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    • MPnews news Ian Bos here in Thunder Bay with Hospice Northwest Chair, Kathy Kortes-Miller - Lake Superior News
      ... as well as John Rafferty, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River. The Thunder Mountain Women's Drumming Group will also perform and then a group of supporters will walk Ian out to the highway as he continues his journey across Canada.and more » read more
      Aug 13, 2015 4:32 pm> |
      • MPndpblog JohnRaffertyMP 247 post Mining Industry

        Mr. Speaker, I will be attending, along with the Leader of the Opposition and other New Democratic MPs, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual conference in Toronto this weekend.

        As members know, mining is a very important part of northern and northwestern Ontario's economy, and new investment in the sector is needed more than ever. Why? Because nearly every other sector in our economy is in crisis or on the verge.

        The forestry sector has lost more than 38,000 jobs in northern Ontario alone since the Conservative government came to power. In Thunder Bay—Rainy River, we have seen hundreds of jobs lost in forestry and other sectors. With the closure of Resolute's pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances, 240 jobs were lost. Another 46 jobs were cut at Wasaya Airways on the Fort William First Nation. Another 160 jobs were announced last week at Teleperformance in Thunder Bay. Another 200 jobs will be lost at our Target store in Thunder Bay.

        We urgently need new investment in our fledgling mining projects, especially the $50 billion Ring of Fire project. As we head to the PDAC meetings this weekend, it is clearer than ever that the families of northern and northwestern Ontario want and need an active and engaged federal government that finally puts their interests first.

        • MPndpblog Peter Julian 1123 post Assaults Against Public Transit Operators

          Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this long overdue legislation.

          I would like to start off by praising our public transportation workers across the country. Every day, thousands of women and men across this country basically ensure the safety and security of our loved ones in getting to work, to school, or to a wide variety of places. Their job is to ensure that our loved ones make it to work, school, shopping, and any other circumstance as safely as possible. Tragically, we are seeing that increasingly, their safety and security is in jeopardy because of an epidemic of attacks, and there is no other way to put it, against public transit operators and public transportation workers.

          Today we are seeing across the country thousands of transit workers who are making sure, even in adverse weather conditions, that our loved ones get to work or school safely. Yet today, an average day in Canada, four, five, or six of those transit operators and public transportation workers may be assaulted in the line of duty. As they are doing their work of ensuring the safety and security of our loved ones, their safety and security is often put into question because of a growing number of tragic assaults against these workers.

          This did not start happening yesterday. It has developed over a number of years. That is why the NDP over the past number of years has put forward legislation to combat this epidemic of attacks on public transportation workers and drivers across this country.

          Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who members will remember, first put forward a bill. I myself put forward a bill a number of years ago. We encouraged the government at the time to put in place these measures. My colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River also put forward legislation.

          Bill S-221 is currently on the docket in the House of Commons. It would increase penalties for anyone who assaults or abuses a public transportation worker. By putting this legislation in place, we would be sending a message to people right across the country that this is unacceptable. The safety and security of our public transportation workers should not be put into question because of the growing likelihood that they may be assaulted in the line of duty.

          Imagine driving a bus and trying to maintain the safety and security of perhaps dozens of passengers, and someone gets on the bus who feels that he or she has free rein to assault the driver. While the driver is trying to protect members of the travelling public, his or her own safety is in question.

          That is why it is important to send an inescapable message to all Canadians that assault or abuse is simply not acceptable. That is why we support the bill. That is why we have called for tougher penalties, as well.

          Part of the reason this is an important step and the reason the NDP has put forward legislation over the past few years a number of times is the public education that can come from it. Saying that it is a case of aggravated assault, as we have said in the NDP bill, or an aggravating circumstance, as in the bill before us today, is something the public transportation companies and private taxi companies can use to ensure that the public is aware that when they try to abuse or assault a taxi driver or transit operator, it is a serious crime.

          There is no doubt that this is something that would help to address this tragic epidemic of attacks on transit workers. In many cases, we are talking about serious assaults. These are assaults that have resulted in serious, permanent disability. We are talking about situations where the bus driver or transit operator has been unable to return to work. We are not talking about minor assaults here. In many cases, we are talking about tragic, serious assaults.

          That is why we have been bringing this forward in the House of Commons for so many years. We need to change the public perception that somehow it is okay to attack a transit operator, a bus driver, or a taxi driver.

          The bill today is long overdue. We would have liked the government to have adopted the NDP legislation we have been pushing forward in the House years ago. It will nonetheless make a difference, particularly when the public transportation companies are able to put forward the very clear message that this is unacceptable.

          The bus drivers and transit operators in my riding are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Unifor, as well, formerly the CAW transit operators. We also have the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has also been a phenomenal force in campaigning for this change.

          The Société de transport de Montréal drivers' association also played a major role.

          With Unifor, CUPE, ATU, and the STM we have a real consensus among bus drivers and transit operators across the country that it is time for a change. It is time to send an unmistakable message to all Canadians that to assault a transit operator or a bus driver is a serious offence. Those bus drivers and transit drivers get up every day in the morning with one thought in mind, which is to make sure that our loved ones get to their workplaces, their schools, or wherever they are going safely. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure their safety, to ensure that they go to a safe workplace and can come home and know that they have provided that service to Canadians, that there are no scars to show for it, and that they have been able to work in a safe environment.

          I would like to conclude by saying that this is long overdue legislation. We support it. In fact, the NDP has been the impetus behind the legislation, and we are happy to see that it is finally coming forward on the floor of the House of Commons.

          • MPnews news Gravelle takes on official languages critic role - NorthernLife.ca
            Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair also appointed Thunder Bay—Rainy River MP John Rafferty as pensions critic, Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques MP Guy Caron as energy and natural resources critic and Windsor West MP Brian Masse ... read more
            Jan 26, 2015 11:42 am> |
                  • MPndpblog CarolHughesMP 215 post Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act

                    Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River is very well attuned to wilderness, given the part of the country where he actually lives. He talked about the mountains and about the magnificent wilderness.

                    I will give another quote from the Parks Canada report, in which an elder says:

                    The beauty and importance of the Nááts’ihch’oh area was highlighted by many consultation participants in the Sahtu. They stated that the area was very important to peoples of the Sahtu, Dehcho and Kaska.... One Tulita Elder described the mountain itself...as sacred to these peoples....

                    When we talk about wilderness, the current government talks about consultation. It says it listens but, at the end of the day it took option three, which was the lesser option, whereas everybody wanted option one.

                    Maybe he could elaborate on the fact that we need to take consultation into consideration when it comes to sacred ground or the issue here where the elder described the mountain itself as being sacred.

                    • MPnews news Thomas Mulcair's Gun Registry Comments Cause Confusion Within NDP - Huffington Post Canada
                      In a 10 p.m. post on Wednesday, Cullen attributed comments to Mulcair saying the NDP “won't be bringing back the registry. We won't be repeating the errors of the past.” Thunder Bay—Rainy River MP John Rafferty, who voted in favour of abolishing the ... read more
                      Dec 06, 2014 5:52 am> |
                      • MPndpblog JohnRaffertyMP 1243 post Department of Public Works and Government Services Act

                        Mr. Speaker, I am supporting this bill at second reading. It is important to refer the bill to committee because some amendments should be made to the bill, and the committee should hopefully take care of that and then bring it back to the House.

                        Let me just outline that very quickly with a little background.

                        The bill is a resumption of a bill that was tabled in 2010, which we also voted on at the time. The bill would require that before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood, while taking into account factors such as cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

                        I say “amendments” because I am not entirely happy with the wording of the bill where it says “give preference to”. I believe there is a better way to say this, perhaps “compare materials” or something of the kind. I certainly hope there will be some amendments to the bill.

                        The important part of this bill is not only the use of wood, and I will talk about why that is important in Canada. The government could save money with this bill, using more wood in the construction and repairs of federal buildings.

                        A life-cycle cost analysis produced by the U.S. defense department some years ago demonstrated that wooden structures cost 40% less per square foot than steel or masonry structures. Construction cost was 37% less for wood. Operation and maintenance costs were 55% less for wood than for other materials. This would help not only our wood industry, particularly the specialty wood industry.

                        When we think of forest products and the use of wood, and a lot of people think of 2x4s and maybe pulp for pulpwood, and if we are to make our forest industry as diverse as possible, let us think of the construction of buildings, of beams, of curved beams, of the sorts of main parts of structures of buildings where we could find new uses for forest products.

                        I want to briefly mention what has happened to the forest industry in the last number of years. I will go through some facts and figures because it is very instructive. I will talk about direct employment in our forest industry, meaning those who actually work with the wood. It is usually indicated in the forest industry that for every direct job there are three indirect jobs, so we can extrapolate how important these jobs are, have been and were to Canada, and what we have lost in the meantime.

                        In general, since 2008, with the big downturn in Canada and the rest of the world, we have lost 30% of its forestry jobs. The hardest-hit provinces were: Quebec, where the losses were 32.3% in direct jobs, and I am not talking about indirect jobs because that would be much more; Ontario, 34.2%; and British Columbia, 29.7%. All of the provinces had a loss. Newfoundland and Labrador had a net loss of 55.8% of its forest industry.

                        It is incumbent on us in Ottawa to ask how we can move forward with a very vibrant forest industry, which we have and have had, and help to ensure that forest products are used to their fullest extent and with their best possible uses. This bill would go a small way in that direction.

                        I like to think that the forest industry has perhaps bottomed out in terms of job losses. In my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River, in Fort Frances, the mill closed two years ago and is now going to be completely shuttered, and these losses still continue. In fact. in northern Ontario, if I remember my figures correctly, we lost 44,000 forestry jobs. That was more than half the forestry jobs that we had in northern Ontario. It was a huge loss. That is one of the reasons I am supporting this bill at second reading.

                        It is important to note that in Canada the national codes, the federal codes, allow for the safe use of wood while providing occupants appropriate protection from fire, earthquakes, or storms, so if people are thinking that wood will not do the job that concrete will do, for example, they should know that it can do the same job.

                        A bill with these amendments that I was talking about would just make sure that when there is a federal building project, wood would be considered. The bill is not binding. The purpose is really to establish that wood is one of the options available and should be considered.

                        Annual sales of Canadian forest products are about $57 billion and represent about 12% of Canada's manufacturing GDP. Even with these huge job losses across the country, the forestry sector is still one of the country's biggest employers. It has activities in more than 200 forestry communities. Many of them are in northern Ontario, but others stretch right across Canada. Two hundred communities depend on forestry to provide their tax base, to provide employment, and to make these communities vibrant.

                        I want to talk about Quebec very briefly. The wood charter has been adopted so that managers of public projects can systematically evaluate the option of using wood in producing a comparative analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of materials. I think it is important to note that wood compares favourably with other building materials, such as steel and concrete, which consume 26% to 34% more energy and emit 57% to 81% more greenhouse gases than wood. As well, on average each cubic metre of wood captures one tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

                        We can think of it in environmental terms. I talked about cost and I talked about environmental terms, and wood just simply makes sense.

                        It is important for us in this place to show that we support forestry workers right across this country and that we support the use of local products, provided these products comply with the standards in effect across this country. We want the government to make judicious choices by giving consideration to life cycle and cost analysis when considering wood.

                        By the way, the government already has a policy on leadership in energy and environmental design. It is called LEED certification. It is a rating system recognized as the international brand of excellence for green buildings.

                        In any number of areas, the use of wood is something that should be considered. I will be supporting this bill at second reading, hoping to get it to committee where we will see an amendment or two that will make this bill even better and perhaps more palatable in this place. I will be following this bill very closely and, quite frankly, so will Canadians in 200 forest communities right across this country.

                        • MPndpblog Joe Comartin 22 post Agricultural Growth Act

                          Resuming debate, the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River has seven minutes to complete his speech.

                          • MPndpblog JohnRaffertyMP 477 post Agricultural Growth Act

                            Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our member for Compton—Stanstead, whose remarks I look forward to.

                            As members will know, my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River is fact at the beginning of the Prairies. I always find it interesting that when Conservatives stand to talk about the Prairies, they do not talk about northwestern Ontario as the beginning of the Prairies. However, we have a lot of farmers in my riding, we have a lot of farmers in northwestern Ontario. Indeed, we have a lot of farmers in northern Ontario. I think many people seem to forget that farming takes place right across this country, not just in the Prairies.

                            This is an interesting bill. There are some good things in the bill, but I do have some concerns. They revolve around two areas. The first is what Conservatives are calling “farmers' privilege”, which we prefer to call “farmers' rights”. The difference between “rights” and “privilege ” some may say is not that important, but I think there is an important distinction to be made.

                            The other area concerns the seven amendments that we put forward that would have clarified a number of grey areas in the bill. The problem with grey areas being in a bill is that things are not then spelled out, which means, almost for certain, that there will be some litigation down the road and that the judges will not have a lot to go on because the bill is a little too grey. I was disappointed that the government was not interested in putting those amendments forward, which will try to outline as I go forward.

                            There is another issue in that regard. When there are grey areas and a bill gets passed, any changes that need to be made are made by regulation. They are not made by coming back to the House to be done in legislation. What that will do, in essence, is give the minister, whoever the minister will be at the time, very wide discretion as to how he or she proceeds.

                            Those two things were not really addressed in the bill, although we made every attempt to do so.

                            We have always believed that it is essential to have a balanced approach when talking about plant breeders and plant breeders' rights, and this bill simply would not get us here.

                            Mr. Speaker, I look forward to continuing after question period.

                            • MPndpblog JohnRaffertyMP 1301 post Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

                              Mr. Speaker, when the NDP looks at trade deals, we use four very important criteria to assess these deals.

                              Is the proposed partner one who respects democracy and human rights, and does it have adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values?

                              If there are challenges in these regards, is the partner moving towards these goals?

                              Is the proposed partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada? On this point, I might just comment on the minister's question to the previous speaker.

                              Currently, seafood from both our coasts is subject, in some cases, to 47% tariffs. Under this deal, not all but most of those tariffs would disappear, which would certainly be good for fishers on both of our coasts. Therefore, on the question of this deal being of strategic value, in many areas it is, and a little later I will talk about the wood and forest industry.

                              Also, are the terms of the agreement satisfactory, and are they of net benefit to Canada?

                              There are some issues, which I will talk about in a moment, but on balance, this trade agreement is with a democratic country that has high standards. It is a good deal, and so Canada can support it.

                              Furthermore, South Korea is an established democracy that has high standards for labour rights, human rights, and environmental protections. It is a large market that offers significant opportunities for Canadian business to gain a foothold in the important Asian market area. Of course, it is also an opportunity for Canada to diversify its trade.

                              As the forestry critic for the official opposition, I will say a few words about forestry and wood products in this particular deal.

                              Canada's forestry and wood products industry includes newsprint, wood pulp, wood panels, and other value-added products. Even with the downsizing and the loss of 48,000 jobs in the last few years, the forest industry still contributes over $20 billion to Canada's GDP, and it still employs 230,000 Canadians in primary and secondary manufacturing. Many of these jobs are for high-skilled trades.

                              Canadian exporters to Korea are really at a disadvantage by tariff lines on Canadian wood products, which are, in some cases, up to 10%. Now, 10% might not sound nearly as bad as up to 47% for some seafood products from Canada, but 10% in a very competitive business means a lot of money on the bottom line for Canadian forest companies.

                              It is important to note that this free trade agreement would provide growth opportunities for value-added wood products, which would help develop good family-sustaining jobs in the value-added economy. As we move forward, this would be good for the forest and wood products in my critic area.

                              The Korean free trade agreement is different from the European and China agreements. I will highlight some of the differences, which might help to further explain why we are supporting this trade deal with Korea.

                              Unlike the China deal, the terms in the South Korea free trade agreement are reciprocal. I think that is a very important element to keep in mind as we move forward in this debate.

                              The Korea free trade agreement would not apply to provincial, territorial, or municipal procurement or crown corporations, where most Canadian procurement is located. That is good for businesses like Bombardier in my riding, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, so that if the City of Toronto, for example, decides it needs new streetcars, Bombardier can bid competitively and keep its 800 to 1,200 high-paying, family-sustaining jobs in Thunder Bay. That is a good part of this deal that is missing from other trade deals.

                              The Korea free trade agreement would not apply to or negatively affect supply-managed agriculture products, something the NDP has always protected with the belief—and I know this belief is probably right through this place—that we cannot forget that farmers feed cities in this country and it is important that they be able to keep and work their farms and, hopefully, be able to retire with that income.

                              The Korea free trade agreement does not contain any negative intellectual property provisions. When I say that, I am thinking of pharmaceutical and copyright, for example. Michael Geist has pronounced positively on the intellectual property terms of the Korea free trade agreement, calling it a “model” agreement.

                              While the Korea free trade agreement does have investor state provision, it contains transparency guarantees, and we are fully able to cancel that on six months notice. More importantly, particularly for the east coast of Canada, shipbuilding is exempt from federal procurement rules. Therefore, there are some differences, and those differences highlight why New Democrats can support this deal and have perhaps not supported other deals that the government has sought to make.

                              A question came up earlier in the debate, so I will say a few words about investor state dispute settlements. Quite frankly, an NDP government would not have included investor state dispute settlements in the Korea free trade agreement. Just as a side note, the investor state dispute settlement mechanism in this free trade agreement is also opposed by Korea's main opposition party. An NDP government would negotiate with South Korea to have it dropped. I heard the government say earlier that this is a mechanism that is in all modern free trade agreements. I am not entirely sure that it needs to be; so it needs to be looked at a little more closely.

                              One would think, as I am speaking, that everything is rosy between the government and the official opposition on this particular bill, but the fact of the matter is that New Democrats proposed six amendments at committee and the government, true to form, dismissed them wholesale. It decided to dismiss these amendments out of hand without a proper discussion or looking at whether these amendments might improve the bill. That is true to form, along with just about everything else that has happened for the last three and a half years in committees. It is unfortunate that the government has always been so heavy handed in terms of amendments.

                              There are some things New Democrats would like the government to do after this bill passes. We want the government to make sure it supports our automotive industry. We support breaking down trade barriers, but we believe government should provide the support that Canadian industry needs to remain competitive in a more open world economy.

                              New Democrats also agree with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and others that the government needs to do more than sign trade agreements. It must do more to promote Canadian exports, attract investment, and help Canadian companies penetrate the South Korean and other Asian markets.

                              The New Democrats want a strategic trade policy where we restart multilateral negotiations and sign trade deals with developed countries that have high standards and with developing countries that are on progressive trajectories. These are countries like Japan, India, Brazil and South Africa.

                              The bottom line is that this is not the precise agreement that we would have negotiated. There are some problems, as I have outlined, but we will support this free trade agreement.

                              • MPndpblog Paul Dewar 1125 post Assaults Against Public Transit Operators

                                Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of this bill, as many of my colleagues are doing. I think everyone in this House is behind this particular legislation.

                                I want to share a couple of stories. Suzanne Burgess went to work one day. She was taking a layover break, as they call it, in between her runs. She saw a person going across the way, in a precarious and dangerous way. She opened the window to tell her it was too dangerous to be there.

                                Unfortunately, what ensued was something that should never have happened. This person barged onto the bus, threatening Suzanne with vulgar language. Suzanne immediately radioed for assistance, and when she hung up she was assaulted by the person grabbing and scraping her face and neck and trying to drag her to the floor.

                                It took 17 minutes before security could reach her. She mentioned that she was so grateful that another driver heard her screams and came to her assistance.

                                In testimony she said, “I want to help people, not be afraid of them”. She was basically pleading for us to do our job here to protect her in her workplace.

                                I will share another example of someone who went to work and was exposed to a horrific scenario, something that should never happen in any workplace.

                                John Karagiannis went to work as an OC Transpo bus driver. He was threatened by a passenger. He was dragged out onto the sidewalk on Bank Street here. He was beaten up. He had a broken rib. His knees and back were bruised. He had cuts and bruises, as well. He was off work for a long time.

                                No one should go to work in the kind of environment where they feel threatened. It is important that we understand this.

                                I am happy to see the Amalgamated Transit Union bringing this issue up. They are the ones who represent their membership, the workers. They have done a good job of documenting this through health and safety committees; they have heard from their bus drivers. They are basically doing what unions should do.

                                Sometimes the government likes to beat up on unions, for whatever reason, but in this case we should have a sober reflection on the good work that unions do. Unions are there to represent their membership. It is important that we listen to these stories, and to the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has been carrying the flag for this cause. It is saying that no one should go to work feeling threatened or be in a dangerous work environment. It is a basic health and safety issue.

                                It is about people having the ability to go to work without being threatened. I want to underline that point. This is something that the Amalgamated Transit Union has done good work on. I want to give credit to them, as well as other members of Parliament, who have brought forward private members' bills. In fact, it was back in 2010, when Judy Wasylycia-Leis, my colleague from Winnipeg, brought forward a private member's bill on this, followed by my colleague, our House leader, and presently we have my colleague, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, who has a private member's bill on this issue.

                                It is not from a lack of trying to bring this forward, but at last we are here. I hope that we do get this passed as soon as possible. What most people would note, and my colleague from Durham enumerated, is that this is not just bus drivers. It is about taxi drivers, people who work on trains, ferries, etcetera, all of those public transportation systems that people rely on.

                                It is very important because this affects numerous people. When a bus driver is being threatened, it affects the safety of everyone. I have taken the bus many times in Ottawa. Passengers trust that the bus driver is going to keep things calm and is going to ensure the bus is a place of safety.

                                When the driver's safety is threatened, it actually means everyone else is threatened. I think we have all experienced times when there has been some chaos or commotion on a bus. People look to the bus driver or the transit operator to bring calm to the situation.

                                Bill S-221 is simply saying that we support those workers who are actually providing that service, and not just for getting us from A to B but for making sure it is done in a civil way. Therefore, I am fully supportive of the bill. It is not overstepping in terms of the parameters for judges in sentencing. It is a rational, smart thing to do.

                                I will finish by saying that I hope the bill is passed for the Susans and Johns who went through such horrific experiences, which has had an effect on them not just physically but emotionally. As one can appreciate, when something like this happens, there are emotional scars that have to heal. They will be the people we look to as examples of what we hope to never see happen in the future.

                                What we are trying to do is make sure that workers who go to work every day will not be threatened. After all, if the bus driver, train conductor, cab driver, or the person conducting the ferry does not feel secure, then there is insecurity for the public.

                                I am delighted to get behind the bill, as are many of my colleagues. I look forward to it passing as speedily as possible. To that end, I thank all those who have brought this to our attention. I really want to cite the Amalgamated Transit Union here in Ottawa for doing great work.

                                • MPconblog BarryDevolin_MP 85 post Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

                                  Order, please. Before I go back to the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, I would like to remind all hon. members in this place that the Chair gives the members signals when their time needs to be wrapped up and would appreciate the co-operation of all hon. members, even at this late hour.

                                  The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

                                  • MPndpblog Claude Gravelle 100 post Veterans Hiring Act

                                    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his great speech. I was surprised by the percentage he gave, which is that 10% of veterans, out of 942, which is roughly 94 veterans, are going through this program. I was also surprised to learn that the RCMP is not included in this bill.

                                    I would like my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River to try to explain to us why so many veterans are being ignored by the government.

                                    • MPconblog BlakeRichardsMP 525 post Business of Supply

                                      Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be able to participate in this important debate today on the topic of the temporary foreign worker program.

                                      At the outset, I would like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Mississauga—Streetsville.

                                      I want to be clear about where we stand. Canadians must always be given the first crack at available jobs.

                                      The temporary foreign worker program is largely employer-driven. It is meant as a short-term solution for Canadian employers, who should only use it as a last resort when it is absolutely impossible to fill positions with Canadian workers. That is a critical point.

                                      The program is not designed to take jobs away from Canadians and it must never take jobs away from Canadians. As a government, we are obliged to ensure the program is not abused in this way. That is an obligation that we welcome. That is why the Minister of Employment and Social Development felt the need last week to take action to put in place a moratorium on the access of the food services sector to the temporary foreign worker program pending the government's ongoing policy review of this program.

                                      The minister's actions came in the wake of serious allegations of abuse in this particular sector. We underline this government's commitment to combat such abuse and to ensure that employers always make efforts to hire Canadians first before making use of the temporary foreign worker program. That is why the food services sector is now facing a moratorium on the temporary foreign workers program. It is a temporary moratorium that will last until our government finishes its ongoing review.

                                      When our government hears allegations of misuse, allegations about the labour market being distorted, or allegations about Canadians being displaced, we take action, unlike the NDP, which keeps asking for more temporary foreign workers for businesses in their ridings while at the same time calling for the program to be shut down.

                                      It is simply stunning to listen to the New Democrats bring forward this kind of motion, because it does not seem to fit with their continuous calls for more temporary foreign workers in their ridings. We have had calls from the NDP deputy leader and MP for Vancouver East and the NDP MPs for Halifax, Ottawa Centre, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Skeena—Bulkley Valley—

                                      • MPndpblog JohnRaffertyMP 94 post Democratic Reform

                                        Mr. Speaker, the minister talks as if the only solution to eliminate fraud is to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters. All he needs to do is to simplify the vouching paperwork. Mr. Maynard said it, Jean-Pierre Kingsley said it, and Mr. Neufeld said it.

                                        When will the minister realize that voters are not the problem in our electoral system? When will he understand that blocking my constituents in Thunder Bay—Rainy River and thousands of other Canadians from voting will not solve anything?

                                        • MPndpblog WMarstonNDP 95 post Petitions

                                          Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on transportation and long-haul carriage. Drivers are at risk because of the many hours they are putting in on the road. One can imagine at Lac-Mégantic we lost close to 50 people. One bus in a serious accident could match that.

                                          I am very pleased to support this petition and to support the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River with his bill.

                                          • MPndpblog JohnRaffertyMP 301 post Consumer Protection

                                            Mr. Speaker, the cost of living in rural and northern communities is much higher than in urban communities. For many, the cost of keeping their homes warm has reached a tipping point.

                                            As Teresa from Atikokan wrote to me recently:

                                            The propane truck just drove away after filling our tank. It was the first time we've filled it since last May. You can imagine my shock when we discovered the price had risen 80% since our last fill up.

                                            That is right, the cost of heating her home has risen 80% in less than a year.

                                            There are many stories like Teresa's. Brian in Nolalu, Kathy in South Gillies, and many others living in Thunder Bay—Rainy River, are hurting.

                                            The Canadian Propane Association insists that there is no shortage in Canada.

                                            Well, if there is no shortage as the industry claims, then it must be yet another case of price gouging by an industry that targets a captive consumer during a time of need.

                                            The Minister of Finance will not notice the price spike until he goes to fill up his barbecue tank at his cottage this summer, but the Canadians he serves are suffering today and deserve action.

                                            If the Conservative government turns its back on rural Canadians on this issue, as they have on so many other issues, then Canadians should know that the NDP is ready to get to work and make life more affordable for them, beginning in 2015.

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Thunder Bay—Rainy River

The electoral district of Thunder Bay--Rainy River (Ontario) has a population of 85,153 with 63,128 registered voters and 191 polling divisions.


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John Rafferty MP
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followers: 3,145
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