bill continue to empower Canadian consumers. For example, it would improve competition in the telecommunications market and end pay-to-pay billing practices by telecommunications service providers whereby subscribers are charged to receive bills in paper form.

                              Bill C-43 also proposes to reduce the administrative burden on charities by allowing them to use modern electronic tools to raise funds and for other purposes. This is great news for the many charities in Newmarket and Aurora. Currently, registered charities must file annual information returns with the Canada Revenue Agency. Unlike other groups, however, charities do not have the option of filing their information returns electronically. This poses a significant administrative burden for volunteers and staff of some 86,000 registered charities across Canada. To address this concern and to reduce the administrative burden on charities, funding will be provided to the Canada Revenue Agency to modernize its information technology, thereby enabling charities to apply for registration and file their annual information returns electronically for the first time.

                              To encourage Canadians to donate to registered charities, the Government of Canada provides individuals and businesses with tax incentives that have been described as among the most generous in the world. In fact, federal tax assistance for the charitable sector amounts to approximately $3 billion annually. This new measure would further assist charities to focus more on raising funds to support the great work that they do and less on administration.

                              My constituents are also pleased that Bill C-43 would end pay-to-pay billing practices by telecommunications service providers whereby subscribers are charged to receive bills in paper form. The practice of broadcasting companies charging subscribers for providing them with a paper bill is an irritating and costly one. I have had numerous complaints from my constituents regarding this practice.

                              We do not believe that Canadians should pay more to receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill. That is why, as we set out in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, we are committed to ending this unfair practice once and for all. Bill C-43 sets out the legislation to do so.

                              I can assure my constituents and all Canadians that our government will continue to promote policies that support Canadian consumers and put more money back in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families.

                              I have spoken in the House and in committee in the past about our government's concrete action to address the tragic issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Economic action plan 2014 contains significant actions to further address this issue. Some $25 million would be allocated over five years to continue our efforts in directly addressing the issue, and over $8 million would be used to support a national DNA-based missing persons index. These two initiatives, together with other federal support for shelters, family violence prevention, and increased economic and leadership opportunities for aboriginal women, will result in a total investment by the Government of Canada of nearly $200 million over five years.

                              This investment builds on previous actions that include the passing of historic legislation that gave aboriginal women living on first nations reserves the same matrimonial rights as all Canadians, including access to emergency protection orders in violent situations. We have also passed over 30 justice and public safety measures, including tougher sentencing for murder, sexual assault, and kidnapping.

                              I will go back to some of the things that the economic action plan would do. It would make key investments to ensure that today's youth have the skills that they need to get the jobs of tomorrow. We want to see all young people have the opportunity.

                              I urge my colleagues on both sides of the House to support the bill's speedy passage so that we can begin to see the results and the benefits.

                              • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 96 post Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

                                Mr. Speaker, I always listen with great pride when I hear people talk about new markets, because I represent the riding of Newmarket—Aurora. I am always happy to hear about opportunities for people in my riding to find new places to sell the things they manufacture and to purchase new products.

                                I know my colleague comes from a riding where there are natural resources, and they will be looking for new markets. Would she like to speak about some of those opportunities for her constituents?

                                • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 91 post Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

                                  Mr. Speaker, we had the opportunity to speak to the bill when it was in the House earlier. I know my colleague had an opportunity to discuss some of the people-to-people ties we have with South Korea. In my riding of Newmarket—Aurora I have a rather substantial Korean-Canadian community. They are hard-working, industrious people, but they are also the bridge for many of us into the South Korean market. I wonder if my colleague has any comments on that people-to-people tie that Canada has established.

                                  • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 910 post National Fiddling Day Act

                                    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to have this moment to speak to the bill, which I am very pleased to support.

                                    I am a fiddler—perhaps not a very good one, but I have a good time with my violin. I have a lovely violin, thanks to the generosity of my mom and dad, who gave me a beautiful instrument some years ago. My aspiration is to do that instrument justice at some point in my life.

                                    Although I went on with my music and did my degree in piano, violin was always my first love. Whether it is a concerto of Tchaikowsky or Mendelssohn or whether it is the strathspeys, the jigs, or the laments that we have in our Celtic music today, I have a deep passion for the music of the fiddle, the violin, and how it can stir the emotions of the heart.

                                    We have had wonderful cultural experiences here in Canada. Visiting Prince Edward Island, in the same village one can go from a cèilidh one night where one experiences the music of Ireland or Scotland over to a house party where the same instrument is participating in the music of the Acadian people with their step dancing and the wonderful emotion that evokes.

                                    When I was in Newfoundland, I took my fiddle with me. I was on a concert tour in Newfoundland in the summer of 2008 and had the opportunity to go to George Street, where people just pull up a chair in a music circle. People come and go from that music circle all evening with a variety of instruments, but there are a lot of fiddles.

                                    When I was in Cape Breton, I had the opportunity to attend the Celtic college and do some fiddle classes there. I experienced some of the other music that was being played in Cape Breton. We have so much wonderful music that can be played on that instrument.

                                    I have a daughter who decided to take up the fiddle. She loves the music of eastern Europe and plays that music, as opposed to the Celtic music.

                                    What I really want to do tonight is to pay tribute to the wonderful instructors that we have here in Canada, and we have some remarkable musicians. I think of people like Natalie MacMaster, who comes from the east coast and whose name has not been mentioned here tonight. She is one of the people who in the 1990s brought back the wonderful love for fiddle music.

                                    When I was in Prince Edward Island, I visited the Summerside school of piping and spent some time with the gentleman there who was making the fiddles for the Rankin Family, another group that came out of Cape Breton and provided Canada with a remarkable position in the world of Celtic music. Fabulous fiddling came from that group.

                                    However, I really want to pay tribute to those people who have undertaken to instruct young people in the art of fiddling, because so often they do not get the recognition they deserve.

                                    There are teachers who start with very young students and apprise them of the fingering, as my colleague for Timmins—James Bay was saying. The DGAE fingering is seemingly so simple on the fiddle, but it needs accuracy in the position of the fingering. These instructors are the ones who painstakingly take the time to inform young students, first of all, of the mechanics of the instrument itself. Second, they introduce them to the wealth of music that they can speak through into a variety of cultures.

                                    I would like to pay tribute tonight to several people in my life.

                                    There is Phil Howes, an instructor from Markham with whom I had the opportunity to study. Phil is a remarkable musician himself. He is a regular adjudicator at fiddle competitions across Canada. He and his wife recorded a number of CDs, and I would recommend them to my colleagues if they are looking for some good music. Phil is a remarkable fiddler and a delight to listen to.

                                    I would also like to pay tribute to Bob and Ginny Arbuckle, constituents of mine in Newmarket—Aurora. Bob is a remarkable fiddler as well, and a gentleman who has poured his life into instructing young people in the art of music. Sadly, Ginny has passed, but we had many nights at my house when Bob would bring his fiddle and I would get out my fiddle and Ginny would play the piano and we would do lots of wonderful Celtic music.

                                    I would like to offer my thanks to those people who have become instructors, many of them remarkable musicians in their own right. They have poured their lives into the lives of others so that they too can learn the fiddle and learn to appreciate so much of the wonderful cultural experience that we have to offer in this great country of ours.

                                    • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 285 post Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

                                      Mr. Speaker, as a member who represents the riding of Newmarket—Aurora, where the auto industry is thriving and we have secondary suppliers to the Big Three, I can say it is very important for the auto industry to stay strong.

                                      I think we have had the discussion about how the tariffs would be reduced and how we would not have the kind of impact that some people are seemingly talking about as a threat to the auto industry.

                                      I would like to address the hon. member's comments about the Korean people who have immigrated to Canada and the great cultural contributions they have made.

                                      I have a rather large Korean community in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora. Substantially, they have a congregation that meets regularly in one of the churches in town, which tells me that the number of people in the area is large.

                                      However, they have also bought farms in the area just to the west of me. They are providing produce, and they are excited about this agreement going forward because they see great opportunities for selling the produce they are growing here to Korea.

                                      They are very excited about this opportunity. I thank them for the work they have done in our communities. I know they have invested in culture and in industry, and we thank them for what they have done for Canada.

                                      • MPndpblog Peggy Nash 1493 post Corporate Social Responsibility of Extractive Corporations Outside Canada Act

                                        Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of Bill C-584.

                                        I am following on the heels of my colleague from Newmarket—Aurora, who has just told us some very positive stories based on her personal experience, and I have no doubt that there are positive stories and positive experiences with the extractive sector.

                                        I am from the city of Toronto and our stock exchange, of course, is heavily invested in the extractive sector. I too have attended the Prospectors and Developers Association conference in Toronto for a few years now. It a huge, wonderful international gathering of representatives from the extractive sector. We were very proud to host that major international convention in our city of Toronto.

                                        To begin with, let me say that there are very many positive role models and examples of companies in the extractive sector that we look to as leaders, both here in Canada and around the world. However, sadly, that is not the case for all companies in all parts of the world.

                                        I will begin by citing an article from the CBC that was written last year, and it will speak for itself.

                                        Tens of thousands of Colombians took to the streets of Bucaramanga, the country's sixth-largest city, last month to defend their water supply from a Canadian-owned gold-mining project.

                                        The chief target of their protest was Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals Corp.

                                        The company is exploring for gold and silver in a high-altitude, environmentally sensitive area that is the main source of water for Bucaramanga's one million inhabitants.

                                        This was the fourth anti-gold-mining demonstration in the area since 2010, and one of the biggest.

                                        But Eco Oro shouldn't feel singled out. It is only one in a string of Canadian mining and exploration companies that have drawn the ire of local communities around the world.

                                        On March 12, for example, more than 10,000 Greeks protested in Thessaloniki against several gold mining projects owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold.

                                        Then on March 21, Catholic priests marched with 5,000 locals in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, against a project owned by Vancouver-based B2Gold Corp.

                                        Canadian companies have also been targeted in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Israel.

                                        “Canada is very well represented in global mining conflicts because, in large part, Canada is the home of most of the junior mining companies of the world,” says Ramsey Hart, the Canada program co-ordinator at Mining Watch, an Ottawa-based advocacy group.

                                        The reason for this, he says, is that Canada has a favourable environment for high-risk, speculative investments, the kind that drives international mineral exploration.

                                        Unlike the U.S. Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign citizens to bring American companies to U.S. courts for abuses committed in a foreign country, there are no mechanisms to hold Canadian companies overseas accountable for their social and environmental policies. "We've just completely dropped that ball," Ramsey says.

                                        The article continues:

                                        The last attempt to impose minimum standards on Canadian companies was a bill sponsored by the opposition Liberals that would have set international standards for human rights and the environment for oil, gas and mining companies operating abroad, and would have made government political and financial support contingent on compliance.

                                        Bill C-300, however, was defeated by six votes in a minority parliament two and a half years ago.

                                        New Democrats joined and supported that vote. However, 17 Liberals were absent, which is unfortunate because they would have made enough to carry that vote and we would have had action on this file.

                                        Thank goodness for the New Democrat member of Parliament for La Pointe-de-l'Île and her bill on corporate social responsibility in the extractive sector. What is being proposed in her bill is exactly what we need. It is a bill that would create a corporate social responsibility ombudsman for the extractive companies doing business in other countries, which is exactly what this news article was talking about.

                                        It would also allow Canada to live up to the reputation that we want to have abroad. Canada is a country that believes in social justice, protecting the environment and defending human rights. This is the image that Canadians surely appreciate of our country. When we travel abroad, it is the image that we want to portray. Whether inadvertently or intentionally, we do not want companies that can be seen as ambassadors to let us down on any of these fronts.

                                        The bill proposed by our colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île would respect our commitments under international law and the international bill of rights by creating an office of the ombudsman. This would require corporations to report to the office on their extractive activities. It would give the ombudsman the responsibility for developing guidelines on best practices for the extractive activities and require the ombudsman to table an annual report on how companies around the world were doing to the House of Commons and therefore to the people of Canada. That is very important.

                                        I began by saying that Canada was a world leader in the extractive sector. We are very proud of that. Close to 75% of the world's extractive companies are headquartered in Canada. However, many of the countries in which these companies operate sometimes have fragile democracies. They may not enforce human rights or environmental standards as well as Canadians or the citizens in those countries would like. Sometimes the mining companies, with their business endeavours, can create instability in these so-called host countries.

                                        Sometimes these countries lack either the political will, the capacity or the ability to enforce protective measures that would actually defend the citizens they should represent. We believe Canadians do have some responsibility, and the measure that is being proposed in the bill is a measure that other countries around the world have taken.

                                        I will give the government credit. It has taken some action. It created an extractive sector counsellor office. As the name suggests, it was really counselling businesses. It had no power to do anything. In essence, it turned the responsibility for corporate behaviour over to the very corporations that were responsible for the behaviour. That is a bit of a conflict of interest. It has not stopped the government when it comes to rail or food safety, or any other sector of the economy that ought to be regulated by the government, but that is what it has done here.

                                        This counsellor has no ability to enforce anything or to do anything. The office has not been able to achieve anything. In fact, the only counsellor that the government appointed resigned in frustration with one year to go before the end of her term. That was last October, and the position today remains vacant. This is how seriously the Conservative government treats corporate social responsibility in the extractive sector. It clearly does not.

                                        This is an important issue for Canadians. More than 600,000 Canadians have supported this campaign since 2006. The campaign has found friends in the corporate network for social accountability in groups like Amnesty International, Development and Peace and Mining Watch Canada. It has also found support in people like: Tony Andrews, the former executive director for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada; Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada; and Reg Manhas, senior manager, Corporate Responsibility and Government Affairs, Talisman Energy Inc.

                                        This is clearly long overdue. It is something Canadians want. It is something the government should finally achieve. The House should vote in favour of Bill C-584.

                                        • MPndpblog WMarstonNDP 1678 post Conflict Minerals Act

                                          Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Newmarket—Aurora, because I am forever standing in this place saying that we should be working together, sharing information, and trying to make bills better. I hate to use the word “conflict“ when we are talking about this issue, but oftentimes, between the two sides of the House, there is more conflict than co-operation.

                                          I would like to commend the member for the speech she gave. Now, after saying that, I take issue with a couple of points, but I will address only one. Perhaps the sponsor of the bill, the member for Ottawa Centre, will discuss later with the government other areas they seem to have concerns about.

                                          When we say “voluntary”, to me that fails the test of true due diligence. I come from farm country, and that is like saying to the fox that we trust it not to come near our henhouse. It would likely not work there.

                                          Again, it is very important in the House, especially as this session is winding down, that there be a glimmer of a possibility that all sides will work together on an important issue.

                                          For the viewers who are just joining us now in this important debate, I would like to reiterate the fact that Bill C-486, once passed, would require Canadian companies using minerals from the Great Lakes region of Africa to practise public due diligence. I stress that word. It would ensure that no armed groups that are engaged in illegal activities would benefit from the extraction, processing, or use of these minerals.

                                          In my past speeches I have often referred to Hollywood versions of stories. There was a movie made in the last five to eight years called Blood Diamond. It highlighted in a very personal way the particular problems in that part of the world.

                                          The most important feature of Bill C-486 is that it would allow Canadians to know whether minerals that may have contributed to funding or fuelling a conflict are in the products they have purchased. It would empower them, as consumers, to make an informed choice. It would not order them to do anything, but it would be guidance that an awful lot of responsible Canadians would appreciate having.

                                          This bill would continue the NDP's agenda on corporate social responsibility. It would have an important role in enhancing, as I said, consumer knowledge and control of purchasing choices. As the critic for international human rights, I can tell the House that New Democrats have long supported transparency and accountability by Canadian industry abroad.

                                          I will step back for just a moment. The member for Newmarket—Aurora mentioned the Dodd-Frank bill. I had the pleasure a couple of years back of spending two hours with Barney Frank in Washington and listening to his passion. The member was fairly critical of aspects of his bill, such as the length of time and the delay. That would be an area I would suggest the member for Ottawa Centre discuss as well. If there is a better way of doing it, we would certainly want to look at it.

                                          I remember that not that long after I was elected in 2006, we had Bill C-300. There was excitement in our activist community about the potential the bill had for holding Canadian companies to the same standards in foreign countries they are held to in Canada. As I recall, sadly, the bill failed by about 12 votes. More sadly, there were 15 Liberals who did not come into the House to vote. That bill was sponsored by a Liberal at the time, so there was significant disappointment.

                                          Because Canadian extractive companies are among the most successful in the world, a fact that we are proud of, we believe that it is important that they lead in responsible, sustainable, and transparent management practices in the world's extractive sector.

                                          In my role as the critic for international human rights, I met, in a three-week period, indigenous groups from five countries. They were from the Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala. When they came before me, they made suggestions that bordered on accusations that Canadian mining interests in their countries were complicit in pushing them off their lands.

                                          I do not think Canadian companies would do that with deliberate intent, but certainly the governments they deal with in their daily business often have people in charge who are prepared to do nearly anything for money, for greed. Therefore, when something comes before us that would make sure that Canadian companies are responsible and do not allow practices such as pushing people off their land, that to me is very satisfying.

                                          Bill C-486 at its best is part of an international trend toward due diligence and corporate responsibility. Again, the member opposite, in her speech, referred to the OECD, the United States, and other countries. If legislators enforced regulations, it would no doubt lead to a more level playing field for all Canadian companies.

                                          One of the fair arguments that could come from the government side is that if we put restrictions on Canadian companies that are not put on other international companies in that part of the world, that could be seen as handcuffing them and holding them back. Now that there is a broader consensus out there about the need for this particular type of legislation, there is less possibility of that.

                                          Further, I believe that this bill would go far in ensuring environmental, labour, and human rights protections of which all Canadians can be proud. We know that when we talk to Canadians and listen to them, their expectation is that in Canada our corporate citizens will abide by all these laws, and for the most part they certainly do. However, they also expect that these companies will do the same thing abroad when they are working in other countries.

                                          At its worst, the international illegal exploitation and trade of minerals from the Great Lakes region of Africa is funding and fuelling one of the deadliest armed conflicts, I would say, since the Second World War. Canadians are just now coming to understand that many of these conflict minerals, as various speakers have mentioned, end up in many of their products, such as cellphones and even tin cans and medical devices. One of the things I kind of smiled at was that they are in jet engines. I do not know quite how they would wind up there, because they are certainly not technically inclined in that area.

                                          Clearly Canadians need support and guidance if they are looking to understand what products they should avoid.

                                          Members no doubt know that mineral profits in the conflict zones provide revenues from trade, taxes, bribes, and fees imposed by armed groups, and those are substantial. Conflict minerals account for up to 95% of the revenues of these groups. Clearly, those minerals literally keep some armed groups in business.

                                          More than half of all the mines, and all but one major mine in the eastern DRC, are controlled by armed groups that may also impose illegal taxes on minerals transported through the territory they control, which brings to mind what is happening in Iraq today. The insurgency in Iraq has taken over part of an oil field, and they are actually selling that oil and getting money, even though they illegally took it over. It is being reported in the news.

                                          Much of the DRC's mineral output is smuggled into countries. Again, that goes to the heart of what the member across the way asked. Where do we do the audit, upstream or downstream? That is something to consider.

                                          One of the things I am pleased to say is that virtually all the main technology companies are now watching where they purchase their materials, such as BlackBerry—a good Canadian company that I hear today is doing a little better than it had been—Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia. These companies are starting to take steps to avoid using conflict minerals in their products. As was said, the OECD also made moves, I believe, in May 2011.

                                          It is very important that a country like Canada maintains it international reputation and takes a lead in this area.

                                          • MPndpblog Peter Julian 169 post Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

                                            Mr. Speaker, you actually put the question twice. The minister and the member for Newmarket—Aurora are quite right to say that the second motion to actually adjourn the House was denied consent, but the first motion was accepted, which means the question has been put. It overrides Motion No. 10 that was adopted two weeks ago. The motion has been put.

                                            Mr. Speaker, you asked if there was unanimous consent to adopt the motion, which would have adjourned the House. I agree with the member for Newmarket—Aurora that a number of Conservative members of Parliament at that point denied consent to adjourn the House, but the question was put unanimously. No one denied consent to put the question, which means the House now has to be called to vote on that question.

                                            • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 175 post Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

                                              Mr. Speaker, one of the things that the former minister of citizenship and immigration ensured was that there were multiple welcome centres set up for newcomers to Canada to have the opportunity to get instruction in a variety of issues that would help them integrate into the community.

                                              I am very privileged to have a welcome centre in Newmarket—Aurora, which I visit on a regular basis and interact with many newcomers to Canada.

                                              One of the things they appreciate so much at that centre is the value of learning English as a second language. I know we do the same thing in Quebec, where people learn the French language. However, the value is having a language so they can work in the community, can learn to do their banking, and enrol their children in school.

                                              Could the member speak a little about how that integration helps to build into the fabric of our country?

                                              • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 126 post Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

                                                Mr. Speaker, one of the very unfortunate issues that we deal with in constituency offices, and it happens in my constituency office in Newmarket—Aurora, is that people who have been misled by immigration consultants come into the office. It is unfortunate that in many cases they have spent enormous amounts of money attempting to get their citizenship, yet they have been led down the garden path, as it were, and have not had the proper instruction.

                                                My colleague has spent a fair bit of time working on issues related to this problem. Could he comment on how we would regulate immigration consultants?

                                                • MPconblog MPLoisBrown 1532 post Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1

                                                  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of my constituents in Newmarket—Aurora to talk about some of the excellent measures contained in Bill C-31, the first implementation bill for budget 2014.

                                                  Last January I held extensive prebudget consultations with Newmarket and Aurora residents to find out what their priorities for the budget would be. The top three requests were these: one, reduce government spending; two, reduce business red tape to stimulate job creation; and three, make government operations run more efficiently.

                                                  Economic action plan 2014 delivers on all three. It focuses on returning to budget balance in 2015, promoting jobs and economic growth, and supporting families and communities.

                                                  The bill before us today would implement several measures important to Newmarket--Aurora, and I will highlight some of these in my remarks.

                                                  Economic action plan 2014 proposes a number of investments and legislative measures to honour the sacrifices made by veterans and their families, facilitate their successful transition to civilian life, and provide them with better access to services.

                                                  There are many active veterans and seniors organizations in my riding, including the Royal Canadian Legion Colonel Fred Tilston VC Branch 385 in Aurora, the Royal Canadian Legion Milton Wesley Branch 426 in Newmarket, of which I am a member, and the Newmarket Veterans Association.

                                                  In addition to assisting veterans, they do a wonderful job organizing important remembrance events. These events help the community to learn about the sacrifices veterans past and present have made so that we today are able to live in a free and democratic society. Indeed, I am looking forward to attending this Saturday's 40th anniversary celebration of the Aurora Legion, which will also commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

                                                  One such measure in Bill C-31 that would support veterans is a compensatory payment for eligible veterans, survivors, or dependants. This payment relates to a May 29, 2012 announcement by Veterans Affairs Canada that VAC would change the way it calculates its earnings loss benefit, Canadian Forces income support, and war veterans Allowance by stopping the practice of offsetting disability pension benefits.

                                                  The offsetting practice ceased on October 1, 2012 for the earnings loss benefit and Canadian Forces income support recipients and on October 1, 2013 for war veterans allowance recipients. Eligible recipients of these three benefit streams, who were impacted by disability pension offsetting between the May 29, 2012 announcement and the day before the offsetting practice ceased for each benefit, will receive compensation. Over 5,000 eligible individuals are expected to benefit. It is a well-deserved payment, and Bill C-31 would ensure that veterans, their survivors, or dependants would receive this additional support.

                                                  Our government has also taken significant action to support and protect Canadians consumers since 2006, and economic action plan 2014 is no exception. Bill C-31 would amend the Telecommunications Act to prohibit Canadian carriers from charging their Canadian competitors roaming rates that are higher than what they charge their own customers. Upon coming into force, this cap would apply to all inter-carrier roaming charges.

                                                  Capping domestic roaming rates will help Canadian consumers benefit from more competition in the wireless market by removing disincentives for new entrants. This action would continue our commitment announced in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to protect Canadians and their families by encouraging healthy competition and lower consumer prices in the telecommunications industry. Residents in Newmarket--Aurora wholeheartedly support this action to broaden competition in the wireless sector, and I look forward to its implementation.

                                                  Students participating in Canada's education system are the largest source of new labour market supplies. Providing them with the skills they will need to be successful is essential to furthering our economic growth.

                                                  Canada has one of the highest youth employment rates among its OECD peers. However, more can be done to ensure young Canadians receive the training they need to realize their full potential. Economic action plan 2014 would make over $100 million available to apprentices registered in Red Seal trades in the form of interest-free loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training. A new Canada apprentice loan would assist more apprentices in completing their training and encourage more youth to consider a career in skilled trades.

                                                  Bill C-31 would support this initiative by introducing measures that would ensure that eligible apprentices were treated the same as other student loan borrowers. A lack of skilled help is one of the most common complaints I hear from business owners in Newmarket and Aurora in the manufacturing sector. Some of these businesses offer excellent programs for qualified graduates, but they still have difficulty in attracting good candidates to fill available jobs. The new Canada apprentice loan would assist them in hiring the help they need.

                                                  Our government understands that time spent navigating unnecessary bureaucratic red tape is time small business owners could otherwise use to grow their businesses and create jobs. Reducing the administrative burden on small and medium-sized businesses is a key priority of this government. Economic action plan 2014 continues this focus, and Bill C-31 contains several measures to help, including to reduce the frequency of source deduction remittances. These can be onerous, particularly for small businesses. This proposed change would mean the elimination of more than 800,000 payments, helping small businesses in Newmarket—Aurora and across Canada.

                                                  Another measure in this bill that perhaps has not received much attention but helps many low-income earners and seniors on fixed incomes in Newmarket and Aurora is the GST-HST credit administration amendment. Currently, individuals may apply for the goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax credit by checking the appropriate application box on their annual income tax returns. The amendment would eliminate the need for individuals to apply for the GST-HST credit and would allow the Canada Revenue Agency to automatically determine if an individual is eligible to receive it. A number of my constituents have been to my office who have missed out on this credit simply because they were not aware of the need to apply every year. I look forward to this particular measure being passed in time for the 2014 taxation year, as I know it would help thousands of Canadians, including those in Newmarket—Aurora.

                                                  There are many other improvements for Canadians contained in this bill. For example, it would better recognize the costs unique to adopting a child by increasing the maximum amount of eligible expenses for the adoption expense tax credit to $15,000 per child for 2014. This maximum amount would be indexed to inflation for taxation years after 2014. A number of people have come into my office, particularly those who are doing overseas adoptions, who are very interested in seeing this implemented.

                                                  It would expand the list of expenses eligible for the medical expense tax credit to include the cost of the design of individualized therapy plans. This would include plans for applied behaviour analysis therapy for children with autism. It would also include, if certain conditions were met, the costs associated with service animals for people with severe disabilities. GST-HST exemptions would also be extended for services rendered to individuals by certain health care practitioners to include those by acupuncturists and naturopathic doctors.

                                                  Our government has never strayed from our commitment to strengthen the economy for all Canadians and to put money back into their pockets. Bill C-31 marks the next chapter in keeping that commitment. I urge all members in the House to support its swift passage, so that Canadians may begin to reap the benefits.

                                                  • MPconblog Paul Calandra 239 post Business of Supply

                                                    Again, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we respect the independence of the CBC to make its own decisions, decisions that are important.

                                                    Also, of course, there is a mandate that the CBC has to fulfill. We understand that. There is a mandate to meet its obligations in French and English for official language communities. We know that aboriginal communities across this country, in rural and northern parts of this country, depend on CBC Radio. We understand how important that is.

                                                    That is why the government provides over $1 billion in resources to the CBC. That is why, since coming to office, we have made sure it has the resources it needs. That is why we have invested in arts and culture, and that is why this sector is doing so well. That is why there are jobs being created in Etobicoke—Lakeshore. That is why there are jobs being created in Newmarket—Aurora, to support this industry.

                                                    I am very proud of that. I am proud of the artists and proud of what Canadians have accomplished. I only wish the opposition would be as proud as we are on this side.

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