House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

April 1st, 2003 / 2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. To this point, governments are relying on voluntary quarantines and voluntary compliance to limit the SARS outbreak. The Quarantine Act allows the government to enforce quarantines and compliance. It can be invoked at the minister's discretion. A Health Canada official is quoted as saying that would be “an extreme measure” in these circumstances. The minister must be considering this option to protect public health.

Under what circumstances would the government consider invoking the Quarantine Act?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Quarantine Act can be invoked in a variety of different circumstances. We have been monitoring the situation daily on an hourly basis. There is no necessity at this point nor has any particular situation presented itself that would require the invocation of the act.

If someone were to come in to Vancouver International Airport and there were reasonable cause to believe that they were ill and they did not submit to voluntary isolation, my quarantine officers on the ground could invoke the act to hold that person.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Transport said that government assistance to Air Canada would not come in the form of a cash bailout. He would not rule out any loan guarantees or other financial arrangements. Earlier today Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection, and a related announcement by the Government of Canada is imminent.

Could the Minister of Transport outline what guarantees he has received from Air Canada that this most recent bailout will be effective? Has he asked to see a new business plan? Has he seen a restructuring plan?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am unsure as to what the hon. member is referring. I made statements in the House yesterday that the Government of Canada was not interested in participating in a cash bailout of Air Canada, but we would help in the restructuring process. I have nothing further to add at this time, nor will I comment upon speculation about what the company may or may not be doing.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Air Canada is filing for bankruptcy protection because it desperately needs to reduce its costs.

United Airlines, in a similar process in the United States, by May 1 will have a court imposed or negotiated solution for its financial crunch. American Airlines yesterday announced a $1.8 billion deal that will keep it flying. In both of these cases, these private sector companies reached their necessary agreements without government interference.

Will the Minister of Transport agree that offering any government assistance to Air Canada would be unfair to other airlines, and it would hurt taxpayers overall?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, at no time have we interfered with the operations of Air Canada, and I stand by my answer of yesterday.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is actually a bit ironic and perhaps poetic justice that today is the one year anniversary of the introduction of the $24 air tax and this is what we see with Air Canada.

What the Minister of Transport could do, which would be progressive, would be to reduce fuel taxes, eliminate the air tax and deal with the airport rent issue. Nothing has happened for the air industry from this government except that it continually increases taxes and hammers it into the ground.

Will the transport minister agree today that his responsible role is to lower taxes so the air industry can fly, and to get off its back and stop treating the air industry like the cash cow it is not supposed to be?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, not that long ago we brought down a budget which included a reduction in the air transportation security charge of over 40%. I would like to see that bill passed in Parliament as soon as possible but that party across does not want the bill to proceed. What is he talking about, Mr. Speaker?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the rules governing military exchanges are clear: should the host nation become involved in hostilities in which the parent nation is not a party, the exchange personnel shall not engage in combat, enter a combat zone, or deploy with troops, pending direction from the parent force.

By agreeing to give such directions, will the Canadian government acknowledge that it went against its official position of opposing the war in Iraq?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the government made its decision; the government considered the matter of these exchanges. The government has alliances and, for us, these alliances are extremely important, even crucial. If these exchange personnel are withdrawn, it could endanger the lives of members of allied countries. That is our decision, and we are not going to change it.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, is this not proof of the government's contemptuous conduct toward its own soldiers, in ordering them to act against its official position and put their lives in danger in a war it calls unjustified?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, life is full of risks, especially military life, and the government must manage these risks. The government must consider a number of factors. The government takes this responsibility extremely seriously.

What the government has decided, all things considered, is that it is best, given all the factors I have already mentioned, to leave the soldiers where they are.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence said that the Canadian troops taking part in the war in Iraq were not in direct combat situations because they were not allowed to fire unless fired upon. These men and women are serving in combat units and they are in combat zones.

Will the minister simply admit that Canadian troops are fully involved in the war or does he honestly believe that the Iraqi troops will not shoot at Canadians?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I have said what I have said. I have said it correctly. I have said that we will honour our decision that the soldiers there are not involved in direct combat and that they are authorized to use force in self-defence. I do not know how many times I have to repeat the answer to the same old question after question.

That is the position of the government. I wish members opposite would understand that point.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence said that Canada's commitment to the war on terrorism justified keeping those exchange troops in Iraq.

Since the minister admits that the war in Iraq is inseparable from the war on terrorism, which he did yesterday, and since he claims that Canada is dedicated to the war on terrorism, why will the government not stand fully behind our allies on the war in Iraq?