Mr. Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, Saturday, April 18, was a very exciting day in Mississauga East—Cooksville. I was pleased to host a 50+ Expo, which welcomed hundreds of constituents who took time to visit the many vendors on a variety of topics concerning people 50 years of age and over in our community.
I want to thank the vendors who took time to share with our guests on topics such as safety, financial management, travel, recreation, and more. Service Canada gave presentations on CPP, OAS, and caring for aging family members.
I am happy to say that economic action plan 2015 will support seniors by introducing changes to the registered retirement income fund and by introducing the home accessibility tax credit, which will help with home improvement costs so that seniors can live independently in their homes.
Finally, the 50+ Expo provided an opportunity to meet with constituents and hear their feedback and encouragement. Indeed, it was a wonderful spring day in Mississauga East—Cooksville.
Mr. Speaker, 100 years ago this month, Canadian soldiers bravely fought in the second battle of Ypres. They distinguished themselves by their courage and tenacity in the face of unspeakable horrors, including the world's first poison gas attack. While other forces bled and fled, the Canadians held the line against all odds. It proved to be the beginning of their ascent into their recognized status as the pre-eminent fighting force in Flanders. More than 6,500 Canadians were killed, wounded, or captured during the two battles, including many brave men from the Essex Scottish Regiment.
The sacrifices of our veterans did not end in the trenches of France. Many came back to their homes debilitated, wounded in mind and spirit, yet in spite of their limitations, they still contributed to building our great country. They overcame the odds against them to become valued members of society.
The guns have long been silent since they won the war. We know all the heroes are gone now, but we still recognize them as our greatest generation. Even 100 years later, honours still come their way, including most recently from Queen Elizabeth II, at Canada House in London.
We will remember them.
Topic: Statements By Members
Subtopic: Battle of Ypres
Mr. Scott Armstrong (Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I stand in my place today to recognize a great veteran in my riding: Sir Sylvester Bus McCallum. For his contributions to the allied war effort in World War II, Sir Bus was recently granted a knighthood in the French Legion of Honour. This is the highest honour the French government bestows upon international residents.
In 1944, at just 17 years of age, Sir Bus sailed to Europe and was soon one of the first Canadian soldiers to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Later on, in Belgium, he was wounded by a piece of shrapnel while trying to rescue one of his fellow Canadian soldiers from harm's way.
It is thanks to the heroic efforts of men like Sylvester Bus McCallum that in Canada today we enjoy the freedom and democracy we do. I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Sir Bus, his wife Doris, and the entire McCallum family. I thank him for service, his bravery, and his dedication to this great nation.
Topic: Statements By Members
Subtopic: Legion of Honour
Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Patricia Lafford for having received the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award last week.
Patsy has long been an important part of the Sackville and Tantramar, New Brunswick communities. She has given her time to help those around her who are in need. She helped found, for example, the Sackville Food Bank in 1988 and was a very active member of the Catholic Women's League. She even brings communion to residents of a local nursing home who are unable to travel to regular church services, all the while finding time to care for her 10 beloved grandchildren.
I have known Patsy for many years and have constantly been impressed by her love of community. Patricia Lafford is exactly the kind of person this award was created to recognize.
Once again, my sincere congratulations to Patricia Lafford and her family and to Sackville and Tantramar for being home to such a terrific woman.
Topic: Statements By Members
Subtopic: Governor General's Caring Canadian Award
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the Stratford Festival on its 2015 season, opening later this spring.
For over 60 years, people from around the world have come to Stratford for unparalleled performances from North America's leading theatre company. This year's performances include The Sound of Music, Hamlet, The Diary of Anne Frank, and many more.
In addition to the Stratford Festival, I would also like to recognize other theatre groups in southwestern Ontario that greatly contribute to the arts and culture of this nation. Drayton Entertainment, the Shaw Festival, the Grand Theatre in London, the Blyth Festival, and many other companies, are examples of these great assets in Canada.
I congratulate all of these theatre groups for their continued success and thank them for their enormous contribution to the arts in Canada.
Topic: Statements By Members
Subtopic: Ontario Theatre Festivals
Mr. Speaker, today is a very special day because we are celebrating something unique and irreplaceable, something that we all share no matter where we live or who we are. Today is Earth Day.
Since the environmental movement took root in the 1970s, there has been growing awareness worldwide that we must protect our planet to ensure a viable future for all. Many in Laurier—Sainte-Marie have taken up the challenge, including Amis du courant Sainte-Marie, Les Valoristes, Les Amis du Champ des possibles, the Carrefour alimentaire Centre-Sud, Sentier Urbain, Cultivons le Plateau and the Éco-quartier program. Many individuals are working to green their alleyways and taking the time every day to think about how their actions affect our environment and have an impact on the whole world, as well as about the future that we are creating for the coming generations.
Mr. Speaker, this past week, I took an amazing trip back in time while visiting with five of our World War II veterans. It was truly one of the highlights of my time as a member of Parliament.
The purpose of my visit was to thank these extraordinary men for their service and the sacrifice that they made during World War II: Edward Titchner, Francis Newland, Donald Monteith, Bernard Stankevich, and Gerald Russell. All were very young men when they left their homes during World War II, setting out with purpose in their heart to do what Canadians do when called upon: fight for what is right.
Talking with these gentlemen reaffirmed my belief that the greatness of our country is the character of its citizens. These men, so very humble about their contributions during the war, are proud of their community, proud of their sons and daughters, and proud of the country they helped build, Canada.
Edward, Francis, Donald, Bernard, and Gerald, I am proud to be their member of Parliament and again, on behalf of everyone in this place, I thank them.
Topic: Statements By Members
Subtopic: World War II Veterans
Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the 18th time I sat in this chamber and listened to a budget being presented in this House of Commons. Eleven of them have been Conservative budgets. This was only possible because of the constituents of Calgary East. This morning, Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life are pleased that we have kept our promise to them by balancing the budget in 2015, the first balanced budget since the great recession.
This budget reaches out to all Canadians, from the hard-working constituents of Calgary East to everyone else across this great country. This budget supports jobs and growth. It helps our families and our communities prosper. It ensures the security of Canadians. It lowers taxes and provides benefits directly to families, assist small businesses and support seniors.
Our government will continue to manage Canada's economy well, focus on job creation and keep Canada safe.
Mr. Speaker, each of us has the power to make changes that can have a significant impact on the environment, especially if we work together.
Earth Day is an ideal opportunity for Canadians to join together to preserve our planet.
New Democrats want to leave future generations a cleaner, healthier planet. The Conservatives, however, have failed Canadians when it comes to climate change.
After systematically dismantling Canada's environmental protection laws, we were handed a Conservative budget that does not even mention the words “climate change.” Canadians deserve better.
The NDP is the only party with a credible plan to protect the environment and grow the economy, including with the climate change accountability act, which is strong, effective legislation that would be our offer to the global community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The greatest legacy we can offer future generations is a clean and healthy planet. Let us work together to make that happen.
Mr. Speaker, since 2006, our Conservative government has delivered for seniors with income splitting for pensioners and the largest top-up to the guaranteed income supplement in a quarter decade.
Unlike last month's Liberal budget in the province of New Brunswick, which attacked seniors and increased the cost of nursing home care and prescription drugs, economic action plan 2015 would build on our support for seniors by increasing the tax-free savings account annual contribution limit, introducing a new home accessibility tax credit, establishing a Canadian centre for aging and brain health innovation, and extending employment insurance compassionate care benefits from six weeks to over six months.
In addition, the Mayor of Fredericton said, “Well, we're very pleased. That's exactly what we asked for”.
Unfortunately, the leader of the Liberal Party has already said that he would cancel our expansion of the tax-free savings account and increase taxes on middle-class seniors.
Mr. Speaker, the government balanced the budget yesterday at the expense of Canadian women. The Conservatives' tax policy is a total failure for gender equality.
Budget day also happened to be Equal Pay Day. Yes, it was also a day to remind everyone that a woman must work until April of the next year to earn the same amount made by a man the previous year. That is a 30% gap. Yesterday's Conservative budget provides nothing to reduce the gender gap. In fact, it is more like the same old same old, creating even more obstacles for women, with measures that are good for only a small group of Canadians.
Instead of providing affordable and accessible child care for all families, the Conservatives chose to spend billons of dollars on income splitting for the wealthy, a measure that will decrease women's participation in the workforce.
Canadians deserve better. We deserve a budget that takes into account the burden of unpaid work, the wage gap and the high rates of violence against women. We deserve an NDP government.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance tabled our plan for jobs and growth. This is a great budget for middle-class Canadians. For example, the new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit will benefit 100% of families with kids, the vast majority of benefits going to low- and middle-income families.
The Liberals and the NDP will take all of these away. They want high taxes on middle-class families, high taxes on middle-class seniors and high taxes on middle-class consumers. That is their plan for the middle class. Our government's plan is reducing taxes on middle-class families.
Constituents in my riding of Brampton—Springdale are looking forward to the implementation of all of these benefits and support programs that are offered in this budget.
Mr. Speaker, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row“. It was in the terrible shadow of those graves and the nearly 6,000 Canadian casualties of the Second Battle of Ypres that Guelph native, Colonel John McCrae, composed In Flanders Fields. We commemorate the anniversary of that battle, which began 100 years ago today.
Over the next two days, Canadian and other allied troops would face the first real deployment of chemical weapons as they fought through chlorine gas. Despite the heavy losses, nearly one in three, Canadians established themselves as a military force to be reckoned with.
I was so fortunate to visit Ypres last year and was astonished to think that so many young Canadians could have fought and died somewhere so serene. I felt I finally understood the full weight of our sacred obligation to Canadian veterans as the silence was broken by young Canadian students reading solemnly in turn, “If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields”.
Lest we forget.
Topic: Statements By Members
Subtopic: Battle of Ypres
Mr. Rob Clarke (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, our low-tax plan for families is working. Under our Conservative government, the tax burden on Canadians is at the lowest level in more than 50 years.
As part of that, every family with children will benefit from our new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit. The family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit will leave 100% of families with kids with more money in their pockets.
The Liberals and the NDP will take this away. They want higher taxes on middle-class families, high taxes on middle-class seniors and high taxes on middle-class consumers. That is their plan for the middle class. Our government's plan is reducing taxes on the middle class.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is like David Copperfield. He made a surplus appear. Analysts are calling this creative accounting, a smokescreen, really.
Canadians are not fools. They know that the Conservatives have mismanaged our economy and that we have lost 400,000 well-paying jobs since the Conservatives came to power. Canadians know that this government put all its eggs in one barrel of oil.
Instead of proposing measures to help middle-class families, who are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet, the Conservatives insist on helping their friends, the well-off and the CEOs, those who do not need help.
Canadians deserve better. In October, they can choose the only party that fights for them in good times and in bad: the NDP.
Mr. Speaker, our budget honours this government's commitment to increase the annual tax-free savings account contribution to $10,000. This initiative significantly benefits seniors. In fact, 70% of those who maximize their accounts are seniors.
Economic action plan 2015 also allows more choice and flexibility for seniors' retirement by relaxing the rules around withdrawals from registered retirement income funds, something the Canadian Association of Retired Persons strongly supports.
Our Conservative government will continue to stand up for seniors and middle-class families by putting more money in their pockets, but the Liberals would take this money away. They would raise taxes on middle-class families and middle-class seniors.
Our government will continue to support a low-tax plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance was dismissing a clearly preposterous argument.
The tax-free savings accounts have been great things for Canadians, for the Canadian middle class and for the Canadian economy. As I said when we created that program several years ago, those billions of dollars that middle-class people are putting away will create tens of billions of dollars of long-term savings in our economy, which will drive jobs and growth. These are a good thing.
I know the NDP wants to raise taxes on middle-class families. It does not want to see middle-class families be able to do those savings. We are proud to be able to deliver for them.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, that is appalling. His government is going to leave the largest economic, social and environmental debt ever to future generations, and the Prime Minister just said that he agrees with his Minister of Finance. Shame on him.
Today is Earth Day. The budget makes no mention of climate change, which is a real threat with catastrophic consequences. Is the Prime Minister really going to pass this burden on to our grandchildren? It may already be too late.