House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, a Montreal-based company specializing in the export of ambulances lost a contract of over $40 million with Iraq because of the U.S. government's position on that country.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs intend to let the U.S. government know that it is inconceivable to prevent the sale of humanitarian material, such as ambulances, to Iraq? Equating ambulances with military materiel is totally ridiculous.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are closely cooperating with the United States on defence issues. The situation in the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq, is undoubtedly serious. We are making every effort to avoid a war.

That being said, we are continuing to cooperate with the U.S. authorities to reduce tensions in that region and not give materiel to Iraqis under these circumstances.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment.

According to the report recently tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, a lot remains to be done to deal effectively with the risks posed by toxic substances for Canadians.

Even though it has been making promising progress in that area, what does the government intend to do to improve its management of toxic waste?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, since a 1999 audit and the implementation of the new Canadian Environmental Protection Act, significant progress has been made in better coordination of activities.

Managing toxic substances is the cornerstone of the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting the environment and health of Canadians. CEPA is a key tool in dealing with our clean air regulatory agenda and putting in place measures for cleaner water.

Since 1999, we have assessed more than 14,000 substances that are in use in Canada for commercial use or proposed use. Our task is to address these, the highest--

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Public Service
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, in defending racist government hiring schemes, the Treasury Board minister confirmed the use of racial targets and quotas. Although political parties endorse racial profiling for civil service hiring, the vast majority of Canadians are opposed to using skin colour and ethnicity as employment criteria. The truth is that we cannot discriminate in favour of someone on the basis of race without unfairly discriminating against someone else because of their race.

Why is the Treasury Board minister refusing to respect equality of opportunity by instead imposing racial targets and quotas?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, could I ask the member if he would agree to respect the equity employment legislation in Canada and to accept also the fact that we need to have a public service representative of our population.

That is clear to me and it is clear for the majority of Canadians. When we have a diverse public service, Canadians are very proud of their public service too because it is exactly like the population of the country. We will respect the equity employment legislation.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

October 28th, 2002 / 2:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of National Defence is successful in getting more resources for the military, I suggest the first place he put it is in the replacement of our Sea Kings. However NHIndustries and Eurocopter have now asked for a delay in the procurement process because they cannot meet certain specifications under the contractual bid out there now. In fact, the defence department has said no to their changes and yet they have gone to the PMO's office and the PMO has now told the defence department to look at this one more time, which causes a further delay in the replacement of the Sea Kings.

My question for the defence minister is: Why?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Mississauga South
Ontario

Liberal

Paul Szabo Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, there has been and continues to be an ongoing dialogue with the industry to get interaction, consultation and feedback. It is that feedback and consultation which is evidence of a fair, open and transparent process.

Student Loans
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, over the past eight years student debt levels have quadrupled indenturing an entire generation of students. Worse still, the Canada student loan program in inaccessible and insufficient to meet their needs.

The amount that can be borrowed has not increased since 1995, yet tuition rates have increased 130% during the same time period. Students who are unable to access enough loan money are forced to take fewer courses per year, delay studies and worse still, drop out.

When will the government address the funding crisis created by an insufficient Canada student loans program?

Student Loans
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Laval West
Québec

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member opposite that the Government of Canada is firmly determined to ensure that all Canadians have access to post-secondary education.

I also remind him that tuition fees for post-secondary education come under the jurisdiction of the provincial and territorial governments. Still, the Government of Canada has invested in post-secondary education through CHST transfers, and particularly an amount of $39.8 billion between now and the year 2005-06.

Student Loans
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege under the provisions of Standing Order 48. It has been demonstrated that misleading information has been deliberately given to the House.

On October 25, in responding to a question on behalf of the minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence made the following statement to the House in reply to my question to keep the Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior open. He said, “no final decision has been made yet”.

While I was certainly encouraged by that response, on the same day the parliamentary secretary was responding to my question, the staff at the Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior were being instructed by the director of the college to start clearing out their desks in preparation for the closure.

The Minister of Public Works and Government Services has been far more forthcoming, and I thank him for taking the lead in arranging a meeting to disclose the details of its closure. This cooperation is in stark contrast to the department of the Minister of National Defence and the refusal of his officials from the Office of Critical Infrastructure and Emergency Preparedness to return phone calls.

Indeed, as I stated in my question, staff from the Prime Minister's Office had already confirmed to the media that it had ordered the college in Arnprior to be closed. A meeting was being arranged to provide the details of the closure. I submit that the parliamentary secretary, or his advisers, deliberately misled the House when the parliamentary secretary stated, “no final decision has been made yet”.

On page 111 of the 22nd edition of Erskine May, it states:

The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt.

On page 141 of the 19th edition of Erskine May, it states:

Conspiracy to deceive either House or any committees of either House will also be treated as a breach of privilege.

On November 3, 1978, a member raised a question of privilege and charged that he had been deliberately misled by a former solicitor general. Acting on behalf of a constituent who had suspected that his mail had been tampered with, the member had written in 1973 to the then solicitor general who assured him that as a matter of policy the RCMP did not intercept the private mail of anyone.

On November 1, 1978, in testimony before the McDonald Commission, the former commissioner of the RCMP stated that they did indeed intercept mail on a very restricted basis and that the practice was not one which had been concealed from ministers. The member claimed that this statement clearly conflicted with the information he had received from the then solicitor general. The Speaker ruled that there was a prima facie case of contempt against the House of Commons.

In the case involving the parliamentary secretary, we also have a statement that clearly conflicts with information from other officials from other departments indicating that the government did indeed make a decision and it obviously knew it had made a decision because it was in the process of acting on it.

With respect to the Department of National Defence, I have a copy of an internal e-mail confirming that the Department of National Defence was aware of the decision, and I will provide the Chair with a copy. It is dated October 15, 2002. It states:

The following information is not yet public knowledge, but I am advising key CEPC stakeholders prior to a public announcement. The Canadian Emergency Preparedness College (CPEC) will relocate to the Federal Study Centre at 1495 Heron Road in Ottawa. The projected relocation date is March 2003. The existing CEPC facilities, which date from the early 1940s, have exceeded their useful life expectancy and are no longer able to support CEPC's current and expanding training program requirements.

Therefore, either the department offered false information to the parliamentary secretary, who inadvertently offered false information to the House, or the department advised the parliamentary secretary of the decision, in which case the charge of contempt should be laid against the member.

You ruled on a similar case, Mr. Speaker, on Friday, February 1, 2002, in regard to misleading statements made by the then minister of defence.

The hon. member for Portage--Lisgar alleged that the former minister of national defence deliberately misled the House as to when he knew that prisoners taken by Canadian JTF2 troops in Afghanistan had been handed over to the Americans. He said:

The authorities are consistent about the need for clarity in our proceedings and about the need to ensure the integrity of the information provided by the government to the House. Furthermore, in this case, as hon. members have pointed out, integrity of information is of paramount importance--

Mr. Speaker, if you find this to be a prima facie question of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am sure others might want to react to this as well, but the hon. member started off her comments by alleging that somehow Standing Order 48 enables her to get into this debate, which of course it does not.

The second point she raised is that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence on Friday indicated to the House that “the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College is expanding its training program”. This is what was said. What the hon. member is alleging from that is that the college is moving to another community or another side of town or some other location and that constitutes a lowering of the budget. That is an extrapolation that needs to be proved by her, not by this side of the House.

I have no idea whether the college is moving a block away or a mile away. That is not the point. But whether it is or not, for the member to say in the House and to pretend that that constitutes another member misleading the House is an entirely different thing. I hope that she is called upon to account for why she is saying these things when she ought to know better and perhaps does.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Mississauga South
Ontario

Liberal

Paul Szabo Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, this particular issue is a joint file between defence and public works, which acts as agent on behalf of all departments and we share information. In this regard the allegation of misleading may be a little strong at this point. It is well known that the facilities in Arnprior are inadequate and that there is much to be done.

The best information we had between the two parliamentary secretaries as of Friday is that no decision indeed had been taken as yet. Those representations were made from the latest information available to us.