House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was witnesses.

Topics

Automobile Industry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the past two years complacency and arrogance has cost Windsor two DaimlerChrysler auto assembly plants. Currently, General Motors and Ford are asking for a Canadian national auto policy.

My question is for the Minister of Industry. Where is that auto policy? Why do we not have something tangible for the public and the private sector to look at to grow our national treasure in the auto industry? How many jobs will it take before we actually have action from this government?

Automobile Industry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, it is clear, and it was said in the budget, that the government is preparing a national strategy for the automobile industry. We will do so in conjunction with the industry, labour and parliamentarians and through CAPC. This is the council with all the industry players and with the two ministers from Ontario and Quebec. We are engaged in that situation with them. I hope we will be able to do so this year.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Regina media today is reporting that by the time I get home tomorrow gasoline prices may hit $1.05 per litre in Regina and elsewhere in Saskatchewan. They are high right across the country.

When I asked the Competition Bureau last year to investigate the link between high gasoline prices and increased corporate concentration in the oil industry, it said that it did not have the mandate or the resources to do so.

In light of that, and I think that is the real question and not taxes, will the minister now immediately give the bureau the resources and the mandate to investigate the link between prices and increased corporate concentration in the oil industry?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if there is some deficiency in the mandate of the Competition Bureau which in some way prevents it from acting in the public interest on behalf of Canadian consumers, then obviously the Government of Canada would be interested in ensuring that the Competition Bureau has the mandate and the resources it needs to do its job in the public interest.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the avian flu crisis hit the Fraser Valley, representatives of the poultry industry immediately sat down with government officials to discuss what steps would be necessary to clean up the disease and preserve the industry in the long term.

Government representatives led them to believe that an adequate compensation package would be paid quickly. Based on that understanding, the industry agreed to the depopulation order. Unfortunately, the government's compensation plan is incomprehensible and clearly inadequate, and now those who have received a payment have been told they will have it clawed back.

Why, three months after the crisis began, is there still no decent compensation package for the farmers?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, there is a decent compensation package for farmers. Since the crisis came to our attention, we have had the ability to sit down with farmers, farm groups, processors and the province to work together on this issue, frankly in a non-partisan way. We have sat down with the producers to ensure that the compensation package reflects the reality of the crises they are facing.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the talks have broken off with the farmers in the Fraser Valley and the government does not seem to be interested in restarting them. In fact when they first sat down with government officials, the farmers were told, for example, that a laying hen was worth between $20 and $30 and that was the sort of money they could expect once the compensation order was paid. Now they have been offered only a fraction of that, but what can they do? Their barns are empty. They cannot restock with more birds. They are prohibited from doing business, and they cannot get compensation from the government.

The farmers and the industry are doing their part to try to pull this together. Is it not time that the government came up with a comprehensive and comprehensible compensation plan?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

May 13th, 2004 / 2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I wish the hon. member would not stand in the House and say that talks with the farmers have broken off. That is absolutely not true. In fact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is constantly in contact with the farmers and different farm groups, along with the province, to work on this issue.

Clearly there was a way in which the first payments to farmers was put. It was done by a group that did our BSE compensation. We found some flaws in its work. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with the farm groups to work through the true costs of compensation.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, avian flu is not the only disaster. BSE's first birthday is here. Ranchers have been waiting for clear access to the United States markets. On April 19 the United States Department of Agriculture expanded our beef trade with the United States. On April 26, U.S. producer groups moved to restrict Canadian beef. The USDA went along with them and have cut back Canadian beef imports.

There was no science-based reason for this decision. There was no response from the Liberal government. Why has the government failed to defend producers in the latest U.S. trade action?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, that is simply not true. The Government of Canada has worked very closely with producers, the provinces and all groups toward getting that border open. The Prime Minister has taken it to the highest level. He sat down with President Bush. Both have come to the conclusion that this is a North American situation, and one that needs to have cooperation and us working hard together.

The President of the United States responded by saying that he wants those borders open, and we believe that they should open now.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government has failed farmers. When one lonely, renegade U.S. producer group headed to court to block Canadian beef imports, what was the government's response? Nothing. There was no legal intervention, no outcry, nothing.

Instead of defending our producers, the Prime Minister cowered out of sight, hoping that the U.S. government would protect the interests of our producers. That did not happen and Canadian producers are once again under the gun.

Why did the government put the fate of Canadian producers in the hands of the U.S. government?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, simply, it was a U.S. decision. It was not a decision made by a Canadian court. We have worked very closely and hard with the producers and their associations that are working to get this border open.

I would ask the hon. member to ask the Canadian Cattlemen's Association or any of the other groups whether they feel the Government of Canada has been 100% behind them. They will tell him that this has been the case and that they are very proud of the work done by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and others have in fact to work toward getting the border open.

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that Canadian troops based in Afghanistan are turning over their prisoners to U.S. authorities. In light of the dreadful abuse suffered by Iraqi prisoners at the hands of the Americans in a Baghdad jail, there is cause for serious concern.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs give us the assurance that the prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and turned over to U.S. authorities have not suffered the same treatment as those in Baghdad?

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada and the Canadian Forces take our obligations under international covenants, especially the Geneva convention, very seriously. In fact we do a significant amount of pre-deployment training in that regard and we have legal counsel as well in theatre to ensure that the rules of engagement and all of our responsibilities and obligations are fulfilled.

I can say without hesitation as well that there have been absolutely no instances, no reports of any abuses of prisoners that have gone through Canadian hands.

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, some of the prisoners turned over by the Canadians to the U.S. authorities may have ended up in Guantanamo. The fact is that detention conditions there are awful and violate the Geneva Convention.

Could the minister also give us the assurance that those prisoners who are transferred to U.S. authorities are being treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention? What guarantees can he get?