June 4, 2014

CPC

Jeff Watson

Conservative

Mr. Jeff Watson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her intervention again in this particular matter.

There is a fundamental proposition that is being asked of the government in the House on this matter, which is do we trust the member—whose colleague, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, has said on the record that there is “no crisis at Canada Post currently”, a sentiment shared by Liberals on the record in the House as well—or do we trust the econometrics of a credible independent third party think tank in our country that applied an econometric model in forecasting, and not only analyzing, what Canada Post's current dire situation is?

There were a billion fewer individual stamped, addressed letters delivered in 2012 than in 2006, but that trend of e-substitution has not bottomed out yet. In fact, it is forecast to continue on into the future. Canada Post is posting annual deficits approaching $1 billion only six years from now in a rapidly declining financial position. Does the government support Canada Post acting now? Yes. Canada Post is an independent arm's-length crown corporation, managed by a board of directors and a CEO, and is responsible for its own day-to-day operations. Do we support them acting? Yes, absolutely, we do.

Canada Post chose a five-point plan. The member has articulated the particular points that are part of that five-point plan. It has done so in consultation with Canadians. It continues to engage communities in the rollout and implementation of that particular plan. We support that something had to be done and done now.

I know the member opposite and her party like to posit the idea of postal banking somehow turning the post offices into branches for banking. However, not one think tank in the country yet, the Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, or anyone else, has suggested how such a bank would be capitalized, what it would take, and how a crown corporation that is in a failing economic condition right now and rapidly declining, would somehow be able to convert itself into a postal bank. Why, for that matter, adopt the branch bank model that is currently already eroding and is likely to continue? Within nine years, more than half of banking consumers will be young millennials. They are already abandoning that particular model of going to visit their branch.

None of the ideas of the opposition make any amount of sense. We will continue to support Canada Post taking urgent action and doing it right now, so that we can actually have a Canada Post that delivers mail.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Canada Post
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Anne-Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the member's TV does not have rabbit ears anymore and that he has probably switched to an ultra-modern flat-screen TV. It remains a TV, nonetheless. As life changes, we adapt to new technologies.

The postal service is profitable and brings in millions of dollars for Canadians. That money is paid to the government as dividends then redistributed in many ways. A number of solutions exist. Canada Post could, for example, increase its deliveries of small and medium-sized parcels, offer banking services and advertise.

We are asking the Conservative Party to sit down with Canada Post representatives, the unions and members of the public to explore potential solutions. When I took part in the “I'm walking with my letter carrier” rally, I met hundreds of people who told me, among other things, that they wanted to keep these services. Two-thirds of Canadians want to keep postal services. That is something the Conservative government should think long and hard about.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Canada Post
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CPC

Jeff Watson

Conservative

Mr. Jeff Watson

Mr. Speaker, I will not admit that I do have a TV that has rabbit ears.

Apart from that, Canada Post is facing an urgent situation, and it is facing it now. If we look at Canada Post's five-point plan, we see it is not suggesting somehow that it is cutting back on the profitable parts of its business. It is in fact quite the opposite. It is actually pursuing additional parcel services. It knows that is profitable.

However, what is profitable, but is losing money because the volumes are not there, is individual stamped letter mail. That business continues to decline. It is not just in Canada. This is part of a global transformation. This has happened in Europe, where the response has been to privatize the mail service and open up complete competition. It has slashed its workforce 26% to 40%. A stamp in the European Union is about 1.4 euros.

Those are the ways that other countries are choosing to deal with that particular thing. Canada Post has not. We can compare its five-point action plan to anyone else's, but we support that it had to take urgent action.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Canada Post
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NDP

Annick Papillon

New Democratic Party

Ms. Annick Papillon (Québec, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise in the House and to close all these debates at a rather late hour and to speak to a subject that I am passionate about. It is an important issue. I am talking about veterans. These people sacrificed themselves for us. They gave everything. They went to where no one wanted to go. They served our country to the best of their ability. They truly gave everything.

On March 7, I asked a very clear question in the House. I asked the following:

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives claim that cuts to Veterans Affairs Canada will not affect the quality of services provided.

Everyone knows that it is not possible to do more with less. Doing more with less is not possible.

On page 11, the Report on Plans and Priorities states that: ...there is a risk that quality service delivery could be affected due to VAC's increasing reliance on partners and service providers in the federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as private sector. Why is the minister making decisions that are bad for our veterans?

Why are they trying to balance the budget in times of so-called austerity? Whey are they trying to save money at the expense of those who served our country, at the expense of veterans?

Even during times of austerity, the United States and Great Britain did not make as many cuts as this Conservative government has made to Veterans Affairs. The current government does not understand what needs to be done for our veterans. However, every year the ombudsman's report is very clear. The report says that we need to invest in front-line services for our veterans. The Conservatives seem to toss each report on a shelf, as they do with any report, and ignore what it says until something very bad happens.

If you look at the news, you can see that our veterans are facing far too much hardship. However, here, in the House, is where decisions are made. Where will we send our veterans? What will we do for them? Even if we make these decisions for them, we cannot later take them back and give them all the services they need, such as appropriate health care specialists or physical and psychological health care.

The NDP is flabbergasted that this government is doing absolutely nothing for our veterans. The needs and expectations are there. We hope that this government will take action.

Could my colleague opposite tell us that the Conservatives will change course and will finally invest, because we have invested in veterans, and that makes complete sense in light of the sacrifice they made.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Veterans
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CPC

Jeff Watson

Conservative

Mr. Jeff Watson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the intervention by the member opposite.

Let me first start by affirming, of course, that not only the Minister of Veterans Affairs but the parliamentary secretary and members of this government from the Prime Minister on down have nothing but the utmost respect for our veterans. We are obviously concerned and are always looking for ways to improve the level of service while delivering value for taxpayers, who support them as well.

Additionally, the premise of the member's question is absolutely false. What the public accounts will show over time is that this government, since coming to government and implementing the new veterans charter, has invested nearly $5 billion in new investments. That is a year-by-year appropriation of somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3.5 billion, 90% of which goes to front-line programs, services, and benefits for our veterans.

On the part that is for administration and overhead, if we go back and look at the decision to merge eight local or regional district offices into the Service Canada network, we see it was to capitalize on using the Service Canada network and its overhead by phasing out or moving into these offices that were underutilized.

I will use the example of Windsor, since that is in my area. We had a 10,000-square-foot building and six unionized workers with their wages plus benefits managing 23 files, with low foot traffic. Instead, we now have the Service Canada office one kilometre away with a VAC client service agent and the other Service Canada network employees who are trained to a standard to deliver that service.

More than that, we are now reaching more communities with information, such as Belle River, Amherstburg, Leamington, and Chatham-Kent. Veterans in those communities used to have to drive into Windsor to get basic services. They can now do that in all of the communities I listed. We are moving our service points closer and into more communities where veterans themselves actually live, saving them a ride.

Let me clear what the VAC offices are. They are administrative points of service. They are not medical clinics. They do not deliver support for PTSD. They are not stress injury clinics, which were created by this government two years ago to deliver that important support. These were places where one could come to pick up and drop off one's paperwork. Veterans can now do that in more communities than they did before. We did this by delivering greater value for taxpayers and enhancing the level of service. We stand by that commitment to our veterans.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Veterans
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NDP

Annick Papillon

New Democratic Party

Ms. Annick Papillon

Mr. Speaker, the difference between the Conservatives and the New Democrats is very simple. The Conservatives are interested in numbers, while we are interested in human lives. We are talking about people who have made sacrifices and need services. We are well aware that health care services have fallen off considerably even as the mission in Afghanistan has created a lot of needs. Nobody can deny that.

When the Minister of Veterans Affairs turns his back on a woman like Jenifer Migneault, who had questions for him, when they tell our veterans to dial 1-800-whatever and make them wait on hold for hours because their needs cannot be addressed right away, it does not seem to me that this government is making much of an effort. I do not think that it has followed through on its decisions. It deserves my criticism

Closing offices all over the country is also a service cut. My colleague opposite cannot deny that; it is a fact. The Conservatives are just not there for our veterans. That is an undeniable fact.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Veterans
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CPC

Jeff Watson

Conservative

Mr. Jeff Watson

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure the member was listening. We have more points of service for veterans than we did before.

Presumably, the member wants veterans to have to drive from Leamington to Windsor to drop off their paperwork. They do not have to do that anymore. They can go to a Service Canada office and get Veterans Affairs services there in Leamington. They can do it in Belle River and in Amherstburg.

That is more places, not fewer places, and they are in communities where more veterans live. Communities that never had service before or access to VAC programs are getting them now.

By the way, there is a difference in approach. Every time the investments come down, whether it is in the new stress injury clinics that we created two years ago, in the JPSUs, in increasing more points of service, or in the nearly $5 billion in new money this government has put into veteran services, their benefits, and their programs, that party opposite votes against it. The members speak loudly with their votes; they do not support in this place the investments that our veterans actually need.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Veterans
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NDP

Joe Comartin

New Democratic Party

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until later today at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 12:18 a.m.)

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Veterans
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Speaker

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the pages.

[Members sang the national anthem]

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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Speaker

Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, May 29, the House will now resolve itself into committee of the whole to welcome Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

(House in committee of the whole to recognize Canada’s 2014 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games athletes, Mr. Andrew Scheer in the chair)

[And Canada’s 2014 Olympic and Paralympic athletes being present in the chamber:]


Subtopic:   Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Speaker

It is my pleasure today to welcome to the House of Commons athletes and coaches from Canada's Olympic and Paralympic teams who participated in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

I know I speak on behalf of all members in the House, and indeed all Canadians, when I say how extremely proud we are of each and every one of you. Your successes in Sochi captivated our country and demonstrated the very best of what it means to be Canadian.

Not only did both our Olympic and Paralympic teams finish third in the overall medal standings, but they also competed with honour and truly exemplified the Olympic spirit.

Today, as we pay tribute to Canada's Olympians and Paralympians, let us also take a moment to commend the dedication of all those who have helped these athletes pursue their dreams.

I am thinking about the trainers, the support personnel, the sponsors, organizations such as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees and, of course, the athletes' families.

On behalf of all members of Parliament, I offer our most heartfelt congratulations to the members of Canada's Olympic and Paralympic teams. Your hard work, sacrifice and determination are truly an inspiration to all Canadians. Thank you so much for all you have done for your country.

I understand there is agreement among all parties and members of the House to have the names of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes printed in the Debates of the House of Commons.

Canada’s 2014 Olympic and Paralympic athletes:

Erin Mielzynski, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Brittany Phelan, Brad Spence, Elli Terwiel, Megan Imrie, Zina Kocher, Jean-Philippe LeGuellec, Scott Perras, Nathan Smith, Jenny Ciochetti, Benjamin Coakwell, Justin Kripps, Jesse Lumsden, James McNaughton, Timothy Randall, Cody Sorensen, Christopher Spring, Jesse Cockney, Dasha Gaiazova, Perianne Jones, Devon Kershaw, Emily Nishikawa, Lenny Valjas, Heidi Widmer, Caleb Flaxey, Patrick Chan, Gabrielle Daleman, Mitchell Islam, Paige Lawrence, Scott Moir, Dylan Moscovitch, Kaetlyn Osmond, Alexandra Paul, Andrew Poje, Eric Radford, Kevin Reynolds, Rudi Swiegers, Tessa Virtue, Kaitlyn Weaver, Justin Dorey, Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Chloé Dufour-Lapointe, Marc-Antoine Gagnon, Travis Gerrits, Rosalind Groenewoud, Keltie Hansen, Dara Howell, Mikael Kingsbury, Kim Lamarre, Philippe Marquis, Mike Riddle, Audrey Robichaud, Yuki Tsubota, Brady Leman, Kelsey Serwa, Marielle Thompson, Melodie Daoust, Haley Irwin, Rebecca Johnston, Charline Labonté, Geneviève Lacasse, Jocelyne Larocque, Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin, Lauriane Rougeau, Natalie Spooner, Shannon Szabados, Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Jennifer Wakefield, Catherine Ward, Sam Edney, John Fennell, Alex Gough, Arianne Jones, Mitch Malyk, Kim McRae, Justin Snith, Tristan Walker, John Fairbairn, Eric Neilson, Sarah Reid,

Taylor Henrich, Trevor Morrice, Matthew Rowley, Caroline Calvé, Alexandra Duckworth, Rob Fagan, Kevin Hill, Jake Holden, Ariane Lavigne, Derek Livingston, Dominique Maltais, Mercedes Nicoll, Maelle Ricker, Chris Robanske Ivanie Blondin, Anastasia Bucsis, Kali Christ, Vincent de Haitre, Jamie Gregg, Marsha Hudey, Gilmore Junio, Lucas Makowsky, Denny Morrison, Danielle Wotherspoon, Michael Gilday, Charles Hamelin, François Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Valérie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Caleb Brousseau, Joshua Dueck, Robin Femy, Kimberly Joines, Erin Latimer, Mac Marcoux, Kurt Oatway, Kirk Schornstein, Alexandra Starker, Chris Williamson, Mark Arendz, Caroline Bisson, Colette Bourgonje, Sven Erik Carleton, Sébastien Fortier, Louis Fortin, Margarita Gorbounova, Brittany Hudak, Chris Klebl, Robbi Weldon, John Leslie, Tyler Mosher, Michelle Salt, Bradley Bowden, Adam Dixon, Dominic Larocque, Karl Ludwig, Tyler McGregor, Sonja Gaudet, Mark Ideson, Dennis Thiessen


Subtopic:   Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!


Subtopic:   Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Speaker

The committee will rise and I will leave the chair.

Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, May 29, the House will now proceed to statements by members.


Subtopic:   Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
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CPC

Gary Schellenberger

Conservative

Mr. Gary Schellenberger (Perth—Wellington, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the Stratford Festival on the opening of their 2014 season. The festival is an integral part of the economy of Perth—Wellington. It creates thousands of full-time jobs and generates more than $130 million in economic activity.

Since 1953, people from around the world have come to Stratford for unparalleled performances from North America's leading theatre company. The fine list of productions this year includes King Lear, Crazy for You, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Man of La Mancha, and so many more.

Aside from world-class theatrical productions, the festival will host countless musical and cultural events.

I congratulate the Stratford Festival on its continued success and thank the festival for its enormous contributions to the city of Stratford, the surrounding area, and Canada.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Stratford Festival
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NDP

Jean-François Larose

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jean-François Larose (Repentigny, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives claim that they are helping the economy grow, promoting the common good and standing up for Canadians. However, they are favouring their rich friends while the majority of people are suffering and getting poorer.

In my riding, the Conservatives did nothing to address the closure of Electrolux. More than 2,000 jobs were lost. They stopped giving financial support to the Christmas market, which created millions of dollars in economic spinoffs. They have stripped the homeless shelter, La Hutte, of 25% of its budget. All of those cuts amount to direct attacks on my region's social and economic development.

We deserve better than a mediocre government that does not seem to understand anything about basic economics. We deserve a secure future. In 2015, let us make sure that we get rid of the Conservative pandemic once and for all.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Economy
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CPC

Stella Ambler

Conservative

Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, later this month, an Italian named Gino Farnetti-Bragaglia will be visiting Canada to thank three Canadian families.

In the Second World War, three Canadian soldiers, Lloyd “Red” Oliver, Paul Hagen, and Mert Massey, rescued five-year-old Gino while on campaign in Italy. They found him starving and alone, not even knowing his own last name. The soldiers and their company looked after him for almost a year, and the orphaned young boy was eventually adopted by an Italian family. Nearly 70 years after the war, Gino is coming to Canada to thank the families of the Canadian soldiers who saved his life.

Gino's story reminds us of the sacrifice and honour earned by the brave Canadian soldiers who fought for the liberation of Italy. Today I want to join Gino in thanking those three soldiers and their families as well as all Canadian veterans. It is important to remember that Canadian soldiers risked their lives, not just for our freedom but so that people like Gino Farnetti-Bragaglia could live in freedom as well.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Second World War Soldiers
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LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, today we stand in solidarity with the Sikh community as they remember the 30th anniversary of the invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex in Amritsar. That tragic episode, which resulted in the devastating loss of so many innocent lives, triggered a series of events that deeply impacted the Sikh community across the world, including here in Canada.

Liberals have long held that respect for human rights must be paramount and that those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable and brought to justice.

As we remember the innocent lives lost in 1984, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the basic human rights of all individuals are respected and that such tragedies are never repeated.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Human Rights
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CPC

Joyce Bateman

Conservative

Ms. Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, on May 31, I had the pleasure of attending Table for 1,200, a pop-up dinner that took place on the Esplanade Riel, alongside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

This fantastic event, put on by Storefront Manitoba and 5468796 Architecture, was the opportunity of a lifetime and showcased the design community in Winnipeg and the truly collaborative spirit of Winnipeggers. Featuring a fabulous prairie-themed dinner, spearheaded by the team from RAW:almond, 1,200 guests were told the location just hours before the dinner started and brought their own chairs to a 366-metre-long table with the beautiful backdrop of Winnipeg's downtown.

This initiative encouraged design discussion and brought people together for a wonderful evening of food and fun. I was so happy to be there, and I congratulate all involved on their tremendous success. I know the conversations will continue long after the tables are taken down.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Table for 1200
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NDP

Jack Harris

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to the men and women who bravely serve, and have served, our country in the Canadian military. Sadly, many of our soldiers and veterans feel forgotten.

Today veterans and their families from across Canada are here on Parliament Hill to protest their treatment by the Conservative government. They have been calling on the government for greater support, whether it be for financial needs, career transition, dealing with a disability, or ensuring that caregivers are recognized and helped. Sadly, these calls have fallen on deaf ears.

In my own riding of St. John's East and across Newfoundland and Labrador, veterans have felt the effects of government cuts, including the closure of the Veterans Affairs office in Corner Brook.

The unanimous report released by the veterans affairs committee, if implemented, is an important first step toward meaningful changes to the new veterans charter, but much more needs to be done. Veterans can count on the NDP to continue the fight to ensure that our veterans and their families get the support and help they need and deserve.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Veterans
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CPC

Corneliu Chisu

Conservative

Mr. Corneliu Chisu (Pickering—Scarborough East, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, on June 6, 1944, 25,000 Canadian forces from land, air, and sea came together on the beaches of Normandy to join the Allied invasion of occupied France. The Battle of Normandy, on D-Day, was one of Canada's most significant and successful military engagements, and it was a defining moment in our nation's history. However, this triumph was not without sacrifice. Over 5,000 Canadians laid down their lives defending freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

On Friday, we mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, when we will honour the memory and legacy on those brave Canadians.

Lest we forget.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   D-Day Anniversary
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June 4, 2014