House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Organized Crime
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in fact, I went to the member's riding because of some of the concerns he raised in the House.

He would understand that given the way the House of Commons operates I could not have him in on a meeting where we are talking about operational police matters. That would be the wrong thing to do.

I can tell the member that marijuana grow operations on the ground in British Columbia in the area of Surrey is a serious matter. However I can tell the member that I am extremely proud of the efforts the RCMP.

Tobacco Farmers
Oral Question Period

March 21st, 2003 / 11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges has just ended a 25-year partnership with the flue-cured tobacco farmers of Quebec, citing reasons of climate. Oddly, Ontario tobacco farmers are stuck with a 50 million pound surplus of tobacco that they are trying to dispose of at a lower price. Some 97% of Quebec's flue-cured tobacco farmers are located in the Lanaudière area. I am extremely concerned.

Can the Minister of Agriculture implement an alternate enterprise program immediately in order to help these farmers, who now have to find a new livelihood?

Tobacco Farmers
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Portneuf
Québec

Liberal

Claude Duplain Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the member for Joliette asks a very relevant question. Several members from Quebec and Ontario have been made aware of the tobacco farmers' situation.

I can assure you that officials are currently working with tobacco farmers and their office and I quote:

—to work within the available programs on ways to facilitate the readjustment and possible transition of the tobacco farmers.

I can assure the member that the minister is very aware of the situation.

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, the natural resources minister is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C. next week to discuss energy trade issues with his U.S. counterparts. Given his recent disgusting comments about President Bush not being a statesman, what sort of reception does the minister expect to receive in Washington? Can he honestly expect any real results from this visit?

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this is a highly inflammatory question.

The Prime Minister made his views known on this yesterday in question period. He has every confidence in the Minister of Natural Resources. He certainly expects everyone on the government side to be very sensitive to the pressures facing the government and the people at this time in view of what is happening in the Middle East.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in her last budget, the Quebec's finance minister announced a tax credit for public transit users in Quebec. This measure will increase the number of people who use public transit, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic jams, while allowing highway infrastructure to last longer.

Does the Minister of Finance plan on applying similar measures at the federal level?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Vaughan—King—Aurora
Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. I am sure she read our budget and previous budgets very carefully and probably noticed the great investments we made on infrastructure, as well as key investments in environmental programs exceeding $3 billion. That to me shows that the government understands Canadians' priorities.

Arts and Culture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, this week a coalition of 50,000 TV writers, directors, actors and technicians released a report on the crisis in English language drama.

The relaxing of CRTC Can. con. rules in 1999 for private broadcasters has caused production levels of English Canadian drama to plummet. Private broadcasters are producing and showing less Canadian drama and increasing their expenditures on U.S. programming by 15%.

Will the government toughen up Canadian content policy so we can see our stories on TV, or is it fully committed to an Americanized survivor strategy for Canadian culture?

Arts and Culture
Oral Question Period

Noon

Laval East
Québec

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reassure the House that the Government of Canada is very concerned about Canadian content on television.

However, the CRTC is an independent body that operates according to its own rules, therefore it is not up to us to interfere with its decisions.

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, international events have overshadowed some deadly events in Canada. Of course I am speaking of the deadly pneumonia strain SARS. The transmission of this unknown pathogen has many Canadians concerned.

What is the minister doing? Has she met with her provincial counterparts in terms of a strategy? Specifically, what is the department doing to reassure Canadians that everything will be okay?

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

Madawaska—Restigouche
New Brunswick

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. At this time, no one really knows what this virus is. Officials suspect that it is, indeed, a virus, called a paramyxovirus, that is related to the viruses that cause measles and the parainfluenza viruses.

What are we doing in Canada at this time? We know that it is not a real threat because the virus has been traced back to Hong Kong. There have only been a few cases in Canada that have come from there.

We must ensure that we closely monitor people arriving from Hong Kong. That is what we are currently doing at the Pearson and Vancouver airports.

Obviously, it is very—

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, but we must now move on to routine proceedings.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am raising a point of order with respect to an answer given today by the Minister of National Defence and the answers which he gave to me yesterday on the same question.

Yesterday I put the following question to the Minister of National Defence:

Do all Canadian troops on ships in the gulf have gas masks and chemical suits to protect them against potential chemical or biological attacks? Yes or no.

The minister answered that he had already answered the question. Then he went on to say “I do not think it is appropriate for me to deal with such issues in public”, and he offered to meet me privately. That is what he said yesterday.

Today he provided to the House of Commons, in public, the information which he deliberately denied to me yesterday in the House of Commons.

I am raising this for a variety of reasons. First, I am obliged to raise this at the most timely occasion. Second, the issue was obviously one of grave importance. We would not want Canadians in the gulf to be exposed to potential chemical weapons attacks without adequate provision.

My concern is that the minister was trying to hide behind a rule set out in Beauchesne's. I draw your attention to Beauchesne's 6th edition, page 123, citation 416(1) and (2) which says:

(1) A Minister may decline to answer a question without stating the reason...

(2) An answer to a question cannot be insisted upon if the answer be refused by the Minister on the ground of the public interest; nor can the question be replaced on the Notice Paper. The refusal of a Minister to answer on this ground cannot be raised as a matter of privilege.

Clearly what the minister was attempting to do yesterday was claiming that this was a matter that could not be responded to on the ground of the public interest.

Yesterday the public interest in his interpretation said he could not reply. Today the public interest in his interpretation said he could reply. I believe that is a breach of the rules of order of the House. We have a right to count upon the veracity and completeness of the answers of ministers in the House.

I would appreciate your judgment on this, Mr. Speaker.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my response today, one must always be extraordinarily cautious to not release information that could jeopardize the safety and security of our sailors when they are in a difficult situation. Therefore I wanted to make sure there was nothing that would jeopardize their security in this matter.

I checked with the military people to make sure and I was assured that this could be appropriate to release. I gave the right hon. gentleman the courtesy, if I were not able to release it publicly, of telling him privately, given his history.

However, having been informed by the military that it was not jeopardizing the security of our people I was very happy to release what was essentially good news in the House today.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not think there is need for any further interventions on this point. I am sure the right hon. member for Calgary Centre is thrilled to get the information today that he did not get yesterday, even though it was a day late and even though it was not delivered privately. I could tell that in his remarks earlier.

Regardless of that situation, I think he is also aware that answers given one day because of certain circumstances may change on another day. I think the minister's explanation in the circumstances is entirely satisfactory. Therefore in my view there is no point of order here.

We will now proceed to tabling of documents.