House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, the government has been supporting ethanol. In fact, under the climate change program, we put forward $100 million to help expand the ethanol program.

The hon. member has raised an issue that I am not aware of, but I can assure the hon. member and the House that I will look into the matter if he gives me the full details to ensure that members of Parliament are fully aware of some of the things that we are doing.

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the minister's colleague said a few minutes ago, if he needs help to understand the website, I can provide him with that information.

However, applicants have been told that they cannot talk to their member of Parliament. To ban communications with MPs on any government program could constitute a breach of a member's privileges.

Why are applicants being forbidden from speaking to their members of Parliament about this program?

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the Alliance Party is interested in cheap politics, instead of looking at the real issues.

If the hon. member were serious about this, he would take the time to raise this with me so we could look at this issue to resolve it.

However, I am sure the hon. member is not interested in resolving it but only wants to get cheap political points. That is normal for the Alliance Party. That is why it is at 12% in the polls.

Intergovernmental Relations
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said the following in reply to a question from the member for Sherbrooke on the right to opt out, “The crux of the issue is that if the hon. member insists on believing that the social union agreement does not recognize the right to opt out, then he did not read it”.

I am asking the minister, who no doubt has read it, whether he can explain to us his understanding of this so-called right to opt out, and how it operates.

Intergovernmental Relations
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the social union agreement, which applies to all Canadians, contains a provision whereby a province may take the funding for use in a related priority area, if it already has a program on which all the provinces have reached a decision. This is in the agreement in Canada's two official languages, English and French, and he can read it there.

Intergovernmental Relations
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that Quebec did not sign. With this so-called right to opt out, the provinces are accountable to the federal government for their administration, and must meet Canada-wide standards dictated by Ottawa.

Will the minister acknowledge that this right to opt out is nothing but a sham, a kind of trusteeship by which the central power inexorably imposes its authority on the provinces as subordinate beings, as well as on the Quebec nation?

Intergovernmental Relations
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is written in the Canadian Constitution that the division of powers is based on legislation. All governments have spending power. For the first time, with the social union agreement, the Government of Canada is submitting for approval of the majority of provinces the spending power for objectives on which a joint decision has been reached. If a province has already attained the objective, it can spend the money on something else.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, today Maher Arar gave chilling testimony of torture and abuse in a Syrian dungeon. He also indicated our government did not do enough to defend his interests.

He now joins William Sampson, Bruce Balfour, and Stephan Hachemi in saying that soft talk does not work with tough tyrants.

Mr. Arar's case raises so many important and urgent questions. Why will the government not spare Canadians the millions of dollars and months of delay of a public inquiry, and just give Mr. Arar the answers to his fair questions now? Why is it delaying and what is it hiding?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated a number of times, the government is not hiding anything. The fact of the matter is that we have been as transparent as we can be on this issue.

It is the law and practice in this country that the Solicitor General, or other government representatives or indeed the RCMP, does not talk about operational details. It is to protect the integrity of individuals themselves, their privacy, and to protect the integrity of other investigations. That is the practice.

On top of that, there is the CPC review under the authority granted to it by the House.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Syrian regime has one of the worst records of human rights atrocities in the world. In 1982, 25,000 civilians were massacred in Hama, Syria's third largest city after President Assad ordered the liquidation of all opposition there.

Syria has provided haven and support to terrorists and continues to defy the United Nations by maintaining its illegal occupation of Lebanon. Now we have the testimony of a Canadian being tortured.

How bad must it get before our government will go to the United Nations and ask for a vote denouncing Syria's actions against Canadians and democracy itself?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I called in the Syrian ambassador this afternoon and I asked him to review the evidence of Mr. Arar.

You must agree with me, Mr. Speaker, and every member of the House, that it is extremely troubling. This is a very preoccupying case. The government takes it very seriously. We have conveyed our concerns to the Syrian government and we will continue to convey our concerns.

We will work for Canadians who are apprehended and who are incarcerated abroad in a way to ensure their security and liberty. We will continue to do that forcefully with all the diplomacy at our command.

Sex Offender Registry
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General has finally conceded, after years of pressure from this side of the House, to make the national sex offender registry retroactive, at least sort of retroactive.

Unfortunately, the Solicitor General's legislation will likely not pass before the House recesses. Will the Solicitor General commit today to get the sex offender registry enacted before the House recesses, as widely rumoured to be November 7?

Sex Offender Registry
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the hon. member opposite has finally conceded to agree with us in terms of the legislation we are putting forward.

It is on the Order Paper for today and I believe tomorrow, as well. I hope that those members opposite will be voting for the legislation and congratulating us on putting this progressive legislation forward.

Sex Offender Registry
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the sex offender registry is not law by the beginning of next year, the Solicitor General has no one to blame other than himself and the irresponsible behaviour of the government.

The Solicitor General already promised that he would enact this legislation by the beginning of January 2002.

Why is it that the government is so unwilling to pass legislation that protects Canadians from sexual predators?

Sex Offender Registry
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the bill is on the Order Paper for today and tomorrow. We are making every effort to get the legislation through.

Indeed, I expect we will. I appreciate the support and the new consensus that we had from the provinces at the meeting in October. This consensus was necessary in order to put the legislation forward. We want to make it the most effective possible.

I welcome the opposition's support and hope it votes with us tonight.