As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Saint John.
Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in that spirit I have the pleasure to rise today to congratulate the musicians of Atlantic Canada on the occasion of the 12th annual East Coast Music Awards in Sydney last Sunday night.
The evening was a terrific celebration of traditional and contemporary music emerging from the east coast. Great Big Sea, An Acoustic Sin, John Gracie, Glamour Puss and Natalie McMaster were among the big winners of the evening as were Morning Star, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir and John Curtis Sampson.
Music has long been important in defining who we are in Atlantic Canada, so it is gratifying to see so many of our artists rise to the top.
Congratulations to the honoured artists. As J. P. Cormier said upon accepting his award, when one of us wins, we all win.
Subtopic: East Coast Music Awards
Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Ref.)
Mr. Speaker, in the past month I have had the pleasure of attending several Action for Struggling Agriculture Producers meetings in southern Alberta.
I want to thank the hundreds of farmers who came out to these meetings and shared with me their thoughts on the farm income crisis. As I travel across my riding and as I travel across the country, I am told over and over that the Liberal government has completely lost touch with Canadians.
This arrogant government has turned its back on farmers, promising help but not delivering. It has turned its back on families, promising to cut taxes while secretly raising them. It has turned its back on the sick, promising to defend health care while slashing billions.
Canadians pay the highest taxes in the western world and what do they get? An arrogant, out of touch Liberal government squandering billions upon billions of their hard earned tax dollars.
The time has come to restore hope. The time has come for change.
Subtopic: Liberal Government
Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate Canada's first Braille Day as proclaimed by our Deputy Prime Minister.
Today we honour the memory of Louis Braille. It was Mr. Braille who developed and introduced a system of six raised dots that revolutionized the lives of blind and visually impaired people around the world.
A combination of these six magic dots have made it possible for a person who is blind to read. The ability to read the printed word opens countless doors.
Braille Day is an opportunity to highlight the importance of this invention and the impact it has on literacy.
I ask my colleagues to join in celebrating Canada's first Braille Day. This year's theme is Braille equals equality.
Subtopic: Braille Day
Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, right now we are celebrating the year of the dragon. The dragon symbolizes vitality, prosperity and power.
When the dragon enters into this new century it makes a magnificent year for Chinese communities in Canada and around the world. It is a golden chance to celebrate the richness of Chinese culture and the contributions of Chinese Canadians. The celebrations will enhance the understanding and appreciation of Canada's diversity and its multicultural society.
Today the 40 groups of the national capital region Chinese community and I will host a Chinese New Year celebration on the Hill. Many members of parliament will participate in this non-partisan joyful event to exchange good wishes.
May you have good health, prosperity and success in the year of the dragon.
Subtopic: Year Of The Dragon
Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Ref.)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are tired of the government's promises to bring in effective youth criminal justice legislation.
We are nearing the third anniversary of the appointment of the present justice minister. After months of promises she finally introduced Bill C-68 and then Bill C-3 as her response to the highly criticized Young Offenders Act.
Press releases were long on talk of getting tough on crime. Now Canadians are discovering that the proposals leave far too many opportunities for even more leniency toward violent young offenders.
There is a groundswell of opposition developing across the country. Two individuals, Bruce McGloan from Calgary and Joseph Wamback from Newmarket, Ontario, have joined forces and have been collecting petitions to oppose the government's actions on youth justice. They now have hundreds of thousands of supporters.
These individuals are just two who have been victimized by violent crimes against their children. Bruce lost his son to a young killer. Joseph's son is now paralyzed after a violent assault. Bruce and Joe are to be commended for their efforts, but the government should be ashamed of its record.
Subtopic: Youth Criminal Justice
Ms. Eleni Bakopanos (Ahuntsic, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out how great a need there is for Human Resources Development Canada's programs, including the Canada jobs fund.
It must be made clear that the mandate of this fund is to create jobs and provide financial support to private sector industry to enable it to compete with businesses internationally.
Since our government has been in power, over 1.7 million jobs have been created. In my riding, textile manufacturers such as Christina Canada, Tricot Exclusive and Heritage Decoys have created 239 jobs. In 1998-99 my riding was able to create a total of 291 jobs.
This is just one program in one riding but I can speak about all the HRDC programs which help Canadians find jobs, school help dropouts learn skills and find employment, help the disabled and illiterate become productive members of society. So why are the opposition members attacking a program that does so much good for so many Canadians?
Subtopic: Human Resources Development Canada
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, Gilles Kègle, a remarkable resident of my riding of Québec, will become a member of the Order of Canada.
Affectionately known as the friend of the poor, the street nurse and the knight of the down and out, he has focused all his energies since 1986 on relieving human suffering in the Saint-Roch neighbourhood of Quebec City.
This man works without pay tirelessly 16 hours a day, seven days a week, with the seniors and the disadvantaged in Saint-Roch. Maison Gilles-Kègle, which he has founded, serves as kitchen, laundry, infirmary and meeting place for the team of 77 volunteers that form the Missionnaires de la paix.
Many expressions of gratitude have cited and continue to cite the devotion of this modest man, devotion that knows no bounds and that puts hope and dignity in the hearts of the abandoned people of society for whom he works so hard.
To Gilles Kègle and his missionaries of peace, thanks for making people the focus of your work.
Subtopic: Gilles Kègle
Mrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell (Nunavut, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome to Ottawa students from the Inuujaq School in Arctic Bay, Nunavut who are participating in an exchange program with Hillcrest High School.
These Inuujaq School students are excellent role models for Nunavut youth for they are community minded individuals who have shown great initiative in the various ventures they undertake. As volunteers in the non-profit High School Café, these students have raised money for many worthy causes and have brought great joy to many lives.
I wish the Inuujaq School and the Hillcrest High School exchange students continued success in their endeavours. I know they will treasure the memories of their visit for a lifetime. Thank you. Mutna .
Subtopic: Inuujaq School Exchange Students
Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, on Monday, 25 people from the Montreal region were honoured by the governor general. These were all people who had served others in various ways, examples of solidarity reminding us that there is always a place in a society like ours for lending a helping hand to others.
These volunteers earned recognition for what often seem very simple acts, but these are acts perceived almost as a blessing by their recipients.
This opportunity to celebrate unsung heroes should make us realize that it is possible for each and every one of us to be a hero, by extending a helping hand or an act of courtesy when the opportunity presents itself in our daily lives.
I would also like to draw attention to this ability we all have within us to show generosity and human kindness at a time when we are seeking to return to old-fashioned values in order to give a more human face to our society.
Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Ref.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the late Doug Henning who passed away yesterday.
Doug was born in Winnipeg in 1947 A city that he might say could be a little closer to heaven.
As a child Doug had become fascinated with tricks And as a student was well known for his psychedelic hippie shticks.
Doug flew with friends and heroes in high places of sorts Houdini, Ivan Reitman, and fellow Canadian Martin Short.
Doug's middle name became known as “Levitation” An act that earned him world fame and many standing ovations.
But who would have thought that the creator of spellbound alone Had an idea to make the House of Commons his home.
For in the end it was this entertaining magician Who dreamed of turning himself into a natural law politician.
I wish that Doug could have worked his magic in this place To elevate government to a new space.
Doug, you blessed us with your lighthearted, free-spirited rise If only we could have seen the world through your eyes.
It is with sadness that we say goodbye And with new wings may you always fly high.
Subtopic: Doug Henning
Mr. Benoît Serré (Timiskaming—Cochrane, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Timiskaming—Cochrane communities are 100% behind HRDC. Here is what they have to say.
From the town of Cochrane: “I trust the federal government will continue with this program despite the negativity created by opposing parties”.
From the town of New Liskeard: “I request your continued support for financial assistance programs to improve the quality of life in Timiskaming—Cochrane”.
From the town of McGarry: “We wish to advise you of our support for your government. We trust that your government will continue to provide funding for these very important programs”.
From Cochrane Public Utilities Commission: “Without the assistance of HRDC, 76 people would still be unemployed in Cochrane”.
From the town of Iroquois Falls: “Please be assured of my community's full support on this issue”.
From the town of Kirkland Lake: “I would like to express my support to the HRDC minister”.
Finally from the town of Charlton: “We would like to support our MP in fighting the official opposition and extreme right wing media who want to eliminate these”—
Subtopic: Human Resources Development
The hon. member for Sydney—Victoria.
Subtopic: Human Resources Development
Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear many people support the program.
I am prepared to say that this government has seriously jeopardized that program essential to areas of high unemployment in the country. The government has tainted the transitional jobs fund through at best, mismanagement, at worst, patronage and old style pork-barrel politics. By bungling and mismanagement the government has hurt the people who need the program most, the unemployed.
My colleagues and I in the NDP stand behind programs to help the unemployed.
The shadow cast over this program by mismanagement has fueled the Reform Party's call for an end to such programs. The Reform Party would gladly abandon those in need in high unemployment areas. The Liberals would help them if it means passing the money around to their friends. Only the NDP stands for job creation free from political interference.
Subtopic: Human Resources Development
Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government seems prepared to do anything to get what it wants. After violating the parliamentary rules last December in making their Bill C-20 public, now we again have the Prime Minister making a mockery of democracy.
Yesterday the Prime Minister said “We do not want to waste too much of the House's time on this. We want to move ahead as quickly as possible”.
The Bloc Quebecois would like to remind the government that, in a democracy, there is but one rate of speed, the one which allows the people to have their voices heard and heeded. This is particularly the case because of the vital importance of Bill C-20, since it lays open to question the fundamental rules of democracy and freedom.
The members of the Bloc Quebecois wish to hear what the groups in society have to say, and they call upon the government to organize extensive public hearings on this bill.
Subtopic: Bill C-20
Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, February 7 was Food Freedom Day in Canada when the average family has earned enough to pay for an entire year's worth of food.
We enjoy the most affordable food system in the world. Only 9.8% of our disposable income goes to food compared to 11% in the United States and 33% in Mexico. Our farmers produce high quality and safe food at competitive prices but the farmer's portion has shrunk.
The question is, how many Canadians know that from a $1.50 loaf of bread the farmer gets 9 cents, or that if we have a glass of milk today for $1.50, less than 16 cents is returned to the farmer? A waiter or waitress will earn more from tips on a meal than a farmer earns for growing the food.
Our farmers are the most efficient and competitive in the world but the return on the raw product they produce gets smaller and smaller even though exports continue to rise.
Yes, let us celebrate Food Freedom Day while mindful that farmers must get a fair price to help them stay in business.
Subtopic: Food Freedom Day
Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind the Minister of Finance that he should not forget health care when he brings down his budget.
The budget has been balanced but there have been serious casualties as a result of the process. One of them is our health care system which is now seriously underfunded and not giving Canadians the level of protection they want and deserve.
The minister is no doubt besieged by demands on his new budget but I implore him to first and foremost reinvest in health care. That is what the 10 premiers want. That is what the medical community wants and that is what the Canadian people want. When they show up at emergency on any given Saturday night Canadians want sufficient doctors on duty and they want beds available when they have to be admitted.
After all, if we do not have our health, how will we ever enjoy our tax cuts?
Subtopic: Health Care
Mr. Raymond Lavigne (Verdun—Saint-Henri, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, my beautiful riding of Verdun—Saint-Henri is home to several veterans of the merchant navy. I have made numerous representations to the Minister of Veterans Affairs so that non taxable compensation be paid to these veterans.
Today, I want to congratulate the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who announced last week that the war effort of merchant navy veterans is now recognized by the Government of Canada.
The minister announced a $50 million compensation program for these veterans. This concrete action means that we recognize the importance of the sacrifice of merchant mariners and their contribution to Canada's war effort.
We do live in a beautiful country, do we not?
Subtopic: Merchant Navy
Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.)
Mr. Speaker, the human resources minister has known for more than five months about this billion dollar bungle. She knows that audit represents just a tiny percentage of what is actually out there in terms of files. She knows there are billions more dollars at stake here and she knows that will come out.
She loves to blame her officials, which is unfortunate, but I would like to ask her how many of her top officials has she suspended, moved or fired as a result of this billion dollar bungle.
Subtopic: Human Resources Development
Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, here again the opposition continues on this firing and resignation treadmill. I want to tell the House that while the opposition members are on that treadmill I am making distance.
We are implementing a six point plan so that we will have a quality administration of grants and contributions in my department, so that we can track every working tax dollar and that Canadians can measure us by our results.
Subtopic: Human Resources Development