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Statement by MP Brad Butt on yesterdays tragedy

October 23, 2014 Comments off

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Statement by Brad Butt, M.P., Mississauga-Streetsville

Ottawa- October 23, 2014- Yesterday, tragedy struck at Parliament Hill with an individual gaining access to Centre Block with a gun and was subsequently killed.

The incident took place while MPs and Senators were attending meetings of their National Caucus in various rooms within the building.

Very fortunately, no one was hurt other than one member of the House of Commons security detail who has sustained injuries but his recovering. We wish him and his family well in the weeks ahead.

I joined my colleagues in a full lockdown of Parliament Hill all day and want to express my sincere thanks to all of them, the Parliament Hill security staff, RCMP and the Ottawa Police. Because of these brave and professional people, I at no time felt unsafe under their care.

Prior to the incident on Parliament Hill, we learned of the very tragic shooting at the National War Memorial and the passing of Corporal Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and all members of the Canadian Forces who bravely serve our country at home and abroad.

Last night, Prime Minister Harper addressed the nation and here is what he said.

“My fellow Canadians, for the second time this week there has been a brutal and violent attack on our soil.

Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Corporal Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

Corporal Cirillo was killed today – murdered in cold blood – as he provided a ceremonial Honour Guard at Canada’s National War Memorial.

That sacred place that pays tribute to those who gave their lives so that we can live in a free, democratic and safe society.

Likewise, our thoughts and prayers remain also with the family and friends of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was killed earlier this week by an ISIL-inspired terrorist.

Tonight we also pray for the speedy recovery of the others injured in these despicable attacks.

Fellow Canadians, we have also been reminded today of the compassionate and courageous nature of so many Canadians.

Like those private citizens and first responders who came to provide aid to Corporal Cirillo as he fought for his life.

And of course the members of our security forces in the RCMP, the City of Ottawa Police, and in Parliament who came quickly, and at great risk to themselves, to assist those of us who were close to the attack.

Fellow Canadians, in the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had.

But this week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.

We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and our institutions of governance are, by their very nature, attacks on our country.

On our values, on our society, on us, Canadians, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.

But let there be no misunderstanding.

We will not be intimidated.

Canada will never be intimidated.

In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats, and keep Canada safe here at home.

Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.

They will have no safe haven.

While today has been, without question, a difficult day, I have every confidence that Canadians will pull together with the kind of firm solidarity that has seen our country through many challenges.

Together, we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.

For now, Laureen, Ben, Rachel and I join all Canadians in praying for those touched by today’s attack.

May God bless them, and keep our land glorious and free.”

Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the many of you that called, emailed or texted me offering your thoughts and support during this very difficult time. It reminds all of us as Members of Parliament that people at home care about us, thank us for our service and wish us God speed in our work.
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The Year of Sport in Canada

October 16, 2014 Comments off

On October 16, 2014, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada proclaimed 2015 as the Year of Sport.

The Government of Canada invites all Canadians to participate in sport activities and events throughout the year.

The Year of Sport in Canada is a proactive pan-Canadian initiative to celebrate the role that sport plays in our country and encourage Canadians to participate in and seek the benefits of sport. It will focus on making the most of existing sport events and other celebratory activities to highlight the advantages of sport to Canadians.

Sport has a significant impact on the well-being of all Canadians. That is why we support excellence in sport and encourage Canadians of all ages and backgrounds to take part in sport, which helps them lead healthy, active lives.

The Government of Canada is the largest single investor in Canada’s sport system. It provides funding for initiatives to support our high-performance athletes and promote sport participation among all Canadians.

Our support for the Canadian sport system is at an all-time high of close to $200 million annually.

From the playground to the podium, sport enriches our communities and makes us proud to be Canadian.

Canada’s identity and history has been shaped by sport—just think of the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, when Canadian pride was on display throughout our country.

On the road to Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, let’s celebrate all of the things that make Canada the united, strong and free country we live in today.

The Year of Sport will encourage Canadians to gain a true sense of our nation’s history and reaffirm our pride in our achievements.

MP Brad Butt invites Canadians to celebrate Women’s History Month

October 7, 2014 Comments off

Untitled

October 7, 2014 – Ottawa, ON

On behalf of the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, Brad Butt, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, today encouraged constituents across the riding to celebrate Women’s History Month 2014. The theme for 2014 is Canadian Business Women: A Growing Economic Force.

Throughout October, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we will highlight Canadian business women and the contribution they have made to the nation and its economy. From entrepreneurs to corporate leaders, women have played – and continue to play – a pivotal role in building the Canada that we know today. This proud history can inspire talented, innovative, enterprising women and girls across Canada to pursue opportunities in the business world, and join in building a stronger economy for all.

As part of Women’s History Month, Canadians are invited to learn more about Canadian women in business by visiting www.women.gc.ca, which features profiles and videos of successful women. Canadians are also encouraged to celebrate business women in the community by tweeting about a woman they admire using the hashtag #WomenHistory. There are many other ways to participate in Women’s History Month; visit www.whm.gc.ca for details.

Quick Facts

  • Women’s History Month is celebrated each year throughout October and includes the commemoration of the “Persons case” when, on October 18, 1929, women were first legally recognized as “persons” under Canadian law.
  • As of 2011, 15.6% of small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada were majority-owned by women. RBC Economics reports that, in 2011, majority-owned women’s businesses contributed an estimated $148 billion to the Canadian economy. Women-owned businesses currently employ over 1.5 million Canadians, according to the BMO Financial Group.
  • Through the Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government of Canada will be taking steps to increase mentorship among women entrepreneurs. For example, Minister Leitch recently announced the creation of the Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs, which will advise on best practices for mentorship and championing to support women entrepreneurs.
  • Since 2007, the Government of Canada has provided over $146 million in funding for community-based projects, through Status of Women Canada. Of this amount, more than $54 million has gone to projects that promote women’s economic security and prosperity. This includes more than $9 million for projects that address women’s entrepreneurship. An additional $21 million has gone to projects that promote women in leadership and democratic decision-making roles.
  • Canada will also celebrate the third International Day of the Girl on October 11. This international day promotes equal treatment and opportunities for girls around the world in areas such as law, nutrition, health care, education, training, and freedom from violence and abuse.

Additional Links

 

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act

October 7, 2014 Comments off

On October 7, 2014, our Government introduced legislation to enshrine safe and simple firearms policies.

Mandatory safety training

First-time licence applicants would be required to participate in the classroom component of the safety training courses and successfully complete the test, eliminating the possibility of individuals taking the test without participating in the training.

Firearms prohibition for domestic violence

The amendment would require courts to impose mandatory weapons prohibition orders when an offender is prosecuted by indictment and convicted of a violent offence committed against a current or former spouse, common-law partner, dating partner, child, parent or any other person who resides with them. For violent offences committed against these individuals when prosecuted by summary conviction, the court would be required to specifically consider imposing a prohibition order to a maximum of life, including upon first conviction.

In other words, a violent domestic assault conviction would result in a person being unable to legally own a firearm. Depending on how the person is prosecuted, the ban could be for life.

Grace period

A grace period would allow licence holders to retain, for a period of six months beyond the date on which their licence would have otherwise expired, lawful possession of their firearms without risking penalties for simply possessing their firearms. This is designed to assist lawful firearms owners who may face challenges with their license renewals. If a lawful firearms owner cannot complete his/her paperwork on time (for instance due to travel outside the country), they will not face potential criminal penalties during the grace period. All other privileges (for example, acquiring ammunition or additional firearms or using the firearm for hunting or target shooting) would be suspended until the licence is renewed. Violation of these restrictions could result in the licence being revoked. Should the licence not be renewed by the end of the extension period, possession privileges would expire and firearms could be seized.

Possession Only Licence (POL) to Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) conversion

The Possession Only Licence (POL) would be eliminated, leaving just one type of licence, the Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). This clarifies and simplifies the licensing system. Approximately 600,000 valid POL holders would be provided with privileges to acquire firearms of the same class they are currently already authorized to possess. The physical replacement of a POL with a PAL would not be required until the natural expiry of the existing POL.

Authorizations to Transport (ATTs)

The amendment would eliminate the requirement to apply separately for an Authorization to Transport (ATT) in order to transport restricted and prohibited firearms for certain routine and lawful activities, including:

  • travelling to shooting ranges for practice or competition;
  • returning to an individual’s home following Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) approval of the transfer of ownership;
  • going to a gunsmith, a gun show or a Canadian port of exit; and
  • going to a peace officer or a CFO for verification, registration or disposal.

Information sharing on import

This amendment would allow the Canada Border Services Agency to share information regarding commercial imports of restricted and prohibited firearms with the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program. It would help to reduce the risk of such firearms being diverted to illicit markets.

Power to prescribe the classes of firearms

The amendments to the Criminal Code would contain a definition for non-restricted firearms, which it currently does not, including authority to prescribe firearms as non-restricted. As well, the amendments would give the Governor in Council authority to prescribe firearms as restricted. This gives the Government the final say on classification decisions, following the receipt of independent expert advice.

This authority would be used in limited circumstances.

Discretionary authority

The amendment would make it clear that the discretionary authority provided to Chief Firearms Officers is subject to limit by regulation. The provision will assist in ensuring that Chief Firearms Officers provide clear reasons for their decisions and administrate regulations in a fair manner across jurisdictions.

Further information can be obtained from the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program click here.

Situation in Iraq/Syria on ISIL

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Special Report from Brad Butt, MP

Mississauga-Streetsville

October 6, 2014

 

Friends,

As you likely know, the House of Commons will vote on a resolution on October 7, 2014, regarding a combat mission in Iraq that was detailed by Prime Minister Harper last Friday. To view his address in the House of Commons, please access here.

The resolution on which I will vote reads as follows:

In the name of The Minister of Foreign Affairs:

That this House

(i) recognise that the leadership of the terrorist group known as the Islamic

State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has called on its members to target

Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;

(ii) further recognise the clear and direct threat that ISIL poses to the people

of the region, including members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority

groups who have been subjected to a sustained campaign of brutal sexual

violence, murder, and barbaric intimidation by ISIL;

(iii) accept that, unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat ISIL

poses to international peace and security, including to Canadian

communities, will continue to grow;

(iv) affirm Canada’s desire, consistent with Canadian values and interests, to

protect the vulnerable and innocent civilians of the region, including through

urgent humanitarian assistance;

(v) acknowledge the request from the Government of Iraq for military support

against ISIL from members of the international community, including from the

Government of Canada;

(vi) further acknowledge the participation of Canada’s friends and allies,

including numerous countries of the Middle East, in the broad international

coalition committed to the fight against ISIL; and

(vii) note that the United Nations Security Council has become seized of the

threat posed by international terrorism with the unanimous passage of United

Nations Security Council Resolution 2178,

and, accordingly,

(a) support the Government’s decision to contribute Canadian military assets

to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists allied with ISIL, including air strike

capability for a period of up to six months;

(b) note that the Government of Canada will not deploy troops in ground

combat operations; and

(c) continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men

and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

As many of you know, I visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq from August 30 – September 1, 2014, and met with many of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the camps as well as local government officials to gain a better understanding of the enormity of the situation.

What I learned on the ground is clear. That while humanitarian assistance is desperately required, the only way to allow people to go back to their homes and live in a peaceful Iraqi country is to remove ISIL from its midst.

I am very pleased that Canada has stepped up to the plate on the humanitarian side. Here’s what we’ve done so far and some important facts.

  •        Canada is the 7th largest contributor to assist in this crisis
  •        Canada’s contribution will allow for those most desperate in need to receive food, hygiene kits, cooking materials, blankets, tents, medical supplies and other essential supplies as well as making emergency repairs to essential water and sanitation facilities and improving access to information.
  •        Canada will continue to work closely with our allies to determine how we can best continue to support the needs of Iraqi civilians, particularly religious minorities.

Recently, Canada announced the distribution of a second round of relief supplies from its emergency stockpile in the United Arab Emirates to meet the immediate needs of people affected by the conflict in Iraq.

The stockpile, when fully stocked, includes an array of items designed to meet the basic needs of a minimum of 5,000 families, or 25,000 people, for three months. Items include tents, blankets, kitchen sets, and hygiene kits.

Canada all announced an additional $5 million to provide emergency shelter and emergency relief supplies to conflict-affected people in northern Iraq, as well as $2 million to provide urgent health-care services.

This $7-million allocation is in addition to the $5 million in humanitarian support recently announced by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.

This new $5 million contribution will provide:

  •        Kits with non-food items, including mattresses, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, blankets, solar lamps and cooking sets;
  •        Access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and education to raise awareness on hygiene and water conservation;
  •        Support to meet imminent additional winterization needs of internally displaced families; and,
  •        Additional support to meet emergency survival needs of internally displaced people, including medicines, clothing and money to pay for rental housing.

This new $2 million contribution will provide:

  •        Primary health-care services with integrated mental-health programming provided at camp-based clinics and mobile medical units;
  •        Mental-health and community-outreach services; and,
  •        Essential medical commodities to existing health facilities.

Since the beginning of 2014, Canada has allocated nearly $29 million to respond to humanitarian needs in Iraq. In June 2014, Iraq was added to the list of Canada’s development country partners.

Final Comments

My public position on this grave situation has been that Canada needs a balanced approach. The fact that we are a major contributor to humanitarian aid and support, that we provided initially some members of the armed forces as advisors and that we have been asked by our international partners to play a role through our air force in a more significant way, I believe the ask of me as your MP to support this resolution is justified.

 

Celebrating National Seniors Day

October 1, 2014 Comments off

National Seniors Day – October 1, 2014

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We can all think of a senior who has made a difference in our lives. Seniors are mentors, teachers, parents, grandparents and loved ones. They are volunteers and role models. They deserve our gratitude and recognition for the valuable contributions they have made, and continue to make, in our families, workplaces and communities.

Every day, seniors right here in Mississauga-Streetsville make a big difference in our community.

On October 1, National Seniors Day, let’s take the time to celebrate seniors and show our appreciation for everything they do.

Our Government remains committed to improving the well-being and quality of life of seniors.

To further demonstrate this commitment, the seniors.gc.ca website was recently redeveloped to include the new Information for Caregivers portal which brings together a variety of federal, provincial/territorial and municipal resources about relevant programs and benefits.

We also recently developed the Government of Canada Action for Seniors Report, which provides an overview of various programs and initiatives that are helping seniors. This report can be found on seniors.gc.ca.

Last year alone, our Government provided $2.8 billion in 2013 in additional tax relief to seniors and pensioners. We also committed $400 million over two years under Canada’s Economic Action Plan for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors.

We value what seniors have done for our country, and they deserve our thanks.  National Seniors Day is our time to join together as a nation to honour Canada’s seniors.   As your Member of Parliament, I encourage you to find your own unique way to celebrate the seniors in your life. Perhaps make time to visit, or send a simple thank-you note to a senior you know.   I am looking forward to celebrating National Seniors Day and encourage everyone to celebrate the seniors in their community.

Visit the National Seniors Day page at seniors.gc.ca for more information, resources and tips to help you celebrate the seniors in your life, or visit the new Seniors in Canada Facebook page to join the conversation. You can also find information on programs and services for seniors or tips on how to better stay active, engaged and informed

MP Brad Butt speaks at Gala for Pope Tawadros II

September 23, 2014 Comments off

Notes pour une allocution

prononcée par

Brad Butt, Membre de Parlement

à l’occasion du Gala pour la visite du

Pape Tawadros II

 

Laval (Québec)

Le 22 September 2014

2014-09-23 07.59.55Your Holiness, Excellencies, Graces, distinguished guests, chers amis, mesdammes et monsieurs,

Thank you for the warm welcome.

Je suis ravi d’être ici au nom du Gouvernement du Canada.

I am also delighted to be here with my colleagues from the Parliament of Canada Senator Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu and MP Frances Scarpaleggia.

What an incredible pleasure it is to be here in Laval.  We also welcomed His Holiness to my home of Mississauga where he was greeted like a rockstar!  On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to extend my warm wishes to the Coptic community in the Great Montreal Area as you welcome His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.

Canada is home to approximately 50,000 Coptic Orthodox Christians; with several thousand settled and thriving in Quebec.

Il y a 10 jours, notre premier ministre, le très honorable Stephen Harper a rencontré pour la première fois sa Sainteté,  le pape Tawadros Deux à la nouvelle Cathédrale copte orthodoxe Saint-Marc, à Toronto.

Lors de leur rencontre, les deux dirigeants ont discuté de l’importance de la liberté religieuse et du pluralisme, ainsi que les menaces qui se posent actuellement par de nombreuses communautés religieuses minoritaires dans l’ensemble du Moyen Orient.

The Prime Minister said:

“I had a very productive discussion with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II during which we spoke about concerns of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Canada continues to call for greater freedom for minorities to worship in peace and we remain dedicated to defending religious freedoms around the world.”

It was a key opportunity to engage on urgent issues facing the Coptic community in Egypt, and Christian and other minority religious communities throughout the Middle East.

2014-09-23 00.27.25I am proud to outline the work done by the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF), which our government established in 2012. The ORF has partnered with the Coptic community to promote and strengthen religious freedom and to protect all those threatened and persecuted around the world.

Please know that under Prime Minister Harper’s leadership, Canada will continue to stand with Copts and with other religious minorities who face extremism, terrorism, and persecution.

I would like to express our government’s appreciation for this very special visit.

We are honoured that His Holiness has dedicated a full month to travel to congregations across Canada, and we know that Canadian Copts are showing him the very best of Canadian hospitality.

This evening is a wonderful example.

May God Bless all of you here tonight, may God Bless Egypt and may God Bless Canada.

Signature of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Korea and launch of a new Strategic Partnership

September 22, 2014 Comments off

On September 22, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Korean President Park Geun-hye celebrated the signature of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Korea, and launched a new Strategic Partnership.

Our Government is focused on creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians in every region of the country. In these uncertain times, our prosperity depends on our ability to take advantage of economic opportunities in emerging markets.

We have therefore launched the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history. In less than seven years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries and is negotiating with many more.

The most recent Speech from the Throne committed to expanding trade in the Asia-Pacific region to benefit hardworking Canadians and businesses, especially our crucial small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and industries across the country.Today we are delivering on that commitment with this agreement.

The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement is an historic initiative that will:

  1. strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific;
  2. increase the prosperity of both countries; and,
  3. result in job creation and enhanced opportunities for Canadian and Korean businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, as well as investors, workers, and consumers.

This free trade agreement is an ambitious, state-of-the-art agreement, covering virtually all sectors and aspects of Canada-Korean trade, including trade in goods and services, investment, government procurement and intellectual property, as well as labour and environment cooperation.

Canada and Korea have committed to develop a new Strategic Partnership that will enhance cooperation based on the shared values of democracy, market economy, respect for human rights and rule of law.

This Partnership will lay out a strategic direction for stronger relations in key areas of common interest including energy and natural resources, science, technology and innovation, and Arctic research and development.

MP Brad Butt spoke in HOC on the Situation in Iraq

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Speech by Brad Butt, MP, Mississauga-Streetsville

September 16, 2014

Take Note Debate – Situation in Iraq

 

Mr. Speaker, Canada is deeply concerned by the recent increase in violence in Iraq and its humanitarian consequences.

Canada condemns, in the strongest terms, the targeting of civilians and religious minorities.

And we are deeply concerned by reports of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

That is why we continue to call on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law.

In late August, I visited the cities of Erbil and Duhok, Iraq as part of an observer team sponsored by the Rev. Majed El Shafie and One Free World International.

We personally met with Internationally Displaced Persons – IDPs – on the ground in the UNHCR camps that have been established.

Mr. Speaker, their stories are heart-wrenching. We sat on the ground and in the tents of our fellow human beings and their plight is unbelievable.

This is an unspeakable tragedy for which there is no excuse.

And, the humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate as armed clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, and government forces, drive displacement.

Since January, an estimated 1.7 million people have been displaced throughout the country, which represents one of the largest cases of internal displacement in the world.

Basic services, including health care and water infrastructure, are disrupted, resulting in acute humanitarian needs.

The intensity of fighting in ISIL-held areas has resulted in a security situation that does not allow humanitarian organizations to operate, and the persecution of minority groups, including Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and Turken Shia, is an ongoing concern.

Current displacement near the Kurdish region of Iraq has been only the latest development in a trend of large-scale displacements across Iraq that go back to the beginning of the year.

In early 2014, conflict displaced an estimated 475,000 people in Anbar province. Then in June, an estimated 571,000 people were displaced from Mosul. And in August, an additional 662,000 were displaced from the Sinjar area, when tens of thousands of Yazidis remained trapped for several days in dire humanitarian conditions.

The size and pace of displacement has overwhelmed local communities, including in Duhok Governorate, which is hosting more than 400,000 internally displaced persons.

We met with local officials in Duhok and are well aware of the needs. I know that Canada will help in providing assistance for housing and medical needs particularly as the winter season approaches.

On August 12, the United Nations declared the situation a “level 3” emergency, underlining the gravity of the crisis. As a result, the humanitarian response in accessible areas is being rapidly scaled up and humanitarian leadership will be bolstered.

Approximately 35 percent of the internally displaced Iraqis are living in vulnerable locations including schools, churches, mosques, and unfinished buildings.

We met with the largest group of IDPs in a half built school in Duhok the last day we were there.

There is a concern that the schools being used as shelter may not be able to reopen as scheduled, which means that 850,000 children will begin to fall behind with their education.

Mr. Speaker, Canada is actively working with partners to address children’s needs and to see what more it can do.

We are currently working through experienced partners such as Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help provide child-friendly environments for displaced children and to give them the psychosocial support they need.

We believe that, when adults fight, children’s education should not suffer, and the continued academic growth of children must be secured, even in the face of conflict.

The flows of IDPs also placed considerable strain on health structures, and many health facilities are overwhelmed with large caseloads.

In addition, food security is a growing concern in Central and Northern Iraq because normal supply routes have been interrupted by conflict and insecurity.

The next harvest is at risk in the areas affected by the conflict, and that accounts for nearly a third of Iraq’s wheat production.

Millions of Iraqis are likely to face food shortages later this year unless these challenges are resolved.

A key challenge for the humanitarian community continues to be the difficulty of being able to get into conflict areas to reach the people who need their help.

The sheer number of different locations people have fled to, as well as their mobility, adds a layer of complexity that makes matters even more difficult for humanitarian organizations.

Mr. Speaker, Canada is working through experienced humanitarian partners such as the United Nations humanitarian agencies, the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and non-governmental organizations to get life-saving assistance to those who need it.

To date Canada has provided more than $28 million in humanitarian assistance support to Iraq, of which $18.8 million will address needs from the conflict, and $9.6 million will be used to address the needs of Syrian refugees, who have sought refuge in Iraq due to the conflict in their home country. We work to provide support across a range of needs to ensure that there are no gaps.

Canada’s funding is helping to meet the health, shelter, water and sanitation, protection and food needs of affected Iraqis, as well as relief supplies, and camp construction through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

We are also addressing the protection and education needs of displaced children and those whose schools are being used as emergency collective shelters.

For example, our funding is helping to support mobile health clinics through Plan Canada, as well as providing medical supplies through the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Canadian Red Cross is currently looking to determine what more can be done.

Our humanitarian partners provide very specific assistance, such as transportation to areas of safety, or child-friendly spaces, and take steps to ensure that particularly vulnerable people, such as the disabled, the elderly, and children, have access to life-sustaining services.

On August 28, a first planeload of humanitarian relief supplies was deployed from our warehouse in the International Humanitarian City in Dubai, to Erbil. It contained kitchen sets, jerry cans, tents, blankets, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.

And, we anticipate that the second planeload of $365,000 in humanitarian relief supplies will be sent very soon.

Although the current UN Emergency Appeal is fully funded, it is anticipated that further funding will be needed, and for a significantly greater amount.

Mr. Speaker, Canada is currently the fifth largest donor in response to the crisis. And it is worth noting that we are also the fifth largest donor to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, which has provided more than US $10.8 million in response to the Iraq crisis.

We will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that emergency humanitarian assistance is provided to Iraqi civilians in need.

And Canadian officials will continue to monitor the situation closely and assess the security and humanitarian challenges facing the Iraqi people.

We met as well with our Ambassador to Iraq Bruno Saccamoni and I am pleased to report that our people on the ground are well aware of the needs and are playing a very important role. Further, we have development staff on the ground in Northern Iraq, and will soon finance a series of development initiatives to help communities maintain basic services such as education, water supply and waste management, in response to the recent flow of IDPs coming into the country.

Mr. Speaker, it was a profoundly moving experience for me as a Member of this House to visit Iraq and meet with the victims of these ISIL attacks. May God continue to bless them all and may we all pray for peace and better days ahead.

 

Brad speaks in House of Commons on Oppositions motion for federal minimum wage increase

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Mr. Speaker,

I wonder whether this motion would actually have the desired effect. There are several reasons for this.

First, as the Honourable Member well knows, the minimum wage in this motion as it is worded applies only to those people who work in federally regulated industries, a small percentage of Canada’s workforce.

And, of these workers, only a small fraction earn the minimum hourly wage.

According to a survey of federally regulated businesses which was conducted in 2008, only twentieth of a percentage point – or all of 416 employees – were actually earning the minimum wage.

That works out to approximately 0.05%

My second point is that if the Government of Canada was to unilaterally raise the minimum wage of workers that fall under its jurisdiction, it creates a two-standard system for workers.

If the Honourable Member opposite were to have read the Labour code, they would find that the federal minimum wage is pegged to the minimum wage of the province or territory in which the work is carried out, as voted on by their respective legislatures.

Provinces and territories are best able to assess and respond to the requirements of their local labour markets and establish appropriate minimum wage rates.

Unless, of course, the Opposition parties are proposing to wholly repeal the section of the Labour code that gives provinces this ability.

So I ask the Opposition: which is it? Are

Are they proposing to strip the provinces of their ability to respond to their local labour market, or are they proposing to create a two-tier standard for workers?

Mr. Speaker, we see no need to carry out wholesale changes to a system that is working perfectly well.

For nearly 20 years, federal minimum wages have automatically been pegged to match the minimum wage of the province or territory in which the work is being done.

And this has worked out pretty well.

Over the past several years, the provinces and territories have all increased their minimum wage, based on existing labour market conditions in each jurisdiction.

In fact, several provinces have indexed their minimum wage, so that it automatically increases every year.

Others have mechanisms in place to ensure that the minimum wage rate in their jurisdiction is reviewed on a regular basis.

It would seem a bit pretentious if we were to deny that the provinces and territories are fully aware of their labour market needs, and should not be trusted in the analysis of the needs of their citizens and workers.

Our Government believes that these jurisdictions know how to assess and respond to local labour market conditions. They are best positioned to establish appropriate minimum wage rates that reflect these realities.

But the best way to support low-income Canadians, Mr. Speaker, is not by increasing the minimum wage, or grand-standing the illusion of creating a minimum wage that, in reality, only applies to a small fraction of the labour force, but by measures that support a strong economy and creating well-paying jobs – which is our Government’s priority.

Now, as Members in this House know, there are skills shortages in certain regions and sectors of the economy.

Mr. Speaker, our Government has taken unprecedented action to train Canadians for new and better jobs, in demand by the economy.

To date, our actions have resulted in over 6 million young Canadians – yes, over 6 million – getting skills training and support for quality jobs.

I’m sure that many of my colleagues – even those on the other side of the House that support this ambigous motion – have heard from their constituents who own businesses that there’s an abundance of people out there who are looking for work, but they just don’t have the skills that they need.

But when it comes to this, training Canadians for jobs that are actually in demand by the economy, the NDP has vividly opposed virtually all measures.

Where was the Opposition on the Canada Job Grant all last year? We have signed agreements with all of the provinces, negotiated in good faith. The NDP opposed it, cheerleading the expiring Labour Market Agreements instead.

Cutting the GST to the benefit of all Canadians? The NDP opposed it.

The Working Income Tax Benefit? The NDP opposed it.

Supporting older workers and their families through the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers and expanding it to include workers in small cities? The NDP opposed it.

Overhauling the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, during which the Minister of Employment and Social Development directly called upon employers to increase their wages and hire Canadians? The NDP just dismissed it as meaningless.

We’ve heard about the lack of skilled labour in key sectors from people who are actually on the ground: many sectors will urgently need new workers within the next decade.

It is particularly true in construction and in the mining and petroleum industries.

Skills Canada has told us that we’re going to need one million skilled trade workers by 2020.

For example, five years after getting a journeyman’s ticket, a plumber in Canada can earn about $68,000 and an electrician about $66,000.

These are well-paying jobs that are very rewarding.

If you are a minimum wage worker and wish to become an apprentice, the Government of Canada supports you in several ways to get training for jobs in demand by the economy.

Let`s be honest about what the NDP motion before us today actually is: a symbolic stunt.

Our Government is focused on actually improving job prospects for Canadians and their families.

In addition to the apprenticeship grants, Economic Action Plan 2014 introduced the Canada Apprentice Loan.

This loan provides apprentices with interest-free loans of up to $4,000 to complete their training in a Red Seal trade.

The Government is also taking other steps to support and protect Canadian families, and to directly benefit people in the workforce.

For example, the Minister of Finance recently provided small businesses with a tax break, so they would pay less money in EI premiums, and create more jobs.

What is more, the Minister also confirmed that EI premiums for workers will go down in 2017. It will reduce premiums from the current $1.88 per $100.00 of earnings to to $1.47 per $100.00 of earnings.

How does this help minimum wage earners across Canada, not just those handpicked by the NDP for their symbolic motion?

Lower premiums, of course, means more money in their pockets.

For those workers who have lost their jobs due to their employer’s bankruptcy or receivership, we have the Wage Earner Protection Program.

It ensures that employees are paid wages, vacation pay, severance or termination pay which is owed to them, up to an amount which is equal to four weeks’ maximum insurable earnings under the EI Act.

Since WEPP’s inception in July 2008, over 74,000 Canadians have received $174.8 million in WEPP payments as of July 31, 2014.

In addition to that, our Government’s Helping Families in Need Act provides federally regulated employees with the right to take unpaid leave.

For example, it provides

  • up to 37 weeks of leave for employees who must care for a critically-ill child;
  • 104 weeks for children who are deceased due to a probable criminal code offence; and
  • up to 52 weeks for missing children, who are victims of probable criminal actions.

And thanks to Economic Action Plan 2014, federally regulated employees who fall ill while receiving compassionate care and other leave, can now interrupt and postpone their leave, to avail themselves of EI sickness benefits.

So, as you can see, Mr. Speaker, this Government has, and continues to take, many steps to support and protect Canadian families, and to ensure Canadian workers enjoy fair, healthy and safe workplaces.

This includes minimum wage protection under the Canada Labour Code.

The current system to set federal minimum wage rates works perfectly well, and for this reason, I urge my fellow Members to join with us and say “no” to this toothless motion and, instead support our Government`s efforts to train Canadians for in-demand jobs by the economy and actually improve their quality of life?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.