House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was protect.

Topics

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that requires more than a 35 second answer here in the House.

However I can say that we are particularly concerned about the hospitality industry, the construction industry and the fishing industry, particularly lobsters.

We know there is activity taking place. However I want to assure the member that we take this very seriously. We are taking appropriate action with others who share our concerns.

Seal Hunt
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the seal hunt to be authorized by the minister needs to be divided fairly, as I called upon him to do in a letter last December 11. A minimum 10% of the quota needs to be reserved for the people of my riding.

Can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans provide me with a guarantee today that the quota will be sufficient to make possible the immediate start up of a processing plant in my riding, at Blanc-Sablon?

Seal Hunt
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am not in a position today to release the details on how the allocations will be broken down by community or region. I can, however, assure the hon. member that we will see to it that there is fair distribution and sufficient flexibility, to ensure access by most communities to this valuable resource.

Black History Month
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Canada, Black History Month is celebrated each year in February.

Would the Secretary of State responsible for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women inform the House as to what the government is doing to help Canadians celebrate Black History Month?

Black History Month
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Jean Augustine Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women)

Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly supports the activities that will be taking place this month in cities, towns and our many constituencies. Indeed, February is dedicated to recognizing, learning about and celebrating our black history and African heritage in Canada.

Because of Black History Month, we are beginning to know each other and to discover the extent and significance of our contributions. The multiculturalism policy stresses social cohesion, cross cultural communication and ways in which we can work against racism and discrimination.

Let us all celebrate for the rest of the month black heritage.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, our government promised to review the operations at the Canadian Firearms Centre.

I rise in the House today to table two reports on Canada's gun control program.

I would like to thank the authors of the reports, the consulting firm of KPMG and independent management consultant Raymond Hession, for their excellent and timely work.

The first KPMG report confirmed to the Department of Justice that all the necessary systems are in place to ensure the integrity and completeness of the relevant financial data.

This study assured the Department—

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I believe the minister is tabling documents. He is entitled to make a statement under ministers' statements. I hope he has not started his statement yet. He should only be tabling the document at this time.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, in fact it was the preamble. I would like to table both reports in both official languages.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The minister has tabled both documents. The Minister of Justice for a ministerial statement.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the KPMG study assured the department that the information compiled about past spending was accurate and corresponds to the figures submitted to this House in the public accounts. In addition, the KPMG report provides us with a basis for continuing to report the full costs of the program, as requested by the Auditor General of Canada.

The second report, prepared by Mr. Hession, presented 16 recommendations for improving the management and operations of the gun control program. To make good on the promise I made to this House and the Canadian public to act quickly, I will review the recommendations in detail and announce a plan of action as soon as possible.

I would like to point out to this House that according to the report, the measures under Bill C-10A are essential to the success of our efforts to streamline the gun control program.

The government remains firm in its resolve to improve the efficiency of the firearms program and to further reduce its costs. These two reports will play a critical role in helping us achieve these two objectives without, in any way, sacrificing our goal of increased public safety for all Canadians.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, none of us has had a chance to read the two consultants' reports that have just been released. They seem to indicate an attempt to whitewash a billion dollar boondoggle and absolve the minister and his senior bureaucrats for their incompetence. All the minister confirms today is that they really did waste a billion dollars.

On January 8 the minister's news release stated the review by KPMG was:

...to verify the adequacy and appropriate application of the CFC's financial systems and controls. This will also assist in confirming the validity of the Program's financial statements

Today the minister reports that KPMG found exactly what he told them to find. With respect to Mr. Hession's report, the minister says Parliament now has to wait another few weeks while the minister prepares an action plan.

Why does Parliament have to wait a few more weeks? Have the minister's bureaucrats been doing absolutely nothing for the last several months? The minister tabled estimates in March 2002 saying, “Everything in the gun registry is fine. Give us another $113.5 million”. Why did he not know the program was in trouble then?

The minister tabled supplementary estimates in October saying “Everything in the gun registry is fine. Just give us another $72 million”. Why did he not know the program was in trouble then?

The minister had the Auditor General's report for weeks before it was released on December 3. Why did he wait for the media to make a big story out of it before he acted? Why did the minister wait for eight provinces and three territories to demand the review of the program before he acted?

The minister demands that Parliament pass Bill C-10A and that these two year old amendments are needed to fix the problem, when even his own user group on firearms admits they fall far short of fixing the myriad of problems in the gun registry. If Parliament is going to amend the Firearms Act, let us do it all at once.

Finally, the two reports that the minister tabled today still keep Parliament in the dark. They do not say how long it would take to fully implement the registry or how much it would cost. Worst of all, Parliament and the public would have to wait years before the Auditor General confirms that the program is totally ineffective at controlling the criminal use of firearms.

This is no longer a gun control issue. This is a government out of control issue.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Lanctôt Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great interest that I rise in the House to respond to the statement made by the Minister of Justice about the gun control program.

Although the Bloc Quebecois supports this program, we strongly condemn the lack of rigour in its administration.

At issue today are two reports intended to establish the financial integrity and improve the faulty administration of this program. We are skeptical about the relevancy of these reports, given the lengthy delay in releasing them. Why did the government wait so long?

It is worrisome that this problem only become public because of the insistence of opposition members. It is also worrisome that the government was apparently not aware of this disastrous situation. If the government was aware, why did it wait so long to investigate the problem? What happened exactly? And, above all, why did no one at the Department of Justice feel it necessary to intervene before, in an attempt to resolve this crisis before it got out of hand?

All this is flagrant evidence of the laxness introduced by this government to take advantage of its position of authority free of any oversight. It also gives us an indication of the government's attitude toward the public; the public interest is no longer central to its policies. It is becoming increasingly clear that the government is drifting away from the people to whom it is accountable.

Once again, the intention behind the program is worthwhile and relevant, but the government seems happy to promote the most incredible ineptitude in its implementation.

It is a shame that the program's legitimacy is being overshadowed by institutional mismanagement. Now we are being sidetracked by the shocking weaknesses in how it is run, although the program's objective remains worthy and necessary.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that we must get to the bottom of this administrative problem in order to identify the real source or sources of this management fiasco.

We also wish to emphasize that the government must make those responsible for this administrative disaster accountable so that they can be reprimanded accordingly.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see the minister so eager today to table his two reports. The proof of his transparency of tabling those reports will come when those reports are examined and further when we actually see a demonstration of the government's action and commitment to clean up the terrible horrific mess that has been created by the management and administration of the gun registry system.

The minister said that the reports he ordered confirm that the necessary systems are in place to ensure the integrity and completeness of necessary financial data. If that is indeed true then clearly these systems failed not only in terms from a management point of view but in terms of accountability to Parliament. That was a clear point made by the Auditor General.

I also noted that the minister talked about improving efficiency and reducing costs. That is a vast understatement to say this is about improving efficiency. This is about a program that has been totally politically mismanaged. It is an issue on which the government has lost so much credibility that now the onus is on it to demonstrate that it can garner public confidence on this issue and not jeopardize the very safety of Canadians that the program purports to uphold.

We will be examining these reports closely and I reiterate the comments of the member for Winnipeg--Transcona who spoke on this issue in December when he pointed out that when the government talks about efficiency this is a code word for some sort of privatization that would take place.

The NDP will fight that vigorously and we will also bring accountability and ensure that these reports hold the government to account, that there is transparency, and that Canadians can have confidence in the program that is meant to uphold their safety.

Gun Control
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, we have seen here today a minister who tabled two reports that tell us exactly what we already knew, at a cost, I understand, in excess of $150,000. Two reports costing $150,000 tell us what we already knew: that the integrity and completeness of the financial data were there. We did not question that.

The past expenditure is accurate. Nobody questioned the accuracy of the expenditure. What we questioned was the benefit of the expenditure. What did we get for a billion dollars? We know what we got. We got an empty shell.

The second report talks about 16 recommendations for the management and operations of the firearms program. Somebody at this stage in the game, after spending a billion dollars, had to come in and make 16 recommendations as to how to do it. How many heads have rolled because of this?

What the minister is saying is either his bureaucrats were completely incompetent or the ministers involved in this whole procedure, including the former Minister of Finance, were incompetent. Knowing the good bureaucrats that we have in this country, I believe the latter is true.

Consequently, the biggest joke is that the government would improve the efficiency of the firearms program and further reduce costs. If the government reduces costs by throwing away a billion dollars no wonder this country is in the financial mess that it is in.

Samuel de Champlain Day Act
Routine Proceedings

February 3rd, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-348, an act to establish Samuel de Champlain Day.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Samuel de Champlain day bill. It is important that I give a little background on the bill. I am introducing the bill because very soon we will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of Champlain and the settlement on St. Croix Island.

Champlain was an expert geographer and cartographer. What we now know as Canada started with this European settlement on the St. Croix River. It had a very hard winter in 1604, much like the winter today that we are experiencing back east. The settlement moved on to Port Royal and eventually to Quebec City, and Champlain became known as the father of New France.

It is very important that we recognize this man and the bill would actually identify a day that would be known as Samuel de Champlain day.

I am hoping that we will get the kind of support from the House that we need to make the bill a reality. We are doing this in recognition of a famous cartographer and explorer for which we owe a great deal of gratitude and, especially knowing full well that the 400th anniversary is coming next year with support from our federal and provincial governments. In all generosity, I am hoping we can support the bill.

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