House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was airports.

Topics

National Microbiology Laboratory
Statements By Members

May 7th, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the recent SARS outbreak a great deal of attention has been paid to medical professionals, public health officials and scientific researchers.

I think it is also very important that we acknowledge the many unsung heroes at Health Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. These people have been working tirelessly. They are the “behind the scenes people”, sample processors, laboratory technicians, database managers, scientists and biosafety personnel, who have been working around the clock to see that thousands of samples are correctly processed, analyzed and reported in an accurate and timely fashion to the decision makers and epidemiologists who are at the front lines of SARS.

They deserve our thanks and support as they continue to work around the clock in support of Health Canada's mandate to preserve and protect the health of Canadians. I ask that all members join me in congratulating these very valued individuals.

McKenzie Seeds
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, April showers bring May flowers and:

Roses are red,Violets are blue.Here's a little ditty About McKenzie Seeds for you.

McKenzie Seeds in Brandon is now the top packaged seed company in Canada, but like the beautiful petunias hanging on front porches everywhere, it needed a little sunlight, a little pruning and a little tender loving care.

Just three years ago, McKenzie Seeds was experiencing some difficulties. There was a lot of weeding that needed to be done. McKenzie Seeds was like a wilted flower: Does one try to bring it back to life or pull it up and start over again?

Michael Fearon and Ken Robinson were not about to let the company wilt. The two Johnny Appleseeds, then executives in the company, rolled up their sleeves and took over McKenzie Seeds, saving 100 jobs in Brandon and 100 more across Canada.

Mr. Fearon and Mr. Robinson recently picked up the business persons of the year award in Brandon. I would like to congratulate them, and I suspect that with their green thumbs McKenzie Seeds will continue to grow beautifully.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister seemed surprised to be answering questions from the Alliance on missile defence. I would remind the Prime Minister that we have been asking questions on missile defence for years now, but more importantly, this proposal with missile defence actually began seven years ago under the guidance of President Clinton.

My question is, after seven years and yet another cabinet and caucus meeting today, does the government have plans to even have a discussion with the United States on this issue?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, we discussed it in cabinet yesterday and there was a discussion in the caucus this morning. We are consulting everybody. It is a problem. As I said, the situation changed when the ABM treaty was abrogated by the Americans. That changed the situation. There is a quasi-agreement with the Russians on that. As it is covering the North American continent, it is in our interest to look into the matter. We are discussing that at this moment. There will be a decision. I am happy that the opposition is discussing this too.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, typically these guys have no policies, just communications strategies. A few months ago it was to be anti-American. Now apparently they want to have a little bit of a different strategy.

What is the government's assessment of Canada's actual national interest? In recent months, both the Deputy Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister have suggested that missile defence is not really necessary. Does the government now believe that Canada faces a potential threat of missile attack?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, at this moment I have no assessment that there is an immediate danger that we would be attacked, but governing is making sure that the situation is understood for years to come. It is why we are having a discussion within the government and the party.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, from that answer, I am not sure whether or not the government thinks there is a potential threat of missile attack.

Let me ask another question about Canada's national interest. We are being left out of the evolution of air defence in North America. It is clear that Canada will become increasingly irrelevant in Norad if this goes ahead and it is clear that the United States will go ahead whether or not Canada participates.

Does the Prime Minister believe it is essential for Canada to be involved in the continental air defence of North America?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Through Norad we are involved, Mr. Speaker. The question is, should we be involved in the next step, which is the missile element of the defence, but we have been involved in Norad for 50 years and Norad is working very well.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the defence minister said it is no big deal that 25 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan are not allowed to carry weapons, but I think it is a big deal and I want the government to explain why it has allowed that to happen. Was it a deliberate decision on the part of the government to deny our Canadian soldiers the weapons they need to protect themselves or was it an oversight?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I said it was a non-issue and I repeat that. While the government has every concern, of course, for the safety of our troops, a small reconnaissance mission was unarmed, as is often the case and as was also the case with a small unarmed NATO mission. Is the hon. member accusing NATO of incompetence?

This is normal. Indeed, in the general line of questioning of the Alliance members, what are they trying to do, make the families worry? Suggest that the Canadian Forces are incompetent? With friends like the Alliance, the Canadian--

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lakeland.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the families are worried. This is a serious issue and the minister should treat it as a serious issue.

Afghanistan in case he does not know it is a very dangerous place. Just 11 days ago, two American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in a surprise attack.

How can the minister fail so badly in his obligation to our Canadian serving men and women

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the hon. member is talking nonsense. This group is very well protected by the Germans who are currently deployed. The same was true for a small group of NATO soldiers.

It is the opposition which is causing unnecessary worry for the families. It is the opposition which by raising these non-issues is casting aspersions on the fine work done by the Canadian Forces.

I would suggest the opposition support our forces and talk about their fine achievements rather than raising these non-issues.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the government is leaving parliamentarians and citizens completely in the dark when it comes to the American missile defence shield, the Prime Minister is already talking about the need to negotiate the terms of the shield with the Bush administration.

Before deciding and negotiating, will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the government has a responsibility to explain its position to the country and to debate the details of the missile defence shield project in the House?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would like there to be a debate on the issue, that would be just fine with us. There are opposition days that are specifically designed to discuss this type of problem. We are in the processing of discussing it within our party and our government, and we would be very happy, if the opposition deems it important enough, to use one of their days to debate it in the House. The ball is in the member's court.