House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was courts.

Topics

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will just take this opportunity to remind the hon. member of what we have done.

We received information from the police that some of our employees might be involved in an investigation. At that point we conducted our own investigation. We examined our files. We called in forensic auditors. We called in the RCMP. We have taken severe disciplinary action, including firing.

It is our obligation to make sure that those who choose to work outside the rules face the consequences, and that is what we are doing here.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, none of that is attributable to the internal work of department. The credit belongs to the Toronto municipal police force here.

This is her failed $50 million plan we are talking about. This is her department and her responsibility but it is not her money. It belongs to Canadians and Canadians deserve honest answers to clear questions.

Let me ask a simple question. Boondoggle 2: how much money is involved and how many employees?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I take full responsibility to work with the police to ensure that those who are cheating the system are caught and that the full impact of the law is placed on them.

As I said yesterday, the police have asked us not to share any further details so as not to jeopardize their investigation. Surely the hon. member would want to make sure that all charges are laid as appropriate.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The second largest deployment of Canadian Forces is currently engaged in fighting forest fires in British Columbia. With these fires largely under control, could the minister advise the House how much longer the forces will continue their firefighting efforts in B.C.?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, because of an improvement in conditions in British Columbia, I am pleased to announce that the Government of B.C. and the Canadian Forces have agreed that military firefighting assistance will end today.

I have observed the soldiers at work. It is difficult work. Generally they go out in teams of two, one with a hose and one with a pick axe.

I know that the whole House would want to join me in thanking the more than 2,600 reservists and regular forces for a job extremely well done.

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, the firestorms devastated homes and businesses in Kelowna during the firestorm that happened recently.

Could the Prime Minister tell us today how he will assure that the people who need the money to get the financial assistance will in fact go to the people who need it? When will that money come and where will the money come from in order to give the financial assistance that he promised when he was there?

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, our members of the Canadian Forces have done a magnificent job in fighting these fires in Kelowna and elsewhere. The federal government has worked very closely with Minister Rich Coleman and the premier. All are highly satisfied with our work together.

We have agreed to provide financial assistance under the DFAA and the sums that are due will be calculated according to the usual formula and will be paid.

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, with that kind of answer one wonders how sincere their promises really are.

I will turn to the Minister of Human Resources Development and ask her how serious it is. These families are in dire circumstances. They have lost their homes and their businesses. Why does she refuse to waive the two week waiting period before these people get unemployment insurance benefits?

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am very sensitive to the devastating impact that these fires have had on individuals in the Okanagan. I am happy today to tell the hon. member that the employment insurance commission has agreed to make more flexible the work sharing provisions so that those businesses that have been affected can ensure they can continue and that their employees can continue to go to work.

In that context I would remind the hon. member that there is no two week waiting period associated with work sharing.

Marriage
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the future Prime Minister, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, wants an immediate vote on same sex legislation, without waiting for the Supreme Court's opinion, doubtless to avoid dealing with this thorny issue during the next election campaign.

Does the Prime Minister feel the same way as his potential successor, or will he wait for the opinion of the Supreme Court requested by his own government?

Marriage
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government has implemented a process. This process is clear and contains a clear policy. This process is a respectful one.

The government is seeking and will obtain the court's opinion on draft legislation. The Supreme Court's opinion will address the three questions it was asked. Then, obviously, once we have obtained the court's opinion, all parliamentarians will have the opportunity to take part in a free vote in the House.

In my opinion, the government has chosen a good process that respects the various parties involved.

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has a very reputable wine and spirits industry. In fact, some international award winning vintages have been produced from some of our over 170 wineries from all provinces of Canada. Yet the industry faces obstacles to access its product in the European Union.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade tell us what developments have happened regarding our increased access to the European Union?

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey
Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce today that the Minister for International Trade, along with his colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, in Niagara-on-the-Lake signed the Canada-EU wines and spirits agreement.

The federal government has worked in close consultation with the industry and the provinces. This agreement will benefit both Canadian and EU wine and spirits industries. It will enhance trade opportunities for both regions while providing a larger variety for consumers.

Marriage
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Alliance leader stated that he supports codifying civil unions in law for homosexuals.

However, the biggest failure on same sex marriage rests with the Prime Minister. He is refusing to honour the clause that he himself put in the Constitution, a clause that acts as a legitimate check and balance against laws made by unelected and unaccountable judges.

Why is the Prime Minister refusing to invoke his own constitutional notwithstanding clause to protect the legal definition of marriage?

Marriage
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we said many times that it is a question of rights. We are talking about equality rights. It is a question of dignity as well. The course of action that has been chosen by the government is the right course of action.

We are striking the right balance with the draft bill because we are facing essentially two principles: equality rights as well as the protection of religious belief. We will obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada and then parliamentarians will have their say on a free vote.