It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.
[Members sang the national anthem]
It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.
[Members sang the national anthem]
Mr. Colin Carrie (Oshawa, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and all Canadians that March is Kidney Health Month.
Kidney disease can strike anyone at any age. It is estimated that two million Canadians have or are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Our government is taking action on two leading causes of kidney disease, which are diabetes and high blood pressure, by investing $18 million per year in the Canadian diabetes strategy and supporting organizations such as Blood Pressure Canada in providing reliable information to health care providers and the public on the importance of controlling high blood pressure.
Since 2000 the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has invested over $88 million in kidney disease research.
I would like to commend the countless volunteers and organizations such as the Kidney Foundation of Canada for the much needed support and services that they provide.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, changes were revealed in the Canada Gazette that will undermine environmental protection in this country.
Environmental assessments are a critical tool to ensure that environmental damage is anticipated and prevented or mitigated when development is being planned. Shockingly, effective immediately and for the next two years, many infrastructure projects within the building Canada fund will be exempt from environmental assessments that large construction projects must currently undergo.
This is an unacceptable, even shameful, abrogation of the public trust by the environment minister. The environment minister first signalled his disregard for this important environmental protection mechanism by sneaking an amendment into the Navigable Waters Protection Act. He should stop taking us backward to a previous century and recognize the environment as the precious asset it is.
I would remind the hon. member of my ruling recently on personal comments in the Standing Order 31 statements, in the hope she will watch herself in future and not use these statements as attacks on individual members.
The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.
Mr. Claude Guimond (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, the Gospel Celebration Choir from Quebec City, under the direction of Marie-Josée Pelletier, a native of Dégelis in the Temiscouata RCM, came first in the Pathmark gospel choir competition in New York City on February 28. They were the only group from Quebec to compete against a number of American choirs. According to Ms. Pelletier, they went to New York just for the experience, but they came away with first prize.
This is one more example of the talent and determination of Quebeckers on the international stage. The Bloc Québécois will always encourage Quebec artists to perform abroad, and will take every opportunity to draw attention to their successes. My congratulations to Sylvie Pelletier and the Gospel Celebration Choir on this achievement.
Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Games present an opportunity for us to showcase Canada to the world. We must not squander this by allowing a shocking case of gender discrimination to occur at taxpayer funded facilities.
Ski jumping is the only winter Olympic event that does not include a competition for women, but it is not too late to change this. Even though Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that prohibits gender discrimination, the female ski jumpers have been forced to turn to the courts for a chance to compete.
I urge my hon. colleagues to stand up for Canadian laws and Canadian values and to support my motion to include a ski jumping event for women in the games.
As a member of Parliament from British Columbia, I am embarrassed that such a public display of discrimination against women may take place in Vancouver next year. Let us not go down in infamy as the host of the last Olympic games in history to discriminate against women.
Mr. Randy Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, March 21, a group of Pitt Meadows residents joined me and my office staff to clean up an area around a pedestrian overpass in Pitt Meadows.
Derelict shopping carts, rusty bike frames and other unsightly debris had littered the area underneath the overpass for more than two years. Rick Poznikoff and Mike LoVecchio led a CP Rail team that trained us in safety procedures and stopped the trains so that we were able to pull out more than 400 kilograms of garbage and recyclables.
Our efforts this past Saturday have encouraged the city of Pitt Meadows to consider making some permanent changes to the overpass that would prevent individuals from dropping trash into the area again.
I would like this House to join me in thanking volunteers Darlene and Jeff Mercer, Deb and Len Walters, Ken Harper and Bernie McCarthy, and the CP Rail crew, all of whom generously gave up a Saturday morning to make the city of Pitt Meadows a great place in which to live.
Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the government's drug policy is exacerbating crime, violence, the illegal drug trade and substance abuse.
The World Health Organization supports harm reduction strategies. The U.S. has even appointed a prevention focused national drug policy chair, but our government is refusing to listen to the facts and is actively blocking life-saving harm reduction strategies, like Vancouver's Insite program and the NAOMI program. The government is even trying to block these programs through the courts.
If we are to be serious about addressing gang violence, the illegal drug trade and even reducing the harm for our troops in Afghanistan, the government must see substance abuse as a medical problem, not a judicial problem. It should cut the link between users and organized crime through supporting NAOMI, Insite and other harm reduction programs that have been proven to work and save lives.
Mrs. Shelly Glover (Saint Boniface, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, since March 8 was International Women's Day, and March 20 the International Day of La Francophonie, I am extremely proud to rise today to point out that it is 21 years since Réseau action femmes gave out its first Réseau awards. This political action network works to improve the situation of francophone women in Manitoba.
The network has been honouring women of action since 1988 with this prestigious award in recognition of their remarkable contributions to community development.
Prize winners this year were: Doris Lemoine of Saint-Boniface, for her work on behalf of heritage; business woman Rachelle Edmunds of Saint-Pierre-Jolys; Thérèse Dorge of Sainte-Agathe, president of the Franco-Manitoban seniors association, and Patricia Vermette, a woman of great generosity who is supported by the entire community of Morris and Île-des-Chênes.
Congratulations to all the recipients. Keep up the excellent efforts to promote francophone culture.
Ms. France Bonsant (Compton—Stanstead, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, I never tire of talking about products from my region, and for good reason: they are top-notch and made by our very own people.
I encourage you to try some great-tasting cheeses from La Station in Compton, which is in my riding. Every one of this family-owned company's cheeses has been nominated for the 2009 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.
Comtomme, Comtomme Signature, Raclette and Alfred Le Fermier were selected from among 172 cheeses sampled by the jury as part of this annual competition organized by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
La Station could not have asked for a better showcase for its organic raw-milk cheeses. I would like to wish the company the best of luck because it deserves to win multiple awards during the Gala of Champions on April 23.
Mr. Andrew Saxton (North Vancouver, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be a member of the only party that is committed to fighting crime 365 days a year, the Conservative Party of Canada.
The Minister of Justice has recently introduced new measures that directly target organized crime in this country.
This government is addressing the serious issues of gang murders, drive-by shootings and offences committed against police and peace officers, and ensuring mandatory jail terms for serious drug dealers, importers and those who get involved with grow operations.
These measures can now be added to the lengthy list of crime and order items we have delivered on, including: limiting conditional sentences, making street racing an offence, ensuring serious gun crimes are met with mandatory jail time, raising the age of protection, toughening impaired driving laws, and making it tougher to get bail for firearm offences.
Canadians know they can count on this Conservative government to tackle violent crime in this country. We have done a lot, and we will continue to do more.
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, on March 25 of each year, Hellenes world wide celebrate Greek Independence Day. On that day in 1821, a people rose up after 400 years of oppression by the Ottomans and said, “Freedom or death”.
The revolution of 1821, led by heroes such as Kolokotronis, Lord Byron of England and others, was an uprising not only to restore democracy to the nation that founded democracy, but also to free a nation, to cut the bonds of slavery and free its people, to free a spirit called Hellenism.
Today Greece is a modern 21st century country, a member of the European Community, NATO and the UN. It is a nation with a highly educated workforce, a nation prominently engaged in the arts, science and technology, business and commerce, a nation advocating peace and goodwill with its neighbours and the world.
Today, Greek Canadians are celebrating by saying, “Zeto E Ellas! Zeto O Canadas! Zeto E Ekosti Pemti Martiou!”
Mr. Jacques Gourde (Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, our government's efforts in the area of employment insurance and support for workers are being recognized in Quebec.
Last Monday, the Action-Chômage group from the North Shore region applauded the positive, effective steps taken by the federal government to help the workers, families and regions of Quebec. I would like to quote the president of the Haute-Côte-Nord branch of Action-Chômage, Line Sirois:
Yes, we are pleased that Ottawa decided to help our workers, because these people should stay in our region when the industry recovers. We applaud this measure.
Indeed, improvements to the work sharing program and the five week extension of EI benefits are significant achievements of our Conservative government.
Shame on the Bloc Québécois and the NDP for turning their backs on workers by refusing to vote in favour of these important measures needed to maintain the labour force and the vitality of the regions of Quebec.
Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about the layoffs and closures of A-Channel stations in Ontario.
In my riding of London—Fanshawe, the local A-Channel station has had its morning show cut and many staff persons laid off. The station's staff fear the worst, that they may lose the station entirely. Sadly, without federal government help, the CBC is also threatened.
It is not just happening in London. Local media is being threatened across the country as media corporations become larger and more centralized. Local stations and publications that would be viable on their own are now at risk of closure because of debt-ridden conglomerates.
We need local media to develop healthy communities and ensure local voices are heard. It is the job of the federal government to keep local and regional coverage on the air. The government must adopt the recommendations from the CRTC's study on media concentration rules and require broadcasters to maintain a local presence.
Mr. Rick Dykstra (St. Catharines, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, the government is tough on crime.
The Conservative Party campaigned on a promise to implement an aggressive and necessary crime agenda, and so far it has delivered. It also campaigned on a promise to restrict courts from giving extra time for time served prior to sentencing.
Reduced prison terms that are not proportionate to the severity of the crimes undermine Canadians' confidence in the justice system. That confidence is further destroyed when accused persons deliberately attempt to delay their trial so they can rack up extra credit through prolonging their stay in pre-trial detention.
Capping the limit on credit for time served will restore Canadians' confidence in the justice system. It will ensure that dangerous and repeat offenders serve the time when they do the crime.
Given the overwhelming support we are getting on this initiative, especially from the provinces and territories, I encourage the opposition, especially the born-again Liberal crime fighters, to support the bill. Let us get it through the House.
Mr. Roger Pomerleau (Drummond, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, on Monday, March 9, about 30 National Film Board Employees demonstrated in Montreal against the indifference of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, who refuses to meet with them. The continuing cuts to the budget of this icon of Quebec and Canadian film began in the mid 1990s; they are a worrisome and serious threat to the proper operation of the organization.
To ensure the NFB's survival, the Bloc Québécois is calling for the creation of a $10 million documentary feature film fund administered by the NFB. This financial assistance would support this organization's efforts to promote our culture. In addition, the Bloc Québécois is asking that amounts allocated to the NFB be restored to 1994-95 levels.
As the Conservative member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles so aptly stated, the Bloc Québécois defends culture. That is why we will do everything possible to act in the best interests of the NFB and Quebec culture.
Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Cape Breton—Canso, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, we read in today's news that Conservatives have finally come up with a plan to address poverty.
The Conservative senators have a truly novel plan. They suggest that we simply shoot all the Canadian geese that are becoming a nuisance at their summer homes and feed them to the poor.
Given that this is a Conservative plan, I am surprised they have not suggested to raffle off handguns, let them shoot, and then let the poor people have the geese.
We all know that Tory times are tough times, but where will it stop: squirrel burgers, pigeon McNuggets, gopher burritos, maybe beaver tails made from real beaver tails?
It may surprise Conservatives to learn that the Canada goose is recognized internationally as a national symbol of our country; it is not an anti-poverty plan. It is high time the Conservatives came up with a real plan to address poverty and unemployment during this recession.
Stop the silly goose games. The Conservatives have to get their ducks in a row and stop goosing Canada's poor.
Hon. Maxime Bernier (Beauce, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to say that the people of Beauce who are with me today in Ottawa join me in applauding the outstanding performance of an athlete from Beauceville.
Marie-Philip Poulin, who turns 18 next week, has just been named to Canada's national women's hockey team and will take part in the world championship in Finland next month.
I admire Marie-Philip's discipline and determination. She already has an enviable string of achievements to her credit.
Good luck, Marie-Philip, and congratulations. All of Beauce is with her.
Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, today, CBC and Radio-Canada announced 800 layoffs, nearly half of them from the French-language network.
Does the Prime Minister grasp how important this national institution is to all Canadians, particularly francophones living outside of Quebec? Will the Prime Minister commit to limiting the damage to this national institution?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, we certainly do recognize how important the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is. That is why, this year, we have given it more money than ever before: $1.1 billion. The CBC and Radio-Canada are not alone; private broadcasters are struggling too. It is always a terrible thing when someone loses a job.