House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for LaSalle—Émard has also stated that victims of the softwood lumber crisis should be treated the same way as workers in Toronto who have suffered in the SARS crisis.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development finally admit that workers who are victims of the softwood lumber crisis should be treated with as much consideration as those who are victims of the fisheries or SARS crises, and finally do something concrete, as the Bloc Quebecois is asking and as the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard has suggested?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat again that the Government of Canada treats Canadians fairly no matter where they live. With respect to the Employment Insurance Act and the labour market, indeed those in the softwood lumber industry are being treated the same as other Canadians.

The hon. member makes reference to the waiving of the two week waiting period. Again, that applies only as a health measure. Canadians wanted us to ensure that we stopped the spread of a communicable disease, SARS. Part of that was to provide a waiving of the two week waiting period for those in quarantine so they would stay at home.

Air India
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, court documents show that upon hearing of the bombing of Air India flight 182, CSIS agents knew immediately who the prime suspect was, based on their wire taps. Yet they destroyed the tapes of telephone conversations between the suspects despite specific instructions to retain the tapes for one year, as indicated in the SIRC report.

How much more evidence does the Solicitor General need before he recognizes that CSIS has not been absolved of all wrongdoing? How much longer before the Solicitor General initiates a public inquiry?

Air India
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have referred a number of times to the very indepth work that the SIRC report did in 1991-92. Beyond saying that, the hon. member and his party know that it would be absolutely inappropriate for me to comment on an ongoing court case.

Air India
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP's investigation into the Air India disaster has never been subject to a review. Allegations of incompetence against both our security and intelligence forces are surfacing and increasing.

Again, when will the Solicitor General initiate a full public inquiry to prove the allegations or to dispel those allegations that would only serve to build confidence with Canadians in their security agencies?

Air India
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I absolutely reject the remarks of the member in terms of saying that either the RCMP or CSIS is incompetent. They are recognized as two of the best agencies around the world in terms of dealing with security and policing.

Beyond that, I do not intend to make any comments that can be implied toward this court case.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Bill C-9, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, received royal assent yesterday, June 11, 2003.

Could the Minister of the Environment tell Canadians if the renewed act will provide participants in environmental assessments with a more transparent and predictable process?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, may I thank the members of the committee on the environment and sustainable development and all Canadians who came before them as witnesses for the excellent work that was done in the preparation of this bill.

The bill certainly will allow us to make more informed and timely decisions and it will assist Canada in pursuing the goal of sustainable development. I might add that the government has put somewhat over $10 million a year additional into this legislation over the next five years.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister made recent remarks saying that the Privy Council is looking at consolidating security functions into one department. It is about time. The Liberals have treated the security of Canadians with contempt for far too long.

One department that has been sorely neglected by the Liberals is customs, whose mandate is to protect our borders. Will the Deputy Prime Minister now finally change our customs agents from tax collectors to Canada's front line security?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I find it completely outrageous and unacceptable that the member opposite would insult customs officers, who have done an outstanding job on our border, ensuring that they meet all of their mandate in a professional and dedicated way.

I can also say to the hon. member that machinery changes are the prerogative of the Prime Minister and that I give him my advice, as do other members from time to time, but I can assure him that at no time have customs officers ever been spoken to in the way he has just referred to.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister that it was she who called customs agents 3,000 accidents waiting to happen. She is the only one who has ever insulted the customs agents of this country.

Customs agents are responsible for enforcing over 70 statutes, including the Criminal Code, the Controlled Substances Act, the Firearms Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act. The minister refuses to acknowledge that all of these involve potentially violent situations.

The Canadian Alliance has been asking the government to arm these customs agents so they can defend themselves as well as Canadians. Will the minister finally commit to arming our customs agents?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

First, Mr. Speaker, I did not say what the member said that I said, and therefore his credibility I think is suspect on all counts.

Second, Mr. Zaccardelli, an outside private expert, did a job hazard review for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Everyone has determined that customs officers should not be armed because it is not a requirement of the job they do. They do an outstanding job. They are dedicated professionals and the member opposite should just stand up and say so.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, appeal courts in British Columbia and Ontario, as well as the Superior Court of Quebec, have all ruled that preventing same-sex couples from marrying is unacceptable and discriminatory in a free and democratic society.

In light of the new ruling brought down by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in favour of the right of gays and lesbians to equality, will the Minister of Justice promise not to appeal this decision?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the member is referring to an important issue for society. We are well aware, as he just mentioned, that various decisions have been handed down in recent months. It will also be remembered that we have given the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights a mandate to conduct hearings across the country.

Incidentally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, who have done excellent work. I am told that they have met and we expect their report shortly. Once the government has finished studying the whole situation and the rulings, we will make our position public.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, for years the Liberals have known that the Indian only fishery regulations are discriminatory and illegal. Two parliamentary committees have recommended that the racist--