PARLIAMENT of CANADA

Section Home
Format XMLPrint format
 
Publications - June 21, 2006 (Previous - Next)
 

39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 045

CONTENTS

Wednesday, June 21, 2006





CANADA

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 141 
l
NUMBER 045 
l
1st SESSION 
l
39th PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayers


[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

The Speaker:  
    As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Kitchener Centre.
    [Members sang the national anthem]

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

ROV Technology

Mr. Russ Hiebert (South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to commend the White Rock ROV Chix. This group of enterprising young ladies built a remote operated vehicle to compete in the marine advanced technology competition in Seattle in May. Their hard work and ingenuity paid off as they took first prize in the Pacific Northwest regional competition. The team of Madeleine Gawthrop, Lindsey Gorman, Caroline Dearden, Rebekah Pickard and Jessica O'Sullivan beat eight other teams.
    The Chix now have the honour of representing their region at the world championships being held in Houston, Texas, at the NASA space center. These home-schoolers demonstrated innovation and rugged determination and stand as fine examples to all young Canadians.
    I would also like to congratulate the White Rock Heritage Christian School team of Peter Zielke, Guido Worthman, Kye Seo Hwang and Matthew Stevens for its impressive third place finish.
    All the best to the Chix in Houston. We are rooting for them.

National Aboriginal Day

Mr. Roger Valley (Kenora, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, National Aboriginal Day is a day that Canadians celebrate the contributions of first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians.
    Today I would like to recognize the tremendous contributions made by the people of the Kenora riding. I would like to recognize Grand Chief Arnold Gardner for his tireless work on behalf of the Treaty 3 communities. He continues to highlight the obstacles that his people face to achieve equal standing in our community. He is a dedicated and well-respected leader.
    I would also like to recognize Grand Chief Stan Beardy, who represents communities within Treaty 9 that have particular challenges with remoteness. He has fought to have their voices heard in Ottawa and he has persevered to achieve the results for his people.
    I have been fortunate to have their guidance and, as such, I have gained a greater understanding of what we as a nation must strive for: respect, trust and above all equality.
    I represent members of 41 first nations and Métis communities, and I would like to offer my best wishes for their celebrations.

[Translation]

Multina

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to a large company in the riding of Drummond. Multina specializes in manufacturing seats for recreational vehicles, components for public transit vehicles, and foam and composite products.
    A recent KPMG/Ipsos Reid survey of 250 of Canada's most visible business leaders showed that Multina is among Quebec's most respected businesses.
    In addition, the company received an industry achievement award from the Réseau industriel Drummond for its contribution to the region's economic development.
    Multina is a marvellous example of how dynamic businesses in the Drummond riding can be, and I am proud to have the opportunity to talk about it today.
    Congratulations to the company, its management team and all of its employees on their excellent work.

[English]

National Aboriginal Day

Ms. Penny Priddy (Surrey North, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, today we honour 10 years of celebrating National Aboriginal Day in this country and celebrating aboriginal people.
    Yesterday the government announced the appointment of Wendy Grant-John, a special representative for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. That is a positive message to first nations.
    Ms. Grant-John has been a strong voice for aboriginal people and particularly for women. Aboriginal women have made progress in our country, but there is a very long way to go.
    The Government of Canada has a role to play. Aboriginal women are still disproportionately victims of spousal abuse. Far more than many women in other parts of the country, women of all ages in the aboriginal community live below the poverty line.
    They are forced to raise their families in crowded homes and unsafe conditions, often as many as 21 people in one house. They lack even the basics, like safe drinking water.
    Aboriginal people are owed the resources and capacity for women to raise families in safe, healthy environments, and to take their place at the decision making tables. Canada's New Democrats will stand beside aboriginal people in their struggle for equality.

  (1405)  

National Aboriginal Day

Mr. James Lunney (Nanaimo—Alberni, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, today marks Canada's 10th National Aboriginal Day. From sea to sea, from north to south, many celebrations are underway.
    Right here in the nation's capital, there is a gathering of some 300 first nations, Inuit and Métis, pastors, leaders and community members. The First People's Summit is an assembly of leaders who desire to see the spiritual well-being and the moral integrity of Canada preserved, enhanced and promoted.
    These original and host people are praying for and working quietly with determination to see progress in biblically based reconciliation. Their desire is to see healing and unity in Canada between all people, nations, churches and governments, and to cultivate true peace and prosperity throughout our land.
    Today representatives from first nations, Inuit and Métis communities will sign a historic document entitled the “Covenant of the First Peoples of Canada”.
    Inscribed on the Peace Tower are the words, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”.
    I wish to draw this event to the attention of all members and commend the participants in this historic gathering for their vision and commitment to bring blessing, reconciliation and spiritual renewal to Canada. It is National Aboriginal Day. We have a reason to celebrate.

National Aboriginal Day

Ms. Nancy Karetak-Lindell (Nunavut, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, today is the 10th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, a day when Canadians from sea to sea to sea celebrate the culture and achievements of Canada's aboriginal people: Inuit, first nations and Métis.
    As I look back and see how far Nunavut has come since April 1, 1999, I am so proud of my territory and the people.
    However, it is imperative that the federal government act on the Berger report regarding the Nunavut land claim implementation and the Kelowna accord.
    The federal government must act on the housing crisis facing Inuit as well as health and education issues. By not doing so, Canada fails in its very real obligations to Inuit and puts the honour of the Crown at stake. The failure to act by the federal government fails not only Inuit but all Canadians.
    I wish all Canadians a very happy National Aboriginal Day, a wonderful Canada Day, and a safe and enjoyable summer.

National Aboriginal Day

Mr. Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, aboriginal people have played vital roles in the defence, economic prosperity, and the cultural richness of our nation, both before and after Confederation.
    As fur trade partners aboriginal Canadians helped build Canada's first economic engine in Montreal and helped generate the wealth that led to the establishment of Canada's first bank.
    All Canadians should be proud of their accomplishments and acknowledge how important they remain to the economic, social and cultural well-being of Canada's future.
    Today is June 21, the summer solstice, a day aboriginal people have long celebrated. It is also the 10th anniversary of its official designation as National Aboriginal Day.
    I encourage all Canadians to participate in activities taking place this day from sea to sea to sea in celebration of the important place aboriginal people hold within the fabric of our society and of this land.
    Let us share in the celebration.

[Translation]

Quebec film industry

Mr. Maka Kotto (Saint-Lambert, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, in 1996 the federal government created the Canadian Television Fund to provide financial assistance to the television and feature film industry and to support production in Canada and Quebec.
    On the heels of unprecedented growth in the film industry in Quebec within Canada, the federal government slashed the fund. In 2005, it was cut by $37 million despite its recognized importance and effectiveness.
    In light of the fact that its performance has exceeded all expectations, it is vital that Quebec receive its fair share of the funds allocated to the industry. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women must ensure this and take action to increase the limits on funds available to francophones.
    The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women is meeting with the Quebec coalition today. Let us hope she finds some political courage and takes advantage of this opportunity to take concrete action in line with the federal government's stated policy of openness. To do otherwise would be to show that there is no place for the Quebec film industry in Canada.

  (1410)  

[English]

Member for Edmonton--Mill Woods--Beaumont

Mr. Mike Lake (Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, last Saturday night I went to an Oilers game at Rexall Place, something I had done literally hundreds of times over the past 10 years working for the team.
    This night was special though as it was game six of the Stanley Cup finals. I stood beside the Prime Minister and, with a choir of 17,000, sang a spine-tingling version of O Canada.
    The Oilers played the best game I had ever witnessed them play, winning 4-0, and I commented to wife that it was one of the most remarkable nights of my life.
    However, the absolute highlight, the one thing I will always remember, came when we pulled up to the house and I saw my seven year old speck of a daughter jumping up and down for joy in the front window, because her daddy was home. I tucked her and her 10 year old brother into bed, and got to spend about seven more hours with them on Father's Day before climbing on a plane to come back here for the eighth time out of the past nine weeks.
    As parliamentarians we are blessed with the opportunity to represent Canadians and to make decisions that will shape the nation. We all work extremely hard and are able to do so because of the sacrifice of the families we leave back home.
    Today I want to recognize and thank my wife Debi, son Jaden and daughter Jenae, along with the family members of every one of my colleagues on either side of the House.

National Aboriginal Day

Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, in recognition of National Aboriginal Day I wish to take this opportunity to remind the Conservative government of its moral obligation to the first nations in this country and to uphold the historic Kelowna accord that was reached last fall between our aboriginal people and 14 governments across Canada.
    Unfortunately, this Conservative government and the current Prime Minister have chosen to turn their backs on the first nations by failing to uphold the Kelowna accord.
    The former Prime Minister, the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, has taken the unprecedented step of introducing a private member's bill in this House in order to keep hope alive for our aboriginal people. The Kelowna accord is a comprehensive 10 year $5.1 billion plan to achieve a clear set of goals and targets.
    The Conservatives inherited a very healthy fiscal balance sheet from the previous Liberal government. There is simply no excuse in this day and age to deliberately ignore the plight of our aboriginal people.

Liberal Party of Canada

Mr. Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is June. School is out and it is report card time. It is only fitting then to deliver a report card on the Liberal's first semester in opposition.
    In math, the Liberals get an F for failing to understand that slashing the GST plus tax credits equals $20 billion more in the pockets of Canadians.
    In geography, the Liberals get an F for forgetting where Afghanistan and our courageous troops are.
    In history, the Liberals get an F for repeatedly forgetting their 13 year record of waste, mismanagement and corruption.
    In science, the Liberals get an F for greenhouse gas emissions that are 35% above 1990 levels, not 6% below as the Liberals promised.
    For attendance, the Liberals get an F. Apparently 11 Liberal leadership wannabes and their minions prefer playing hooky to representing their constituents here.
    For attention, the Liberals get another F. It seems Liberal MPs just cannot resist their daytime naps in QP.
    No wonder Canadians keep telling the Liberals to go stand in the corner.

Forestry Industry

Ms. Catherine Bell (Vancouver Island North, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, today I will be delivering more than 800 postcards to the Prime Minister's Office from the residents of Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island.
    Their message is clear. Logging practices in the Alberni Valley are completely unsustainable and are causing deep concern to loggers, mill workers, environmentalists, first nations and local business. The future of our economy is on the line.
    We are asking the Prime Minister to preserve and strengthen the surplus test on export of raw logs from lands in B.C.
    Approximately 1 million cubic meters of wood provide 790 full time processing jobs. With 2.5 million cubic meters of logs exported last year from private lands in B.C., the federal government allowed approximately 2,000 jobs to disappear. Many communities in my riding are also suffering as truckload after truckload of raw logs is exported.
    That is why I am pleased to support the Save Our Valley Alliance as we work together to ban raw log exports and keep jobs in Canada.

[Translation]

National Aboriginal Day

Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, on this 10th annual National Aboriginal Day, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a first nations community in New Brunswick, the community of Elsibogtog, which sorely lacks adequate housing.
    In fact, Susan Levi-Peters, Chief of the Elsibogtog Nation, wrote to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. She asked him for 500 new houses but will receive only five.
    We know that aboriginal housing is not a priority for this government. The funding promised in the Conservative budget is simply an allocation and totals $1 billion less than what would have been invested under the Kelowna accord.
    This is an insult to aboriginal Canadians.

  (1415)  

National Aboriginal Day

Mrs. Carole Freeman (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, June 21 marks the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and more importantly, National Aboriginal Day.
    I am pleased to remind the House that the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended a National Aboriginal Day in 1995. In 1996, June 21 was declared the first National Aboriginal Day.
    For the past 10 years, we have been celebrating the important contributions made by first nations peoples. For decades, even centuries, we have benefited from their assistance in our everyday lives. June 21 offers an opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional contributions made by the first nations, Inuit and Métis to Quebec and Canadian society.
    Aboriginal nations have a place of honour in our history and the Bloc Québécois would like to emphasize the importance of their contribution to our society.
    Enjoy the festivities, my dear friends.

[English]

National Aboriginal Day

Hon. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, National Aboriginal Day is the perfect time to underline the key role the aboriginal people and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group must play in any development of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
    The government must take necessary steps to ensure aboriginal people are fully consulted and included in all aspects of the development and management of the project. Areas such as skilled trades training and post-secondary education will be particularly important to create high value, sustainable employment opportunities for aboriginal peoples.
    Forty percent of the Mackenzie Valley project traverses the Deh Cho lands. Recently they rightly expressed disappointment and frustration with the latest land claim offer made by the federal government.
    Canada must remove impediments from the development process and negotiate in good faith a settlement acceptable to all parties. Regrettably, the Mackenzie Valley project is on hold while industry reassesses its cost projections upward from $7.5 billion.
    We look forward to the day when this project can be implemented and the benefits fully shared with Canada's aboriginal peoples in the north.

Air-India

Mrs. Nina Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, today Supreme Court Justice John Major launched the commission of inquiry into the investigation of the bombing of Air-India flight 182.
    This bombing was the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history. The families of the victims have a right to answers about this senseless slaughter. Canada must demonstrate that, as a nation, we have learned from our past mistakes and that we will work to identify terrorist threats before more Canadians become innocent victims.
    The government will leave no stone unturned in the search for justice for the Canadians who have suffered as a result of this terrorist attack. The inquiry reflects the government's commitment to fighting terrorism at home and abroad.
    On behalf of the Conservative government, I welcome to Ottawa today the families of the bombing of Air-India flight 182.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Aboriginal Affairs

Hon. Bill Graham (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister was on this side of the House, he repeatedly called on our government to respect the will of Parliament. “This is a minority Parliament”, he lectured us. The government must listen to all parties in the House.
    Yesterday, Parliament clearly and forcefully expressed the will of the Canadian people. It wants the Conservative government to honour Canada's commitment to our aboriginal people, as agreed to in the Kelowna accord.
    On this National Aboriginal Day, is the Prime Minister's idea of respect for the will of the House and for our aboriginal people to turn his back on the most significant opportunity for progress in our lifetime?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The government is proceeding with aboriginal people to address their priorities.
     Let us compare 13 weeks of Conservative government action to 13 years of Liberal empty promises. Drinking water standards, the Liberals dodged it, we did it. The Indian residential schools compensation, they delayed it, we did it. A claims offer to the Deh Cho, they ducked it, we did it. The process of matrimonial property, they would not proceed, they ducked it, we did it. That is what we are going to see from the Conservative government.

  (1420)  

Hon. Bill Graham (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, that response is totally in keeping with the government's lack of respect for anybody other than itself. It is not the hallmark of its thing.
    The Kelowna agreement was a solemn pledge on behalf of the people of Canada, on behalf of our aboriginal people. It was not a political accord. It was not a partisan electoral issue. It was a response to an enormously important problem in our country. To break this pledge is to dishonour Canada and to add to our first nations peoples sense of betrayal in the country.
    In the absence of the Prime Minister, will the minister please, in the name of all that is just, honour Canada's obligations enunciated in our fully funded aboriginal Kelowna accord?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, let us carry on with the comparison: $300 million for northern housing, they did not, we did; $300 million for off reserve housing, they would not, we did; $500 million for the Mackenzie Valley socio-economic fund, they would not, we did. I could go on.
    The Liberals 13 year record is one that is appalling, shameful and devastating.

[Translation]

Hon. Bill Graham (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I think the minister is hard of hearing.
    The Kelowna accord represented a consensus. The governments representing all political parties in this House signed the accord. All the parties represented, even the Conservatives in the provinces, signed the accord. Furthermore, this accord resulted from a number of consultations, when we listened to the solutions coming from aboriginal Canadians.
    Rhyming off a list like the minister did is not worthy of this House. It is not worthy of a government that is proud to have an aboriginal population that wants respect and support.
    Where is the $5 million we promised to our first nations peoples in this country?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, we do not have any lessons in morality to learn from the Liberals.
    We will take action against aboriginal poverty. We will take steps with regard to the systematic funding needed to improve the quality of life of aboriginals.
Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, today is National Aboriginal Day. And, yet, this government is providing very little reason for the first nations communities to celebrate.
    While age-old diseases are making a comeback within certain aboriginal communities—I am talking about the cases of tuberculosis in Garden Hill, Manitoba—the consequences of the negative actions by this government are worse than if it had done nothing at all.
    Why did this government renounce the signature of the previous government at the bottom of the Kelowna accord, which allocated $1.3 billion to prevent situations like the comeback of tuberculosis in Garden Hill?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, that is not what the budget says. The budget of this Conservative government indicates that $300 million is earmarked for housing in the North and that $300 million is earmarked for off-reserve housing. The budget also allocates an additional $150,000. That is $1.75 billion in all. That is what we have done.
Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, if it is a question of $5 billion for aboriginal peoples or $5 billion for the GST, I choose the health of aboriginal peoples.
    The infant mortality rate for native communities is 20% higher than for the rest of the Canadian population. The incidence of type 2 diabetes is three times greater and the suicide rate, in certain communities, is ten times higher than in the rest of Canada.
    The Kelowna accord was a first step towards addressing these problems as it provided $870 million over five years for the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, and a further $445 million to increase the system capacity.
    Can the current government inform us of its concrete alternative solution—?

  (1425)  

The Speaker:  
    The hon. Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario.
Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that there are some very serious problems in aboriginal communities. We must take up these challenges and find other solutions ourselves, which requires much financial assistance and additional costs.
    Personally, I support another solution to the problems of aboriginal peoples because the Liberal solutions have been catastrophic for aboriginal health.

Visit by the Prime Minister to Quebec City

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, on the eve of Quebec's Fête nationale, the Prime Minister has decided to hold a cabinet meeting in the national capital. We can assume, then, that the Prime Minister accords some importance to this holiday. If Quebeckers have a national holiday, it is because they see Quebec as a nation.
    Since the Prime Minister considers it important to be in Quebec City for the Fête nationale, does this also mean that he recognizes that Quebeckers form a nation?
Hon. Maxime Bernier (Minister of Industry, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is true that the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet will be in Quebec City on Friday. You have also seen in the newspapers that the Prime Minister will be in Beauce to celebrate the Fête nationale with the people there, who are great federalists and believe in a proud Quebec in a united Canada.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, that is all well and good. I do not dispute that. I have this question for the minister. We recognize, and rightly so, that the Acadians form a nation and the first nations are nations. Both sides of this House recognize that.
    Since we recognize that aboriginal peoples and Acadians form nations, which I support, can the minister clearly tell us whether he recognizes that, by the same token, Quebeckers form a nation?

[English]

Hon. Michael Chong (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister for Sport, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, we are focusing on the things that matter to Canadians and Quebeckers living in Quebec. We are focusing on ensuring that the Government of Canada is relevant in Quebec, that federalism works for Quebeckers.
    Our belief is that Quebec is stronger within a united Canada. That is exactly the kind of policies the government has acted on and will act on in the coming months.

[Translation]

Government Policies

Ms. Paule Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will be in Quebec City for the Fête nationale, but unfortunately, everything Quebeckers hold dear seems unimportant to his government. The Kyoto agreement is a priority for Quebeckers; his government has struck Kyoto from its agenda. His government plans to abolish the gun registry, which 76% of Quebeckers support. Antiscab legislation is a reality in Quebec but not in Ottawa because of his government.
    Given this context, how can the Prime Minister justify telling Quebeckers that his government shares their priorities?

[English]

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been very clear right from the start. We have concentrated on the five priorities that we talked about in the last election. I am very pleased to say we have made tremendous progress on all fronts. I know that is important not just to Quebeckers but to all Canadians.

[Translation]

Ms. Paule Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, there is more. Other issues that are very important to Quebeckers have received no more than a passing glance from his government.
    Limiting imports of milk by-products is a priority for agricultural producers, but it will never happen because his government does not believe in it. Older workers need help, but the government has not made any POWA announcements. The softwood industry needs loan guarantees urgently, but his government refuses to give them.
    How can the Prime Minister claim to be on the same wavelength as Quebeckers when what is important to them is not important to his government?

  (1430)  

[English]

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the hon. member lives in a world where she believes that everything is wrong. That is not the case. We have been emphasizing those things that are important to Canadians, and they are important to Quebeckers as well. We have made tremendous progress. The hon. member should celebrate that this coming weekend.

[Translation]

Minister of the Environment

Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP moved a motion before the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, calling for the resignation of the Minister of the Environment.
    The government claims that this is a confidence matter. Once again, as in the case of Gwyn Morgan, the Prime Minister is blinded by partisanship. His minister does not understand the need for immediate action. Climate change is an important file that requires immediate attention.
    Why does the Prime Minister want to force an election because of his incompetent minister?

[English]

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of the Environment, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, we have made it clear that after 13 years of Liberal waste and mismanagement on all fronts, including the environment, this government is focused on accountability on all fronts, particularly on the environment because the environment is something that Canadians care deeply about.
    This government is concerned about the health of Canadians. Canadians have asked us to protect their health. Those are the measures we are taking every single day in government.
Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP):  
    Platitudes, Mr. Speaker. The minister should resign if she is not going to act. That is all there is to it.
    She does not understand climate change, but there is another minister who has been briefed on climate change. The Minister of National Defence has been told by his officials what impact climate change is going to have on the Northwest Passage. Government documents obtained by the NDP say this: “If the current rate of ice thinning continues, the Northwest Passage could be open to more regular navigation by 2015”.
    That is only nine years away. Does the government not realize that climate change impacts not only the environment but also our sovereignty?
Hon. Gordon O'Connor (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, whether the ice melts or does not melt in the north, we will continue to protect our sovereignty. That is why we are investing in the military. That is why we are going to ensure that the air force, army and navy are able to operate through the north and enforce our sovereignty.

Aboriginal Affairs

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, on National Aboriginal Day, the government has once again abandoned aboriginal Canadians. Canada took the lead in developing the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people. Now, when it is time for the government to support it, the government rejects it.
    Adopting this resolution would be a sign that the government values the rights and the contributions of aboriginal Canadians. Why does the government continue to abandon Canada's first citizens? Why does the government not think that Canada's indigenous people should have the same rights and the same privileges as all Canadians?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, that is a continuation of Liberal hypocrisy, empty promises and rhetoric. The member knows full well that no previous government of this country has ever supported that draft declaration. She knows full well that it is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is inconsistent with our Constitution. It is inconsistent with the National Defence Act. It is inconsistent with our treaties. It is inconsistent with all of the policies under which we have negotiated land claims for 100 years. That is Liberal hypocrisy.
Mr. Gary Merasty (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, we all know the Conservative government was a huge disappointment to aboriginal Canadians. In fact, it completely left out the Métis.
    Worse yet, there was no mention of the Métis in the throne speech. There was no mention of the Métis by the Indian affairs minister at the aboriginal affairs committee. On top of that, the Conservatives killed the Kelowna accord which had tremendous opportunity for Métis people.
    Perhaps certain advisers to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have told them the Métis do not exist. Let me say that they do exist and they are proud to be Métis. When will the government start treating Métis as a priority?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the member knows full well that the budget contains $300 million for off reserve housing for native Canadians.
    I will not stand in the House and take any lectures from the Liberals on aboriginal policy. That is the party of empty promises. That is the party that stood by while aboriginal Canadians drank water contaminated with E. coli. That is the party that stood by while native aboriginal women could not sleep in their own beds because they have no matrimonial property rights.
    For 13 years of shame, the Liberals have been slammed by the Auditor General and Amnesty International. I will not take it.

  (1435)  

Mr. Todd Russell (Labrador, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker:  
    Order. I called on the hon. member for Labrador.
Mr. Todd Russell:  
    Mr. Speaker, this is the most attention a Métis will get from that government.
    It is National Aboriginal Day, a day to celebrate. Yet aboriginal people are crying shame on the Conservatives, shame for killing Kelowna, shame for opposing the UN indigenous race declaration, shame that the Conservatives do not consult with aboriginal people.
    Premier Williams said that the Prime Minister agreed to finance the Lower Churchill hydro project and the Conservatives have not consulted with the aboriginal people in Labrador. Before signing a deal, will the government in its shameful way consult with the Inuit and Métis to resolve outstanding legal issues and ensure all residents of Labrador benefit from this resource?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I think today we are actually talking about Liberal shame. The former leader of the Liberal Party describes the Liberal record as shameful. One of the current leadership candidates describes it as devastating.
    There is lot of noise and sputtering from the other side of the House, which is the Liberals choking on their own record of shame.
Ms. Tina Keeper (Churchill, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, on June 15 the Minister of Indian Affairs claimed that the procurement strategy for aboriginal business continues to be government policy.
    Perhaps he should speak to his colleague, the Minister of Health, whose communications director said that the health department would not respect this federal policy, in place since 1996.
    Would the Minister of Health please clarify for us whether his department will respect the mandatory set aside program for aboriginal business?
Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I think all members of the House realize that I cannot get into any details on procurement, but indeed, as the hon. member no doubt knows, we want to ensure that aboriginal Canadians wherever they live get the best health care from the best sources available with the best health outcomes.
    That is the strategy of this government when it comes to aboriginal health care.

[Translation]

Securities Industry

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, more than anything, Quebeckers hate being ripped off. They are very attached to their securities commission, which is rightfully theirs under the Constitution.
    How can the finance minister justify to Quebeckers his plan to bring together the entire securities industry under a single, Canada-wide commission, in Toronto, when this does not fall under his jurisdiction by virtue of the Canadian Constitution?

[English]

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the issue is as part of our economic federation whether it is in the best interests of Canadians across Canada to have one common securities regulator. The issue is not whether it needs to be a federal regulator or a regulator that is created by the provinces.
    The point of the discussion which we hope to have with the finance ministers and the ministers responsible for securities regulation next week when we meet together is to address that issue in terms of making sense of our economic federation and protecting investors in Canada and having adequate enforcement, whether it is in our best interests to have one common securities regulator.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Constitution is clear: securities are a provincial jurisdiction.
    How can the federal government try to convince Quebeckers that the Quebec securities commission is not working and that control should be centralized in Toronto when, according to the OECD, our existing system is the second best in the world? Could it be that the minister's perception is clouded by his desire to favour Toronto?

[English]

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    No, Mr. Speaker. I want to favour Canadians. I want to protect investors who invest in RSPs, who invest in pension plans, who invest directly in the market. There is a significant market in Montreal in the derivatives section that can certainly be accommodated in our discussions.
    As I say, the point is not a provincial jurisdiction point. The point is the best interests of Canadians who need protection in our securities markets.

  (1440)  

[Translation]

Aboriginal Affairs

Mr. Marc Lemay (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has stated that it is withdrawing its support for the proposed United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, although the international community has been working on this declaration for 20 years. The vote will take place on June 29 in Geneva.
    How can the government explain Canada's about-face when the secretary general of Amnesty International states that it is difficult to imagine that a worse problem could exist with no will to solve it after so many years of work?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question, but I do not agree with him.
    The proposed wording is incompatible with our Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, various Supreme Court decisions, the National Defence Act and federal policies on aboriginal land claims and self-government.
    We must work with other countries and the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to improve the drafting of such a declaration.
Mr. Marc Lemay (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, I invite the minister to reread article 45 of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which reads as follows:
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations.
    What, then, is the explanation for the radical shift to the right, if it is not Canada's desire to align itself with the United States and Australia, disregarding the tradition of dialogue with and openness to aboriginal peoples that Canada and Quebec have maintained until now?

[English]

Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of some importance. Let us ensure that the public record is clear on this matter.
    The draft declaration has never been supported by any previous government of this country. There is no change of policy in that regard. It is not supported by the Australians. It is not supported by New Zealand.
     It is contrary to or inconsistent with the Canadian charter, with our Constitution Act, the distribution of powers. It is inconsistent with previous decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada and very inconsistent with the National Defence Act and the treaties and policies under which we negotiate treaties.
    This is a draft which requires further work. That work is under way. We support a final text as long as it is improved.

Softwood Lumber

Hon. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, it has been almost two months since the Prime Minister announced his softwood sellout, but the fallout continues.
    Industry is revolting to save itself. Premiers are feeling betrayed. We are now getting details of a leaked letter from the Bush administration to its lumber lobby confirming that the real goal of the U.S. is to completely hobble the Canadian forestry sector for at least seven years.
    Will the Prime Minister admit today that his grand proclamation in April was akin to erecting a mission accomplished banner on an aircraft carrier before the job was actually done?
Hon. David Emerson (Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the softwood lumber discussions are proceeding extremely well. Provinces are very supportive.
    The so-called letter that is being referred to was an undated, unsigned letter. It has no status whatever in the discussions that are ongoing on softwood lumber.
    I can tell the hon. member that his region, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and the west and B.C. are going to be much better off under this softwood lumber agreement than under any other alternative.
Hon. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, under this so-called deal, at current softwood lumber prices our producers will face up to 10% duty with an export cap. That is not free trade. That is not fair trade. In fact, it is much worse than the illegal status quo.
     Negotiators have now left the table and there is no plan to comply with NAFTA.
    Will the Prime Minister do the right thing, support our Canadian industry now and guarantee that NAFTA and Canada's sovereignty will be protected if he goes back to the sellout table?

  (1445)  

Hon. David Emerson (Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, never has the softwood lumber industry been better and more strongly supported than by this Prime Minister and this government.
    I want to remind the hon. member that no regions would have to accept an export tax of that level. They could opt for a different option and they would be facing a much less severe duty and a much less severe export tax. It would create much greater stability and much more predictability in this industry.

National Defence

Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, in Washington last week the Minister of Industry met secretly with the president of Boeing's defence division and with top representatives of Lockheed Martin, a potential bidder on the tactical airlift purchase.
     By meeting with these companies secretly, the minister has opened up our country to legal challenges for years to come. Why was the Prime Minister blind to the fact that these meetings take away the integrity of what must be an open, transparent and competitive process?
Hon. Maxime Bernier (Minister of Industry, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I was in Washington last week and am pretty proud to have had a first meeting with my counterpart. We had discussions about the security partnership and the prosperity partnership.
    Also, I had some meetings with the aerospace industry. Those were very profitable meetings. As is usual for the Minister of Industry, I have to meet my counterparts and also meet industry. I did that at the beginning of this mandate and I am going to follow that to meet the industry stakeholders.

[Translation]

Hon. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I imagine the industry minister's knees must be sore, what with all the negotiating in Washington.
    In a public relations strategy and, let us be honest, in an attempt to hide the facts, the Minister of Industry secretly met in Washington with directors from Boeing and Lockheed Martin to make us forget the total lack of transparency in the C-17 issue.
    The Conservatives are now getting ready to announce more military procurements. The agreement allegedly proposes that maintenance of the tactical helicopters and aircraft over a 20-year period will be assigned to the industry, but through a competition run by these two U.S. companies.
    In addition to giving up Canada's security and sovereignty, is the Minister of Defence now preparing to leave our procurement policy to the Americans? Is that what he is saying?

[English]

Hon. Gordon O'Connor (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    First of all, Mr. Speaker, any decision taken by this government with respect to defence equipment will be in the interests of the military, will serve the needs of Canada's security and will also provide industry with plentiful benefits. We will always, when we acquire equipment, have it sovereign, under our control, and we will manage the equipment.

Goods and Services Tax

Mr. Dave Batters (Palliser, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, this government delivered on its promise to reduce the GST from 7% to 6%. After crossing the floor to a party that once campaigned on scrapping the GST, Liberal leadership hopeful and member for Kings—Hants now says he wants to increase the GST.
    Can the finance minister tell this House and leadership candidates opposite why the GST reduction is good for all Canadians?
Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I know that July 1 will be a day of mourning for the members of the GST club opposite. That is the day the rest of Canadians will be celebrating the 1% reduction in the GST, which will come into force on July 1. I understand that the bill is passing through the Senate today.
    I thank the members opposite for permitting the budget bill to pass through the House on unanimous consent. It gives me a warm feeling of collegiality at the end of the session.

[Translation]

National Defence

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the United States activated their so-called missile defence shield for the first time. This is another step in this alarming arms race. Canadians are strongly opposed to an arms race in space.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us whether Canada is still refusing to take part in the missile defence shield?
    Does Canada reject the concept of weapons in space?

  (1450)  

[English]

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I can certainly confirm to the hon. member that Canada is in no way, shape or form embarking on any further discussions with the United States of America on ballistic missile defence.
    I can tell her, as she is probably already aware, that the former ambassador of Canada to the United States, Frank McKenna, has urged all members of the Liberal Party and Liberal leadership contenders to take a look at this issue, so perhaps they will pronounce themselves on it in the near future.
Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, just like Frank McKenna, more and more Liberals now want Canada to join the missile defence madness.
    New Democrats are focused on the World Peace Forum in Vancouver, but the critical question is which side the government is on. Is it for peace or for an escalated arms race? According to the Department of National Defence, the relationship between Canada Command and the U.S. Northern Command will deepen integration. Is the government joining the missile defence program by stealth, just like documents from DND seem to indicate?
Hon. Gordon O'Connor (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, this government is for peace. We are always for peace. We have made no changes to the previous government's policy with respect to ballistic missile defence. There have been no changes. We recently had a Norad agreement, which added maritime surveillance but did not make any other changes, so we are in a status quo.

[Translation]

Finance

Hon. John McCallum (Markham—Unionville, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, the last time the Conservatives took office, the International Monetary Fund sounded the alert because the Canada Pension Plan was not viable. Then the Liberal government secured the Canada Pension fund for the next 75 years. Today we are hearing that the Conservatives want to tinker with this plan.
    Will the Minister of Finance really jeopardize the pensions of future generations?

[English]

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising the IMF issue. The report the IMF did with respect to our budget and our efforts on the Canadian economy was quite complimentary last week.
    On the issue he raises with respect to the CPP and the QPP, that is an issue we referenced in the fiscal balance paper that was published with the budget. I am sure the hon. member has read it. It is an issue of intergenerational equity with respect to taxation, which we do intend to discuss with the finance ministers next week when we gather.
Hon. John McCallum (Markham—Unionville, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, such a vague answer is totally unacceptable when it comes to the security of the pension system of Canadians. The Liberal government fixed that system for 75 years. The rumour is in the Globe and Mail this morning that the government is tinkering with a system that is not broken.
    Will the minister confirm to seniors and near seniors today, not at some future meeting, that he is not going to tinker with a pension system that was resolved for 75 years by the former government?
Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    What we are not going to do, Mr. Speaker, is what members opposite did when they were the government, and that is to have these surprise surpluses and then interfere in provincial jurisdiction and meddle in provincial jurisdiction with these surprise surpluses that were not authorized by Parliament.
    What we are going to do is look at the issue of intergenerational equity and ask how we can more fairly distribute that surplus over the generations in Canada so that young people are treated more fairly than they were by the members opposite when they were the government.

[Translation]

Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and his parliamentary secretary publicly confirmed the 75:25 distribution of Government of Canada jobs between Ontario and Quebec, in the national capital region. Yesterday, at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party amended a motion so that the 75:25 policy would in future refer to square footage rather than individuals.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us which warehouses, with no jobs, does he intend to transfer to the Quebec side of the national capital region?

  (1455)  

[English]

Mr. James Moore (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the motion was tabled in committee but has not been voted on yet. The policy position of 75:25 is a policy that was put in place by the previous government. It is something that we recognize as important for the region and important for the country, and it is a policy that we are going to honour.

[Translation]

Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is mistaken because the amendment was voted on and accepted. Since the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is not a member of Parliament and his parliamentary secretary is not present at the cabinet table, can the Prime Minister tell us why his government will advertise for only ten days a call for tenders to relocate the RCMP in the next six months, knowing full well that Minto is the only corporation capable of qualifying?
    Why does his government not wish to obtain the best terms at the best price without lobbyists and while respecting the 75:25 policy?

[English]

Mr. James Moore (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the former JDS Uniphase building, this government decided to go to a new competitive open process and that is exactly what we have done.
    With regard to the 75:25 policy, unfortunately I cannot educate my colleague in 30 seconds on what the policy is, but I know that he is going to have a briefing very soon from the Department of Public Works. When he gets that briefing, he will understand this policy much better.
    What is interesting is that he is condemning a policy that was put in place by the former Liberal government. It is very interesting. Now that he is on the opposition side, suddenly he has a backbone and is opposed to a policy that he was championing just a few months ago. We are going to get done what the Liberals failed to do, which is what is right and which is the 75:25 policy and good value for taxpayers.

[Translation]

Canada Post Corporation

Mr. Michel Guimond (Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is going to Quebec City for Quebec's Fête nationale and this will be a good opportunity for him to give the residents of that city a few explanations.
    Could the minister responsible for the regions of Quebec explain to the citizens of my region why, despite promises from the Conservatives during the election campaign, she did not lift a finger to prevent the closure of the mail sorting centre in Quebec's national capital region?

[English]

Mr. Brian Jean (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the people of Quebec City can be very proud of my Conservative colleagues in the House who have expressed this issue to the minister and brought it forward to me. They have worked very hard on this issue and they continue to work very hard to represent the people of Quebec. They have fulfilled their election promise. They have assured this House that there will be no jobs lost and the quality of service will actually be improved. We should be very proud of our Quebec MPs from the Conservative side.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

Mr. Michel Guimond (Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister scoffed at his Liberal predecessors for not even being able to get a bridge painted, the Quebec bridge to be exact.
    Does he intend to take advantage of his trip to Quebec City to explain to the people why, five months after his election, his government is still no better at getting the Quebec bridge painted?

[English]

Mr. Brian Jean (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would seriously suggest that my colleague should read more newspapers because the bridge is built, it is painted and it is working fine.
    These Conservative members are doing very well in Quebec at representing the people of Quebec and making sure that Quebeckers get what they need.

Foreign Affairs

Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.
    Do we want a radical fundamentalist takeover in Somalia? Does the Prime Minister need to see images on our front pages of human carnage and children with distended bellies to act? In February, Canadian parliamentarians sent an appeal to the Prime Minister to call an international donors conference for Somalia to organize a rapid reconstruction team.
    After four months of repeated requests and Conservative inaction, what does the Prime Minister have to say to the anguished hundreds of thousands of Somali Canadians?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has proceeded with more than $35.1 million to the World Food Programme, WFP, to countries in East Africa and the Horn that have been affected by drought and food shortages. The hon. member would know that included a $4.5 million commitment to Somalia.
    This government, obviously, remains very concerned, along with all members present, about the drought. We continue to monitor the situation closely and we will continue to figure prominently in the recovery and the support of the people of Somalia.

  (1500)  

Fisheries

Mr. Ed Fast (Abbotsford, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Fraser River in B.C. represents one of Canada's most sensitive salmon fisheries.
    Recently it has come to light that the previous Liberal government was planning to reduce enforcement on the Fraser River. As we know, Canadians expect our fisheries to be protected against illegal fishing. Canadians will be relieved to know that this government is committed to doing just that.
    Could the fisheries minister tell us what steps he has taken to increase enforcement on the Fraser River?
Hon. Loyola Hearn (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the new member is certainly a fast learner. He is right when he says that the former government was going to reduce the number of fisheries officers. He is also right when he says that the fishery needs protection.
    We will be spending $2.4 million, not only to reverse the decision made by the former government, but to add a significant number of extra fisheries officers on the river so we can have a stable fishery this year, which is lauded, by the way, by most of the groups that are looking forward to a good year on the Fraser River.

Chinese Canadians

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, last Sunday was Father's Day but many Chinese Canadians never knew their fathers because of the racist head tax. Very few of them could celebrate Father's Day because their fathers died waiting for an apology and redress.
    A few minutes ago I welcomed a trainload of very frail seniors who have arrived in Ottawa looking for justice at last, but justice without compensation for families there is no reconciliation. It will not work.
    Will the Prime Minister do the right thing tomorrow and offer compensation to Chinese head tax payers' descendants?
Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that tomorrow will be a historic day for the Chinese community and all Canadians. This Prime Minister and the government will fulfill their election promise. An apology will be made in the House and we will be addressing appropriate acknowledgement.

Veterans Affairs

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, in October of last year a letter was sent to Joyce Carter, who is a widow of a war veteran in Cape Breton. In the letter the Prime Minister states that a Conservative government would immediately extend the veterans independence programs for all widows of all veterans regardless of the time of death. However, we hear from Veterans Affairs Canada that may not be so.
    I want to give the Prime Minister and the government an opportunity to look at the camera, talk to Joyce Carter through the media and tell her that we will immediately extend the VIP program for all widows of all veterans regardless of the time of death.
Hon. Greg Thompson (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the first thing we want to clarify is that the letter was not written by the Prime Minister.
    In terms of the Department of Veterans Affairs, we will be spending an additional $350 million this year alone, which is $350 million more than the previous government.
    One of the first things I did as minister was to initiate a health care review. The information from that health care review will be the knowledge base that we will use as we move forward to continue to improve services for veterans and their families, and that includes widows.

Foreign Affairs

Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, last week Canada was missing in action at a UN contact group emergency meeting on the crisis in Somalia, which did not meet about the drought but about the looming civil war.
    The Somali transitional government has 17 ministers and parliamentarians with Canadian passports and hundreds of Somali Canadians are volunteering on the ground. The Conservatives have abandoned them and have missed a chance to show international peace building leadership.
    Civil war and famine are at Somalia's gates. Will the foreign minister at least engage with the UN emergency contact group and the AU peacekeeping mission?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is, of course, engaged in this process. We called immediately for a ceasefire and we urged all parties to fully respect their obligations under international law, including the full protection for aid workers and their safe and unimpeded access to the needs of the people of Somalia. We have also called for an end to the occupation of a major hospital operated by the Somali Red Crescent Society.
    Canada has been there. We have been involved. We will continue to do so and continue to aid this wartorn country. We will continue to do as much as we can in concert with other international partners.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1505)  

[Translation]

Federal Accountability Act

    The House resumed from June 20 consideration of Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.
The Speaker:  
    It being 1:05 p.m., pursuant to the order made Tuesday, June 20, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at the report stage of Bill C-2.
    Call in the members.

[English]

    Before the taking of the vote:
Hon. John Baird (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to ask you would find unanimous consent to amend Motion No. 30, which will be voted on in short order. I move:
    That Bill C-2, in Clause 315, be amended by replacing lines 19 to 21 on page 207 with the following:
“provincial government or municipality, or any of their agencies;
(c.1) a band, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act, any”
The Speaker:  
    Is it agreed that Motion No. 30 be amended as outlined by the hon. President of the Treasury Board?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Amendment agreed to)

The Speaker:  
    The question is on Motion No. 1.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 25)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Arthur
Asselin
Bachand
Baird
Barbot
Batters
Bellavance
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Bigras
Blackburn
Blais
Blaney
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casson
Chong
Clement
Crête
Cummins
Davidson
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malo
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Nadeau
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Pallister
Paquette
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Sauvageau
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 174

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Angus
Atamanenko
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bevington
Black
Blaikie
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brown (Oakville)
Byrne
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fontana
Fry
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Lapierre
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Merasty
Minna
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nash
Neville
Owen
Pacetti
Patry
Peterson
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 116

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 1 carried.
    The next question is on Motion No. 3.

[English]

Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among all parties and I think if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion now before the House, with Conservatives voting yes.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting against the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleagues will vote in favour of this motion.

  (1520)  

Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP members vote no to this motion.
Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I vote yes.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 3, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 26)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Arthur
Asselin
Bachand
Baird
Barbot
Batters
Bellavance
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Bigras
Blackburn
Blais
Blaney
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casson
Chong
Clement
Crête
Cummins
Davidson
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malo
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Nadeau
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Pallister
Paquette
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Sauvageau
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 174

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Angus
Atamanenko
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bevington
Black
Blaikie
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brown (Oakville)
Byrne
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fontana
Fry
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Lapierre
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Merasty
Minna
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nash
Neville
Owen
Pacetti
Patry
Peterson
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 116

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 3 carried.
    The next question is on Motion No. 6.

[English]

Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion now before the House, with Conservatives voting yes to the motion.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting against the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this motion.

[English]

Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP are voting no to the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of this motion.
    The House divided on Motion No. 6, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 27)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Arthur
Asselin
Bachand
Baird
Barbot
Batters
Bellavance
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Bigras
Blackburn
Blais
Blaney
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casson
Chong
Clement
Crête
Cummins
Davidson
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malo
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Nadeau
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Pallister
Paquette
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Sauvageau
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 174

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Angus
Atamanenko
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bevington
Black
Blaikie
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brown (Oakville)
Byrne
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fontana
Fry
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Lapierre
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Merasty
Minna
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nash
Neville
Owen
Pacetti
Patry
Peterson
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 116

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 6 carried.
     The next question is on Motion No. 14.

[English]

Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion now before us, with Conservatives voting no to the motion.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour of the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the motion.
Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP will vote in favour of the motion.
Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will vote against the motion.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 14, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 28)

YEAS

Members

Alghabra
André
Angus
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bellavance
Bevington
Bigras
Black
Blaikie
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Demers
Deschamps
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Fontana
Freeman
Fry
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Guay
Guimond
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Kotto
Laforest
Laframboise
Lapierre
Lavallée
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lussier
MacAulay
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Merasty
Minna
Mourani
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nadeau
Nash
Neville
Ouellet
Owen
Pacetti
Paquette
Patry
Perron
Peterson
Picard
Plamondon
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Sauvageau
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Vincent
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 165

NAYS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Arthur
Baird
Batters
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blackburn
Blaney
Boucher
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Carrie
Casson
Chong
Clement
Cummins
Davidson
Day
Del Mastro
Devolin
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lemieux
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Pallister
Paradis
Petit
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 125

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 14 carried.

[English]

    The next question is on Motion No. 20.
Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion now before the House, with Conservatives voting no to the motion.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour of the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will vote against the motion.

[English]

Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP are voting yes to the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will vote against the motion.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 20, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 29)

YEAS

Members

Alghabra
Angus
Atamanenko
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bevington
Black
Blaikie
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brown (Oakville)
Byrne
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fontana
Fry
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Lapierre
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Merasty
Minna
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nash
Neville
Owen
Pacetti
Patry
Peterson
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 116

NAYS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Arthur
Asselin
Bachand
Baird
Barbot
Batters
Bellavance
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Bigras
Blackburn
Blais
Blaney
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casson
Chong
Clement
Crête
Cummins
Davidson
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malo
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Nadeau
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Pallister
Paquette
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Roy
Sauvageau
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 174

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 20 lost.

[English]

    The next question is on Motion No. 12.
Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion now before the House, with Conservatives voting yes to the motion.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting against the motion.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will vote against the motion.
Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP will vote against the motion.
Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of the motion.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 12, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 30)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Arthur
Baird
Batters
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blackburn
Blaney
Boucher
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Carrie
Casson
Chong
Clement
Cummins
Davidson
Day
Del Mastro
Devolin
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lemieux
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Pallister
Paradis
Petit
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 125

NAYS

Members

Alghabra
André
Angus
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bellavance
Bevington
Bigras
Black
Blaikie
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Demers
Deschamps
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Fontana
Freeman
Fry
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Guay
Guimond
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Kotto
Laforest
Laframboise
Lapierre
Lavallée
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lussier
MacAulay
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Merasty
Minna
Mourani
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nadeau
Nash
Neville
Ouellet
Owen
Pacetti
Paquette
Patry
Perron
Peterson
Picard
Plamondon
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Sauvageau
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Vincent
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 165

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 12 lost.

[English]

    The next question is on Motion No. 29.
Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to motion now before the House, with Conservatives voting no to the motion.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour of the motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleagues will vote in favour of Motion No. 29.

[English]

Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP are voting yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will vote against the motion.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 29, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 31)

YEAS

Members

Alghabra
André
Angus
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Barbot
Barnes
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bellavance
Bevington
Bigras
Black
Blaikie
Blais
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Bourgeois
Brown (Oakville)
Brunelle
Byrne
Cardin
Carrier
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chow
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Demers
Deschamps
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Duceppe
Easter
Eyking
Faille
Folco
Fontana
Freeman
Fry
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Guay
Guimond
Holland
Ignatieff
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Keeper
Khan
Kotto
Laforest
Laframboise
Lapierre
Lavallée
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Lemay
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lussier
MacAulay
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Merasty
Minna
Mourani
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nadeau
Nash
Neville
Ouellet
Owen
Pacetti
Paquette
Patry
Perron
Peterson
Picard
Plamondon
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Sauvageau
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Valley
Vincent
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed

Total: -- 165

NAYS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Arthur
Baird
Batters
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blackburn
Blaney
Boucher
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Carrie
Casson
Chong
Clement
Cummins
Davidson
Day
Del Mastro
Devolin
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Grewal
Guergis
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lemieux
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mark
Mayes
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Pallister
Paradis
Petit
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Scheer
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 125

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 29 carried.

[English]

    The next question is on Motion No. 30, as amended.
Hon. Jay Hill:  
    Mr. Speaker, once more I think you will find unanimous consent of the House to proceed with applying the results of the vote just taken to the motion before the House, Motion No. 30, with Conservative members present voting in favour.
The Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Karen Redman:  
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour of this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond:  
    Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleagues will support this motion.
Mr. Yvon Godin:  
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP members will vote in favour of this motion.
Mr. André Arthur:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of this motion.
    (The House divided on Motion No. 30, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 32)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Alghabra
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
André
Angus
Arthur
Asselin
Atamanenko
Bachand
Bagnell
Bains
Baird
Barbot
Barnes
Batters
Beaumier
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bell (North Vancouver)
Bellavance
Benoit
Bernier
Bevington
Bezan
Bigras
Black
Blackburn
Blaikie
Blais
Blaney
Bonin
Bonsant
Boshcoff
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Oakville)
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Byrne
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casson
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Chong
Chow
Christopherson
Clement
Coderre
Comartin
Comuzzi
Crête
Crowder
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cullen (Etobicoke North)
Cummins
Cuzner
D'Amours
Davidson
Davies
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Dewar
Dhaliwal
Dhalla
Dosanjh
Doyle
Duceppe
Dykstra
Easter
Emerson
Epp
Eyking
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Folco
Fontana
Freeman
Fry
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Godfrey
Godin
Goldring
Goodale
Goodyear
Gourde
Graham
Grewal
Guarnieri
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Holland
Ignatieff
Jaffer
Jean
Jennings
Julian
Kadis
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Karetak-Lindell
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Keeper
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laforest
Laframboise
Lake
Lapierre
Lauzon
Lavallée
Layton
LeBlanc
Lee
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Loubier
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Malhi
Malo
Maloney
Manning
Mark
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
Mayes
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merasty
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Minna
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nadeau
Nash
Neville
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Owen
Pacetti
Pallister
Paquette
Paradis
Patry
Perron
Peterson
Petit
Picard
Plamondon
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Priddy
Proulx
Rajotte
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Rodriguez
Rota
Roy
Russell
Sauvageau
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schellenberger
Scott
Sgro
Shipley
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
St. Denis
Stanton
Steckle
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Stronach
Sweet
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thibault (West Nova)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tilson
Toews
Tonks
Trost
Turner
Tweed
Valley
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Verner
Vincent
Wallace
Wappel
Warawa
Warkentin
Wasylycia-Leis
Watson
Wilfert
Williams
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Yelich
Zed

Total: -- 290

NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

The Speaker:  
    I declare Motion No. 30 carried as amended.

[English]

Hon. John Baird (President of the Treasury Board, CPC)  
     moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

[Translation]

The Speaker:  
    The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    An hon. member: On division.

    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

The Speaker:  
    When shall the bill be read a third time? Later this day, in accordance with the order adopted yesterday.
    Order. I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded divisions, government orders will be extended by 24 minutes.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1530)  

[Translation]

Ethics Commissioner

The Speaker:  
    Pursuant to section 28 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, it is my duty to present to the House the report of the Ethics Commissioner on an inquiry in relation to the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Canadian Forces Housing Agency

Mr. Russ Hiebert (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of the 2004-05 annual report of the Canadian Forces Housing Agency.

[English]

Mr. Peter Stoffer:  
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, during question period the veterans affairs minister said that a letter that I quoted was not signed by the Prime Minister, but I would like clarification for the House and the government that if a letter is signed on behalf of the Prime Minister, does that not still constitute a commitment from the government in terms of the VIP program?
The Speaker:  
    I am sure that the hon. member would like to get an answer to his question which really is a question. I would suggest he do it tomorrow in question period rather than on a point of order, because I do not think he has raised a point of order, but rather a matter of discussion or debate as to what constitutes an obligation of the government.

Government Response to Petitions

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations

Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group at the Canadian-American Border Trade Alliance Conference: The Canadian-U.S. Border -- A Unified Focus, held in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 30 to May 2, 2006.

Committees of the House

Industry, Science and Technology 

Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton—Leduc, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in relation to the challenges facing the Canadian manufacturing sector.

Status of Women  

Hon. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the seventh report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women on the issue of the division of matrimonial real property rights on reserve lands.
    When married couples divorce in Canada, the division of matrimonial property is determined in accordance with provincial laws. Provincial laws do not apply to the division of real property on reserve lands, however. Because there are no federal provisions in the Indian Act or elsewhere that govern the division of matrimonial real property on reserves, people residing on reserves cannot use the Canadian legal system to resolve such property disputes. The committee heard that this situation, compounded by a lack of housing on reserves, forces many women to leave their reserve communities when their relationships break down.
    In this report the Standing Committee on the Status of Women recommends a process to ensure that the voices of first nations women as well as first nations leaders are heard and respected as the government moves forward to find concrete solutions to this human rights violation.
    I am very pleased to see that the Conservative government is now following the previous program that the Liberal government had put forward.

  (1535)  

Veterans Affairs  

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007.

Citizenship and Immigration  

Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, titled “Striking a Blow for Democracy: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution”.
    As a refugee from that era, when I read the November 26, 1956 issue of Hansard it really brought back memories of the country I left.
     The response of Canada was incredibly exemplary. On a per capita basis, Canada took in the highest proportion of the 200,000 Hungarian refugees who fled after the revolution. Canada took in 37,000 people.
    Beyond this, the treatment of the Hungarian refugees also signalled that paradigm shift in the policy of the government in dealing with refugees. We saw examples of that in the African, eastern European, Indochina refugee movements. Clearly, we very much are at the forefront in dealing with refugees.
    The minister of immigration of the day, Jack Pickersgill, is held with great love by all Hungarians for the efforts he put forth in securing their passage here.
    Beyond the revolution itself, it really started to represent the first crack in the iron curtain, seeing the freedoms in the revolutions in eastern Europe, and the coming down of the Berlin wall. It is something that really strikes at the very basic desires of all people, that is, democracy and freedom.
    This will be a year of commemoration and celebration and of giving thanks to Canada by Hungarians and their children for the hospitality Canadians have shown us.
    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions with all parties and I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for concurrence in the report.
    Therefore, I move that the third report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration be concurred in.
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member there will not be any problems with that. Certainly, the Hungarian revolution is one of the turning points of the 20th century. I was only about four years old, but I remember at a very early age the first group of refugees who came to Niagara Falls and being informed of those refugees whom Canada welcomed. It certainly was a continuation of Canada's welcoming of refugees to this country.
    It is very significant what took place after the Hungarian revolution as well. That particular incident became an inspiration for all those who were trying to throw off the yoke of communism, whether it was Czechoslovakia a few years later, or the Solidarity movement in Poland, it showed the way, that there were people in eastern Europe who were not prepared to accept their domination by anyone.
    That particular movement became an inspiration, quite frankly, for all who came after that. Those individuals in eastern Europe and indeed freedom-loving people around the world can look to that moment 50 years ago when a group of individuals within Hungary stood up to the oppression that they were suffering.
    Of course a report of that nature would receive unanimous consent and certainly the consent of the Conservative Party.

  (1540)  

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas who worked very hard on the committee, the New Democratic Party supports this motion.
    I also wish to bring to the attention of the House my gratitude because my own father-in-law is Hungarian. He was born on the Pest side of Budapest. He came to Canada in 1952 ahead of the invasion of Hungary.
    On behalf of my father-in-law, we thank the hon. member and my colleague from Burnaby--Douglas and all members who support this motion.
The Speaker:  
    Does the hon. member for Kitchener—Waterloo have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this concurrence motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Government Operations and Estimates  

Hon. Diane Marleau (Sudbury, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
    The committee has considered the matter of the implementation of accrual based budgeting and appropriations and has agreed to report it. We will be doing a thorough study of this issue in the fall.

[Translation]

Official Languages  

Mr. Guy Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(f), the committee discussed the issue involving His Excellency, Mr. Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Organization of la Francophonie.

[English]

Public Accounts  

Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, two reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The sixth report is on Chapter 5, Management of Programs for First Nations, of the May 2006 report of the Auditor General of Canada. The seventh report is on Chapter 8, Revenue Canada, Collection of Tax Debts, of the May 2006 report of the Auditor General of Canada.
    The committee is requesting a government response to both reports.

Criminal Code

Mr. Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce, Lib.)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-338, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (procuring a miscarriage after twenty weeks of gestation).
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mississauga South for seconding this motion.
    I am placing before the House today a bill which is long overdue. It is not only a pleasure but an honour to introduce a legislative package that seeks to respond to the Supreme Court's 1988 appeal to Parliament to establish a legal framework to replace the system struck down by the Morgentaler decision. Since then, Canada has been the only developed nation in the western hemisphere with absolutely no law governing abortion.
    While the bill would not remove a woman's access to abortion, it would seek to make certain that any decision to terminate a pregnancy be taken prior to the fetus attaining its 20th week of gestation.
    I trust that at some point we will have fulsome debate on this matter in the House and bring our laws to a standard similar to those other countries where the protection of the unborn is given its due status.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax Act

Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-339, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exclusion of income received by an athlete from a non-profit club, society or association).
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Winnipeg North for seconding the introduction of my very first private member's bill.
    It is an act to amend the Income Tax Act to exclude income received by an athlete from a non-profit club, society or association.
    We all know that athletes have difficulties making ends meet while they pursue their athletic goals. Many not for profit clubs, societies and associations try to help out and provide some income for athletes.
    When income is declared by athletes, however, it can jeopardize scholarships and other opportunities amateur athletes can have because it is seen as being paid. The bill would allow up to $8,000 per year received to be tax free and also would be retroactive.
    I look forward to the support of my colleagues in the passage of this important bill.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

  (1545)  

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-340, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of New Westminster—Coquitlam.
     She said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a private member's bill to have the name of my riding changed so that it includes the historic and vibrant city of Port Moody, which has been dominated by two events: the 1858 gold rush on the Fraser River and the 1886 arrival of the first transcontinental train across Canada.
    I believe it is very important for everyone to see themselves reflected in the names of ridings in the House of Commons. I ask that members support my bill to include the city of Port Moody in the riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Elections Act

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-341, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (military dependants).
     She said: Mr. Speaker, I am please to reintroduce the bill which seeks to amend the Canada Elections Act to fully include the dependants of Canadian Forces personnel within the special voting provisions designed to take into consideration their relationship or their relocation away from home communities in the service of their country.
    Currently under the act, members of the armed forces, including reserves, are permitted to have their votes counted in their normal home electoral constituency simply by filling out a special residency form.
    However, their spouses and other dependants who accompany them on their postings have no such choice and must vote in the ridings in which their partners have been posted.
    The purpose of the bill is to remedy this unfairness.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax Act

Mr. Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, Lib.)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-342, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses).
     He said: Mr. Speaker, how many Canadians, prior to choosing a travel destination, even consider travelling to a Canadian destination? The purpose of the bill is to make that decision a much easier one for Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to present a bill to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses). This bill provides a maximum deduction of $1,000 from a taxpayer's income in respect of the expenses of purchasing tickets for the taxpayer or members of the taxpayer's family for travel by airplane, train or bus if the travel involves crossing at least three different provincial boundaries.

[English]

    As former chairman of the finance committee, I had the opportunity to travel across Canada and I wondered how many Canadians get to visit all corners of this vast country of ours.
    The bill will have Canadians thinking about choosing travel within Canada first, and second, the bill will promote national unity by allowing Canadians to learn more about their fellow citizens.
    It can only have a positive effect on local economies. With additional money spent during these trips, this private member's bill would be revenue neutral for the finance department.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[Translation]

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire:  
    Mr. Speaker, following consultations with my colleagues from all political parties, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should designate August 23 as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
    This day of commemoration is intended to etch the tragedy of the slave trade in our collective memory so that we remember all these human dramas that marked the lives of millions of people around the world.

  (1550)  

[English]

Ms. Libby Davies:  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to advise the member that there has been no unanimous consent. There have been some discussions, but it has not yet gone to all parties. I have made it clear that we are prepared to support this motion if there is also an NDP motion dealing with recognition of Filipino Canadians. There is no unanimous consent and the member is aware of that. We need to have--
The Speaker:  
    It is clear there is no consent, so the Chair will not put the motion to the House at this moment.

Petitions

Iraq  

Hon. Diane Marleau (Sudbury, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I introduce a petition on behalf of almost 1,400 residents from northeastern Ontario.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to demonstrate its commitment to international law and the treaties to which it is a signatory by making provisions to give refuge to those who refuse to serve in Iraq, a war which many have deemed illegal under international law.

Falun Gong  

Mr. Lee Richardson (Calgary Centre, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of Ms. Caylan Ford and Falun Gong practitioners in my constituency and around Calgary.
    The petitioners call upon the Canadian government to urge Chinese authorities to open facilities for international inspection to allow the international committee to investigate the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China and to release any or all illegally imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners.

Peace Tax  

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce three petitions today.
    The first calls upon the Government of Canada to establish peace tax legislation to recognize the right of conscientious objectors to not pay for the military, but to apply instead that portion of their taxes that would have been used for military purposes toward peaceful non-military purposes within the powers of Parliament.
    There are some 40 pages of signatures, and I hope the Government of Canada will give it consideration.

Afghanistan  

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I seek leave to introduce a petition that calls upon the Canadian government to hold public hearings to gather information, expert advice, and opinions from knowledgeable Canadian and Afghan citizens on how best to use military and other forms of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan for the creation of a stable, democratic and self-sustaining state.
    The petition states further that public hearings be followed by a full debate and vote in Parliament on the extent and nature of Canada's commitment in Afghanistan.

Trade  

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I take pleasure in tabling a petition concerning the proposed Canada-Central America free trade agreement.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to make public the full text of that proposed agreement to ensure that any trade negotiations between Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua guarantee the primacy of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights over neo-liberal trade laws, and to commit to wide-ranging public consultation and parliamentary debate before any such agreement is adopted.

Canada Post Corporation  

Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of constituents in and around Fredericton recognizing that the Government of Canada has traditionally supported and enhanced mail delivery in all corners of the country.
    The people of Canada require their mail in a timely and efficient manner wherever they might live. Accessibility issues are particularly important to seniors, sick and shut-ins, and people with disabilities.
    The petitioners call upon the House and the minister responsible for Canada Post to maintain traditional mail delivery and service instead of implementing changes that are causing people to travel long distances from their homes to receive their mail.

  (1555)  

[Translation]

Refugees  

Ms. Johanne Deschamps (Laurentides—Labelle, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in my own name and that of the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the petition “Lives on Hold” signed by nearly 4,000 people. This petition calls on the government to establish a process to facilitate the granting of permanent residence to persons who have been in Canada for more than three years and who are from countries on which Canada has imposed a moratorium on removals.
    Following the events of World Refugee Day yesterday, it is high time that Canada boost its international image and act in a humane manner.

Falun Gong  

Mrs. Sylvie Boucher (Beauport—Limoilou, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition, signed by 200 of my constituents, concerning Falun Gong.

[English]

Refugees  

Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal (Newton—North Delta, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to a) welcome a stranger in need and significantly increase the number of refugees that Canada accepts annually; b) lift barriers that prevent refugees from reaching Canada; c) provide international leadership to address the causes that force people from their homes and prevent them from returning; d) reform Canada's refugee and immigration program to ensure that full access to the due process and fundamental justice; e) speed the immigration process while reuniting refugees and their families; and lastly f) take further measures to help newcomers integrate into Canadian society.

Vietnam  

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am standing on behalf of people who have presented a manifesto on freedom and democracy in Vietnam on April 8, 2006. Some 118 democracy activists in that country signed a petition.
    They are basically asking that Vietnam go from a monolithic one-party non-competitive system where the Vietnamese communist party has its absolute power enshrined in article 4 of the Vietnamese constitution to a pluralistic multi-party system with healthy competition.
    These are people asking for freedom of information and opinion; the freedom to assemble, form associations, political parties, vote and stand for election; the freedom to participate in independent labour unions; and the freedom of religion.
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present two petitions. One is presented on behalf of Vietnamese Canadians who are calling on our government to recognize those brave Vietnamese who stood up for freedom and democracy in Vietnam. They ask for the same rights that we are able to have and freedom of expression to join a labour union, freedom of association and religion.
    I would be honoured to present this petition on their behalf today.

Immigration  

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have is on behalf of those Canadians who would like to see the elimination of the administration fee, also known as the head tax. They would like to see not just the fact that it has been recently reduced but that it should be eliminated.

Child Care  

Hon. Navdeep Bains (Mississauga—Brampton South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, over the past few months the constituents in my riding have expressed serious displeasure with the performance of the new Conservative government. In light of that I have three petitions I would like to present to the House which have been signed by many constituents in my riding of Mississauga--Brampton South.
    The first petition is regarding their desire to see the government honour the national early learning and child care agreements that were signed with all 10 provinces.

Taxation  

Hon. Navdeep Bains (Mississauga—Brampton South, Lib.):  
    The second petition, Mr. Speaker, asks the government not to cut the GST at the expense of raising the lowest tax bracket from 15% to 15.5 %. Many constituents have expressed time and time again that they cannot comprehend why the government would increase income taxes.

Undocumented Workers  

Hon. Navdeep Bains (Mississauga—Brampton South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, the third petition asks Parliament to halt the deportation of productive, undocumented workers.

Canada Post Corporation  

Mr. Dave Batters (Palliser, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour of presenting two petitions today. The petitions are on behalf of a number of citizens of Regina, many of whom are in my riding of Palliser.
    In the first petition, the petitioners wish to call to the attention of Parliament the following: public post offices connect communities throughout this vast land, helping us to overcome differences and distances; and public post offices play a key role in our social and economic lives by providing the infrastructure that healthy communities need to thrive and businesses need to grow. They call upon the Government of Canada to instruct Canada Post to maintain, expand and improve its network of public post offices.

  (1600)  

Refugees  

Mr. Dave Batters (Palliser, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, in the second petition, also pursuant to Standing Order 36, the petitioners wish to call to the attention of Parliament that Canada is a land of hope for newcomers, and particularly refugees, and that Canadians are proud of our multicultural society.
    They call upon Parliament to welcome the stranger in need, to significantly increase the number of refugees that Canada accepts annually, to lift barriers, to provide international leadership, to reform Canada's refugee and immigration program, to speed the immigration process in reuniting refugees and their families, and to take further measures to help newcomers integrate into Canadian society.

Canadian Heritage   

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of my constituents with respect to beautiful Hatley Park, one of Canada's historic treasures. This petition is signed by 466 people who are opposed to the restriction of free public access to this national historic site by fencing off the grounds and charging admission.
    I am pleased to report, though, that I met with the Minister of National Defence just this week on this matter, and I have his assurance that he will explore funding options with his colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to prevent the nickel and diming of our residents at a place that is a tremendous source of pride for Victorians.

The Environment  

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Victoria, who are insisting that the government honour Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol and exceed our Kyoto targets by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. This petition is spearheaded by the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, a non-profit coalition of citizens. I add my voice to those of the 122 petitioners.

National Defence  

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have two more petitions that I am pleased to present on behalf of my constituents.The first is from constituents who strongly voice their opposition to Exercise Trident Fury, held this past May, and who continue to oppose any future exercise. The petitioners therefore ask the government to cancel any future exercise similar to this one.
    The second petition also is in opposition to Exercise Trident Fury. These constituents understand the need to properly train and prepare our military personnel. However, they object to the total flaunting of militarism that constitutes propaganda for war.

Human Rights  

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the last petition that I present on behalf of my constituents is with respect to the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. The 349 petitioners are particularly troubled by brutal violations of human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. They ask the government--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    We are supposed to have brief summaries of the petitions. Members are not to engage in long speeches.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche.

Health   

Mr. Jean-Claude D'Amours (Madawaska—Restigouche, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, it is my pleasure to present a petition prepared by the mother of an autistic child in my riding, Madawaska—Restigouche. This petition is signed by many people from my riding and elsewhere in New Brunswick.
    It is high time that children with autism receive the same services as other children across Canada, whether in Alberta or New Brunswick.
    Applied behaviour analysis is a very effective way to help children with autism. It also helps children improve their behaviour, language and social skills. It is therefore important to include this treatment in the Canada Health Act—which is what this petition is asking—so that it can be offered to all children with autism, in every Canadian province.

[English]

Marriage  

Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to present a petition on behalf of the people of Kitchener--Conestoga in the greater Kitchener-Waterloo area. The petitioners are asking Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including invoking section 33 of the charter if necessary, to preserve and protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

  (1605)  

Child Care  

Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present six more petitions from people in my community of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour who are very concerned about the government's plan, or what they perceive to be a lack of a plan, for child care. They would want me to remind the House that although this session may be coming to a close, the fight for quality, universal, accessible, developmentally based child care will go on.
Ms. Tina Keeper (Churchill, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege today to present a petition with regard to child care. The petitioners from the province of Manitoba, the riding of Churchill, the town of Cranberry Portage, call upon the House of Commons to support an appropriate and adequate national child care program. The petitioners state that the national early learning and child care program and the agreements that were negotiated in good faith are imperative to support families, families with special needs children, child care staff and the country in general. They believe that the $1,200 allowance is not a child care measure.

National Defence  

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present three petitions. The first is from residents of the Vancouver area who are very concerned about Canada's role in Afghanistan and call upon the Government of Canada to remove soldiers from Afghanistan immediately.

Human Rights  

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents in the Vancouver and Victoria area who are very concerned about the practices in China against Falun Gong members. They call on the Prime Minister and the Canadian government to take investigative measures around the mass killing and organ harvesting in China and expose what is happening there.

CRTC  

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from petitioners who wish to have the CRTC decline the application of 9 TV channels that are directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and stop them from being allowed to broadcast here in Canada.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Unfortunately, the time for presentation of petitions has expired.
Ms. Dawn Black:  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am the last person in the House who would like to present petitions today. I ask for unanimous consent to present my position.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Foreign Affairs  

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues in the House for giving me the time to do this. I have three petitions to present.
    The first one calls on Parliament to hold, as soon as possible, extensive public hearings to gather information, expert advice and opinions from knowledgeable Canadians and Afghan citizens on how to best use our military and other forms of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan for the creation of a stable, democratic and self-sustaining state.

CRTC  

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, my second petition calls upon the government to urge the CRTC to decline the application of broadcast public notice from the CRTC proposing 9 TV channels directly controlled by the Chinese government, the Communist Party, and not allow them to be broadcast here in Canada.

Human Rights  

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, my third petition urges the Prime Minister and the Canadian government and our Parliament to condemn the Chinese Communist government's regime and crimes against the Falun Gong practitioners, to stop mass killings and organ harvesting in China, and to expose what is happening there.

Questions on the Order Paper

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, let me say once again what an admirable and fine job you are doing sitting up there in that big chair. I know that both your parents, and of course your wife and your young son, must be extremely proud of you.
    The following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 25, 27, 32 and 35.

[Text]

Question No. 25--
Ms. Denise Savoie:
     With regard to the 2006 Census of Canada: (a) what are the precise terms and conditions of any contracts between the government and Lockheed Martin Corporation or any of its subsidiaries; (b) will Lockheed Martin Corporation or any of its subsidiaries have access to confidential information collected in the Census from Canadian citizens or Canadian residents; (c) what guarantees, if any, does the government have that absolutely none of the information collected in the 2006 Census will be subject to access by the United States government or any of its agencies through the United States Patriot Act of 2001; and (d) is the government aware of any other private information that the Canadian government and its agencies collect that would be subject to access by the United States government or any of its agencies through the United States Patriot Act of 2001; and, if yes, what specific information?
Hon. Maxime Bernier (Minister of Industry, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, the answer is as follows: a) Statistics Canada has a current contract with Lockheed Martin Canada and subcontractors, IBM Canada and Transcontinental Printing Canada. The contract has three phases. Phase I and II have been completed. Phase III is current. Phase I was for design and planning of the system solution for the 2006 Census ($500,000). Phase II analyzed the results of the 2004 Census Test and the viability of implementing and operating the proposed system solutions for the 2006 Census, $20 million. Phase III is the scale-up, development and testing phase of the 2006 Census Outsourcing Project. Phase III has a time span of approximately 27 months and a cost of $40.5 million.
    The scope of work covered by Phase III of the contract is:
    1. to print questionnaire packages;
    2. to deliver systems (hardware and software) for Statistics Canada employees to operate and support:
a Data Processing Centre to capture, edit and code completed Census questionnaires;
a secure Internet application for respondents to complete and return their Census questionnaire on-line;
a telephone help line and edit follow-up application from Statistics Canada’s call centres
     3. to provide, under the provisions of Statistics Canada’s security policies, assistance as required to Statistics Canada’s system administration and support team;
    4. all processing of completed Census questionnaires (electronic as well as paper) will be conducted exclusively by Statistics Canada personnel in Statistics Canada (STC) facilities. No contractor personnel will ever have access to or be in possession of completed Census questionnaires. No confidential Census responses will ever leave Statistics Canada’s secure facilities.
    b) No. Lockheed Martin Corporation or any of its subsidiaries will never have access to confidential information collected in the Census from Canadian citizens or Canadian residents.
    Census information is, at all times, under the complete care and full control of Statistics Canada employees. The questionnaires and data are handled and processed exclusively by Statistics Canada employees, in Statistics Canada facilities, which are isolated from any external networks. Statistics Canada has taken a number of important safeguards to protect the privacy and confidentiality of Census responses. The contractor developed systems as well as the facilities in which they are housed have been independently assessed by IT security firms, accredited by the Communications Security Establishment, and the process was overseen by a Task Force headed by the former Auditor General of Canada, Mr. Denis Desautels. The report from the Task Force “2006 Census Information Technology Security Verification Task Force Report” summarizes: “We conclude that the data to be gathered during the 2006 Census using the contractor supplied systems will be secure. Based on the work performed and to the best of our knowledge, it would be practically impossible for the contractors involved in the Census project to intentionally or otherwise access Census data. In addition, we can report that the overall security posture for the Census applications and the physical facilities where Census data will be collected and processed has been further strengthened as a result of the three security audits.”
    c) Absolutely none of the information collected in the 2006 Census will be subject to access by the United States government or any of its agencies through the United States Patriot Act of 2001. All census databases, facilities and networks containing confidential data are physically isolated from any networks outside Statistics Canada. Therefore, even if a request were ever to be made by an external authority to any contractor for confidential data, it would be physically impossible for a contractor to comply, given that they are never in possession of census responses.
    d) All data collected by Statistics Canada are not subject to access by the United States government or any of its agencies through the United States Patriot Act of 2001 given that they are never in possession of Statistics Canada data.
Question No. 27--
Ms. Alexa McDonough:
     With respect to Canadian funding of Venezuelan non-governmental organizations: (a) has the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided funds to Súmate, a Venezuelan non-governmental organization, and if it has, what is the total amount of funding in each of the following fiscal years: 2001-2002; 2002-2003; 2003-2004; 2004-2005; and 2005-2006; (b) will CIDA be funding Súmate in the current fiscal year; (c) how many meetings or consultations has it held with Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz; (d) what is the purpose of funding Súmate; and (e) has the government assessed whether Súmate has achieved the stated goal(s) for CIDA's funds?
Hon. Josée Verner (Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the answer is as follows: a) Canada supported a project with Súmate in 2005-06; through the Canada Fund for Local initiatives (CFLI) in Venesuela; Canada provided a contribution of CAD$22,000 to a project which had a total budget of CAD$ 55,000.
    b) There is no planned funding for Súmate in 2006-07.
    c) For all organizations receiving CIDA funding there are regular meetings with representatives in the context of follow-up on project activities. Most of these meetings are held with the Canada Fund Coordinator.
    d) In the evaluation of this project, Canada considered Súmate to be an experienced NGO with the capability to promote respect for democracy, particularly a free and fair electoral process in Venezuela. The project goal is to allow Súmate to develop a follow-up and evaluation system to measure democratic principles in Venezuela.
    e) The final report for the project is due July 1, 2006; the assessment on achievement of project results will be done at that time.
Question No. 32--
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis:
     With respect to the calculation by the Department of Finance of the loss of federal revenue from corporations converting to income trust structures: (a) what is the total reduction in federal revenue in foregone corporate income tax as a result of corporations converting to income trusts during the fiscal years 2002-2003, 2003-2004 and 2004-2005; (b) what is the projected loss in federal revenue for the fiscal years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007; and (c) what is the projection of the total reduction in federal revenue from foregone income tax as a consequence of the increase in the dividend tax credit announced by the Minister of Finance on November 23, 2005, to lessen the attraction of income trust conversions?
Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, the answer is as follows: a) It is estimated that federal tax revenues in 2004 were $300 million lower than they would have been if FTEs flow-through entities, which include income trusts and limited partnerships, were structured as corporations. These estimates were based on financial statements of FTEs for 2004 and involved many other parameters that are outlined in the Department of Finance's consultation paper: “Tax and Other Issues Related to Publicly Listed Flow-Through Entities” released on September 8, 2005 (see http://www.fin.gc.ca/toce/2005/toirplf_e.html). Comparable estimates are not available for years prior to 2004 because of the significant data and estimation requirements including the need to review FTE financial statements for prior years. Data and methodology issues are outlined in detail in Section 5 of the consultation paper.
    b) A reliable projection for future years is not available because such an estimate depends on a number of very important factors that are difficult to forecast. The challenges with making projections are outlined in Section 5d) of the consultation paper. These include, among other things, the potential growth of the FTE market and the proportion of FTEs owned by Canadian tax-exempt investors such as pension funds.
    c) Budget 2006 estimates the cost of the enhanced gross up and dividend tax credit for dividends paid by large corporations to be $375 million for 2005-06 and $310 million for 2006-07.
Question No. 35--
Mr. Bill Casey:
     With regard to the Federal Ocean Energy Working Group (FOEWG): (a) which departments, agencies, or Crown corporations have representatives on the FOEWG; (b) how many representatives from the various departments and agencies make up the FOEWG in total; (c) how many times has the FOEWG met since its formation in 2005; (d) which department, agency, or Crown corporation is responsible for the funding and organization of the FOEWG; (e) what is the mandate of the FOEWG; (f) does the FOEWG have an official relationship with similar provincial organizations such as the Alternative Energy & Power Technology Task Force in British Columbia; (g) are there representatives from provincial or territorial governments in the FOEWG and, if so, how many; (h) what is the total amount of funding that has been distributed to the FOEWG to date; and (i) what are the long-term priorities and goals of the FOEWG?
Hon. Gary Lunn (Minister of Natural Resources, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the answer is as follows: a) The working group’s members are representatives from federal departments and agencies, including laboratories and regional development organizations, whose mandates address ocean or ocean energy whether from an R&D, commercial, policy or environmental perspective.
    Members are: Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada, National Research Council (Canadian Hydraulics Centre and Institute for Oceans Technology), Western Economic Diversification.
    b) There are currently 38 members on the FOEWG.
    c) FOEWG has met five times since its inception in April 2005.
    d) FOEWG is chaired by Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy R&D. There is no funding per se attached to the FOEWG; the Working Group relies on in kind value through the time and efforts of its members.
    e) FOEWG’s mandate is to assess through information gathering, the potential contribution of Canadian and international ocean energy technology to the Canadian renewable energy supply; and help create a policy advisory body and technological framework for Canadian renewable energy from oceans.
    f) FOEWG does not have an official relationship with similar provincial organizations such as the B.C. Alternative Energy & Power Task Force. FOEWG’s relationships with the provinces have been through meetings and discussions with governmental representatives such as with Nova Scotia’s Departments of Natural Resources and Energy, New Brunswick’s Department of Energy, and British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. This last April, FOEWG organized a meeting between its members and representatives from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to discuss potential collaboration on ocean energy projects; and to present the federal capabilities and interests in ocean energy, whether from a technical perspective or a regulatory and environmental one. FOEWG is planning a similar endeavour with British Columbia in the near future.
    g) FOEWG is only comprised of federal representatives. However, FOEWG anticipates that through the above mentioned and forthcoming collaborative work, federal/provincial sub groups will be formed.
    h) As mentioned above, FOEWG is not a funding program but has been instrumental in securing $250K for two studies in 2005 06 from the Technology and Innovation R&D funds: the first year of a three year resource assessment (last two years un funded as of yet), which would lead to an interactive web based ocean energy atlas similar to the Wind Atlas; and a multidimensional study that includes a technology review, a supply chain analysis and an environmental scan of both the regulatory framework for ocean energy projects and their environmental impacts.
    i) FOEWG’ long term priorities and goals are to:
    --Foster technological development and develop Canadian capacity
    --Coordinate federal S&T efforts and interests in ocean energy
    --Develop synergies and partnerships between federal departments and agencies, and with provincial governments
    --Ensure that projects and initiatives are complementary to avoid duplications or overlaps
    --Increase communication across departments and agencies, and serve as a tool to inform upper management of federal ocean energy activities.

[English]

Mr. Tom Lukiwski:  
    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Sheer): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Motions for Papers

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-6, in the name of the hon. member for Malpeque, is acceptable to the government, and the document is tabled immediately.
    That an Order of the House do issue for a copy of the report prepared by the Canadian Transportation Agency and submitted to Transport Canada on March 29, 2005, regarding the transfer or sale of the government grain hopper car fleet to the Farmer Rail Car Coalition.

  (1610)  

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Is it the pleasure of the House that Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-6 be deemed to have been adopted?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Mr. Tom Lukiwski:  
    Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Federal Accountability Act

Hon. Loyola Hearn (for the President of the Treasury Board)  
     moved that Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre.
    They all said it could not be done. All the experts, all the pundits--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Excuse me. In order for the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board to split his time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, it will require the consent of the House. Does the House give its consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the chamber for its generosity.
    As I was saying, they all said that it could not be done. All the punditry, the experts and the folks around Parliament Hill said that it was too ambitious a task, that it was too big, too strong and too tough, that the Prime Minister's timeframe to have the accountability act passed through the House of Commons before summer was impossible.
    The Prime Minister set that goal after having introduced the accountability act as his first legislative priority. Tonight, with the agreement of the House, that promise will have been kept. Not only could it have been done, it will be done.
    We are talking about the toughest anti-corruption law in Canadian history. It will ban big money and corporate cash from political campaigns. It will protect whistleblowers against bullying. It will end the revolving door between lobbyists and ministers' offices. It will bring into force a director of public prosecutions, who will seek out and prosecute those who defraud Canadian taxpayers. It will ban political patronage with a public appointments commission. It will broaden access to information far beyond what we have ever seen from any previous government, into Crown corporations, foundations and broader and deeper into the federal bureaucracy.
    These are seminal changes in the history of our democracy. In the passage of this law, we are making Canadian history.
    It is important to thank those who have been involved in this process, people from all parties who rolled up their sleeves and put party differences aside in order to support the swift passage of this law.
     I would like to mention some of them, who sat on the special legislative committee responsible for this legislation: the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe; the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine; the member for Vancouver Quadra, whose notable experience in his home province of British Columbia as an ombudsman and a deputy minister brought a wealth of expertise to the committee; the member for York South—Weston, a true gentleman, a learned, former municipal politician, brought plenty of insight to the law; the member for Repentigny and the member for Rivière-du-Nord, deux député du Quebec; and the member for Winnipeg Centre.
    The member for Winnipeg Centre, for example, despite his notorious stubbornness, achieved exactly what he set out to do. He was not willing to move or budge on his objectives and in the end he got pretty much every objective that he sought to achieve. The member is responsible for introducing roughly 20 amendments to broaden access to information. His amendments will take access to information far beyond the scope that had ever been seen before. He also brought in a sweeping amendment that would introduce the public appointments commission, which is intended to ban political patronage. The accomplishments of the member for Winnipeg Centre cannot be forgotten. Despite the fact that he and I disagree on almost every issue, his accomplishments are undeniable.
    I would like to thank the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, who brought a wealth of expertise and experience to the committee and helped us get the job done. The member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works, was integral in seeing this passed. The member for Fundy Royal and the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, with their legal backgrounds, were integral in seeing the success of the bill. Finally, I would like to thank the chair of the committee himself, the member for Dufferin—Caledon.
     All of them deserve a big round of applause.
    What has this law effectively changed in our democracy? I would like to expound upon my earlier summary.
     To begin with, it bans big money and ends corporate cash from political campaigns. It will limit to $1,000 the amount of money that any individual can donate to a political campaign and it ends the practice of corporate and union contributions.

  (1615)  

    There was a time when big corporations and powerful interests could buy influence from political campaigns by making tens of thousands of dollars in donations. There was a time when individuals, who were moneyed and powerful, could do the same. Those days are gone. The act would ban that practice and limits political financing to $1,000, which would have the effect of forcing political parties to inspire everyday, middle class Canadians in order to win their donation as opposed to catering to the interests of the moneyed, powerful elite.
    Second, it would bring in ironclad protection for whistleblowers. Those whistleblowers who see wrongdoing in the government would have the legal authority to disclose it to an independent watchdog, who would carry out a fulsome investigation. That investigation would result in a report to this Parliament, so that all eyes would see if wrong has been done. If whistleblowers experience reprisal, if they lose their job, if they are pushed out, if their pay is cut, if they suffer professionally, they would have the ability to go before a panel of independent judges, who would have the ability to restore them to their previous employment and give them all that was taken away.
    These judges would also have the authority to punish those bullies at the political bureaucratic level who have intimidated whistleblowers. From now on, with the passage of this law, bullying a whistleblower will be punishable by two years behind bars, and it becomes a criminal offence under statutory law.
    These are very real steps that have never been taken before by any previous Parliament.
    We will end the revolving door between lobbyists and ministers' offices with this legislation. The Prime Minister went above and above demonstrating that the bill was not about partisanship, when he insisted that the provisions banning people who have worked in ministers' offices from becoming lobbyists for five years would apply also to those people who worked on his transition team.
    Now those people who work on his transition team are Conservatives. They are supporters of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has said that this does not matter. Political allegiance should have no bearing on the law. In order to create a level playing field, the Prime Minister insisted that they, too, be restricted from lobbying for five years while they endured the cooling off period, which all other public office-holders and their staff must endure.
    Finally, if public office-holders, ministers or parliamentary secretaries, meet with lobbyists, the date and time and frequency of those meetings must be published on a public website. That means everyday Canadians would know which moneyed interests had met with political decision makers. If, for example, a large corporation received an apparently unacceptable government subsidy and it was the result of intensive meetings between a minister and that corporation, the public should know that those meetings went on. That is what this bill would do. It would ban political patronage and it would extend access to information to crown corporations and dozens of foundations
    With that, I would like to close with a quote because some have talked about the ups and downs of this committee. As my hockey coach used to say, “It doesn't matter if it was pretty. If the puck is in the net, it's a goal”. This is a goal for all Canadians.
    I conclude with this quote:
    It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

  (1620)  

Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague across talked about the bill being a seminal development. I believe there are some good things in the bill, but I disagree with him that it is a seminal development.
     There are good developments and the best is making deputy ministers accountable to Parliament for the administration of their departments. There are some bad developments as well such as all the officers of Parliament. It is basically outsourcing our role as parliamentarians. Parliament is the institution of accountability. We should be keeping the executive to account, not some officer of Parliament.
     Since the government came to power in February, there have been major steps backward. I have witnessed the Prime Minister, despite promises and votes and speeches he made before, appoint chairs of committees. Those chairs are not accountable to Parliament; they are accountable to him.
    In his campaign literature, the Prime Minister promised free votes, except on the throne speech and the budget. That is not the case. It is throne speech, budget and government priorities.
    He talked about patronage, yet the very first thing he did was appoint his co-chairman to the Senate and then the Minister of Public Works.
    The member opposite talked about goals. Would it not be a goal for the government to strengthen Parliament, to give more resources to committees, to make it accountable so it can hold the executive to account?
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:  
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has strengthened Parliament. Contrary to the words of my distinguished colleague, he has not appointed chairs to committees. Those chairs are elected by Standing Order. They have always been elected and we have continued in that practice. It is impossible for him to appoint a chair because none of the committees have a majority of Conservatives on them. Therefore, it would have to be through the consent of at least one or two opposition parties to choose a chair.
    Let us get right down to brass tacks here. Members across the way said, only months ago, that this law was so enormous and so consequential that it could not conceivably be passed through the House by summer. Now they say that it was really no big deal. The reality is, it has been a big deal. It is a seminal event in the development of Canadian democracy and it was done because of the commitment of the Prime Minister, even though most experts said it could never be done within this timeframe. I am very proud of that.
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of important points I would like to make.
    Before the election, my predecessor, Mr. Broadbent, put forward an ethics package that talked about public appointments and the need to deal with lobbying. I am glad to see this in the bill because there was a lot of malfeasance there. There were contingency fees, people entitled to entitlements, et cetera.
    One of the things we need to take pride in, as he mentioned, is the public appointments process. That is something we laid down as a marker.
    Does my hon. colleague believe our work is finished? There are a couple of areas that I think we still need to move on, such as access to information and more transparency. I would like to get my colleague's feedback as someone who participated each day on the committee on Bill C-2 and knows it fairly well. Are there other areas he believes we can go further?

  (1625)  

Mr. Pierre Poilievre:  
    Mr. Speaker, there is no denying the essential role that the member for Ottawa Centre played in the development of this bill. He was regularly at committee and showed tremendous interest in whistleblower protection, a fact which is congruent with the thousands of public servants who live in his constituency. He deserves a lot of credit.
    I believe our work must go on. There is a lot more to do. However, at this point, we should take a moment to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishment that the bill represents. When it was first announced, most people said it would never pass through the House of Commons. Never did anyone outside of the Prime Minister believe that it could pass through the House of Commons before summer. Here we are today, within hours of passing the accountability bill. This is an extraordinary accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for which credit is owed to many members of the House from all sides. It was achieved in a minority Parliament, and we should all be proud of what it has done.
Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House today and speak to what I feel is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Parliament has seen in many years, which is the federal accountability act.
    Before I begin I want to underscore the comments by my colleague from Nepean—Carleton and thank all the members of the legislative committee that sat and worked so diligently, so hard and so many long hours to ensure the bill was brought before Parliament for approval.
    Again, without referencing all of their constituencies, as my hon. colleague before me just did, let me say a very heartfelt thanks to all the members. It was a pleasure for me to sit on that committee and a real honour for me to interchange ideas and have a dialogue with all my colleagues, many of whom, quite frankly, from time to time I disagreed with, but it never stopped my respect for them and my sincere belief that their desire to see the best bill possible was unqualified.
    I thank them so very much for allowing me the privilege of watching them at work. I have said this in other forums, at media events and talk shows, I honestly believe this is how a minority Parliament should work.
    I think we have proven without a doubt to all Canadians that if the intentions of a minority Parliament are pure and the motivation is sincere it can work to the benefit of all Canadians. I think there is no better example than the legislative committee and this bill that we will be passing in the House within hours to demonstrate to Canadians that minority Parliaments can work on behalf and for the benefit of all Canadians.
    I also want to give sincere thanks and acknowledgment to the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, the member for Nepean—Carleton, for a job well done This was a massive undertaking by anyone's standards. The parliamentary secretary did yeoman work in shepherding the bill from the government's perspective through the legislative process and through the committee.
    Without the member, he who did most of the heavy lifting from the government's side, I do not think that we would have been successful in reaching a satisfactory conclusion with all members of the opposition and all members of the committee.
    I want to talk a little about the bill itself and some of the things that it brings to the benefit of Canadians. My colleague before me spoke very eloquently about many of the benefits that Canadians will receive as a result of the bill's passage.
    The primary purpose of the bill and the essence and the spirit of the bill is to bring more accountability obviously to government. It would allow the public to see into the inner workings of government where they could not see before. I think that transparency is as important, if not more important, than the accountability provisions contained in the bill.
    For too long Canadians have been telling me and, I am sure, parliamentarians of all political stripes that politicians are crooked, that they are doing things behind closed doors, that we do not know what they are doing and that they are probably on benefiting themselves and their friends.
    That is not true. However, until such time as we can provide the transparency to Canadians to allow them to see the inner workings of government and to gain information on how government works, they will continue to have those misconstrued ideas about parliamentarians.
    The reason that Bill C-2 came to light, or the genesis of the bill in fact, which, frankly, was one of the darkest chapters in Canadian parliamentary history, was the sponsorship scandal.
    I have spoken before in this chamber and have said that I do not believe there is any member in this chamber who is a crook, is deceitful or is trying to abuse his or her parliamentary privilege. However, we all know about the sponsorship scandal, which was a sordid chapter in Canadian parliamentary history.

  (1630)  

    I think it is evident to Canadians that because of the sponsorship scandal and the fact that Justice Gomery was able to uncover all these illegal and illicit manoeuvres by people in positions of trust and power, we needed to do something as a Parliament to ensure those types of actions never occurred again.
    While I firmly believe that all members of this chamber would never attempt anything like we saw in the sponsorship saga, I believe we need to put in controls, provisions and processes to give confidence to Canadians that this type of action will never happen again, which is exactly what the federal accountability act would do.
    Is it perfect legislation? Certainly not. I do not know if there has ever been any perfect legislation that has been designed, drafted and passed by Parliament, but it goes a long way to assuring Canadians that the type of actions and the type of corruption that we saw unfold during the sponsorship hearings will not happen again.
    Controls are now in place to prevent that from happening again. Thanks to the good work of all members of this chamber who had the sincere motivation to ensure this bill prevented that type of abuse, Canadians can now rest assured that the bill, when passed, will take care of business in terms of providing the true accountability to all Canadians that they deserve.
    I want to point out a couple of things that other members in this chamber have been speaking to because, frankly, I believe they have been giving a bit of a misinterpretation of what the bill does and does not do. I have two points in particular.
    The first point has to do with registration fees for conventions for political parties. We have heard on many occasions members of the Liberal Party say that the provisions in the bill target the Liberal Party to prevent them in their efforts to hold a successful leadership campaign.
    I will admit that there are provisions in the bill that state that convention fees should be considered contributions or donations. However, only the costs of the convention that are over and above the costs associated with the convention should be considered a donation. In other words, if the registration fee for delegates to attend any political party's convention was $1,000 but the costs associated with putting on that convention were, hypothetically, $300, then the $700 over and above the hard cost of the convention would be considered a donation. That is the way it should be and the way it has to be. If the cost of conducting the convention was only $300 but the political party received $1,000 in registration fees, clearly the $700 difference would be a donation and should be considered a donation.
    What we are hearing from the opposition is that the provisions are punitive and that the Liberal Party is being unfairly targeted. However, the way to get away from that is to merely set the registration fee to cover the hard cost of the convention. If a $1,000 registration fee were set by the Liberal Party and if the hard costs of that convention were $1,000, there would be no contribution or donation incurred by the individual. I believe what they have been saying has been a bit of a fallacy and I wanted to correct the record because we are not targeting the Liberals. These rules would apply to all political parties.
    For those people who have said that we have not given the bill enough time and enough due diligence, I would point out that a motion carried in committee was that we would sit the entire summer if that is what it took to pass the bill. The reason we are here today and the reason the bill will be assured of passage tonight is not because of any movement from the Conservative Party of Canada to rush the bill through Parliament. It was the free choice of committee members.

  (1635)  

    Today will be an historic day for all Canadians and it is a day Canadians should be applauding. We finally have a true accountability act for the benefit of all Canadians.

[Translation]

Hon. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, it was very interesting to listen to my hon. colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre.
    I would like to ask him two questions. The first question concerns the fact that the Conservatives and the NDP voted against an amendment to establish the minimum age required to legally contribute to a political party. This amendment was proposed by the Liberals, with the support of members from the Bloc Québécois.
    In Quebec, at the provincial level, for nearly 30 years, the Election Act has set out that a person must have reached the age of majority, 18 years, in order to make a financial contribution to a political party.
    I proposed an amendment myself. Nevertheless, the Conservatives and the NDP raised quite a fuss about a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada who had accepted legal donations from youth under 18 years of age. The Conservatives said it was unacceptable and that it never should have happened, even though it was legal. The candidate returned the donations. I myself tabled an amendment to establish the minimum age as 18, and the Conservatives voted against that amendment.
    I would like to ask my hon. colleague how he can reconcile his party's position when they say it is unacceptable and inappropriate to accept legal donations from young people under 18 and that the candidate should not have accepted the donations, with that same party's position when it voted against the amendment that would have established the minimum age to make a donation to a federal political party as 18 years.
    Will he explain to Canadians and Quebeckers how he can reconcile those two positions? Or is this simply partisan politics?

[English]

Mr. Tom Lukiwski:  
    Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that my colleague is talking about partisan politics because she is a past master at performing the art of partisanship at committee.
     In terms of all committees, ours was no different. Some clauses were supported by some members in some parties while other clauses were supported by other members. We win some and we lose some. In the particular instance to which the hon. member has referred, a number of amendments came forth at committee that purported to deal with the underage donation. Some were forwarded by the Liberal Party and some by the NDP. If I recall correctly, I believe the Liberals voted against the NDP amendment and the NDP voted against the Liberal amendment.
    She talked about the position of the Conservative Party in that we found it reprehensible that one of the leadership candidates for the Liberal Party accepted donations from children. I agree. It is reprehensible but not because of the children making donations. In this particular case, 11-year-old twins gave $5,400 each, apparently of their own free will and out of their own bank accounts, to a leadership candidate.
    I would defy the member opposite to find one Canadian who truly believes that those two 11-year-olds gave money out of their own bank accounts. What probably happened was that the parents gave money through their children, which is a violation and that is why it is reprehensible. It is reprehensible to have a third party donation and, more than that, it is illegal.
    Hon. Marlene Jennings: Explain why you voted against the amendment.
    Mr. Tom Lukiwski: Obviously the member does not want to hear those words because one of her own members, a leadership candidate, has done this, but that is why the Conservative Party took the stance we did. It is reprehensible and every Canadian I know will agree with that, with respect.

  (1640)  

Hon. Stephen Owen (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would ask the House for unanimous consent to split my time with my hon. colleague from Mississauga South.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Is there unanimous consent for the member to split his time?
    Some hon. member: Agreed.
Hon. Stephen Owen:  
     I am delighted to stand today, Mr. Speaker and colleagues from all parties, to address Bill C-2 at third reading.
    First of all, as I said in our leading speech when the bill was first debated, we generally support the accountability act. In fact, in most areas of Bill C-2, it adds to and builds on a number of major issues that have been promoted by the Liberal government over the last 10 years. Of course, one of these was the most dramatic change in political financing in Canadian history, which was former Bill C-24 which passed and came into effect over two and a half years ago. Bill C-2 builds on it further and that is a good thing. We have to be careful in that area that we do not go too far and inhibit the free speech of Canadians, but generally that is certainly a continuation of something that the former Liberal government brought into effect.
    The bill is also a continuation around the powers of independent officers of Parliament, such as the independent Ethics Commissioner brought in by the previous Liberal government who has served, I might say, with distinction.
    The lobbyist registration rules are being tightened up in this bill and that is a good thing. I will speak in a moment of how they could be even better. That is something that progressed steadily over the last 10 years under the previous government. The bill also extends the powers of the Auditor General which I think all in the House believe is a good thing. We are very much in favour of the direction in which this bill is going.
    I thank the member for Nepean--Carleton and the member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre for their remarks in support of the members of the committee, myself included, but I think it is important for all members of the House to understand something that the hon. member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre stressed. It is that members of the House are honourable, that public servants in Canada are honourable and that we need the requisite support of Canadians in believing that to have our democracy really work in a healthy way and not simply be looked at in a cynical way. I simply quote from Justice Gomery's first report, his fact finding report. He said at page 3:
    Canadians should not forget that the vast majority of our public officials and politicians do their work honestly, diligently and effectively, and emerge from this inquiry free of any blame.
    I do not say that to try to avoid the responsibility of the government at the time, of which I was a part, but I say it so that we keep this in balance and in perspective and that we do not sully our own reputations as public servants and politicians from all parties who, in the words of Mr. Justice Gomery, are honest, diligent and effective in their work. That is what we need to stress to Canadians, even while we find wrong, we admit fault and we put in new mechanisms to ensure that it will not happen again.
    When we say that on this side of the House we support the general aims of the accountability act, it is a qualified support. We recognize that accountability is a work in progress. It has been going on for a long time. Often we hit bumps in the road. We learn some things; we do things better. I think there are many good steps forward in the bill. There are some things still to be done or things that could be corrected and we will be working to continually improve it, even while we support the bill.
    Let me mention Motions Nos. 1, 3 and 6 which were passed this afternoon which relate to the autonomy and independence of the House of Commons and members of Parliament. We received testimony from the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel at the Bill C-2 legislative committee that there were a number of difficulties with the way the bill was drafted.
    The most serious difficulty was one that was unconstitutional. That was the part of the bill that called for secret votes to approve officers of Parliament. As a committee we took that as being unconstitutional and inappropriate and we agreed to remove that. That was an excellent collaborative response to an extremely important bit of advice from the Law Clerk.

  (1645)  

    There were other aspects that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel expressed concerns about, not because they are unconstitutional, but because they were against the traditional autonomy and independence of the legislative branch from the judiciary and the executive branch. Of course the three branches of government in our country under our Constitution which adopts the British parliamentary system are immensely important to the strength of our democracy. While the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel said that it was possible for Parliament to counteract that or give away some of that autonomy, he felt it might weaken the strength of Parliament over time with respect to its independence and autonomy.
     Motions Nos. 1, 3 and 6 were passed today quite constitutionally, but went against that advice. That is something members of the House on all sides will have to watch very carefully as we go forward to make sure that we are not eroding those essential three autonomous independent pillars of our democracy.
    I would also like to comment briefly on the open government act. Over a year ago, a House of Commons committee invited the Information Commissioner to come up with recommendations for reform of the system after 23 years of experience with the Access to Information Act. The reforms are with respect to some of the basic principles of access to information.
    One is that public information is owned by the public and should be accessible by the public. Another one is that exemptions carrying on from that should be limited. In the basic principles he brought forward in the open government act, not only should it be accessible and only have a few exemptions, but those exemptions should have to be discretionary and should have to pass an injury test, that even though they may be within the exceptions in the act, they do not cause injury to the person who might be protected, whether it is a private citizen, a commercial entity or another government. Even if there were injury, there would be a public interest override which is immensely important.
    Those were in the open government act recommended by the Information Commissioner last fall. They were reviewed, debated and endorsed by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. Then the Conservative Party, which was in opposition at the time, put that in black and white in its election platform, that the whole open government act would be included in the accountability act as the first act of a new Parliament if the Conservative Party formed government, but it has not included that. That is work for all of us to do to ensure in the fall when we further consider access to information that those important principles are enhanced.
    The third area I would like to talk to briefly is the addition of new agencies of government to provide for greater accountability. I have no doubt these are well meaning but they do have the danger of adding new levels of bureaucracy and process to a system which needs air, needs light and needs to be fair. I think we all agree that the size of government is something we should be reducing and making more effective rather than simply adding to it to deal with another problem. Three of these areas deal with immensely important issues but there are institutions of government that could have taken on those mandates.
     I speak first of all of the reprisal tribunal. That is fine but we do have the Canadian Industrial Relations Board which could have been asked to take on that role.
    With respect to the nominations committee, there is very good legislation in the bill now which we support, but that could have been done by the Public Service Commission.
    With respect to the director of public prosecutions, this country has one of the finest prosecution services federally and provincially than anywhere else in the world. To my knowledge, there has never been a suggestion, certainly in the modern history of Canada, that our federal prosecution service is not acting impartially within that special independent role of the Attorney General. The director of public prosecutions as a new entity is really not necessary. We could have improved the transparency around directions for an Attorney General and Minister of Justice but a new process was not necessary. That was certainly the way we looked at it.

  (1650)  

    I thank members on all sides of the House for their work at committee. It was a noble purpose, this bill. There were many things that were appropriate to begin with. There were many that could be strengthened and were strengthened by collaboration in committee. There are some aspects that still need to be addressed as this work in progress works to the benefit of all Canadians.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Vancouver Quadra for taking the lead on this piece of legislation on behalf of the official opposition.
    The committee has gone through a very unusual situation in that it was a legislative committee. It heard an enormous number of witnesses. From those witnesses came the widely held opinion that the process was too hasty, that it was a little sloppy, that a lot of details were not covered. Many of the witnesses who wanted to reappear to give more fulsome input into some of these important areas were not given that opportunity. When those things happen, when things are rushed, mistakes are made and things get sloppy.
    This bill is probably one which we will have to revisit often to fix some of the deficiencies within it.
    We say prayers in the morning that we make good laws and wise decisions. It appears that this is a law that is moving in the right direction, and we support many aspects of it, but I am not sure that it was given the kind of diligent study that the House of Commons should have given it.
     I would ask the hon. member if he would comment on those allegations.
Hon. Stephen Owen:  
    Mr. Speaker, certainly this is a difficult balance. This is an immensely complicated bill with many clauses affecting many other pieces of legislation.
     I must say that many of us had some real misgivings with the speed with which it was travelling through the process and the time that was limited for certain witnesses. I can quote two in particular, but many made similar observations, and without passing judgment on them I think they speak for themselves. I will just quote their observations.
    One is Arthur Kroeger who is the dean of the bureaucratic core, having been deputy minister in a number of very senior portfolios over the years. He certainly expressed the opinion that the complexity and length of this bill should be given very careful consideration and that all the time that could possibly be used should be used to avoid any unintended consequences given the bill's complexity.
    The other key person who commented on this is Ken Rubin, who is perhaps, outside of information commissioners themselves, one of the most knowledgeable people on freedom of information issues in our country. He felt the same thing, that he did not have enough time. He thought that the access provisions needed much more work and improvement.
    They are people who are speaking from an independent point of view. We should all take note of their concerns as we diligently go forward to ensure that this act, if it is not as good as it can possibly be now, becomes so.

  (1655)  

Hon. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my colleague from Vancouver Quadra and I congratulate him on his able performance at the special legislative committee on Bill C-2. He led a team of four Liberal members of Parliament and gave us some wise counsel and leadership, and I would like to thank him for that. However, I do have a couple of questions.
    He was asked by our colleague from Mississauga South about the pace at which the committee dealt with Bill C-2. The Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons made the point that people had said that the bill could not get through the House before the summer recess. It has been done and this is a great achievement.
    I do not wish to speak to whether or not Bill C-2 is a good bill in its actual state. What I do wish to ask the member is did the committee allow a fulsome presentation on the part of the witnesses who are experts who came before the committee?
Hon. Stephen Owen:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my very dear colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine for her participation in the committee and her strong support for our team.
    We certainly heard from many witnesses that they were frustrated by the short period of time that they had to participate in the committee's deliberations and give evidence. We heard from some as well who would have liked to return and have been asked to return but who did not have the chance.
    When we weigh these things out, we have to be careful as parliamentarians to always do two things: first, ensure that we move things along as quickly as possible, particularly issues that deal with fundamental principles, as this act does; and second, ensure we do not--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    Please accept my apologies.
    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, the Environment; the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche, Supply Management.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-2 is intended to address principles that all Canadians and all parliamentarians share and that is a wish for openness, transparency and accountability in our government institutions. Bill C-2 has made some progress in this regard, but at the same time, there has been a fair bit of hyperbole about how far it goes and how effective it will be.
    We heard some suggestion from the previous speaker that there was some haste in dealing with this bill at committee stage and that some mistakes have been made. As the legislation continues after third reading, some serious questions will need to be addressed and this House may have to address them itself.
    Just to give the House an idea of how open and transparent the government wants to be on this, I would like to read into the record the entire speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board leading off the debate at report stage yesterday. He said:
    
    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the occasion to speak to these motions. I think most members of the House will agree that these amendments are largely technical in nature and fix the minor problems that the committee was not able to address.
    
    I would invite any comments and questions from members across the way but I do not see these as being particularly controversial.
    He had 10 minutes to speak at report stage and that was his entire speech. He had an opportunity to advise all hon. members, who were going to be asked to vote on important motions to amend the bill, as to the rationale for seven motions that were put forward by the President of Treasury Board just 12 hours earlier. We did not see those motions until the morning of the debate. This shows maybe a symptom of the wish for the government to have and to engage all parliamentarians on the importance of Bill C-2.
    In the parliamentary secretary's speech he characterized people who donate money to candidates or political parties as big money and big corporate cash. To characterize those who participate and who support the democratic political process as somehow being a bad thing is quite unfortunate.
    When Bill C-24 passed in this place with the support of all parties, the limits to donations were set at $5,000 for an individual and $1,000 for a corporation or a union. Is there anybody who honestly believes that someone who makes contributions at these levels has significant influence on the government? Of course not. They were fair and reasonable limits.
    This bill says that a small businessman will not be allowed to make a contribution through his company to a local candidate who has worked hard for industrial or regional development or for improvements in the economic climate that will affect that individual's business or industry. Suddenly, anybody who is involved in a corporation is somehow supposed to be a bad person.
    The parliamentary secretary also said that because of influence peddling somehow Bill C-2 would clean up the process. There may be some unintended consequences here. I would like to give the House an example.
    For a member of Parliament such as myself to run in an election my spending limit is somewhere around $80,000. About 60% of this can be received through the Canada Elections Office, but half of it has to go to the party. This means I will have to raise $56,000 to run an average campaign to get to the over 50,000 homes in my riding. This is about $1 a home, not an exorbitant amount of money. Now I am going to have to raise $56,000, but I cannot get more than $1,000 from any one person.

  (1700)  

    We know some people are prepared to support the democratic process, but all the government has really done is force members of Parliament to get larger numbers of individual donors for this process. It is not enhancing the democratic process in terms of providing information to Canadians about the platforms of one's party, about a member's contribution as a past MP or what a person can do for new candidates.
    This is not over. There are no transitional provisions in this with regard to the effectiveness or effective date of the changed limits on political donations. The way it sits right now the in force date would be basically the date of proclamation after royal assent. It means that it would be effective, theoretically, for the calendar year 2006.
    The Chief Electoral Officer has indicated that should this bill pass in this form at all stages, including the Senate, and receive royal assent, in order for him to enforce the act he will have to go back and force people to get back some of the money they donated under the former law. This is a big problem. I can speak quite a bit more about it, but I just raise it. This is one issue that will have to come up.
    Everybody who talked about it in committee was basically saying that the only way one can effectively control this matter and do it in a way which is the least disruptive to Canadians is to have the effective date of the change of the levels of political donations to be January 1 of the coming year. That way there will be no confusion or disruption to the overall process in a taxation year.
    If one is going to be truthful and plain in disclosing what this bill really does, the parliamentary secretary maybe missed a couple of points. He said that this is a seminal event with the hyperbole about how all of these wonderful things are going to happen. He talked about whistleblowers and that the government is going to do this and that. That is not in this bill.
    The creation of the Public Service Integrity Officer, the fact that there are reprisals as defined, the fact that there is a process, the fact that the anonymity is going to be protected, and the fact that there are all kinds of remedies available are in Bill C-11. Bill C-11 was passed in the last Parliament and received royal assent last November. If the government were absolutely committed to transparency and openness and an ethical approach to governing, Bill C-11 would have been proclaimed and there would be a law in force in Canada.
    We could have that position filled. We could have had that kind of protection for employees already, but the government still has not done it. Why? There is one reason and it is totally political. Basically, the government wants to say that Bill C-2 is the bill that does this and somehow take credit for what parliamentarians worked on for three years.
    When Bill C-2 becomes law in Canada, it will also enact Bill C-11 because Bill C-2 in fact makes some consequential amendments to Bill C-11. It tidies it up in a few areas which allows the government to say it has done this. It has not done it. The parliamentary secretary in fact misled the House as to what Bill C-2 does.
    Then there is the Lobbyist Registration Act. After all of the foofaraw about people on the transition team not being able to be registered lobbyists for five years, what did the government do? It turned around and made amendments at report stage at the very last moment that established certain criteria, when the commissioner for lobbying has all kinds of latitude to make exceptions to the rules. With all of those problems, the government said it was going to tighten up on the lobbyists. Then it loosened it up.
    What about the public appointments commission? Does everyone know what the bill says about the public appointments commission? The bill originally said:
    
    The Governor in Council may establish a Public Appointments Commission consisting of a chairperson and not more than four other members.
    That is all the bills says. It says it “may”. It did not say it “will”.
    The opposition worked very hard and got the criteria put in with the details of what the commission will be able to do to bring transparency into the appointments process. What did the Prime Minister say immediately after it passed in committee? He said that he did not care because he would not appoint a commissioner and then we would not have anything.

  (1705)  

    The bill does absolutely nothing for the public appointments process. We will be reverting to Treasury Board guidelines, which have been updated in the last Parliament and have served us very well in providing for that.
    Finally, with regard to the Access to Information Act, the bill is a failure in improving the accessibility of Canadians to information on their government. The Information Commissioner himself said that. I know all hon. members will want to look for other opportunities to ensure that important acts, such as the Access to Information Act, get the necessary amendments to make us truly open, transparent and accountable.

  (1710)  

Mr. Ed Fast (Abbotsford, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it seems that the comments of the hon. member indicate that he will vote against the accountability act. All the member has done is rail against the act.
    I cannot help but compare the member's comments to the comments of his colleague from Vancouver Quadra. His colleague was cogent. He colleague understood that this was a major step forward in restoring accountability in government. His colleague also understood that further improvements could be made in the future.
    All I hear from that member is complaint after complaint. It sounds as though he is against accountability.
    The member mentioned in his reference that mistakes had been made. I do not know where he gets that. I certainly understand that each of the four parties in the House had an opportunity to submit amendments. Some of the amendments were supported and some were not. That is the political process.
    However, I do not know where the member gets it, that somehow the process has failed. I sense from the members of the House that there is a consensus that Bill C-2 needs to move forward. Canadians are demanding it. We have come from 13 years of corruption and the undermining of the ethical framework of government.
    Is the member going to support the legislation when it is voted on later tonight?
Mr. Paul Szabo:  
    Mr. Speaker, the member does not know anything about the act. He certainly does not know anything about what has happened in the House because there is no vote tonight.
    I might as well use the rest of time maybe to carry on with some other comments. The member for Vancouver Quadra spoke, he mentioned the haste in witness testimony from Mr. Arthur Kroeger and Mr. Ken Rubin. We have to take the bill at its face. The intent of the bill is good, but it has some problems.
    I know that in committee the NDP and the government voted the same way throughout the whole process. Then the Conservative chair of the committee turned around and voted with the government. Every amendment, which tried to be put through in the committee, even setting the age of 18 as being the lowest age at which someone can make a political contribution, was opposed by the government.
    When the member wants to suggest that somehow I have a problem with the act, I do not. I want the bill to pass because that is the only way I can get my Bill C-11 in action. Then we can get protection for public servants who are in jeopardy of reprisal if they bring allegations of wrongdoing to the proper attention. That was one of the most important elements. It was done in Bill C-11. It was not done in Bill C-2.
Mr. Brian Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member for Mississauga South heard the scuttlebutt from other members of the committee, such as the esteemed member for York South—Weston, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, the member for Vancouver Quadra and myself, who all served on the Liberal side of the committee studying Bill C-2. I am sure he heard the story of how the government proceeded with sections of the act relating to the Auditor General's provenance over aboriginal groups, first nations and aboriginal peoples and the first nations that are self-governing.
    I am sure the member was told that the government determined and described that the follow the money principle of the government over there, which means taxpayers of Canada want to know what is done with their money with respect to aboriginals and first nations. I am also sure the member was told how offensive that was to aboriginals and first nations and to this side. This side brought forward the amendment that got the government's claw off the first nations and aboriginals funds, which are theirs.
     What are the member's comments on that?

  (1715)  

Mr. Paul Szabo:  
    Mr. Speaker, the member has expressed it very well.
    The opposition has limited tools with which to work, but with the little it had, it achieved a number of important amendments to the bill. However, there is more to do on Bill C-2 and related issues. The Liberal Party is very much supportive of openness, transparency and accountability in government, but we also have to make good laws and wise decisions.
    This law is not as good as we could have had it, had the government cooperated more fully with the opposition to ensure that all the work was done properly. In this case, it was not.

[Translation]

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak for what I believe is the last time about Bill C-2. We have discussed Bill C-2 frequently, at length and in detail, and we have analyzed it from every angle. Today, we have before us the final version with the amendments made at third reading.
    With the permission of this House, before I speak directly about Bill C-2, I will talk about its origins and what brought us to this point today, when we are discussing Bill C-2 at third reading. What prompted this bill?
    We could talk at length—and we have—about the sponsorship scandal. A few years ago, thanks to the invaluable work of the Auditor General, people became aware that, unfortunately, some people had misappropriated taxpayers' money to try to buy the hearts and minds of Quebeckers. I am not talking about the majority of public servants, but certain people. Today, justice is taking its course.
    At the time, the Liberal government made a token effort to correct these deficiencies, for which it was itself responsible, having created the culture of entitlement. At that point, three interesting and important tools were put in place. First, there was the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons and Bill C-24, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (political financing). There was also Bill C-11, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
    Earlier the hon. member for Mississauga South indicated how important Bill C-2 is. It is a step in the right direction. It reaffirms existing rules, but does not reinvent the wheel.
    In its legislative framework, this bill includes previous important legislation such as Bill C-11, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. For roughly a year this bill was put on ice. It had gone through all the legislative steps and in short order could have protected public servants who witness wrongdoings. This was delayed strictly for political reasons and that is sad. We could have enacted Bill C-11 as soon as the Conservative government took office. This would have provided a safety net, perhaps imperfect, but a safety net nonetheless that public servants did not have until now. This was delayed and that is sad.
    What were the Conservatives trying to achieve when they introduced Bill C-2? One of their objectives was to restore public trust in politicians and in Parliament. We believe this objective will be met.
    However, when the Liberals introduced the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons—they may not have been the right ones to do so—their objective was to restore public trust in politicians and Parliament. When the Liberals introduced Bill C-24, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (political financing), it was to restore public trust in politicians and Parliament. When the Liberals introduced Bill C-11, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, it was to restore public trust in politicians and Parliament.
    When other provincial legislatures introduced similar measures, it was to restore trust. When other countries introduced similar legislation, it was also to restore trust. When we look at whether this objective has been met where similar legislation has been introduced, we come to the unfortunate conclusion that no, it has not. In countries where legislative measures on ethics and transparency like this exist, there is still a large gap between the will of the politicians and public trust in them.

  (1720)  

    It is my hope that this bill will somewhat correct this perception. However, much more will have to be done to that end. In fact, the government also will have to do a great deal more to correct this perception.
    When the sponsorship scandal broke out, the Auditor General stated that all the rules had been broken. That means that there were rules, that they were in place but that the Liberal government decided to circumvent them.
    The Conservative government is proposing new rules. Will it respect them? Therein lies the problem. A plethora of rules can be put in place but without the tools or the political will to ensure compliance, the message that we wish to give to the public—the desire to address the problem and restore trust—will be lost. At the first infringement by the Conservative government of its own law, trust will be further undermined and it will become even more difficult to regain it.
    Earlier I referred to a private members' bill tabled by the member for Simcoe North, if my memory serves me well. This bill called for government investment in an Ontario waterway in order to revitalize tourism and so forth.
    The member who tabled this bill owns the main hotel located in this tourist area and he is asking for the government to invest in his tourist industry. It seems that he is not covered by Bill C-2. That is what we were told. In fact, it seems that he is complying with the bill because it refers to ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
    We have often seen people bending the rules. The government must ask its members to respect the letter and the spirit of the law, which states that they must have no real or perceived conflicts of interest. It is important for ministers and parliamentary secretaries to respect this law. Moreover government members of Parliament must also abide by it and ensure that their conduct does not give rise to a real or perceived conflict of interest.
    I opened the door for my colleague—I believe he is the new member for Simcoe North—by suggesting he check with the President of the Treasury Board to see if he was respecting the spirit of the law. If he did check with the ethics counsellor, and if his bill does not place him in a conflict of interest, then the Bloc Québécois is prepared to re-evaluate its position. We are not accusing the member of a conflict of interest. We are just saying that it bothers us to see this kind of bill introduced just as the Conservative government introduced its bill on transparency and accountability.
    I think I have shown pretty clearly why the Conservative government introduced the first bill of the 39th Parliament, Bill C-2: for political reasons, among other things, and for honourable reasons too, I hope.
    Bill C-2 was discussed in special committee, in legislative committee, actually. Thanks are in order with respect to the legislative committee. I would like to thank all of my colleagues from all parties who contributed to improving Bill C-2 in committee. At times, there was some political posturing from the Liberals, the Conservatives and the NDP. Not all members were necessarily on the same wavelength. Some sharp remarks were made.
    We all knew there was some jockeying for political position during committee meetings. Once the work was done though, I am sure that we all recognized our collaborators' efforts and qualities. I really wanted to emphasize that. Finally, I must highlight my colleague for Rivière-du-Nord's contribution. She was there during the committee's long working hours.

  (1725)  

    I would also like to mention the work done by two people in particular. It is sad, because I am going to forget other people, but I want to mention Annie Desnoyers and Dominic Labrie. They are thorough, hard-working Bloc Québécois staff, and they supported us—and put up with us—throughout the review of Bill C-2.
    Now I would like to talk more specifically about Bill C-2. The Bloc is in favour of the bill, as you know from our presentations and our support for the amendments. It is important to remember that ethics were central to the most recent election campaign, when the Liberals were thrown out of power, especially in Quebec. We took part in the Gomery commission, which produced a number of recommendations that must now be implemented and are included in part in Bill C-2. Not all of the recommendations are reflected in the bill. Notably missing are the ones concerning the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
    An hon. member: It had to be improved.
    Mr. Benoît Sauvageau: We improved it during the 40 hours a week we sat in committee.
    I would like to talk about what the Bloc Québécois gained. The Bloc is happy to see that some of its proposals were incorporated into Bill C-2. The bill was flawed. We worked to make it better, and we made some progress. All the parties can congratulate themselves on that. The Bloc's gains include the requirement that Elections Canada appoint returning officers on merit. My colleague from Québec, our whip, had already introduced a bill on merit appointments of returning officers, something we managed to obtain in this bill.
    Initially, the bill said that the Chief Electoral Officer could appoint the returning officers in our ridings. We amended this proposal, stating that the Chief Electoral Officer could choose or appoint them, but only after a competition based on merit. We think that the worst situation was where the governor in council appointed his buddies as returning officers. This is rather strange in a modern democracy. But requiring the Chief Electoral Officer to appoint returning officers on merit, after a competition—something he had been requesting for a long time—will make for greater impartiality during elections, and this is one notable gain for the Bloc Québécois in Bill C-2.
    Independence of the lobbyists registry is another gain. We will have a lobbyists registry with an independent commissioner. That way, they cannot divert the focus by appointing people who are in complicity with the government. Political party financing legislation is another major gain. The Conservatives told us, kindly and candidly, that they wanted to use as a model the Quebec political party financing legislation, which was introduced by the Parti Québécois in 1977, if my memory serves me correctly. Some 30 years later, the federal government says it wants to use it as a model. This is a fine victory for the Bloc and a fine victory for Quebec.
    An hon. member: And for democracy.
    Mr. Benoît Sauvageau: And for democracy, indeed.
    The powers of the Auditor General have been strengthened. Since the sponsorship scandal, everyone is aware of the reputation and respect that the Auditor General enjoys. Bill C-2 strengthens her powers by giving her oversight over a greater number of crown corporations and agencies where the federal government invests money.
    The Bloc Québécois is pleased to see that some of its proposals have been retained. I am referring to the secret ballot in particular. In Bill C-2, everyone would have been appointed by secret ballot. It is normal for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House to be elected by secret ballot. It is a parliamentary tradition. However, appointing everyone by secret ballot would diminish the independence of every independent officer of the House, and the current process for appointing independent officers—

  (1730)  

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member.

[English]

    It is now 5:30 p.m. and we will proceed to the consideration of private members' business.
    The hon. member for Repentigny will have seven minutes left in his speech when the House resumes debate on Bill C-2.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Income Tax Act

Hon. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East, Lib.)  
     moved that Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    The hon. government House leader is rising on a point of order.
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning Bill C-253, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions) standing in the name of the member for Pickering—Ajax--Uxbridge. While the intent of the bill is to alleviate the tax burden for individuals who contribute to registered education savings plans, it is my submission that Bill C-253 contains specific provisions that would effectively increase the amount of tax payable by the taxpayer.
    If I am correct, the bill should have been preceded by the adoption of a ways and means motion and is therefore improperly before the House.
    Two of the amendments proposed in the bill are amendments to section 146.1 of the Income Tax Act, which sets out RESP payments that are to be included in computing a taxpayer's income for a taxation year.
     Subclause 2(5) of the bill would add a paragraph (c) to subsection 146.1(7.1) that would require refunds of payments made in respect of any contribution paid by a taxpayer to be included in computing a taxpayer income per taxation year. Subclause 2(6) of the bill would repeal subsection 146.1(7.2) of the Income Tax Act, which excludes certain amounts received under RESPs as income for a taxation year.
    Taken together with paragraph 56(1)(q) of the Income Tax Act, which identifies amounts to be included as taxable income under section 3 of the act, these amendments would effectively increase the amount of tax payable by the taxpayer.
    Citation 980 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's states:
    A Ways and Means motion is a necessary preliminary to the imposition of a new tax, the continuation of an expiring tax, an increase in the rate of an existing tax, or an extension of the incidence of a tax so as to include persons not already [tax] payers.
    In other words, any measure that would have the effect of increasing the tax burden on an individual should be first preceded by a ways and means motion.

[Translation]

    Although the general purpose of these bills is to reduce the tax burden on individuals, this legislation should not evade the requirements of a ways and means motion.

[English]

    The 21st edition of Erskine May states at page 730:
    To escape the rules of financial procedure, a scheme for the alleviation of taxation must not include any incidental increase of the burden upon any taxpayer, however indirect or relatively insignificant that increase may be.
    I therefore submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that Bill C-253 is improperly before the House, and if you agree, I ask that the bill be stricken from the order paper.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer):  
    The hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East.
Hon. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for getting the name of my riding right and also for preceding the Chair in pre-empting his comments as to the receivability of the bill.
    I have had perhaps as much experience as any member in the House on private members' business. When a bill is presented, it must satisfy two tests, such that your own legislative counsel has been involved with this, Mr. Speaker. Number one is the constitutionality of the bill, on which clearly the bill qualified, and number two, of course, is to ensure that the legislation itself does not require a royal recommendation.
    Based on this and the ruling that you made in respect to May 31, 2006, I am going to read this into the record:
    Where it seems likely that a bill may need a royal recommendation, the member who has requested to have it drafted will be informed of that fact by the legislative counsel responsible for drafting the bill. A table officer will also send a letter to advise the member that the bill may require a royal recommendation.
    Should the member decide to proceed with the bill and select it for inclusion....
    Members may then make submissions regarding the royal recommendation and, if necessary, the Chair will return with a definitive ruling later in the legislative process.
    Mr. Speaker, you said:
    There are a number of bills on the order of precedence which cause the Chair some concern. At first glance, certain provisions of these bills raise questions about the need for a royal recommendation.
    I will not exhaust the list, but they are limited to Bill C-292, Bill C-257, Bill C-293, Bill C-286, Bill C-269, Bill C-284, Bill C-278, Bill C-295, Bill C-303 and Bill C-279.
     Nowhere in that have the table officers or the legislative counsel been concerned about this bill inviting a question of royal recommendation. What the bill in fact does is provide ample opportunity to reduce for most people the burden of student loans. As a result of that, it is faithful to the existing Income Tax Act.
     I point out that if there is any question with respect to taxation, it is already contained within the Income Tax Act as it relates to a withdrawal by a subscriber or a refund in payments; it is subject to a 20% penalty in addition to the regular tax payable. This proposed legislation does nothing to change that and therefore does not invite a question of a royal recommendation.
    What is important is precedents, Mr. Speaker, not only by your ruling very recently, but if the hon. member wishes to go back to October 16, 1995, I would ask the hon. member to listen to this very carefully. When Bill S-9 came before the House it was ruled by you, Mr. Speaker, on that date that the bill did not appropriate tax revenue but rather exempted or reduced taxes otherwise payable. I will read this into the record:
    The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader noted in his intervention that Bill S-9 is not a bill for appropriating any part of the public revenue or for any tax or impost and therefore does not require a royal recommendation. There will be no expenditure of public funds--
    Which of course is contemplated in this bill.
--though money already collected from Canadian citizens pursuant to the tax laws of Canada may be refunded.
    As the parliamentary secretary pointed out, the repayment of tax revenues already received is not an appropriation of public money.
    Mr. Speaker, I turn your attention to Marleau and Montpetit, at page 711, under the financial procedures section:
    A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. An amendment which either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative. However, a royal recommendation is not required for an amendment whose effect is to reduce taxes otherwise payable.
    Given that ruling by your Chair and your more recent ruling, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the bills that caused difficulty, and notwithstanding the opinion of the House leader of the Conservative Party, who has referred to this not only to myself but seems to have done it with the hon. member for Bourassa last week on his bill with respect to Kyoto, i seems to be a tried and true measure to try to avoid important legislation that can be derived from private members' business.
    I would suspect that given previous rulings and the wisdom of your legislative counsel, Mr. Speaker, the bill is very much in order, and I do wish to proceed, with your help, in getting the bill on its way to help students in this country.

  (1735)  

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, last Friday we had a similar situation on Bill C-288, in which the government House leader rose and made argument with regard to the necessity for a royal recommendation. Today we have another intervention by the government House leader laying out some arguments on Bill C-253, which will be debated shortly.
    In both cases, the Speaker, in his earlier statement, identified for the House and flagged 10 of the 30 bills on the order of precedence as likely requiring royal recommendation. That provides an opportunity for members who are in that situation to determine whether there is a way to remedy that requirement, whether it be at committee stage or at report stage, to ultimately get a royal recommendation, which is one of the reasons that the Speaker also indicated that he would not make a final determination until the point at which a vote on third reading will be called.
    Under the circumstances, where the government House leader is dealing with bills that have not been flagged already, pursuant to the procedure that has been outlined by the Speaker's office, I would appreciate it if direction could be given and that there can be assurances that should the Speaker's office find that there was some error with regard to the flagging that should have been done but was not done, that the members would be appropriately notified of the basis for that, and that members of the House be given an opportunity to make further representations with regard to the argument that has been made by the government House leader once we can see the details of the arguments that have been made.

  (1740)  

Hon. Rob Nicholson:  
    Mr. Speaker, first, I apologize to the mover of the bill. The name of his riding is in fact Pickering--Scarborough East. I just want to correct the record on that.
     I think I have made it very clear, and I am sure the blues will back me up on this, that this is not a question of royal recommendation. It is the need for a ways and means motion. It is on that basis that I intervened.
     Most of the comments were directed with respect to royal recommendations but I made it very clear that the bill needed a ways and means motion to proceed and that therefore it should be struck on that basis.
Hon. Dan McTeague:  
    Mr. Speaker, it is very clear where the hon. member is going. If he had taken the time to read the bill, as the legislative counsel has done, I want to make it abundantly clear to him that the tax payable is negated by the initial tax credit.
    Mr. Speaker, your legislative counsel looked at this and examined all of the concerns, whether it be a ways and means or whether it be a question of royal recommendation. I merely wanted to point out to the hon. member and to the Chair above all that I am governed by the wisdom of the Chair and I stand by the wisdom of the chair, which is why the bill is in fact receivable. I would like to proceed with debate.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):  
    The Speaker has already indicated that a definite ruling on the procedural admissibility of this bill will be made before the question is put at third reading.

[Translation]

    Since today's debate is on the second reading of the bill, the matter can proceed.

[English]

    The House will now proceed to the debate on private members' business.
Hon. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank you for allowing that and being consistent in your ruling. I realize this will not be an easy bill but behind the bill comes the challenges, not only for the Department of Finance but, I suspect, for the entire economy.
    Bill C-253 is an act to amend the Income Tax Act which will deal with the amendment to the Income Tax Act to allow contributions to registered education savings plans to be tax deductible. It would come as a surprise to many Canadians it currently is not the situation.
    Is it any wonder today that students face the kind of debt situation that they are now seeing at a time when manufacturers and others around the world are demanding that Canada do better in order to provide a more skilled workforce and more vibrant economy to meet the challenges of a modernizing economy against a highly competitive world.
    The bill provides a regulatory regime similar to that of RRSPs and it also has built in penalties and guidelines to prevent the RESP from being used as a tax shelter, as some will indicate, instead of its sole purpose of generating funds to be used to pay education costs.
    I would like to speak about the rationale of this bill. Nothing is more important for the future prosperity of our great nation than having a highly educated workforce. However, the reality is that contrasted against the backdrop, with soaring tuition costs at universities and colleges, these are creating concern that post-secondary education may soon only become the purview of the wealthy.
    This, in my view and I think in the view of most Canadians, indeed the constituents in my riding and ridings across Canada, is simply unacceptable as it would place Canada at a considerable economic disadvantage, both domestically and in the international marketplace.
    It is very clear that it is not just students who know this and businesses. I would like to refer to some of the comments that were made today coming out of the industry committee's report which it tabled earlier today. It reflects on how manufacturers are responding to this.
    According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters in 2003, more than 40% of manufacturers say that skill shortages are seriously constraining their ability to improve business performance and grow. About 17% of those surveyed indicated that skill shortages pose a major constraint on their ability to develop and commercialize new products. Finally, slightly more than 25% report that a lack of skilled and experienced personnel is a challenge that will fundamentally change the nature of their business over the next five to ten years.
    It is clear that Canada must do more to motivate younger people and to provide Canadians with an opportunity where they can best meet that. We can talk about assistance for students who are at the very low end of the economic scale, through no fault of their own, who can get access to higher education to better themselves. We can talk about wealthy students for whom any education anywhere they want to go is no object.
    We are dealing with a fairly large middle class in this country with a hodge-podge of programs that simply cannot make the grade. Many of them choose not to go to university or college, or to get a diploma, a certificate or a degree. As a result of that, the singular loss of an 18 or 19 year old and his or her r ability to get access to higher education is not just a loss for that individual but it is indeed a loss for our country. Our ability to attract investments and, most important, yes, for the finance department and the bean counters to generate revenue for the next 30 or 40 years, we want to look at it from a selfish point of view.
    As I said earlier, this issue is not confined. It is simply a question of whether the finance department thinks it is a good idea or a bad idea and whether it is concerned about the loss of revenue. If we are going to navel gaze and look at today, I suggest that if we cannot plan 10 years from now and give our students an opportunity to get access to higher education and allow universities to bring people in to pay the kind of resources, to pay for the kind of personnel and to pay for the kind of expertise that will make our universities and colleges and our certificate granting institutions the best in the country, then this country will fail the next generation.
    In the absence of a hodge-podge of programs that exist, this bill simply provides the best step forward with resources that are already available to all Canadians who pay taxes and who may want to direct to a loved one, a family member or their sons and daughters the opportunity to gain access to a better job through access to higher education.
    To contrast the difficulty we currently have, 27% of Canadian families have an RESP to help pay for their children's education. One major reason for this relatively low percentage is the financial burden placed on families to maintain an RESP.

  (1745)  

    Regardless of the long term benefit, RESP contributions require after tax monthly family income. Some families are simply unable to afford the minimum monthly contribution, usually $100.
     Making contributions tax deductible, as the bill proposes, offers families incentives and financial assistance to create and manage an RESP. In addition, making contributions tax deductible not only provides a means to help address educational costs, it will impact on lessening post-graduation debt which often is a debilitating financial drain on the graduate.
    There is no doubt that the need for higher learning cannot be gainsaid. According to Statistics Canada, in today's labour market two out of three jobs require more than a high school education. Post-secondary graduates, according to the same institution, have a high employment rate, are less vulnerable to economic downturns and they receive higher incomes which, for the Department of Finance, which I am sure is listening today, also means generating more revenue.
    I want to talk about measures for preventing the RESP from being a tax shelter. It has been raised by my hon. colleagues and I am sure others that this might somehow see itself as a shelter. Let me read into the record what the bill would do.
    When contributions to an RESP are withdrawn either by the subscriber or the beneficiary, this is referred to as a “refund of payments”. Payments of investment income made out of an RESP to a student beneficiary are referred to as “education assistance payments”, EAPs. Payments of investment income made out of the RESP to the subscriber, in the event that a student does not, or is unable to, attend the post-secondary education are referred to as “accumulated income payments”.
    At present, and this is a point that I made to the hon. House leader, EAPs and AIPs are taxed under section 146.1(7) and (7.1) of the Income Tax Act, but a refund of payments is not taxable under section 146.1 since contributions are made from after tax income.
    The bill inserts a refund of payments into one section, 146.1, and repeals 146 (7.2) which would l make a refund taxable when withdrawn. After Bill C-253, the EAPs and AIPs will continue to be taxable when withdrawn.
     To ensure that the RESP is not used as a tax deferral vehicle, the AIPs are subject to part X.5 penalty tax under section 204.94 of the Income Tax Act. If the AIP is withdrawn by a subscriber in the event that the child does not attend the educational institution, the accumulated income payment will be subjected to a 20% tax in addition to the regular tax payable.
    There is a lot here as to whether or not one can reasonably conclude this would be a tax deferral. In fact, it is an opportunity with some fairly strict guidelines and a substantial firewall.
    The high cost of education, and again I will use Statistics Canada as a source, average undergraduate degrees almost doubled, from $2,023 in 1993-94 to $4,000 in 2003-04 and is expected to hit nearly $8,000 by 2012.
    Increases in tuition fees are partly responsible for increases in student debt. The average amount owed to student loan programs by university graduates increased 76% between 1990 and 2000.
    One-third of students who left before graduating in 2002 did so for financial reasons. That is the gap. That tells us exactly what is occurring right now because young people, students cannot make the grade. This financial barrier, notwithstanding all the programs that are there, federal and provincial, simply does not meet the test of ensuring that those who want an education and who have the means of obtaining a higher education cannot do it because there are financial impediments. It is important for us to understand this.
    It is projected that by 2010 a four year degree could cost in excess of $100,000, in residence. In 2002, with only 50% of children under 19 having an average of $8,600 put aside for them by their parents for their entire education, this represents a significant savings shortfall. According to Statistics Canada, parents who expected their child to receive grants for post-secondary education based on financial need saved significantly less.
    The interesting part of this is that almost one-third of all children who are 19 had parents who expected them to receive such assistance even though it is likely that many will not. With respect to saving for a child's education by others, grandparents and other relatives, few actually do so.

  (1750)  

    Under the existing program, notwithstanding the generosity of the 20% top up, in 2002 only 14% of children had savings plans established by persons other than parents.
    Where does that leave us? It leaves us with a large question on student debt. These loads are rising. According to Statistics Canada, bachelor graduates in 2000, with student loans owed on average 76% more than their 1990 counterparts after adjusting for inflation. A similar increase in student debt over the same period was found for college graduates. I can go over the list of people. Only one out of five graduates, who owed money, was debt free two years after graduation. On average, of graduates still owing money, only 25% of their debt had been repaid.
    We have talked a bit about the question of royal prerogative, and I will not debate that point. It was made abundantly clear by yourself, Mr. Speaker, that this matter was never signalled or flagged for that reason. What it does is it responds effectively to a number of foreign organizations that are concerned about the current status of education.
    My province of Ontario has decided to lift the freeze on tuition fees. Students are going to find it very difficult, earning $8 or $9 an hour, to earn enough money to pay a $7,000 or $8,000 tuition base for five credits per year over four years, and that is if they are lucky enough to find a job for a three month period. They may have to live in residence and have other incidental costs. Notwithstanding the government's budget, which allocated a small credit for books, there will be a substantial shortfall.
    Others have suggested that we need to do more, and that includes the Governor of the Bank of Canada. At Humber College on March 30, 2005, David Dodge suggested that we needed a system of incentives for continuous learning and upgrading of skills and an infrastructure that delivers the training. This has always been important, but as I mentioned earlier, it will be particularly important in the next two decades as the labour force growth in Canada slows.
    We are on the precipice of a significant and dramatic change in our demographics, and this is clear. Right now about one in eight Canadians is aged 65 years or older and therefore drawing a pension. By 2026, in 20 short years or less, this ratio will be one in five.
    We have a challenge ahead of ourselves and it must be met with a robust attempt by Parliament and, I hope, the government. I suspect it will not support this, if not for the fact that it is concerned about the short term loss of expenditure.
    The Governor of the Bank of Canada went on to say, “The first step to improving skills is to build an excellent infrastructure for early childhood development, feeding into a school system that effectively teaches basic skills”. He went on to point out that Canada's concerns must be founded on three global trends: technological change, globalization and demographic shifts.
    Contrast this with what manufacturers are saying and with the heavy debts that students are currently incurring, it appears to me, and I think to most reasonable onlookers, that the existing situation is not tenable.
    To ask our students to take on a burden and to ask government to cover the costs of those burdens in terms of loans, when an existing facility exists right now through the income tax system, seems to me, and I think to most reasonable people, an opportunity not for the government to go out and spend money, but to review the programs it has and channel much of that effort toward depriving itself of a bit of revenue in order to achieve a long term objective. If we look at where we are going with this legislation, it provides us with ample opportunity to ensure that Canadians have what many others around the world seem to get.
    Long before manufacturers decide to hop on a plane and make their future investments in China, or in Brazil or in India, because of the quality and level of education, it is incumbent for our future programs, for the prosperity that we have in this nation, that we at least give students a fighting chance. In the absence of no existing programs in our country to address the fundamental needs of so many students with a large level of debt, this is an important step toward ensuring that Canada has a vital, vibrant skilled workforce. To do that, let us give Canadians and their families the tools to do it. Let us support the bill.

  (1755)  

Mr. Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech. He is very passionate about this issue. I can tell he cares a great deal about our students, and that is important.
    The member seems to indicate in the absence of programs. The RESP program already exists and there are incentives in the it. In fact, we have seen this program grow by sevenfold since 1997, so people are using it.
    In its budget, the government provided significantly more availability to student loans. It has provided tax credits, invested in infrastructure at universities, and we are moving toward assisting the provinces in other ways.
    While I appreciate the motivations of the bill, I question whether it is useful in any way.
Hon. Dan McTeague:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Peterborough for complimenting Liberal initiatives, but I suspect that if the hon. member looks at 1998, 27% take-up is insufficient. That means that 73% of students cannot or do not have the capacity to use the existing RESP system. It has been condemned by students. It has been condemned by the Fraser Institute. He should speak to students in his riding. Whether it is Sir Sandford Fleming College or Trent University, students, like my nephew or others who I know, say there are tremendous impediments in the possibility of going those universities or colleges to get the kinds of degrees and education they need.
    If the hon. member took a bit more time to look at the way in which the income programs work, it is not based merely on the income of parents or whomever. The needs test is much more prohibitive. As a result of that, students are not only winding up in debt, but one-third of the students right now cannot finish their education because they cannot afford to continue, notwithstanding available programs.
    The Liberal Party may have built the base, but it is now time for Parliament to go one step further to meet the challenges of a globalized economy. Fisher Gauge in his riding is looking for skilled workers and cannot find them. People, with meagre salaries, cannot afford to pay tuition for four or five years. It should be obvious to the hon. member, and in particular to his riding, why the bill is necessary.
    Ask the middle class people in his riding what they think about this, those who pay taxes, if they could direct a portion of that to give their young kids an opportunity to higher education.

  (1800)  

Mr. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. friend's remarks. In a previous life, I sold RESPs. I have never heard anybody condemn the RESP program. Would people like more to be done? Absolutely they would.
    However, I would like to ask three maybe slightly technical questions. I may have missed it in his earlier remarks. Is the hon. member suggesting we retain the Canada education savings grant, as well as making contributions tax deductible? Are we talking about tax deductibility on a limit of $2,000 that currently qualifies for the CESG or on $4,000 that is allowed to be put in every year? Has the hon. member costed out what this would cost, in terms of revenue to the government?
Hon. Dan McTeague:  
    Mr. Speaker, I compliment the hon. member for Edmonton Centre on his questions.
     The hon. member will know that the current RESP system provides an incentive of up to 20%. Our government proposed 30% and 35%, which passed just before the last federal election. This is to help students who have a much more difficult time of getting in the system. It provides plentiful opportunity for some students to take advantage of this.
    However, I want to underline this for the hon. member. The contributions that people make and the incentive that the government gives only comes after they have paid their taxes. This in fact is a deduction from their taxes. Hard-pressed families, who are trying to make ends meet and who want the young ones to do very well, will have an opportunity to do so.
    An average family making $45,000, $55,000 a year, paying $10,000 income taxes, may be able to take a portion of that, up to $18,000, although it is not likely they will do that, and over a period of time up to $42,000. It is similar to the system under RRSPs. They can achieve that goal simply by continuing their job. If they pay taxes, they can direct some of those taxes as a tax credit to do something that is not just good for themselves and good for their families, but ostensibly for the well-being sustainability of our future economy.
Ms. Diane Ablonczy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to bill, sponsored by the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East. I want to applaud his concern and his actions with respect to affordable education.
     It is important and I agree with his comments about our need to ensure we continue to have a very strong knowledge based workforce and affordable education. I only wish the member had been as passionate back when his government sharply cut back funding for post-secondary education and started us down the path of high tuition and increasing student debt. Here we are today. We need to examine the provisions of this suggestion and whether this is the right way to go.
    The bill proposes major changes to provide a more favourable tax treatment to registered education savings plans, RESPs. More specific, the bill would make RESP contributions deductible, in addition to very low taxation of the growth of the RESP on the other end. It would increase limits on contributions as well to the same level as those applying to RRSPs. We have looked at these measures very carefully. The goal is the same, to have affordable post-secondary education and the lowest possible student debt.
    The examinations suggest that these measures are really not the best policy direction at this time, given the assistance that is already in place for this purpose. In fact, there really is no evidence, and the member did not bring forth any evidence, to suggest that existing measures in support of post-secondary education savings are inadequate. In fact, he pointed out that nearly one-third of Canadian parents already were accessing the RESP for the benefit of their children. I think most parents find that very adequate.
    I want to explain how the current RESP regime works for Canadians watching this debate. It already provides considerable assistance to parents and grandparents to save for their children and grandchildren's post-secondary education.
    Currently, up to $4,000 can be contributed annually to RESPs for each beneficiary. I did not hear the member explain why ordinary families could, under any circumstances, contribute more than $4,000 a year. That is a lot of money to almost every family in the country. The amount of $4,000 can be contributed each year, to a lifetime maximum of $42,000 per beneficiary.
    These contributions are not deductible, but there is no tax payable when the contributions are withdrawn for the beneficiary's post-secondary education.
    The amounts invested in RESPs grow tax free. As a result, the assets grow much faster than if they had been saved outside an RESP. When the investment is taken out, it is taxed in the student's hands rather than the contributor's hands. This means that savings in an RESP results not only in deferral of tax on the investment income, but when the income is taxed, it will be taxed almost always at a very low rate, since full time students generally pay little or, more common, no income tax.
    In addition to this generous tax treatment, the government provides the Canada Education Savings Grant, which is an additional contribution by the taxpayers of Canada to each and every RESP. It makes registered education savings plans even more attractive. Under this grant, the government provides 20% of the grant up to $2,000 of contributions for a child under the age of 18. That grant is annual. There is a lifetime maximum grant of $7,200.

  (1805)  

    In addition, to help promote more saving by low and middle income families, this grant on the first $500 of savings is 40% for families with incomes below $36,000 and 30% for families with incomes between $36,000 and about $73,000. This gives extra incentive to the broad base of Canadian families for savings in an RESP.
    This grant grows tax free within the education savings plan. It is not lost. Even if a family for some reason cannot contribute in a particular year, there is flexibility so that families can catch up on missed contributions but still receive the yearly grant.
    Taking into account the tax deferral, the Canada education savings grant and the fact that most students pay little or no tax, saving in an RESP often earns a higher rate of return than saving for retirement in an RRSP.
    This tax assistance for education savings plans costs the Government of Canada about $130 million a year in forgone revenue and about half of that amount to the provinces. In addition to the $130 million in forgone revenue, over $440 million is provided for the grants that I spoke about. That was in the year 2005. The federal government already provides over $570 million per year in savings assistance for post-secondary education just through this program alone. There are many other programs as well. There is over half a billion dollars already in this plan.
    This bill proposes to make contributions to RESPs tax deductible in the future. The contributions would be taxed in the hands of the contributor when they are withdrawn rather than be tax free to the contributor as is currently the case. The Canada education savings grant would still provide the grants on the first $2,000 in contributions. The contribution limits would be raised to be the same as RRSPs. Under this bill contributions could be up to 18% of earned income or up to $18,000 in 2006.
    There are three main concerns with this proposal and I would like to go through each of them. First, there is really no evidence that the current plan is not working well for Canadians. If one reads the bill, one would be tempted to believe that the existing plan is not very generous and that Canadian parents are not saving enough for their children's post-secondary education. It is quite the contrary.
    With the current education savings plan's limit, saving $2,000 annually in a child's RESP means that almost $75,000 could be available for that child's post-secondary education by age 18. About $95,000 would be available if a parent contributed the current $4,000 limit annually until the $42,000 lifetime limit was reached. That is a considerable amount of money for each child's education.
    To put things in perspective, this is more than the annual cost of a typical undergraduate program today, including tuition, books and living expenses for someone studying away from home. Right now the cost is about $18,000 a year, or $72,000 for a four year program. This means that existing RESP limits are adequate and do not need to be raised.
    Are parents saving for their children's post-secondary education? I am happy to confirm to members of the House that contributions to RESPs have tripled since 1998. In 2005 the total contributions to RESPs were roughly $2.4 billion. In fact, total assets held in RESPs have skyrocketed to seven times their value nine years ago. It is very clear that the RESP regime is working.
    It is also a concern that parents and grandparents on pension or investment income would no longer be able to make a contribution.

  (1810)  

    In addition, there are the technical problems that I talked about. Someone who has only one child can save as much as someone with five children. Someone with more children cannot save any more under this plan.
    We need to continue with the measures that governments have brought in and that we brought in in the last budget to assist students. There are problems with the member's proposal and I have outlined them. I would ask my colleagues in the House to consider very carefully following the government's lead in not supporting this bill.

[Translation]

Mr. Thierry St-Cyr (Jeanne-Le Ber, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here today as deputy finance critic for the Bloc Québécois and as a young critic.
    Generally speaking, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of reducing the tax burden on the middle class. It is therefore not against the idea that taxpayers who make contributions to an educational savings plan should receive a tax break.
    In my short speech, I will identify a few flaws in the bill; however, we believe that the proposed measure is nonetheless very commendable. The flaws will have to be fixed, however, and clarifications about the bill must be provided before we can confirm our support later on in the legislative process.
    It would also be wise to consult experts to get an idea of what such a measure will cost, as well as its social, economic and tax implications.
    We see the advantages of this bill, which seeks to target a certain class of taxpayers that is often neglected and that already sacrifices more than its fair share, namely, the middle class. This will no doubt be popular with parents and grandparents who could benefit from lower taxes when they pay into an RESP for their children or grandchildren. I would be willing to bet that, if this bill were passed, more and more people would want to take advantage of this program and that, in the case of people who already have RESPs, they would want to contribute even more generously.
    That said, as I mentioned earlier, we have some reservations about this bill. The first is its potential cost—it could become a very expensive proposition. For example, the existing Canada education savings grant program cost the federal government $318 million in 2000-01 when the grant applied to only 20% of the first $2,000 in contributions to an RESP. That means that over $1.5 billion was contributed that year, representing the minimum amount that taxpayers could have deducted from their taxes. Today, this amount is undoubtedly much greater taking into account inflation, the annual ceiling that has risen to $4,000, and the fact that if the terms of the plan are more generous many more people will want to enrol.
    Clarifications are required about the intent of the bill. It seems to be modeled after the registered retirement savings plan in that unused deductions under the RESP can be carried forward and applied to future income tax returns. However, an RRSP is not a contract like an RESP. The taxpayer is not bound to put aside money for an RRSP; there is only the opportunity to do so up to a fixed amount based on previous income and a fixed ceiling. However, with an RESP contract, contributions must be made, generally on a monthly basis.
    Thus, is difficult to understand how a taxpayer could have unused deductions unless he can claim the contributions in the fiscal year of his choice, which the current bill does not seem to allow.
    It is also difficult to understand the purpose of and the reasoning behind the mathematical formula used to calculate unused deductions. This formula adds the RESP ceiling amount to unused deductions and excludes contributions to the RESP. It is difficult to understand the logic of this calculation, unless it is an attempt to go beyond the ceiling or to artificially increase it for the purpose of deducting contributions.
     Under the present legislation, any excess contribution made into the plan in respect of a beneficiary is taxable, except in certain cases of transfers from one RESP to another. This could result in the imposition of a tax penalty on all subscribers as long as they do not withdraw that amount. Since the bill does not repeal the sections that impose these penalties in cases of excess amounts, there is a contradiction between the current legislation which imposes penalties on the one hand, and this bill which would permit tax deductibility on the other.
     There is another thing we have a lot of difficulty understanding. That is the connection the bill makes in clause 4, which permits the tax deduction, between the excess amount of the contributions an individual has made over a fiscal year or in the first 60 days of the following year, and the portion of his contribution that he deducted from his income tax for a preceding taxation year.

  (1815)  

     This bill seems to assume that the portion in question is an excess amount, which might not be the case.
     With regard to the definitions in this bill, it says that a taxpayer may deduct the lesser of the following amounts: the amount, if any, of the contributions made in 2007 and in the first 60 days of 2008, or the deduction limit.
     Next, it defines the excess amount as the lesser of the following amounts: the sum of the payments exceeding the deduction limit, or the excess amount accumulated in preceding years.
     On the one hand, the excess amount is defined as the excess contributions for the current year plus 60 days of the following year. On the other, it is defined as the excess of the amounts accumulated in preceding years. I grant that this is rather technical, but I am not mistaken: there seems to be a contradiction here in the bill, which will certainly require some work in committee.
     In paragraph 146.1(1), the bill also repeals the definition, in monetary terms, of the annual limit of the registered education savings plan, but does not replace it with another limit. It does not say that the minister will be able to set this limit, which leads us to believe that the present limit will apply. In that case, there is no explanation of why the bill proposes to repeal the paragraph that currently sets the limit.
     One may also question the equality of opportunity available under this bill to families with higher and lower levels of income. Because of the weight of that 18%, we will find ourselves in a situation where farmers with low incomes will not be able to benefit from the deduction limit, while those with a higher income will. Finally, 18% seems to us an arbitrary percentage under the circumstances. It would be interesting to see in committee where this percentage comes from.
     In socio-economic terms, and particularly for Quebec which has opted to make higher learning accessible by keeping tuition fees below the Canadian average, the enthusiasm of Quebec households for the RESP may be not as great as it is elsewhere. It will certainly be necessary to take account of the societal choices that Quebeckers have made, as they are already paying a good deal for their children’s education, more through income tax than through personal contributions.
     The Bloc has a number of improvements to propose to this bill. It will be necessary to clarify the more technical aspects I referred to earlier. We also propose a non-refundable tax credit instead of a tax deduction. That would surely be less generous and hence less expensive for the federal government than the deduction now being proposed, the costs of which are unknown.
     The bill could also establish an income cap beyond which a taxpayer might not benefit from the measure. That cap could fluctuate according to the number of beneficiaries, that is, children, in a family within the same RESP.
     Finally, since married and common-law couples are almost four times more likely to contribute to an RESP than single parents, a special provision could be made for those couples.
     To conclude, in all cases, even though the principle of the bill is interesting, it deserves to be clarified and improved. The Bloc Québécois will be working in that direction.

  (1820)  

[English]

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to this bill. I think all members in the House certainly concur that we must make access easier to post-secondary education and skills training for our young people and that government has an important role to play.
    Recently, an OECD study of countries stated that one of the most effective things that governments could do to facilitate this access was to concentrate first of all on families of low income revenues. This would begin to help address a very serious skill shortage in many countries including Canada.
    Recently, in British Columbia a survey done throughout the province has shown that for the first time the private sector has indicated that skill shortage takes precedence over tax cuts by government as an action that needs to be taken. This is something that we should all consider in these questions.
    However, I have concerns and questions about the bill. Some of them were raised earlier by members opposite about the effectiveness of the bill. There were also some technical questions and the cost that it would represent.
    As I said, we must facilitate access for students in underrepresented groups, students with disabilities, aboriginal students, students of low income families and from rural areas. We know that they are not accessing post-secondary education and training as easily as others.
    We also know that the RESP has been effective in attracting families who earn over $80,000. However, as for the other underrepresented groups a recent study has said that the RESPs, including the Canada education savings grants, while providing enhanced incentives to lower income families to increase their contributions to RESPs, they do not appear to solve the more fundamental problem of insufficient family income which prevents some families from contributing to RESPs and taking advantage of the CESG program.
    Approximately six in ten future saver and non-saver parents in the 2002 survey gave no disposable income or insufficient money as a reason for not yet or never saving.
    Therefore, this is a very serious problem in considering this particular bill. It seems like a little bit of tinkering rather than the major overhaul of the learner assistance program that we would need to consider.
    The Conservatives, in their recent budget as a solution to the problem of increasing student debt, have offered to raise the ceiling that students can borrow. That is their solution. I believe they even offered $80 for a book.
    The Liberals, while they were in government, cut transfers to education and that sent tuition fees spiralling upward and with that student debt.
    The Liberal post-secondary education critic yesterday called on the government to invest in students and not tinker with the tax system. I am wondering if this bill is a little bit of tinkering. The bill by the member from the same caucus seems to do just that instead of ensuring genuine investment in lower tuition fees, lower debt, and needs-based grants for students.
    Liberals talked about investing in students when they were in opposition and that was great to hear. Yesterday I heard the post-secondary education critic claim credit for a $1.5 billion investment in lower tuitions from Bill C-48 which I think we are all clear was the NDP money that was conceded after negotiations with the Liberal government. This was basically money that the Liberals were forced to put into post-secondary education after years of cutbacks.

  (1825)  

    In considering this bill, I looked at what the various stakeholders were saying about the existing system of loans and various types of assistance for students.
    La Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec said that the federal government must completely review its national registered education savings plan and Canada education savings grant which amounted to $125 million and almost $500 million respectively. It felt that instead of eliminating financial barriers, the system has become so complex and convoluted that it is very difficult for students to access it.
    Similarly, the Canadian Federation of Students said:
    
    We therefore recommend that the federal government transfer the money now spent on the RESP program and other tax credits to the low-income grant. We estimate this transfer alone, a revenue-neutral transfer, would reduce student debt by 41%.
    These are just some of the comments from stakeholders who are themselves paying for tuition. They are advising us on solutions that they feel would begin to address the problems they are facing.
    The NDP has never opposed the RESP. We think it is part of a solution, but as students associations and federations have indicated, the system requires a major overhaul, not just tinkering. We feel there is a need for a comprehensive learner assistance program that would create a clearer, simple path for students, one that would be more flexible and more transparent.
    In the last election we clearly indicated to everybody that we believed there was a need for the re-establishment of a single transparent transfer to provinces to re-establish adequate levels of funding for post-secondary education and training. The previous Liberal government failed to do that. We are still waiting to see how the present government will respond to this situation.
    We are still considering many of the concerns that I have raised about this bill. We will see how it evolves through the House.

  (1830)  

Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the bill that has been wisely put forward by my colleague from Pickering—Scarborough East.
    The old issue of post-secondary education is one that has been very important to me before I came to this place, but particularly since I have come to this place.
    I had the privilege last year to be the chair of the government caucus on post-secondary education which afforded me the opportunity to travel the country to talk to students from CFS; CASA; and other students; university presidents; CAUT, the professors who teach our students; alumni; and a lot of different people involved in university.
    For me there is no more compelling or important issue in Canada than the issue of post-secondary education. How do we maximize the human potential of Canadians?
    For a long time, Canada has done very well in the world for reasons that are more by accident than design. We live in a place that does not have world wars occurring in it. We have natural resources that are great. We have been very fortunate, but the nature of the world is changing. It has become so globally competitive with the rise of China, India and Brazil, and the resurgence in Russia. Other nations are investing in post-education and we must ensure we do the same.
    To set the stage, there are several components to post-secondary education. One of them is the whole issue of how we are preparing for a new world. Not only have we, as a nation, been successful financially, but in the last number of years we have invested massively in post-secondary education, research, innovation, technology transfer, and things like that. Members do not have to take my word for it. The blue Conservative budget book says:
    Since the deficit was eliminated, the federal government has increased its support for post-secondary education research, with nearly $11 billion in incremental funding. These investments have assisted Canadian universities in strengthening their research capacity and building a global reputation for excellence, which has helped reverse the “brain drain” and attract leading researchers to Canada.
    Canada now ranks first in the G-7, and second in the OECD (behind only Sweden) in terms of research and development--
    I am sure everybody will join me in a round of applause for former Prime Minister Chrétien and finance minister Manley and particularly the member for LaSalle—Émard who was a leader in this, as well as the finance minister last year, the member for Wascana.
    We have done well in that area, but it became clear to me, as an individual and a member of the Liberal caucus on post-secondary education, that the ground has shifted toward the whole issue of access for students. I am not just talking about universities. I am talking about community colleges. I am talking about skills upgrading and a whole host of other issues.
    This is important to understand. I have heard, particularly from colleagues in the NDP including my friend from Burnaby—Douglas, who I respect a great deal, that we did not do anything for students. Again, I refer to the Conservatives, who are not particular friends of ours, who indicate in these books that in 1995-96 approximately $2 billion in direct support measures for post-secondary education were provided. By 2004-05 this direct support had grown to approximately $5 billion. It says:
    Federal direct support to post-secondary education students totals about $3.5 billion annually, including Canada Student Loans to some 330,000 students; non-repayable student financial assistance through the Canada Study Grants and Canada Access Grants; and measures to help students and families save for future education--
    The fact remains that access is still an issue. My hon. colleague from the New Democratic Party mentioned that. She is very sincere about that need.
    In fact, it is not just the tax system. I believe, as she does and as members of our party and many other members believe, that we must do more in direct assistance to students. We did that last year. She mentioned Bill C-48 as well.
    She should take note that I asked the Minister of Finance a month ago, when he appeared before the finance committee, where is the Bill C-48 money of $1.5 billion?. The Minister of Finance said he thought it was $1 billion. I said it was $1.5 billion. It was checked and it is only $1 billion, and it is not going to access. It is going to infrastructure.
    We need infrastructure. We need research. We need to keep the pressure on research and we need infrastructure, but we need direct support for students. The Minister of Finance indicated that infrastructure is access. I would say infrastructure is not access. Infrastructure is important, but access is important for the very reasons that the member mentioned: low income families, aboriginal Canadians, and persons with disabilities.

  (1835)  

    Last fall we introduced our fall economic update in the House which contained the following measures: $2.2 billion over five years to improve student financial assistance for low and middle income Canadians; $550 million to expand the Canada access grants for four years to the lowest income families; $3.5 billion over this year and the next five years to increase workplace training; $1 billion for the innovation fund; $265 million for five years to assist Canadians with disabilities to participate in the workforce; and $1.3 billion over five years to improve settlement and integration services.
    We made that commitment to the lowest income Canadians, the Canadians most marginalized, those people whose skills we are not taking advantage of.
    Since I have been elected I have had students with Down's Syndrome and cerebral palsy come to see me. Some of them have been sitting at home for two years after finishing high school with a real sense of momentum. They are falling off a cliff in terms of what is available to them.
    The measures in our economic update would have helped those people and it would have helped the lowest income Canadians to go to community college or university and get a post-secondary education. Our economic update could have been passed in this House. If the NDP had been sincere in supporting it, we could have given students a break, aboriginal Canadians a break and the environment a break. We could have given all Canadians a Christmas break if we would have had our election six weeks later. I do not like to keep bringing this up, but those are the facts. We could do better.
    I agree that tinkering with the tax system is not the only solution. When tuition at Acadie is around $8,000 and at Dalhousie $6,000 for a first year arts and science degree, giving a student $80 for books is irrelevant. It does not help those who need help the most.
    This is a way of using the tax system to make a substantial improvement in access for students. We have all had students come into our office who tell us that they cannot get any student assistance even though their family is not rich. They need some kind of support. Making RESPs tax deductible would be a significant investment in the future of Canada.
    I have RESPs for my children, and I think they are a great way to go, but a lot of Canadians cannot afford to invest in RESPs. If we make them tax deductible, if we follow the plan from the member for Pickering--Scarborough East, we will get a lot farther than we otherwise would.
    Anything we do for students is good but what we have seen from the government since the election has been nothing for students except some tax changes that affect scholarships and books. Those changes are not significant but this bill is.
    In Maritime Canada, average student debt skyrocketed 33% in five years from 1999 to 2004. In five years it went up by one-third. The average student debt of somebody coming out of a Maritime university is now $28,000. The study found that 73% of all students had to borrow to finance their degrees. This bill would help with that.
    Not only is skyrocketing student debt leaving our students after they graduate from university with a mortgage but no house, it is affecting their decision-making. I met with a medical student from around the Amherst area in Nova Scotia who wants to go back and become a family doctor in her community. She had that as her goal ever since she was a little girl. She is now some years into a medical degree with a student debt of $150,000. She has decided that she has to specialize in order to pay off her loans. If we do not make significant, serious investments in post-secondary education, people will make decisions that are not good for them, not good for their community and, I would suggest, not good for the country.
    I think we have all spoken to students. As the chair of our caucus I have had the chance to travel the country. I have discussed this with the Canadian Federation of Students, with CASA and with universities. What I hear is that we have done a lot in research. We have sustained the universities in the last five to six years in the investments that I talked about. It is a good thing for universities. Infrastructure is a good thing for universities. The government put $1 billion into the budget for infrastructure, which matches what we had put in our economic update. The government's investments in research are one-tenth of what we put in the economic update. That is not enough. There is absolutely nothing for student access or to help a broad range of students and their families prepare for post-secondary education.

  (1840)  

    If the country wants to compete and to continue to do as well as we have, fortunately, through good government in the last decade or so, we need to invest in our students, those who need help the most and those who cannot afford to go university because of high tuitions. We can do it. The bill is part of that and I commend my colleague. There is more that the government should do but this is what we can do to have a positive impact so we can take advantage of the human capital that exists in Canada and continue Canada's success in the world.
The Deputy Speaker:  
    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Business of the House

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special orders or usual practices of the House, on Thursday, June 22, statements by ministers will be taken up, pursuant to Standing Order 33, at 3:15 p.m.; when statements by ministers are complete the House will stand adjourned until Monday, September 18, provided that, for the purposes of Standing Order 28, it shall be deemed to have sat on Friday, June 23.
The Deputy Speaker:  
    Does the minister have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Hon. Ralph Goodale:  
    Mr. Speaker, in that propitious 15 minute spot between 3 p.m and 3:15 p.m., do I take it from the House leader of the government that we would be able to take up in that small window the usual Thursday question and he would be in a position to outline for us the government's agenda for Monday, September 18?
Hon. Rob Nicholson:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will make a real good stab at it, if the hon. member likes and we will deal with that.
    [For continuation of proceedings, see part B]
    [Continuation of proceedings from part A]

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

  (1845)  

[Translation]

Federal Accountability Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability, be read the third time and passed.
The Deputy Speaker:  
    I think the member for Repentigny still has seven minutes left.
    The hon. member for Repentigny.
Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, before that brief interruption, I was talking about the Bloc Québécois' victories with respect to Bill C-2. For the edification and pleasure of all members of the House, I will continue to list the Bloc's victories following the referral of Bill C-2 to committee.
    Earlier, I highlighted the work of my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord, but I left out my colleague from Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. Her presence reminded me. I would like to thank my colleague for her great contribution to making this bill even better. I would like to thank her for her ideas and her support during discussions on Bill C-2.
    I mentioned some of the Bloc's victories before being interrupted to make way for private members' bills. I would like to list some more. We did not want to create a tattletale culture, so we succeeded in eliminating rewards for whistle-blowers.
    An hon. member: That is good.
     Mr. Benoit Sauvageau: The Conservatives wanted to give every whistleblower a little $1,000 treat. It reminded me of when I was young, when I used to read Lucky Luke. There were head shots, and on them it said “Wanted”. There were professional bounty hunters who were really trying to find the bad guys, to get themselves a nice chunk of change.
     That is like telling whistleblowers that they can cash in on their conscience and their honesty. Very fortunately, all parties in this House recognized that this idea of the Conservative government’s, this campaign promise, was a poor signal to be sending public servants and everyone who is protected by the whistleblowing act. So that part was eliminated.
     We got a provision that the ethics commissioner, rather than a minister, would have the power to exempt political staff from the law.
     Originally, the bill allowed a minister to decide whether such-and-such a person could be exempted from the ethics act. Now it is the commissioner, as an independent person, who will have that role.
     There is one victory that may seem futile to some, but that is very important. That is the original title of the bill. That title was: “Loi fédérale sur l'imputabilité”. With the assistance of some colleagues in this House, the goodwill of others and the irrefutable proof presented in committee, we succeeded in changing the title of the bill so that it would mean what it was supposed to mean in French: “Loi fédérale sur la responsabilité”. This is another victory by the Bloc.
     We also succeeded in having a provision incorporated in Bill C-2 that the conflict of interest act will be reviewed every five years. To us, this is important. It has been said before. Everyone in this House recognizes that there are no perfect laws, particularly an act like this one, which will be the first one to be brought into force. We want to be able to rectify this act after five years and ensure that any possible mistakes and errors that remained despite the serious consideration we tried to give it can be rectified.
     These are a number of victories in which the Bloc Québécois can take pride after considering and passing Bill C-2.
     However, one important part of a promise made by the Conservatives was not kept in Bill C-2, and that is the one that involves reforming the Access to Information Act.
     Everything that was said in the same chapter of the “Stand up for Canada” platform, about lobbyists and the commissioner, can be found in Bill C-2, and we recognize that. But what we do not find is the part about reforming the Access to Information Act. The passage that I quote is found at page 13 of “Stand up for Canada”.
    A Conservative government:
will implement the Information Commissioner’s recommendations for reform of the Access to Information Act.
     That seems clear to me. When it came time to talk about the Access to Information Act during consideration of Bill C-2, oddly, there was less urgency, less enthusiasm.
     When my colleague from Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert proposed the idea of reforming the Access to Information Act in the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, the urgency described in the Conservative platform had strangely and suddenly evaporated into thin air.
     When it came to supporting a motion by my colleague from Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert to review the Access to Information Act with the same speed, there was less urgency.

  (1850)  

    We were given arguments for passing Bill C-2 quickly, that enough had been said about it, that there had been enough studies on the matter and that Canadians wanted something concrete. It is odd, because these arguments all apply to the Access to Information Act. There have been enough studies.
    In committee, there was even a unanimous vote to tell the Liberals—who were in power at the time—that we did not want any more studies. The Conservatives shared that opinion: they truly wanted to amend the Access to Information Act immediately. Now that they are in power, they are budging a little on C-2—it is an honourable gesture, but on the Access to Information Act they are not willing to make any concessions.
    This seems underhanded to us. During the sponsorship scandal, some documents could not be obtained under the Access to Information Act. If a similar situation comes up, and the Access to Information Act is not improved, we will probably end up with the same problem.
    In closing, passing Bill C-2 is a step in the right direction. However, it falls short when it comes to the Access to Information Act. We hope that in the fall, the relevant committee will have the same good will to consider reforming the Access to Information Act.
Mr. Paul Crête (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today toward the end of the debate on the accountability bill.
     It is very important to point out that this is a key stage in a difficult and troubled period in the history of Canadian governments. The behaviour of the previous Liberal government deserved to be punished and it was in the last election. We need a bill that helps ultimately to correct the situation as much as possible. As my colleague from Repentigny said, it is also very important to realize that no rule or law will ever replace individual accountability and governmental accountability.
     As the Auditor General remarked in this respect, we will have to remain on guard to ensure that the rules that are adopted are actually followed. If they are not, we will have a deep-seated problem that will persist and will not be resolved by even the most draconian of rules.
     I want to thank my colleague from Repentigny for all the work he did on the fashioning of this bill. The initial bill that was introduced so hurriedly after the election had many faults and things that needed to be corrected. My colleague has already spoken about them. Some of these faults will be corrected so that we end up with an acceptable bill.
     Nevertheless, I would like to ask my colleague a question about one of the aspects he mentioned in the first part of his speech. My question has to do with the appointment of returning officers after a competition. We know that we have been living in the Middle Ages in this regard, with system that failed to meet our needs because the returning officers were appointed by the government. Some did their job very properly, but others gave themselves more leeway and a bit of partisanship crept in. Regardless of the reality, justice was not seen to be done. Thanks to the new process, justice should now appear to be done.
     I would like my colleague to tell me whether he thinks that this part of the bill can come into force quickly enough that the next election can be held under the new rules, the returning officer can hold suitable competitions, and people can be finally appointed, and quite soon, to prepare for the next election. It will be sad during the next election process—whether in one, two or three years—if the rules we decided to follow have not yet been implemented. I would like to ask my colleague whether he thinks that this can be done.
     I believe that, after this vote, the Senate will have to study the question. Let us hope that this can be done before the next election.
     I would like my hon. colleague to tell us what he thinks in this regard. I thank him once again for the fine work he did on improving this bill so that it now goes a long way toward meeting the concerns that arose as a result of all the scandals, especially those involving the former government.

  (1855)  

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau:  
    The answer, Mr. Speaker, is yes.
     More seriously, I thank my colleague from Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.
     Actually, I did not talk much about the returning officers in my speech because I talked about the Bloc’s victories and we had many. Still I should have mentioned that we in the Bloc submitted to the appropriate committee an amendment to the Elections Act on the appointment of returning officers. It was to have returning officers appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer.
     At the time, we told the Liberals we were sure that some Liberals would be competent enough to stay if returning officers were appointed according to their competence rather than their allegiance. So we did not understand why they so stubbornly refused. For us, competence should take precedence over political allegiance. I think this is the message that the Conservatives understood.
     As for the prompt enforcement of this amendment in an upcoming election, I will reassure my colleague. The Chief Electoral Officer has been awaiting this possibility for so long that he has put in place all the structures with a view to proceeding very quickly—he has confirmed this to us—with the appointment of returning officers by means of competitions. Probably many returning officers in place today will be able to continue their work. I cannot guess the percentages, but there will surely be a good number.
     There are some competent people among them who did a good job in the last election or in earlier ones. They will be able to apply for the position and take part in the competition, and they will be able to keep their positions by showing their competence. As for the incompetents appointed only because they had been members of a party, not ours, for a long time, they will keep themselves busy with a pastime other than working in the service of our democracy.
Mrs. Carole Lavallée (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, BQ):  
     First, Mr. Speaker, I must acknowledge the energetic and colossal work that my colleague from Repentigny has done in committee, the rigour he has shown in all of his work, and the fine intelligence he has invested in it. For that he must most certainly be thanked.
     I must also thank our colleague from Rivière-du-Nord, who has done her work under extremely difficult conditions, given that there was a lot of pressure to make the process go fast, indeed too fast. Having participated in this committee, I can confirm that the relentless pace did not leave time to receive the witnesses with the seriousness that they deserved.
     They provided us with some very thorough documents and made presentations to us that were extremely refined and intelligent, and we did not have time to ask them all of the questions we should have, questions that would have enabled us to formulate a good bill.
     The proof that this bill was deserving of improvement is that a lot of amendments were made, to the point that I wonder if we did not set some records.
     Most fortunately, some of those amendments represented an improvement, such as the abolition of the $1,000 reward for whistleblowers. Otherwise we would have transformed whistleblowers into informers, and that was unacceptable.
     Without question, the amendment with which I am most pleased is the one recommending the five-year review. For indeed, we performed this work so quickly and under such difficult conditions that the bill is going to be imperfect. We will truly need to have it reviewed in a few years. With use, all of its inconsistencies will become clear.
     I would therefore like to ask my colleague from Repentigny whether he thinks that this committee worked too fast or at the proper pace.
     I know that the committee sometimes sat for 45 hours a week, which is totally abnormal. In any case, I had never seen such a thing in nine years of work here on Parliament Hill.
     Can my colleague confirm that the work was carried out in a serious manner? Is that work going to produce a proper bill? Furthermore, will it not be desirable to make certain amendments in a few months?

  (1900)  

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question, which will perhaps give me an opportunity to correct some perceptions that are very soon going to be expressed in this House. When it came time to work on Bill C-2, every political party exhibited the best will in the world and wanted to make a positive contribution.
     Strangely, and this is the first time in 13 years that I have seen a committee like that one, all parties agreed with Bill C-2 in principle, and it was the most litigious committee I have ever had to work on. Why? Because from the outset, the sword of Damocles was hung over our heads, when we were told that we had to pass this bill post haste. We could have passed Bill C-11 to create a safety net for whistleblowers and taken the time we needed. Taking the time we need does not mean using stalling tactics.
     When we began consideration of the bill, the government got into bed with another political party to ensure that rather than sitting for normal committee times, or even double time, which we wanted to do at the outset, the committee would have to increase its time significantly. The situation was such that we could not get any research documents, or documents prepared by the library, to enable us to do our job conscientiously. Then we were told that if we did not finish by June 21, we were going to sit after that; if we did not finish after that, we were going to sit through the night. It was threat after threat, because, it seems, they had heard enough about it. I am eager to see how speedily they will be wanting to consider the access to information bill.
     Nonetheless, working under extremely difficult circumstances, we tried to do it carefully and seriously. Today, as a result, we have a bill that is acceptable, if imperfect. Very fortunately, we were able to pass an amendment about reviewing the act after five years. If there are parts that have been forgotten or that might not be consistent with the objectives of the act, because of the speed with which we had to consider this bill, we will be able to rectify them then.
     The working conditions and the circumstances of that consideration, however, were not normal. We should have had the time to consider this bill conscientiously.

[English]

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have a final opportunity to address Bill C-2, the federal accountability act, on behalf of the NDP caucus.
     First, I would ask for unanimous consent to split my time with the member for Ottawa Centre.
The Deputy Speaker:  
    Is there unanimous consent for the member to split his time with the member for Ottawa Centre?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Pat Martin:  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share some views from the New Democratic Party. At the outset, our party is proud to support Bill C-2 and I am proud to have played an active role in getting the bill to this point of time in the first session of the 39th Parliament.
    So much that is embodied in the bill finds its origins and can be found in the very ethics package that the NDP was proudly promoting at the fall of the 38th Parliament. This package was put together by our former leader, the former member from Ottawa Centre, Ed Broadbent.
    The NDP found it very easy to relate to Bill C-2 and support the many initiatives. Parts of the bill read almost verbatim of the NDP election campaign platform on accountability and transparency measures. It is only natural that our party would support the bill. We are proud that we were able to in our view improve the bill as well.
    Our party was eager to support speedy passage of the bill. The NDP was very concerned that, if the bill lost momentum and dragged on into the fall or possibly even into next spring, its likelihood for success would diminish as the time went by. That is the very nature of this place, that competing interests prevail sometimes.
    The committee improved Bill C-2 in very significant ways. The committee achieved roughly 20 amendments to the bill, some of them were huge. I can speak proudly that the public appointments commission, which will exist as a result of Bill C-2, will put an end to patronage as we know it in Ottawa today, the unbridled patronage that used to dominate and so offended Canadians. That alone would have been justification for the NDP's support for the bill. I am happy to say it is only one element.
    I will limit my remarks to a few points. I need to clear up some misconceptions that have arisen and some that have been promoted by other parties.
     First, I find it humorous that I am being accused of being too close to the Conservative Party in this matter. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. When good ideas arise, people gravitate to them. I spent much of my career being red-baited as being too left wing in the labour movement. They called me a commie. Now I am being blue-baited. They are accusing me of being a Tory. I cannot seem to win in this regard.
     I am a fiercely proud social democratic. I am a trade unionist and I am an NDP member of Parliament. I will compare my left wing credentials with anyone who may wish to challenge them. Another thing, I am a fiercely proud Canadian nationalist. Unabashedly, and I say this with great pride, I believe that what we have done today with Bill C-2 is the greatest possible thing we could do to advance the cause of national unity in this 39th Parliament.
    The weakest link that Canadian federalism has is to be corrupt, not trustworthy, of maladministration. All those things play into the hands of the enemy of Canadian federalism. If we want to be champions of Canadian federalism, we have to put forward a face of federalism of which we can be proud. That means erasing the stain that was put on the good face of Canada by the last administration. I believe, in my heart, that we are doing something right for Canada when we advance transparency and accountability.
    The other misinformation I have to correct is this. The Liberal Party has put out a press release saying that I personally voted down its anti-floor crossing amendment. This is an absolute fabrication and untruth. I want to state it very clearly here today. What happened was the Liberal anti-floor crossing amendment was ruled out of order. The Liberals did not vote for their own floor-crossing amendment because it was ruled out of order.
    If we could possibly clarify that, then the Liberals may stop saying this around the country. If the Liberals will stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about them.
    In terms of election financing, the Liberals and the Bloc voted down a corrective measures put forward by the NDP to stop the atrocity of shaking down school children for their lunch money and trying to circumvent the election financing laws by laundering money through children's bank accounts. We had a perfectly viable proposal at the committee, which would have ended this practice forever. The Liberals and the Bloc voted that down. I invite anybody on either side of the House to challenge that.

  (1905)  

    The NDP thought it brought forward meaningful amendments in election financing. There are changes in Bill C-2 that we support. Lowering the annual donation limits to a reasonable amount, will take big money out of politics. There should be no corporate donations. There should be no union donations. There should only be donations from individuals. With a limit of $1,000, we believe no one will be able to buy an election any more. That in itself is something of which I am proud. That stand-alone item would have had me voting in favour of Bill C-2.
    There are six or seven individual items in Bill C-2 that by themselves would have earned my support and vote. It seems only natural to me that we would enthusiastically support the whole package.
    Some of the other opposition parties are sensitive, and I do not blame them. Every page of Bill C-2 reads like a condemnation of the past practices of the Liberal Party of Canada for the past 13 years. I do not blame them for being sensitive about that.
    It is true that the first session of the 39th Parliament had to be dedicated to ensuring that no political party could exploit and abuse the public trust the way the last administration did. It was necessary work. It was like pulling a tooth. It is good we are getting it out of the way fast, like ripping off a band-aid. We want to do this quickly and get it over with so we can move on with the other important work and challenges facing our country.
    One of the other things I am very proud we managed to get done was on the lobbyist registration. It has always bothered people that peddling influence by insiders in Ottawa has corrupted and jeopardized democracy in that certain people have undue influence because of who they know. That will not be allowed any more.
    We have seen what lobbying has done to the United States. It has virtually ground Capitol Hill to a halt in many ways. Nothing happens without satisfying the hordes of lobbyists. We are not going to allow that to happen here. If we are on that slippery slope, I believe we have taken important measures to clean that up, to preclude the influence peddlers having undue influence in Ottawa. I think we can celebrate that move on behalf of Canadians.
    I know I do not have much time and I will not dwell on this for long, but I read an interesting speech recently. A few years ago there were only 20 federal countries in the world. Federalism is the most difficult form of government to hold together. People do not realize how rare and difficult it is. At that time, 3 of those 20 federalist states were blowing themselves to pieces through corruption, maladministration and internal strife. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Canada were the three countries at risk, as mentioned in the international journal I read.
    We know what happened to the Soviet Union. We know what happened to Yugoslavia. To hold this precious effort, this initiative we call Canada together, we need to operate at the highest possible ethical standards in order to earn and keep the confidence of all the disparate parts of this federation. The string that holds all these pearls together into one wonderful entity called Canada is always very vulnerable. It is very fragile and needs to be nurtured.
    The enemies of transparency and accountability are the enemies of the Canadian union, in my view. It raises this whole issue to a much higher plane. We are doing something noble as we pass Bill C-2 and I am proud to be associated with it.

  (1910)  

[Translation]

Hon. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting to listen to my colleague who, like me, sat on the legislative committee responsible for Bill C-2.
    I have two comments and one question for him. He said that the Liberal members and the two Bloc members on the committee voted against the NDP amendment to establish a minimum age for making legal monetary donations to political parties. The NDP amendment stipulated that the legal limit of $1,000 for a donation made by a child would apply to any child, even a newborn, up to the age of 14. However, Elections Canada would consider the donation to have been made by the parent, which would then limit the amount a parent could donate. After the child turned 14, the donation would be considered to have been made by the child. The amendment would have changed nothing. It would still have allowed children to make donations legally.
    A Liberal amendment, however—mine in fact—would have set the minimum age for making donations at 18. I was disappointed that my colleague from Winnipeg Centre and government members voted against this amendment.
    I would like to discuss another issue. I am very interested in what the member for Winnipeg Centre has to say about this. He proposed an amendment—which the Liberals supported—to assign criteria, a mandate and powers to the Public Appointments Commission. The Liberals thought this an excellent amendment. The government's Bill C-2 included neither mandate nor powers. It simply said that the governor in council could direct the Public Appointments Commission to appoint a commissioner.
    The committee—Liberal, Conservative, Bloc and NDP members alike—supported this motion. What does the member for Winnipeg Centre think of the Prime Minister's statement that despite the adoption of this motion, he will not appoint anyone to this position?

  (1915)  

[English]

Mr. Pat Martin:  
    Mr. Speaker, I will use what little time I have to explain the other election financing piece the Liberals and the Bloc voted against. It dealt with these huge Liberal leadership loans, which are more like corporate donations. If they are not paid back in 18 months, they are treated as donations. A $100,000 loan becomes a $100,000 donation, which is illegal. In fact, if it is not repayable, they can forgive it.
    Hon. Marlene Jennings: They continue to allow it.
    Mr. Pat Martin: Mr. Speaker, I can hardly hear myself think with the catcalling from my colleague. She is being so rude in not giving me the floor. I used a lot of restraint to not shriek at her, such was my outrage. Now she will not be quiet.
    The other misinformation is this. The Liberals actually defended the status quo of election financing currently when they defeated the attempt we made if minors wanted to participated in the political process. If my 14 year old wanted to donate $50 to my election campaign, that would be fine, but that amount would be deducted from the donation limit of the parent or guardian. This would not preclude participation of youth, because we all have a youth wing in our political party. The Liberal amendment was that no one under 18 years old could make any donations. I do not think that was wise, so I did not support it.
    What I do ask the Liberal Party to do is stop this campaign of misinformation about how I voted regarding its floor-crossing amendment. No one voted for its floor-crossing amendment. No one was allowed to vote for it. If my floor-crossing amendment was ruled out of order and the Liberals' was allowed to stand, I would have voted for theirs because it would have been the only one on which we would have been allowed to vote.
    I hope that helps to set the record straight. I hope they can perhaps issue a second press release to correct the deliberate misinformation of the last one.
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members of the committee for working on this bill and providing Canadians with a bill which we can all be proud of. It is a large bill. There might be some kinks in the bill to work out as we move along, but because of the amendments that were put forward, the witnesses who came forward, and the debate that we had at committee, we have a bill that we can be proud of.
    Certainly some people have concerns with some things in the bill. That is fair with a bill this size. There are things in the bill that we will want to keep an eye on and make sure that, as was pointed out by other members, there is not unintended consequence.
    I want to start my remarks with a quote:
    When they find themselves in the midst of wrongdoing, those with a vivid sense of right and wrong have feelings of remorse. On the other hand, the defining characteristic of corruption is that feelings of remorse have been lost, replaced by the impulse to deny, perpetuate and cover up. The Liberal Party is losing its sense of remorse.
    That was said before the last election by my predecessor, Mr. Broadbent. It deserves applause because it was insightful. He was distinguishing between those who understand when they have done wrong and do something about it and those who do not. He was identifying the concerns about ethics and accountability. What did he do? He proposed something. That is what we did on the bill in committee and it is what we are doing as we speak right now. We are proposing a better way. Mr. Broadbent proposed an ethics package which dealt with many of the concerns we all had at the time.
    The first concern he had was about floor crossing as was just mentioned. He believed, as I believe and many Canadians believe, that if a member crosses the floor and is vaulted into cabinet, perhaps the member should go to the Canadian people and see what they think about it. It is a pretty democratic idea. We hope that will come to fruition one day. In fact the good people of Manitoba will have that type of law in place soon. They will not have to deal with floor crossing.
    The second part of Mr. Broadbent's ethics package was to have fixed election dates. I am pleased that we will have fixed election dates soon. That was a smart thing for the government to introduce.
    The third thing he put forward was transparent leadership contests. This is still a concern. In committee we said that we wanted to make sure that these outlandish, ridiculous, opulent, unaccountable leadership contests did not take place. In the last Liberal leadership contest, the former prime minister who was running for leader at the time had $12 million in the kitty. That is a little over the top. The $2.7 million that was spent for the present Prime Minister on his leadership may be a little more than is necessary.
    Mr. Broadbent was proposing to have transparent leadership contests. The money trail would be followed. We would see from where it was coming. There would be some oversight. It would be regulated. We do not want to see influence being pedalled because the leader of one political party one day might become our prime minister the next. The process deserves accountability. It deserves a window of access to information.
    The fourth thing that Mr. Broadbent proposed in the ethics package was electoral reform. We are still fighting for that and will continue to do so. We proposed a model which was very sensible and reasonable. The Law Reform Commission studied it and believes it to be a sensible model. We will carry on with that.
    The fifth proposal was to end the unregulated lobbying that was going on because it was way out of hand. We saw what was happening. I will give an example, and we still have not heard the final details. It was the sale of Petro-Canada. It was interesting to follow the money on that one. It was the biggest sell-off of a Canadian asset. The New Democratic Party believes Petro-Canada should have been transformed into a crown corporation to deal with renewable energy, but alas, it was sold off. If we follow the money to see who was involved in selling it off, it is a very interesting story of influence and lobbying.

  (1920)  

     Look at what happened on the satellite radio file. Initially the cabinet believed that certain satellite radio companies should not have a licence. The lobbyists got to members of the cabinet and turned it around and there were contingency fees all around.
    We saw that with the previous government. We have heard the entitlement to entitlements quote. I think that was exacted by my predecessor, Mr. Broadbent, in committee as a matter of fact. We believe that the unregulated lobbying had to end and Bill C-2 deals with it.
    We still have a concern that someone who is lobbying government can get contracts. We will continue to keep an eye on it. What is really important is that the regulations for lobbyists have been strengthened. Contingency fees will be banned to get the money out of this really spurious kind of business. There are good, credible people who do credible lobbying in this town and they were being sideswiped by the people who were making money in, I believe, an ill-gotten way.
    The sixth thing Mr. Broadbent had proposed was ethical appointments. I am delighted that because of the hard work of my colleague from Winnipeg Centre, the committee adopted an amendment to the bill. We finally have a process that will ensure there will be ethical appointments with oversight. That is no small gain. That is absolutely huge.
     We only have to go back to 1867 and Sir John A. Macdonald, or to the 1984 election and the statement, “You had an option, sir”. We know this has been a problem for every single administration in Canadian history. We have seen people being appointed based on their party card, not on their merit card. I am hopeful that will finally end.
    The last one was on access to information. I am glad to see there were some gains made. At the beginning of the debate on the bill there were some concerns that we would not have changes to the Access to Information Act. There are amendments. There is more to do and that work will be taken up in the fall.
    To paraphrase what my colleague from Winnipeg Centre said, the oxygen of democracy is the access to information in the work we do here. If we are unable to hold the government to account by accessing the information through ministries, crown corporations and agencies, then we will have difficulty doing the job which citizens have sent us to this place to do, and that is to hold the government to account.
    Those were the seven points of Mr. Broadbent's and our party's platform, our ethical package. When I look at Bill C-2, we are there in many ways, but there is more work to do for sure. I have already mentioned the need to deal with floor crossing. We need electoral reform. We need a little more work on access to information. The transparent leadership question still needs to be tweaked. We have come a long way.
    We have been able to deal with the question of holding government to account and the accountability of government to Parliament and Parliament to government. We need to take into consideration the accountability to citizens. That is what electoral reform is all about. That is the next stage. That is the next area of reform. Our work is not finished. We will have to focus on that.
     I was very delighted to see the changes to the whistleblower legislation. It has been referenced by members of the other parties that Bill C-11 was fine if we just put it in place. As someone who was in contact and worked with many whistleblowers in this town, I can say that it was not fine. The oversight was a board that had over 8,000 cases presented to it in a year. It took over 18 months to hear cases. We needed to have a parallel stream. We have it with the tribunal. The fact that Bill C-11 was there was not good enough for the people I worked with.
    We have improved the whistleblower legislation. We and other members of the committee we able to make sure there was no reward for whistleblowers. I thought that was anti-ethical. In fact, it is not ethical to provide cash for people to do the right thing. Every single whistleblower that I know was clear about this, they did not want to be rewarded in cash for doing the right thing.

  (1925)  

    I will end my comments by thanking everyone in the committee for their hard work. We need to be proud of this work and to carry on with our work to be accountable to Canadians through electoral reform.
Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that there are a lot of provisions in this bill that are meritorious. The two that I find have the most value are the accountability of deputy ministers and some of the provisions dealing with lobbyist registration.
    Everyone is talking about accountability but when I study the bill and when I read what preceded the bill, I do not think it really deals with institutional accountability.
     When the federal accountability act, which is what the bill is called, was being debated, we were taking major steps backward in this House. We saw the Prime Minister appoint his campaign co-chair to the Senate and appointed him as the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. He is spending $50 million a day and he is accountable to absolutely no one. We have seen the revisiting of a previous practice of the Prime Minister assuming control and appointing the committee chairs. We have seen a major step backward in the whole issue of free votes.
    What is the member's position with respect to the whole issue of institutional accountability? I think that this bill does not address it in any way, shape or form.

  (1930)  

Mr. Paul Dewar:  
    Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, there is more work to be done.
    Clearly what we have heard from many learned people on public policy is that we can bring in bills and we can enact legislation, but unless there are good men and women working day to day to make sure those things are enforced, they are not worth much. I do not take issue with the member about the need for more work to be done in certain areas.
     This place needs to do more work on looking at the books and looking at the estimates process.
    Let us go back to the genesis of Bill C-2 and the ethics package that my predecessor put forward. It was the sponsorship scandal and some other areas that were of concern, such as lobbying, et cetera. With respect to oversight in Parliament, we should be taking more time, paying more attention and shining more light on the money before it is spent. When the estimates go through this place, it should not be done in a day. We should take more time and put them under the microscope. It is done in other jurisdictions.
    It would mean having more resources for committees. We need to make sure that the people on those committees have more time to serve on the committees. The appointments need to be for longer periods. One way to do that is through electoral reform. The people who are in the third that we are proposing who are elected from the so-called list would be able to spend more time on committee work. A concern of people who have evaluated public policy for many years is that people do not spend enough time on committees.
     Maybe we need to have a subcommittee of finance to look at the estimate process and take more time. It was not that long ago that it was a committee of the whole that looked at the estimates. I am not suggesting we go back to that practice, but that we spend more time at the front end examining every single line item that is being proposed. In the past, if we had caught some of the things such as what we saw with the sponsorship scandal, we would all be better off.
    Those are some ideas for the future.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):  
    The hon. member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley.
    One minute for both the question and the answer.
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of talk these days about who is dancing with whom and who is sleeping with whom. Canadians could be forgiven for thinking we are running a soap opera here rather than the House of Commons.
     I would like the member to comment on what took place in the environment committee this afternoon. He watched the accountability break down in the government. I brought a motion forward which was in order and was judged by the Speaker of the House to be in order. The ruling Conservative Party decided that it was out of order, and ruled over its own chair and then was somehow mystically joined by the Liberals, who decided that even though the motion was in order and everything was quite legal and right, for political purposes, they were going to overrule it and side with the government against their own committee chair.
    I wonder if he could recount how this fits in with a government trying to be more accountable and an opposition party pretending to actually be in opposition.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):  
    The hon. member has five seconds in which to answer.
Mr. Paul Dewar:  
    Mr. Speaker, very quickly, simply elect more New Democrats and they will see the change.
Mr. Randy Kamp (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add a few comments to the third reading debate on Bill C-2, the federal accountability act. I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell.
    Let me begin by thanking the President of the Treasury Board, the member for Ottawa West--Nepean, and his parliamentary secretary, the member for Nepean--Carleton, and in fact the whole legislative committee for its hard work on this bill. The collaboration of all members has made this a better bill. All parties in this House have worked toward this.
    As we have come through the report stage into this third reading debate, it seems that members from every party are claiming victory in some way or another. That is a good sign. It shows that the process is working as it should.
    As well, I would like to take a moment to thank my constituents who have given me the opportunity to be here to speak on their behalf. Of course I would like to think I am here because of my boyish good looks and sparkling personality, but my wife assures me that is not the case. I know I am here at the pleasure of my constituents. I take that responsibility very seriously. I will do my best to serve them well. In fact, one opportunity to do so is to support this good piece of legislation.
    Like a lot of members in this House, as I went door to door and talked to people on the street during the last campaign and the campaign before that, I sensed a large degree of cynicism about and even distrust of politicians. We of course have seen the polls showing that politicians are the least trusted of any occupational group, and it does not look like the numbers are getting any better in the more recent polls.
    In fact, sometimes the people I talked to on the doorsteps would say that we are all the same or that we are only in it for what we can get, although each one of us here will claim that we are not in it for what we can get. In fact, I think we would probably all agree that we do not know of any colleagues of ours, whether they are on this side of the House or in opposition, who are here for what they can get.
    It is very clear that Canadians expect more from us: not just to do good but also to be good. In fact, they sent that message loud and clear on January 23. They said they wanted an accountable government, one that they can trust with their hard-earned dollars and one that works effectively and efficiently on their behalf. I believe this federal accountability act delivers on our commitment to do just that.
    During the campaign we said from time to time, and probably more often than the Liberals liked, that we needed to move from a culture of entitlement to a culture of accountability and, really, what we are talking about here is changing the culture.
    This is an interesting concept, because there is no real agreement on how to define culture. Some define it in a historical way, saying that culture is the social traditions that are passed from generation to generation. Others view it in a behavioural way, saying that it is shared or learned human behaviour. Others view it in a normative way, saying that it is the ideals or the values that a particular group of people have. Some view it as a mental thing, as the ideas or habits that we have as people that distinguish us from animals. Or maybe it is a symbolic thing.
    I like to think of culture as having three components. It is what people think. It is what people do. It is what people produce.
    So if we were talking about a culture of entitlement, what we would think is that we were entitled or, as a more famous person has said, “entitled to our entitlements”. What would we do in that culture? I guess we would do whatever it takes to obtain those entitlements, even if from time to time those things were wrong. What would we produce? We would produce programs or legislation, even well-intentioned programs that at least occasionally were motivated by self-interest.
    But if we in this place lived within a culture of accountability, then we would think and believe that we are answerable to Canadians. What we would do is act honestly, ethically and honourably. We would produce programs and legislation that have as their motivation the best interests of Canadians.

  (1935)  

     We are here about accountability. Most of us who grew up in a loving but firm family understood what accountability was. I do not think my parents ever used that word with me. I think I understood it. I think it was composed of four different things. They made the rules clear for me. Then they removed some of the opportunities to break those rules. They then monitored my behaviour. Then they provided a little correction from time to time if I ever needed it.
    Really, that is what we are talking about here with the accountability act. We are making sure that the rules are clear. In some cases, we are changing the rules. We are strengthening the rules. We are strengthening the role of the Ethics Commissioner. Canadians expect elected representatives and public office holders to make decisions in the public interest without any consideration of personal gain. The Ethics Commissioner helps us do that.
    In fact, Bill C-2 will combine the positions of the Ethics Commissioner and the Senate Ethics Officer to create a new conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, with powers to fine violators and consider public complaints. We are going to make sure the rules are clear.
    We are going to clean up the procurement of government contracts. I think all of us in this place believe that the Government of Canada's purchasing practices should be free of political interference and conducted fairly so that all companies, regardless of size and location, have the opportunity to compete for government work. We are going to make sure that the rules are clear on procurement. We are going to develop a code of conduct for procurement that will apply both to suppliers and to public servants.
    We are going to clean up government polling and advertising. As we know, the government uses public opinion research and advertising to listen to and communicate with Canadians. I think that is a good thing most of the time, but recent political scandals regarding sponsorship and advertising have raised some legitimate concerns about the transparency, the fairness and the value for money of the procurement process in these areas. Bill C-2 introduces measures that ensure value for money and preclude these contracts from being used for partisan reasons or political benefit.
    We are going to remove or at least reduce the opportunities for these rules to be broken. We are going to reform the financing of political parties. We believe that money should not have the ear of government but that Canadians should.
    The federal accountability act will help take government out of the hands of big corporations and big unions and give it back to ordinary Canadians. The act is going to limit individual donations to $1,000 a year, ban contributions by corporations, unions and organizations, and prohibit cash donations of more than $20. We are going to ban secret political donations to political candidates.
    We are going to toughen the Lobbyists Registration Act. I think everyone in the House would agree that people should not get rich bouncing between government and lobbying jobs. Lobbyists should not be allowed to charge what they call success fees, where they only get paid if they deliver the policy change their clients want. The government is now getting rid of these fees and is extending the ban on lobbying activities to five years for former ministers, their aides and senior public servants.
    We are going to ensure truth in budgeting. We are going to create a new parliamentary budget officer to support members of Parliament and parliamentary committees with independent analysis on economic and fiscal issues.
    The government will make qualified government appointments. This will be a welcome thing, as all of us here know.
    Of course the government will monitor whether these rules actually are kept. Also, we are going to make it harder to hide. We are going to strengthen access to information legislation. Canadians deserve better access to government information. The Government of Canada belongs to the people of Canada. It should not unnecessarily obstruct access to information. There are good things in the bill in this regard.
    The government is going to strengthen the power of the Auditor General. Canadians deserve to know their hard-earned tax dollars are spent. The Auditor General needs the power to follow the money in order to make sure that it is spent properly and wisely.
    Occasionally from time to time we need correction. The government is creating a director of public prosecutions. It will have the independence to pursue prosecutions under federal law and will report publicly to Canadians on its performance.
    The government wants to move from a culture of entitlement to a culture of accountability. The measures contained in Bill C-2 signal a dramatic change, a paradigm shift, so to speak, in how federal politics and government will work in this country.
     As we change how we think, what we do and what we produce, we can provide Canadians with the open, honest, trustworthy government they deserve, a government that acts responsibly, rewards integrity and demonstrates clear accountability. By making everyone more accountable, the federal accountability act will help restore Canadians' trust in their government and make government work better for all.

  (1940)  

Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that the act contains certain good points, but I also see some points that are not as good.
    What I see in the House is that the act is saying one thing and what is being done in Ottawa is totally the opposite. We have seen the Prime Minister take control of the committees of Parliament. Any concept of a free vote has been thrown out the window.
    However, one of the most grievous situations is the appointment of the Prime Minister's campaign co-chair to the Senate right after the election. Subsequently, the very same person was appointed Minister of Public Works and Government Services, in effect making that person unaccountable to anyone.
     He is not accountable to Parliament, he is not accountable to me and he is not accountable to you, Mr. Speaker, and yet he is spending $50 million a day. It totally violates anyone's concept of accountability. I have two very specific questions for the member across. First, given that there are about 35 million people in Canada and given that this person was the campaign co-chair, would that not be a patronage appointment? Second, why is it that this so-called accountability act would not have within it some provision that would end this spectacle?

  (1945)  

Mr. Randy Kamp:  
    Mr. Speaker, I find it a little strange that the member from the Liberal Party would question some of the activities of this government as they relate to accountability. Certainly the record of members on the other side is not one that they should be very proud of. In fact, I think Canadians have sent that message very clearly.
    One of the principles of this bill in regard to appointments is that people should be well qualified for the positions they hold. They should be there because they know what they are doing and are responsible and all of those things. In fact, as for the appointments the Prime Minister has made, I believe he has made them in the best interests of Canadians. He put in well qualified people able to represent all citizens in the cities of this country and all Canadians all across this country. That is a good thing.
    Throughout this bill it is very clear to Canadians, at least those I have talked to, that this is as we have said: a set of the most sweeping changes to our system of ethics, how we do government, and how we view our work here. Canadians have seen that. I think they will welcome this.
Mr. David Sweet (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for a very cogent and concise overview of Bill C-2, the federal accountability act.
     I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of the citizens of Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale to thank the committee for all the hard work it did on this bill.
    I knocked on a lot of doors through the last two elections. I heard a lot of concern about the years and years of mismanagement and corruption. People really wanted us to get the work done to bring accountability to the House.
    I heard concerns from the opposite side about the timeframe of this legislation. When I reflect on it, I see that 70 witnesses were called by the committee and 100 hours were taken up. The draft legislation was in the hands of the opposition for weeks.
     I want to ask my colleague if he feels that there was enough time taken in order for the legislation to reach a place where it is going to be effective, because Canadians do want us to bring accountability through this legislation, and whether he feels that the witnesses were listened to in committee.
Mr. Randy Kamp:  
    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I was not on that committee but I believe that it, like all committees, was master of its own destiny. In fact, I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons say that early on in the process the committee passed a motion that it would do whatever was required to carry out due diligence with this piece of legislation, that it would take all the time that was necessary. In fact, the committee reached the conclusion that it had done all of their good work and brought it to us here today.
Mr. Pierre Lemieux (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for splitting his time with me.

[Translation]

    I would like to speak to the House about Bill C-2, the federal accountability act. I am very pleased to show my support for this piece of legislation. Accountability is a fundamental principle of our democratic system and this bill will dramatically change how the government conducts itself.
    We are honouring our commitments, clearly stated in our election campaign and in the throne speech, to ensure a sound and honest government. It is time to restore Canadians' trust in their government.
    The need to restore this trust is an important element in the provisions of the bill. These provisions, which I will address in my speech here today, will strengthen the role of the Ethics Commissioner
    I would first like to thank the Prime Minister for making this matter a real priority. Our government does more than just talk about its priorities; it pursues them relentlessly and spares no effort in getting the work done. As you know, many hours were devoted to this bill in committee.
    I would also like to congratulate the President of the Treasury Board for the results of this important work, bringing the Prime Minister's vision to fruition.

  (1950)  

[English]

    In the time allotted to me today, I cannot possibly address all of the worthy reforms and initiatives in the bill. I know that many of my hon. colleagues have spoken to, or will speak to these issues. The focus of my remarks is on the bill's proposal to create a new conflict of interest act, an act that would create a stronger conflict of interest and ethics regime to be administered by a conflict of interest and ethics commissioner.
    As hon. members know, we made seven clear commitments on how to strengthen the role of the Ethics Commissioner. I will just reiterate them quickly.
    We must give the Ethics Commissioner the power to fine violators. We must prevent the Ethics Commissioner from being overruled by the Prime Minister on whether violations have occurred. We must enshrine the Conflict of Interest Code into law. We must close the loopholes that allow ministers to vote on matters connected with their business interests. We must end venetian blind trusts. We must allow the public, not just politicians to make complaints to the commissioner, and we must make part time or non-remunerated ministerial advisors subject to the ethics regime.

[Translation]

    Bill C-2 clearly shows that we have honoured every one of these seven commitments. The new conflict of interest and ethics regime will guarantee that elected representatives and public office holders carry out their official duties and manage their personal affairs so as to avoid conflict of interest. Here is how we have honoured our commitments to Canadians.
    First, we have given the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner the power to impose monetary penalties on people who violate the act. Sections 52 to 62 of the proposed Conflict of Interest Act set out a detailed regime of penalties that the commissioner can impose on public office holders who violate the provisions of the act. The maximum penalty is $500, and the commissioner is to determine the exact amount based on criteria set out in the act. These penalties may be recovered in the Federal Court, and they must be made public, which is not the case in many other similar regimes.
    Second, the act clearly says that the commissioner's decisions as to whether or not the act was contravened may not be overturned. Section 47 clearly states that no one may alter the commissioner's report. When the commissioner imposes a penalty, it may not be appealed in court and the prime minister may not overturn the commissioner's decision.

[English]

    Third, the act enshrines into law the substantive and administrative regime found in the current Conflict of Interest and Post-employment Code for public office holders. The act refocuses the regime as a true conflict of interest regime similar to the approach used in most provinces.
    The conflict of interest and ethics commissioner would also be mandated to provide advice and support the Prime Minister on ethical matters beyond conflict of interest.
    Fourth, the proposed act was designed to clarify the obligation that ministers not vote on matters connected with their business interests. Section 21 requires all public office holders to recuse themselves from any decision, debate or vote in respect of which they would be in a conflict of interest.
    Section 30 gives the commissioner a broad power to determine any measures that might be required to ensure that the public office holder is in compliance with these and other requirements of the act.
    Subsection 6(2) of the act expressly prohibits a minister or a parliamentary secretary from debating or voting in the House of Commons on questions that would place them in a conflict of interest. This provision is an essential element of the conflict of interest regime and is based on a similar provision found in the code for members of the House of Commons.
    We are pleased that this provision has been reinstated after it was deleted in committee by an opposition motion. This restores the integrity of the conflict of interest regime.

  (1955)  

[Translation]

    Section 27 of the new act, which honours the fifth of our commitments regarding the ethics regime, expressly prohibits the use of blind management agreements, sometimes called “Venetian blind trusts”. Consequently, as this section states, the only way to divest controlled assets is to sell them in an arm's-length transaction or place them in a true blind trust that meets the requirements set out in the bill.
    As for the sixth commitment, the new law provides for a means whereby the commissioner may receive complaints from members of the public. Subclause 44(4) states that the commissioner may consider information from the public that is brought to his or her attention by any parliamentarian. In addition, the law now permits MPs and senators to file complaints against any of the 3,600 public office holders, and not just the ministers and parliamentary secretaries as is the case under the existing Parliament of Canada Act. In addition to these changes, clause 45 of the bill gives the commissioner the explicit authority to examine a matter on his or her own initiative, an authority currently not in place. These changes considerably improve the ability of the commissioner to act on credible information and to ensure that public office holders comply with conflict of interest provisions set out in the law.

[English]

    Finally, the seventh ethics regime commitment has been fulfilled by expanding the definition of public office holders covered by the regime to include ministerial advisors.
    Ministerial advisors are those who occupy a position in the office of a minister or a minister of state and who provide policy, program or financial advice, whether or not the advice is provided on a full time or part time basis, and regardless whether the person is remunerated or not.
    As part of the action plan, the government has also committed to increase public transparency about the numerous ministerial appointments to advisory bodies who may be unpaid and working part time, and who are not public office holders for the purposes of the act.

[Translation]

    I could continue to speak about the considerable and very important changes that we presented in order to strengthen the conflicts of interest and ethics regime. These changes have produced a regime that is autonomous, better focussed and more transparent, somewhat like our government.
    I am honoured to speak to these points at the third reading of Bill C-2. On their own, these reforms warrant our support for this bill. However, I would like to remind the hon. members that they form part of a number of much more significant measures designed to restore confidence in the government. The other components of the federal accountability bill also deserve our support and I ask my honourable colleagues to carry out their responsibilities and support this bill that will make government more accountable to the Canadians who elected all members to serve them.

[English]

Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening to speak to this bill.
    I, like other members who have spoken before me this evening, want to thank the 12 members of the committee who put so much time, energy and effort into reviewing this bill. Like other members, there are provisions in this bill I find very positive. The lobbyist registration and the accountability of deputy ministers before Parliament are major steps for this Parliament and certainly I support them.
    However, I believe there will be negative outcomes from the bill. A lot of these additional officers of Parliament that are being created amounts to Parliament outsourcing its fundamental job to hold the executive to account.
    Tonight I want to spend my few minutes just speaking about accountability in its broadest sense and how perhaps we as an institution are losing sight of this very important concept.
    It is my position that this bill, although very beneficial and containing a lot of good provisions, a lot of steps forward which have been very adequately addressed by other members tonight, really has very little, if anything, to do with institutional accountability here in Parliament. In actual fact, what has happened over the last number of years is that we have taken what I consider some fairly major steps backwards.
    I should point out before I go any further that I will be splitting my time with the member for Ajax--Pickering.
    As all members know, the Canadian Parliament is governed by three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. The executive gets its authority of course from the Governor General, who appoints the leader of the party with the most seats in Parliament. That leader appoints the executive. The executive is accountable to Parliament, and of course Parliament is accountable to the Canadian people.
    The members of the executive are parliamentarians also, and our job is to provide authority, approve legislation, approve appropriations on the one hand, and hold the government to account. That is our fundamental job in this assembly.
    Over the years, there has been a major imbalance between the executive and Parliament. We can see that with the control right now. It did not start with the present Prime Minister. This has been going on and it has been added to by successive prime ministers over the last number of years.
     Right now I believe that the Privy Council Office, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Department of Finance have thousands and thousands of employees, experts and researchers. We in Parliament, I believe at last count, have approximately 80 researchers working for us. There is a tremendous imbalance in what is going on here in Ottawa.
    The executive branch has gotten stronger over the years and the legislative branch has gotten weaker, and it cries out for reform. There has been much talk about it over the years, much written about it, but very little done about it. There has been the odd step forward taken, but in the last three or four months we have taken some fairly major steps backwards.
    The bill is referred to in this assembly as the federal accountability act, but it really has nothing to do with institutional accountability. My position is that it falsely expropriates the term accountability.
    I refer members of Parliament to the work of Mr. Justice Gomery. This was a very extensive report with four volumes. The title of it is “Restoring Accountability”. Mr. Justice Gomery and his commission make 19 recommendations. We would expect to see a number of them in this so-called federal accountability act. Other than three or four, we do not see anything.

  (2000)  

    Mr. Justice Gomery talked about strengthening committees, about providing more resources for parliamentarians and about major changes to the public accounts committee. None of that is even mentioned in the federal accountability act. Mr. Justice Gomery talked about the accountability of deputy ministers, which was codified in the federal accountability act, but everything else he said was basically ignored.
    What we have seen over the last four months has been some major steps backward with regard to the problem of institutional accountability in Parliament. I do not want anyone to interpret this as having started with the present Prime Minister, because it did not. This has been going on for decades. Every successive prime minister who came to Ottawa wanted to consolidate total, absolute and utter power in the Office of the Prime Minister.
    What I have seen here in the last five months I find very grievous. The first thing the Prime Minister did before anything else was to put his campaign co-chair, who spent two months working on his campaign, in the Senate. Two or three days after that he made him the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. The previous speaker did not see anything wrong with that and said that it was not a patronage appointment. I do not think anyone in Canada would agree with that. It is a blatant patronage appointment.
    I am not suggesting for a minute that is the first time that has happened in the Senate. However, the Prime Minister made him the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, a minister who spends $50 million each and every day and is not accountable to anyone in this institution. I cannot ask him a question for two reasons: first, he is not here; and second, I do not even know what he looks like. I am a member of Parliament who was sent to Ottawa on behalf of the people of Charlottetown, and we have a minister walking around Ottawa spending $50 million a day in taxpayer money and I do not even know what the fellow looks like. That is accountability.
    Another major step backward was the appointment of the committee chairs. This was done by a previous prime minister. Parliamentarians came together and one of the leaders of the charge was the present Prime Minister who spoke against and voted against the practice. What was the first thing he did when he became Prime Minister? He appointed not all the chairs but the ones who were government members, which I believe are about 17 of the 22 committees. Members of Parliament issued press releases saying that they had accepted the Prime Minister's appointment to chair such and such a committee. That was a major step backward.
    In the campaign literature distributed by the Prime Minister he talked about free votes on everything other than the throne speech, the budget and supply items, which, of course, has all been changed. There are no free votes at all. They are free votes other than the budget, supply and priorities of government.
    We have seen some major steps backward in this whole concept of institutional accountability, which I find very troubling.
    I hearken back to the four volumes of Mr. Justice Gomery's report. He made certain recommendations that are not being followed. If we are talking about accountability, this is a dishonest debate. It has to do with some good things but it has very little to do with institutional accountability in Parliament.

  (2005)  

Mr. Brian Storseth (Westlock—St. Paul, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I find it a little rich to be given a lesson on accountability by a member of the former Liberal government.
    I should first mention that members in two of the committees that I sit on voted for both of our chairs. It is nice for a change to see a Prime Minister who is actually willing to stand by his word and stand by the first piece of legislation that is being passed in the House, the federal accountability act. This is a great step for the Canadian public.
    It is, however, disappointing to see opposition come from the Liberal Party on the accountability act. I was hoping that after January 23 the former Liberal government would have learned a lesson and came on board with the accountability act, and perhaps made it even stronger.
     Why is my colleague not embracing the accountability act? Why did he vote against some of the strong amendments, particularly the amendment to include the Wheat Board within the ATI provisions?
Hon. Shawn Murphy:  
    Mr. Speaker, I am not opposing the act. I am opposing any concept that the act deals with institutional accountability, which this institution cries out for.
    The member across talks about the appointment of committee chairs. I would remind the member that he had members of his own party issuing press releases that they had accepted the appointment by the Prime Minister to be a committee chair. Everyone in Ottawa knows that the Prime Minister appointed the chairs to these committees.
    For the member to come to the House and say that there was an election, of course there was an election. Once the Prime Minister had appointed the government nominee to stand unopposed for election, then the election was held, which confirmed the Prime Minister's appointment.
    The legislation does contain some very good provisions, and I have gone over them. The lobbyist registration has been long overdue. I have been offended for years around here. If I call a deputy minister or an associate deputy minister in some department I am told that as a member of Parliament they cannot speak to me. If I go over to Winston's, the same deputy minister is meeting with some lobbyist around Ottawa. I find that offensive.
     I agree that the sooner we tighten the controls around some of these lobbyists around Ottawa the better. I could not agree more with making deputy ministers accountable to Parliament. I think that is long overdue.
    What I am saying is that what the act says and what I see being done are totally opposed. I will come back to the appointment. A member of Parliament is here to hold the executive to account, and the member does that in a number of ways. Any member of Parliament who consents to allowing the Prime Minister to appoint his campaign co-chair to the Senate and then immediately appoint that same co-chair as Minister of Public Works and Government Services and then give him a budget of $20 billion is not doing his job as a member of Parliament.

  (2010)  

[Translation]

Ms. Louise Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, following on the comments by the hon. member for Charlottetown, I would like to give him the opportunity to clarify his thoughts on the underlying values of Bill C-2, mainly in matters of transparency and accountability. I am referring specifically to the appointment of a non-elected person to one of the most important ministerial positions—one of the first moves the Prime Minister made in all his accountability and transparency.
    I would like very much for my colleague to make his comments in terms of accountability. Accountability is achieved by tabling documents in this House, so that parliamentarians can review them on behalf of the people they represent. Accountability is also achieved every day in this House. In fact, we are denied the opportunity to question the minister of whom we spoke.

[English]

Hon. Shawn Murphy:  
    Mr. Speaker, I do find that extremely troubling. We have a situation and we allow it to continue every day, all members of Parliament. We have a campaign co-chair who was appointed to the Senate and appointed--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):  
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Ajax—Pickering.
Mr. Mark Holland (Ajax—Pickering, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue and one that I am pleased to speak to. I think increasing accountability is important for every member of Parliament and, indeed, a priority.
     The member who just spoke, the member for Charlottetown, and I sat on the public accounts committee during the previous session of Parliament and in that session of Parliament had an opportunity to deal with a wide array of issues and make a broad range of recommendations on how government operations could be improved on everything from deputy ministerial responsibility to internal auditing processes. Some of those are being incorporated and some are not but I would say that this is an ongoing process.
    One of the things that concerns me as we have this debate and as we talk about the need to increase accountability is to paint pictures that are, frankly, completely inaccurate.
    The reality is that the Auditor General, in her report in the fall of, I believe, 2005, said that when it came to the clarity of our fiscal reporting, the quality of that reporting and the robustness of our internal auditing, Canada was number one in the world, around the same level with respect to New Zealand and Australia. We achieved great things in that period of time and the changes that occurred were met with great effect.
    That brings us to the accountability act. I would like to see a number of items changed and improved but the bill concerns me deeply. I started off believing that it was a selective accountability act but it has become more of a realization that it is a non-accountability act in many respects. I think that realization started off with a press conference the Prime Minister had on the topic and he took a total of two questions. He launched a major initiative on accountability, the press was there, he took two questions and he walked away.
    When we take a look at the bill and we start skimming below the surface, we see some items here that are of deep concern. We will start with access to information, an issue that I think a number of us have been pushing for some period of time to improve.
    I would like to quote what the Information Commissioner had to say on this particular item in the proposal of the accountability act. Mr. Reid said:
    All of the positions the government now takes in the discussion paper are contrary to the positions the Conservative Party took, and its leader espoused, during the election campaign.
     Mr. Reid recently said, “the decision was taken that they were not prepared to live under the terms of open government”.
    He was stating this is what they had done.
    He went on to state and criticize the accountability act for introducing new provisions and exemptions protecting sensitive information from public scrutiny.
    In another instance he said, “no previous government has put forward a more retrograde and dangerous set of proposals to change access to information”.
    When we look at it again and again we see areas of deep concern. What worried me at the time is the NDP member for the riding of Winnipeg Centre had stood and recognized some of these concerns and said that sending the access to information portion off to committee was a kiss of death, that would be the end of it and that it was a stall and delay tactic. However, we are with the NDP supporting the bill despite those very real concerns and no progress having been made with the issue of access to information.