October 23, 2003

BQ

Christiane Gagnon

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, a video game to be launched by Sony early next year portrays Quebec sovereignists as terrorists who kill innocent people in the Toronto subway.

This is very close to hate propaganda. Reality or fiction, who can tell? We must remember that video game players are mostly young people who could be negatively influenced about Quebeckers.

Quebeckers are a peaceful people. It was in Quebec that the demonstrations against Canada's role in the war in Iraq had the highest turnouts, despite the cold weather.

The game, called “Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain”, instead of fostering better understanding between two groups of people, is a divisive factor and casts doubts on the legitimacy of the democratic process that may one day lead the people of Quebec toward independence.

The Bloc Quebecois is shocked that an apparently serious company like Sony could be involved in such propaganda. We demand that the company keep this game off the market and apologize to all Quebeckers.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Video games
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LIB

Yvon Charbonneau

Liberal

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce in this House that UNESCO and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, or IPU, have launched an international network of parliamentarians to support UNESCO's mission and activities.

This network was officially launched on October 6, in Paris, during UNESCO's General Conference. The IPU will appeal to its 140 national branches to each designate a member to act as a focal point with UNESCO and its national commissions in 190 countries.

This international network will allow parliamentarians around the world to become more familiar with UNESCO and to better publicize this essential UN organization dedicated to the promotion of education, culture and science, and to humanizing globalization.

This network is totally consistent with the wishes of our own UNESCO Friendship Group of Parliamentarians and the Ottawa Declaration that closed the conference held here in June.

I am very pleased with the step that has been taken. Parliamentarians around the world will be able to contribute more to debates on current issues at UNESCO, such as the protection of cultural diversity, ethics and genetics, and the information and knowledge based society.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Unesco
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CA

Vic Toews

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the important democratic exercise that was conducted in Steinbach, Manitoba on October 22.

A referendum was held at the request of city council to determine whether to continue the 30 year prohibition on serving any alcoholic beverages in public dining rooms within the city limits.

While the voter turnout was approximately double what it was during the last municipal election, this was one of the largest municipal voting exercises in Steinbach's recent history.

In the end, residents voted to approve the sale of alcohol with meals in public dining rooms by the narrowest of margins. Regardless of which side individual residents supported, most agreed that this was an important exercise in democracy. It demonstrates how referendums can help decide important social issues.

Canadians across the nation should take note.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Alcoholic Beverages
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LIB

John Maloney

Liberal

Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize the annual Literacy Action Day.

Literacy engages and impacts upon every aspect of our individual lives. It is at the core of early childhood learning, our personal development, our economic opportunities and our capacity to participate fully in society. Regrettably, 40% of Canadians between the ages of 16 and 65 have very low or limited levels of literacy, while two in five working age Canadians do not have the necessary literacy levels to fully participate in society.

I am encouraged, however, by the government's skills and learning agenda and the government's commitment to knowledge as the engine of the new economy with the imperative of literacy at its core.

At this time I would call upon members of Parliament to join me in recognizing Literacy Action Day and the efforts of those who work tirelessly toward improving literacy across this country.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Literacy Action Day
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PC

Scott Brison

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that the federal government has overtaxed Canadians in the last fiscal year to the tune of $7 billion. At the same time, the Canadian working poor have been struggling to make ends meet while paying their taxes.

The government has the opportunity to take the bold but important step to help low income Canadians by raising the basic personal exemption to $15,000. Doing so would take 2.1 million low income Canadians, the Canadians who can least afford to foot the bill for the massive federal surplus, off the tax rolls altogether.

It is just plain wrong for the government to boast of massive surpluses while overtaxing these low income Canadians. A progressive tax system should recognize that somebody making less than $15,000 per year should not be paying taxes.

The government should increase the basic personal exemption to help these struggling Canadians by giving Canadians a fairer tax system.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Taxation
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BQ

Monique Guay

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, October 23 is International Literacy Day. For ten years, delegates have been meeting with us to discuss rationalization projects, and literacy services and expertise.

In Canada, more than 10 million people have a moderate or limited level of literacy. This creates a loss of productivity and a major obstacle to social integration. We know to what extent the ability to read and write is a daily necessity.

In a report by the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, we have acknowledged the importance of emphasizing the effectiveness of literacy. I would like to think that the minister responsible would firmly support the committee's recommendations for better suited action.

I applaud and thank the stakeholders who came here today to discuss the values and significance of literacy outreach.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Literacy Day
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LIB

Hélène Scherrer

Liberal

Ms. Hélène Scherrer (Louis-Hébert, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, like my colleague who preceded me, I want to rise today in recognition of Literacy Action Day.

Literacy influences all aspects of our lives. It is at the heart of our learning during our childhood and is what makes it possible to earn and contribute fully to society.

Literacy is also vital to us as a nation given its crucial role, in a knowledge based economy, in ensuring Canada remains productive and competitive. Although we live in a prosperous country that is rich in resources, there are still far too many adults unable to read and write properly.

We are aware of the challenges we face, and we are working hard to meet them.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Literacy Action Day
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 10th annual Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill.

Close to 80 literacy teachers, learners and administrators have come to Ottawa from every region of the country. They want decision makers to know that Canada's literacy challenge is serious. According to StatsCan, almost half of our adult population do not possess the literacy skills they need to thrive in the new economy and information driven society. This deficit undermines the economic and social vitality of families, communities and our country, and must be addressed.

Today there are many inequalities in access to literacy services across the country. Only one in ten Canadians who could benefit from services is being helped. Literacy organizations are working flat out while resources remain static or effectively diminish from year to year.

In keeping with the spirit of Literacy Action Day, I call upon the government to take action and adopt the recommendations of the HRDC committee report to ensure that all Canadians have the literacy skills they need to succeed.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Literacy Action Day
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LIB

Sophia Leung

Liberal

Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, recently I attended the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Little Mountain Neighbourhood House Society in my Vancouver riding. This outstanding society has successfully provided many programs for the local residents, such as childhood development, young mothers' groups, employment services for youth and new Canadians, plus seniors activity groups. The society has been an active and vital resource in the community.

Recently it submitted an application under the Canada-B.C. infrastructure program and it has my full support. I wish to congratulate Joel Bronstein, executive director, and Ingrid Steenhuisen, president of the board, and all members and volunteers for their hard work over many years.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Little Mountain Neighbourhood House Society
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CA

Lynne Yelich

Canadian Alliance

Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, figures released yesterday indicate the Liberals have cut more than $16 billion from health and social transfers to the provinces, funds that support health care, social services and post-secondary education. For college and university students this means escalating tuition fees, increased deb, and particularly for students with low or middle income backgrounds, fewer opportunities to pursue high end educational programs.

A report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals that at Canadian medical schools, there are fewer students from low income families in general. Students in my riding say the increased financial pressure can be the difference between a successful education and having to put aside their studies.

Today's post-secondary students do not expect a free ride. They know they will benefit from their education and they should pay for that privilege, but when tuition and other costs double, triple, or more over a period, the financial burden can be overwhelming for students and their families.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Post-Secondary Education
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CA

Stephen Harper

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister has been repeatedly asked questions this week about his actions on the Irving file. Yesterday I reviewed his answers from Hansard and what I found was that he was giving the same pre-rehearsed, scripted response to every single question.

I would tell the minister that this is simply not good enough. I am going to ask one of the questions I asked yesterday and I expect a specific answer. Has he consulted the new Liberal leader to see whether his standards of actions on this file were acceptable?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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The Speaker

Order, please. There seems to be a lot of yelling whether the question is in order or not.

The Minister of Industry is free to consult with whomever he wants. Whether he wishes to answer the question is up to him. If he does not wish to answer, then he does not have to answer. That is the rule in question period. There is a freedom to consult people. It seems to me it is legitimate for members to ask. If a member has consulted a particular individual, he might have consulted me.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the person I consulted was the ethics counsellor. He is the person to whom I made complete disclosure.

If there is a sameness to my answers, it is because I am telling the straightforward facts that are relevant to the issues being raised. The fact is that I spoke to the ethics counsellor, sought his advice and followed his advice to the letter.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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CA

Stephen Harper

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the same stonewalling as yesterday.

The ethics counsellor already gave the minister his judgment. It was not to be involved in the Irving file. He got involved. He is now forced to consult the ethics counsellor again.

Has the minister consulted either of his leaders to see whether his standard of behaviour on this file is acceptable to the government?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what is relevant to the question is the question of ethics. The counsellor is there for that very purpose. It was the ethics counsellor I consulted. I made full disclosure of the relevant facts. I sought his advice and accepted it.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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CA

Stephen Harper

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, the minister still has outstanding questions in front of the ethics counsellor.

Frankly, the Prime Minister or the new leader should be able to say whether these standards are acceptable to the government.

I am asking the question again, because we have asked questions but we have not yet got any answers.

The industry minister continues to give his prerecorded answers, scripted in advance. It is inappropriate for him to shirk this responsibility.

Has he consulted the new Liberal leader in order to determine whether his conduct meets the government's ethical standards?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have answered every question concerning my behaviour in this matter. I have responded to the issues raised by the opposition. I consulted the ethics counsellor about the real questions raised by the opposition and I can say that I sought, accepted and followed the ethics counsellor's advice.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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PC

Loyola Hearn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC)

Mr. Speaker, article 23(1) of the conflict of interest code states clearly that “A public office holder shall take care to avoid being placed”--or the appearance of being placed--“under an obligation to any person or organization”.

The Minister of Industry has admitted to enjoying a family vacation paid for by the Irving Corporation far beyond the $200 allowable limit.

My question is simple. Exactly what part of being placed or the appearance of being placed under an obligation to any person or organization does the Minister of Industry not understand?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, at the time this occurred I was minister of health and, for one reason or another, I did not perceive a conflict.

When I became Minister of Industry and began dealing with files that affected this sector and this particular family, I did consult the ethics counsellor. I made full disclosure and I asked for advice on how I could continue my work and avoid a conflict of interest.

I received that advice and I followed it.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Ethics
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October 23, 2003