House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

Topics

The House resumed from June 16 consideration of Bill C-48, An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak right after the prayer for our country. I regularly get phone calls, letters and cards saying that Canadians are praying for this Parliament to have the wisdom to do the right thing.

I am one of the members of the rookie class, elected almost a year ago, but I came here not being a rookie to serving our community. I served as a city councillor for 14 years, almost 15 years now. Over those 14 years in municipal government, we would wring our hands and work hard on the budget, and I will speak on the plans in Bill C-48.

Months were spent in deliberations, trying to be accountable for every dollar in local government but it became increasingly difficult. Over the last 12 years, the dollars became more and more scarce. The finance minister of those days, our now Prime Minister, squeezed and pulled more and more money out of provincial and local governments with the plan to save more money for the federal government.

At the time I was first elected, 50% of the money to fund health care came from the federal government. Now it is only 20%. That is just one small example. It continues to be difficult.

Now that finance minister is the Prime Minister, the difficulties in local government for our citizens, our taxpayers, continues. I supported Bill C-43. That was our budget and consultation had gone into it. It was not a budget with which everybody was particularly happy but we could live with it. We did not want to call an election over it so we supported the bill.

However, along came Bill C-48. Why are we having the debate on Bill C-48? We had a crisis in Parliament because of the corruption and sponsorship scandals. A cloud was hanging over the government. A flurry of offers and deals were being made in an effort to bolster the government. Without the help of the NDP, the government would have fallen. Over the weekend, on a napkin deal, we had Bill C-48.

Bill C-48 does not involve planning. It does not involve consultation. It involves a backroom deal, a napkin deal, that does not represent the wishes of Canadians. Our responsibility is to serve Canadians and to be extremely accountable for every Canadian tax dollar that is sent to Ottawa. Bill C-48 does not represent that. It is a plan that was concocted with no thought or consultation. It is a plan where $4.5 billion will be given to the finance minister to spend at his discretion. How can anybody support that? Canadians do not support that. They want accountability and we do not see that in the government. We do not see that in Bill C-48. When I say government, it is basically a coalition government of the Liberals and NDP.

When I thought about the two parties, I wondered what we would call the Liberal and NDP if we were to mix the two. We would probably end up with the nibble party, a party that nibbles away at Canadians. It is not a party that we and Canadians would be proud of.

Without accountability, Canadians do not know what is going to be done with that money. Do Canadians trust the track record of the last 12 years of the government? They do not.

Part of the $4.5 billion funding in the bill is to go toward the environment. Are we supposed to trust the government to spend it on the environment? Again, it is a promise that over the next many years there will be funding for the environment. For 12 years the government was supposed to do the right thing for the environment but over the last 12 years pollution levels have continued to increase, not decrease.

What about the Kyoto plan? This party said that Kyoto had some merits but that it was not good enough. Canadians are demanding better. Yes, we need to deal with carbon dioxide and the effect on global warming. We acknowledge that but we need better. Kyoto only deals with the carbon dioxide effects. We need to deal with the particulates, the pollution. Every year, hundreds of Canadians are dying prematurely because of the high pollution levels.

Over 12 years, has anything happened there? No. Just a few months ago, even after the 12th hour and pressure from this party to come up with a plan, we finally received a plan. However the plan shows that it will be very difficult to achieve the targets and it is Canadians who will have to help solve that problem. A plan that says the targets will be very difficult to achieve is not a plan. The plan will involve going back to Canadians for more money. With Bill C-48, $4.5 billion of overtaxation will be taken from the Canadian taxpayers.

How do we meet those Kyoto targets dealing with the pollution? We will have to increase energy costs. Canadians are furious over having to pay approximately $1 a litre for gasoline and gas prices that fluctuate daily. However as the government starts implementing the Kyoto plan, the money to buy those carbon credits, the billions of dollars, will be coming from the Canadian taxpayer for energy costs. We are looking at $2 to $3 for a litre of gas with this no-plan.

We still are not dealing with the pollution. Even after 12 years, the government is still allowing raw sewage to be dumped into our oceans. It is unacceptable and Canadians want that stopped. The Liberals have had chances to stop it and they have not. The fact is that the NDP had a chance to clean up the raw sewage being dumped into Victoria Harbour but it did absolutely nothing. Maybe this unholy alliance really is not that uncommon because their values are very similar. They both accept dumping raw sewage into our oceans as an acceptable environmental standard. Canadians demand better.

Canadians demand better for health care. A number of seniors in my riding of Langley have come up to me demanding respect and demanding health care. A number of these people have been waiting for a hip replacement for over four years. That is not acceptable.

What this party is demanding is accountability and Bill C-48 does not provide accountability. Canadians do not support this plan and they do not support the rush to have Bill C-48 go through.

We need to have more consultation. At the committee stage of the bill the Conservative Party offered a number of amendments that would have improved the bill but they were not accepted? Why were they not accepted? Because the Liberals wanted to rush Bill C-48 through with no accountability, just trust. They are asking Canadians to trust them. Canadians do not trust the Liberals and they are telling us not to support Bill C-48.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr.Speaker, I am sure anyone listening to that recognizes it as political rhetoric that does not relate in any way, shape or form to the facts of the matter at hand.

Bill C-48 represents three significant priorities for Canadians and it demonstrates the fact that we have a minority government and as a minority government, we negotiate.

The member knows full well that in the original budget our government negotiated with his party and other parties to incorporate some of their priorities into the budget. The original budget reflected that. Subsequent to that, other negotiations took place and, indeed, an amendment was made in the form of Bill C-48. What does it represent? It represents housing for the poor. It represents money for post-secondary education. It represents international aid and development.

Does the member oppose money for those who need low cost housing? Does he oppose money for post-secondary education and to relieve the tuition burden on students? We recognize that tuition fees are a problem and we are working with the provinces to solve the problem. Does the member oppose money for international aid and development to help those who are the most underprivileged in the world? If the member is opposed to all those things then he should come out and say that.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, no, I do not oppose any of the things he listed. I support housing for the poor. I support a strong educational program for students. I have five grown children and I know the costs of tuition. It is expensive for them to go to school. I also support international aid. Our party supports all these things but the government has had 12 years to do these things.

The member talked about empty political rhetoric. Twelve years of government is empty political rhetoric when we still have Canadians waiting for over four years for a hip replacement. They are suffering, and it is unconscionable.

The Liberals started a program called compassionate care and gave Canadians hope. However they are still not permitting Canadians to spend the last six weeks with their dying loved ones. It is a program they trumpet but it is empty rhetoric.

I have numerous examples of the Liberals speaking but not acting. If a Conservative government is given a chance, we will meet those needs and we will do it with a plan and a timeline that will represent Canadians in a way that Canadians want to be represented.

Empty rhetoric has to stop and the only way that it will be stopped is if the present government is replaced.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I feel that I must correct a couple of statements. Contrary to what the member across the House said, which is that this bill was ill-thought out and hastily planned, it was just the opposite.

On issues like affordable housing, we in the NDP consulted with groups over a number of years and we clearly reflected what we heard from Canadians. This is an example of how minority governments can work for Canadians by putting together a plan that addresses the needs that Canadians say are absolutely important to them.

What would the member say to those Canadians who have been working diligently over a number of years to talk about issues like affordable housing and putting forward concrete plans that we would like to see implemented with this better balanced budget?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-48 does not have a plan, which is why the Conservative Party is objecting to it. It was a plan that was created over a weekend. This is it. It is one page, oops, on a napkin. Where did that come from? Canadians demand better than one page on a napkin.

All we are saying is that $4.5 billion, without a plan, makes it very clear that Canadians are being overtaxed. Canadians do not trust the government because of its 12 years of mismanagement, and it has to change.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:20 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address the House on this bill.

Unlike the opposition, I congratulate the New Democrats who listened to voters and got down to business in this Parliament by putting the priorities of Canadians first. In a minority government, government initiatives do not necessarily always get support from Parliament; negotiations are needed.

These negotiations must certainly be done in a reasonable manner that successfully puts the priorities of Canadians first. I think that is what the New Democrats managed to do. If the other opposition parties did not manage to do this, then too bad for them.

The New Democrats recognized that the government should focus on certain priorities it had announced in the previous budget and in the Speech from the Throne. Not enough progress had been made in these priorities to get the NDP's support for Bill C-43. They invited the government to address these matters and that is how we ended up with Bill C-48.

If we look at what we get in Bill C-48, we get some phenomenal advancements of Liberal priorities. We get them a little faster than we had proposed to bring them forward, but I am very glad that we are doing it. I am very glad and I congratulate the New Democrats for bringing them forward and making a minority Parliament work.

If we look at simple questions such as education and the importance of education for our society and culture, we will see what we have done. The opposition always points to what has happened over the last 12 years, all the failures and all the problems that are still out there.

I invite the opposition to look at the successes. We have to look at what we have done over these last dozen years and how we have advanced the priorities of Canadians. I remember when the big question was the brain drain. This was happening when we had young Canadians, professors, engineers, and all sorts of technicians and professionals going overseas to find work. Now they are in Canada; they are coming back. Our graduates are finding work in this country. Jobs are being developed in this country. These professionals are developing our society. They are evolving our society and they are participating in it.

Further, we are getting professional people from all over the world. They are coming to Canada for an opportunity. A big concern now is that we are having to invest in the recognition of foreign credentials. We should do that because it is a very good thing. The government is putting $75 million toward that objective. We have a lot of capacity out there. We have people from other cultures and other countries who want to participate in the miracle of Canada and in developing our society.

This is a big change from the brain drain that we experienced. We have put huge investments into research, such as the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the millennium scholarship, the research chairs, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to name only a few. There is an incredible amount of money being invested in our country. What these investments have meant to our university sector has been phenomenal.

However, there is something lacking, and I have spoken about this in the House on many occasions. It is the ability of Canadians to fund their own education and participate in the affairs of our society. We have done a lot of work. We have raised the bar. We have instituted some programs to help those with problems through education bonds for the less wealthy in this country. We have looked at student loans and how to assist people who are having difficulty paying back their student loans. We have multiple levels of assistance.

There are families in my community that might earn just enough that it makes it difficult for them to access loans and bursaries. There are people who think that the debt burden will be too high and that they should not consider university or certain levels of training. It is appropriate that we make an investment in this area. We must start helping students and institutions. If we advance Bill C-48, it will be a great thing that we are doing for future generations and the current generation.

I will be visiting high schools, as I did this spring. I will be going to two graduations next week if the House rises early enough, and I certainly hope it does. What pains me the most when I talk to these people with huge potential, is that they tell me that they are choosing a particular course of study because of the cost or because of the chance that they will get a job right away and not have a big debt burden.

I do not think there is any bad course of study, whether vocational, technical, university or going directly into the workforce. I have no problem with it, as long as it is the true hope and desire of the students and not impacted by their financial limitations. If Canadians want this country to advance, then we must ensure that we free up all the potential of our current and future generations. It cannot be based on their parental financial status. It must be based on their dreams and aspirations. To invest in students is an incredibly good thing. I am very pleased that we are advancing that Liberal priority and bringing it forward.

Some members opposite will say that tax breaks are the answer to everything. We have given an incredible amount of tax breaks. We have reduced the tax burden on Canadians by $100 million. We have also reduced EI premiums. There are plans for future reductions. That does not do it for everybody. It is important that we bring people up and that we raise the bar for individuals as we bring them forward.

We must look at the question of homelessness in this country and the causes. I do not think tax breaks will do it. Homelessness needs a social investment. It needs a partnership between our urban communities, rural communities, the provinces, the federal government, and the non-governmental organizations. We must look at the capacity that is out there to invest in our economy and for all our citizens to be inclusive, so that the problem of homelessness does not keep growing.

I live in a rural community. We do not see homeless people in my community. They are not visible. People do not make a lot of money as squeegee boys on concession roads, so the ones who have problems for one reason or another, who cannot quite cut it in our economy, end up moving to the urban centres like Montreal, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver.

If we want to stop that pyramid effect, it is important to look at what programs we have for people who are at risk of being homeless in all communities across this country. We have made very good investments and to make further investments is a very good idea.

Another very good area to be investing in is affordable housing. I have many seniors in my riding who live in old stock houses. These large homes are very difficult to maintain. The services in rural areas are not necessarily the ones we would have in urban centres. Services such as home care, access to doctors, hospitals and even access to a grocery store can be a problem.

If we were to use our imagination and look at the question of affordable housing and homelessness in a global perspective to see how we can assist, I would see great potential. In rural Nova Scotia, one of the things that I always suggest is having enriched housing programs for seniors where they can have independent living, but if services of professionals should be required, they should be available as they are in homes for special care.

If we were to make those types of investments, if the provinces were to use their imagination and we partnered with them, we would free up a lot of old stock housing in our communities for young families to come in and provide very good, secure opportunities for our seniors. If we were to do that, we would have raised the bar quite considerably.

Regarding foreign aid, sometimes people from my community ask, why are we investing billions of dollars in sub-Saharan Africa or in South America or Central America, or China, or anywhere while we have problems at home? I suggest to them that foreign aid is not completely a benevolent act. There is an element of advancing the Canadian cause and within that there is a huge advancement. If we were to assist these countries in reaching their potential, they could become trading partners. If we were to assist these individuals and their families to have a better and positive future, we could reduce the political strife, violence, terrorism, and perhaps all those other problems.

If we were to assist in matters such as health care in those countries, for example, reducing AIDS, and assisting communities torn apart, families torn apart, whole civilizations destroyed or cultures destroyed by a scourge of illnesses similar to that, I think we would being doing some good for the whole world. As Canadians we are lucky to live in the best country in the world, but we are not here alone and we must help to build the whole globe in order to advance it further.

The environment is a very important issue to me. The opposition will say that we have not done enough for the environment. When I came here in 2000, we were told there was no problem related to global warming. Now, we are being told that we may not be doing enough on this issue.

In any event, environmental issues are important. We have implemented infrastructure programs and worked with the cities and the provinces. We have seriously raised the bar in our country and we must continue to do so.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe how many things this member could get wrong in one speech. He talks about the brain drain and says the people who left in the last 10 years are now coming back in droves. I wonder what evidence he has for that. I have not seen a single report that says people are coming back in huge numbers. We are still losing as many to other countries as we are getting back. I think he is wrong on that point.

He said that we have pumped thousands of dollars into research, et cetera. Does he not recognize that governments do not create money? The government cannot just buy royal edicts and give so much more new money. That money comes from somewhere. It comes from the earnings of Canadians, businesses, enterprises, manufacturing and natural resources.

How can he say the government has pumped it in? The government has really taken it from one person and given it to another. It has taken it from the taxpayers and reallocated it. I am not necessarily opposed to that, but to somehow imply that it has pumped all this money in as if it created it from nothing is sort of misleading.

He talks about a $100 billion tax break. I get so sick of this. The amount of $100 billion over the next 10 years is planned for the future if the Liberals still happen to be in government. Canadians know that their take home pay has actually not increased more than about 2% in the last 10 years, one of the lowest increases in the world. The Liberals keep crowing about this $100 billion tax break. We are talking about a one year budget. How much is it per year? Let us be honest with Canadians.

He talked about reducing EI premiums. The government is still taking $5 billion more a year out of it than what it is paying out. It is a huge cash cow for the government. He talks about the environment. I do not think Liberals want the Sydney tar ponds actually solved because then what would the government put in the throne speeches and annual budgets? The government always has plans. I think they are wipeouts.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the government itself has no resources. They are the resources of the Canadian public, the taxpayers and every child whether they are earning income or not. However, it is the responsibility of the government to direct those resources in ways that are for the common good.

We reduced the tax burden of $10 billion over two years in EI premiums alone. We provided a $100 billion tax reduction. We chose the priorities and we determine how our society should advance. We look at areas like day care and early childhood learning and determine the necessity for investment of Canadian resources to assist those children, their families and the future. We see that as being very important. The opposition asks only for tax cuts, saying we should let the rich decide how they want to do it and not provide services to the people less fortunate in this country.

We presented our budget and the opposition saw that it had popular favour and the people of Canada agreed with it. We say we will do that and maybe more. That is how we imagine it.

As far as the brain drain is concerned, I remember not too long ago a former leader and currently a member of the Conservative Party suggesting that he was having problems with the direction of the water over Niagara Falls. I believe that this member has gone over the falls in the same barrel along with all the others.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to hear the member opposite speak so passionately about some major issues that all Canadians are concerned about. However, I think we should get some clarity around some of the issues.

The first issue is, for example, low income housing. The government and the Liberal Party, along with the NDP, have willingly raised expectations of Canadians about low income housing. There are expectations that this initiative would deliver new homes and rental units for those with low incomes. However, the specific program the money would be directed to is energy efficiency retrofit for low income houses. That means to me that it would be retrofitting existing low income housing, and not building new low income houses.

Can the member tell us how many new low income houses or rental units will be delivered to Canadians through the NDP-Liberal budget?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, this program has a lot of potential. Let us look at what we have been able to achieve so far with our investments in affordable housing. We have done partnerships with the communities, with the provinces and with non-governmental organizations.

We have not decided as the federal government that it was one solution for all; the solution for the problems of Winnipeg would not necessarily be the best solution for the town of Middleton. In Middleton, we had a great opportunity to work with the municipality and the provincial government to create incredibly good affordable seniors housing for that community.

I think there is potential in all sorts of areas across the country and that will retrofit housing, create new housing and, above all, give better housing to low income Canadians.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak in our Parliament. One of the primary functions of Parliament is, and has been since Parliament was invented, to carefully administer and to be a watchdog for the expenditures of the king.

Of course we have the king over on the other side there, wandering around handing out billions of taxpayers' dollars, and with this bill, Bill C-48, once again he would have an unfettered ability to spread that money around. I think that we as Canadians ought to be terribly concerned about this kind of legislation that permits the finance minister and the Prime Minister to do all of these things without accountability.

We have been made so aware in this country in the last four years or thereabouts, with this ad scam thing, that to spend money out of a grand scheme and a big fund, without a detailed plan and without accountability, is just a recipe for disaster.

I would remind all the members here and all those who happen to be listening around the country that ad scam happened because there was actually a hidden fund called the unity fund. It was not even specifically stated; the government did it sort of on the sly. Money was allocated from this so-called unity fund. The Auditor General subsequently reported that there were huge amounts of money, over $100 million, for which she could see no evidence, no paper trail, no justification for spending the money, or even a record of where it had gone.

Now we are in a place where this government is currently under investigation by Judge Gomery as to all these illegal and I would say criminal activities, because taking money that belongs to others is called theft; and that is exactly what this government has done.

Bill C-48, in this little collusion affair between the Liberals and the NDP just in order to buy their votes, sets up exactly the same kind of scenario. I would be very concerned if I were a member of the Liberal Party or the NDP supporting this and saying, “Here is where we want to go”. It is going to hang on their shoulders. Hopefully, when the Canadian people wake up and see what is actually happening here, it will pull them right down to zero.

I did a little calculation and I made an interesting connection, that is, the 19 votes that were bought with this $4.5 billion works out to pretty well as much per vote as the cost of an election, at around a quarter of a billion per vote. The money the Liberals have spent per vote, for those 19 votes, would buy an election. In other words, the money that this deal cost is equal to the cost of 19 federal elections. That is amazing.

Of course we know that the money that is allocated is for what the NDP and the Liberals think are good causes. I would venture to say that I, as a member of Parliament, a Canadian citizen and a representative of the people in my riding as well as one who is looking to the well-being of all Canadians, would favour the programs that they are talking about, but the way this is being done is absolutely untenable.

If these were good, important programs, and they are, then why did the finance minister not put them into his budget speech?

Do members remember way back in the old days that when information from a budget was leaked it would precipitate the resignation of the Minister of Finance? That was not so terribly many years ago.

Now not only do we have the total speech being leaked in advance, but we also have this bizarre scene in which the speech the finance minister gives on budget day has become meaningless. I think this is a tragedy, because as for what he said on that particular day with respect to the government's anticipated plans for taxation, the receipt of money, and the expenditure of that money, all the money that is to be put into the various government programs, that plan turns out to have been nothing but a giant hoax.

There he was saying it, but when we tried to propose amendments, we were told that it could not be done. For the record, we actually tried to influence the budget in advance and frankly were quite singularly rebuffed. When we tried after the fact to propose amendments, we were told very clearly that it could not be done, that the speech the finance minister gave on budget day is what is going to be.

In fact, that is how it has always been.

What did we find two weeks later? The government was facing extinction. It was on the endangered species list. There was all this garbage that we were getting from Gomery. There was all the evidence that showed there was so much criminal activity not only on the front benches of the government but also in the Liberal Party itself, which is the root of the government. As a result, Canadians were saying that they were going to turf those guys. Bring on an election, they were saying, we are going to replace them because they are not worthy to run our country.

What did the Liberals do? First of all, they ignored some votes in the House. We had I believe five votes, two of which were explicit non-confidence votes. I remember, Mr. Speaker--and I am going to do it now because when the Deputy Prime Minister did this it was not shown on camera and Canadians did not know this--that when we had that vote of non-confidence and the Liberals lost that vote of non-confidence, the Deputy Prime Minister made a gesture like this one: “So?” That is exactly what she did: “So?” In other words, a vote in this place does not matter, she was saying, we will just ignore it.

So doctor democratic deficit killer over there, the Prime Minister, does not believe in democracy. The Liberals lost five votes and then, finally, in order to make sure they won one, they had to entice one, and tried to entice more, of our members to cross over. We know they cut a deal with the Minister of Human Resources, because she landed up over there and she is in cabinet. The evidence is there. There was a deal cut. It happened.

Now they have tried to cut a deal with the NDP and the NDP has bought into it. I cannot believe that the NDP would be willing to prop up this corrupt government at such a huge price.

I am simply saying that Bill C-48, the bill we are debating today, is the government's attempt at trying to look, at least formally, as having fulfilled a deal that was made between those two guys, in the hotel in Toronto, with the candles burning and the soft music playing. It was absolutely incredible.

I need to say a little more about this. Right now we are debating this at what is called report stage, and I imagine this is not significant to many people, that is, Bill C-48 was passed here by a slim majority at second reading with the NDP's help and the other shenanigans that the Liberals pulled in order to entice votes. It was passed at second reading. It went to committee and the committee dealt with it.

The committees are supposed to scrutinize legislation. The finance committee did this. It proposed a number of amendments. What do we have today when we are dealing with report stage? All we have to do is look at today's order paper where these amendments are spelled out. I am going to read a very small part of them. Motion No. 1, which we are now debating, is basically this:

That Bill C-48, in Clause 1, be amended by restoring Clause 1--

That is because the committee in its wisdom deleted clause 1 of the bill and reported it back to the House. Where is the democracy? Where is the process of the committee? Why is it not being paid attention to?

Instead, the committee reported the bill back to the House and that arrogant Liberal government simply brought back an amendment saying that anything the committee has done, it will undo. Once again, the Liberals have the purchased votes over there and will probably get it to pass.

It is the same for Motion No. 2:

That Bill C-48, in Clause 2, be amended by restoring Clause 2--

In other words, the committee took it out. The government says it is going to put it back in. It says, “We have these bought votes over here and we will just put it back in”. Democracy just goes poof, out the window.

The Prime Minister ought to hang his head in shame. He ran for the leadership of his party. He ran as a potential prime minister of the country in the last federal election as the person who was going to address the democratic deficit. At every stage he is doing the opposite. Meanwhile, Canadians are suffering because of the lack of a fiscal plan that would put Canada on a solid footing, which is where it ought to be.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, we must speak the truth. Bill C-48 is before us today because the NDP introduced an amendment to the budget, Bill C-43. The Bloc Québécois voted against Bill C-43 and will be voting against Bill C-48, too, because the Liberal Party and the NDP failed, during their negotiations, to address the fiscal imbalance or make improvements to the EI fund.

The fiscal imbalance is affecting all the other provinces in Canada, and not just Quebec. In order to achieve zero deficit, the former finance minister—the current Prime Minister—slashed federal transfers to the provinces. This led to problems in health care, education and municipal infrastructure programs. These are areas under provincial jurisdiction.

At no time did the NDP consider in Bill C-48 the demands of Quebec. Yet their candidates in every riding in Quebec, even Pierre Ducasse in the riding of Manicouagan, are wondering why the Bloc Québécois voted against it.

I agree with the member when he says that the Liberal Party and the NDP were complicit. First, we have to face facts; the Liberals agreed to the NDP's amendment for fear of having to face an election. But we have to remember that the vote on the budget is also a confidence vote. We were unable to have confidence in this government after the whole sponsorship scandal and the revelations at the Gomery commission. Furthermore, in my opinion, EI should have been a priority in the budget. The unions have condemned this failure.

I want to ask my Conservative colleague the following question. If the Liberals had had a majority, does he believe they would have considered the NDP's amendment and injected an additional $4.5 billion into the budget, that they would have suddenly taken an interest in social housing and allocated additional funds for the environment? If this had been a majority government, does he think that they would have listened to the NDP and allocated additional funds in the budget?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, my Bloc colleague has asked a very insightful question.

One thing I want to say about the Bloc members is that they are very consistent in representing the needs of their province. I wish they had a little wider view of the country as a whole, but at least they are true to the mandate which they have defined for themselves.

The question of whether the Liberal Party would have been as amenable to the proposals from the NDP if the Liberals had a majority is a hypothetical one, but I think the answer is self-evident. We have some 11 years of evidence of a majority Liberal government walking roughshod over every one of the rest of us. With very rare exception did the Liberals ever accept even the smallest amendments from the opposition parties. There is no doubt about it that it was electoral fear that caused them to cut this deal. I do not think that there is any problem believing that.

The member also raised the question about having voted for Bill C-43. We recall that when that first came up it was the first time that the minority Liberal government had presented a budget. At second reading of Bill C-43 we did not support it. That fact has escaped a lot of people. We did not support it, but neither did we vote against it because although the Speaker said that the question was on the budget, we supported the government having a chance to prove itself.

This Parliament was very young and Canadians were not ready for an election six months after the last one. Although the Speaker said that the vote was on the budget, every one of us knew the real vote was on whether we should have an election. With one vote both questions had to be answered and they are diametrically opposed. We came up with what we thought was a workable solution. We would not support this budget because of those serious flaws, but at the same time, we knew that the real vote was on whether there should be an election. We decided at that time not to put Canadians through the necessity of having an election. That was the dilemma we faced.

With respect to the EI fund which the member also asked about, I would simply say that the government continues to take huge amounts of money in excess of the actual actuarial needs of that fund. I think that is a crime.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate on Bill C-48. I realize we are getting close to question period, so I will try to make my remarks brief and make the most of this opportunity.

I honestly believe that people watching today, whether they are present physically or watching on CPAC, are in for a bit of a treat. Not only has the debate been of a very civil tone today--and it has not always been civil in recent days; last night was something that no one should be proud of--but they are also having an opportunity to watch a minority Parliament work as it should.

This is an interesting lesson in history. It is an interesting observation. What we see in Bill C-48 is the manifestation of the cooperation that has typified this minority Parliament. The NDP has used its political leverage, as a good opposition party will, to advance our agenda with the ruling governing party. It is almost a civics lesson in how it is supposed to happen. I have never been more proud to be a New Democrat. In the eight years that I have been here, the last six months have been the most gratifying and satisfying in my short political career.

I am here today with my colleague from Ottawa Centre who has lived through the experience of minority Parliaments before, with great success I might add. It gives me an enormous sense of pleasure and pride to stand today with my colleague from Ottawa Centre present in the House to relive that experience. I honestly believe, without any partisan politics involved, that minority Parliaments are good for Canadians. History and the empirical evidence bear that out. We are experiencing that again today with Bill C-48.

My colleague from Edmonton--Sherwood Park made a very good speech. He started it with an interesting observation, as he often does, about the role of an opposition party in a parliamentary democracy. I think he would agree there is another role for an opposition party in a minority Parliament, and that is to advance the agenda of that opposition party to the best of its advantage within the rules. It is a good thing for Canadians that there is more diversity in the intellectual dealings of this House, in that the ruling party, by the nature of a minority Parliament, has to do more consultation and more cooperation. Consultation in the strictest sense of the word means accommodation of what the government members have heard as well. There cannot be consultation without accommodation of the points being heard.

We are proud to stand here today and say that the ruling party, the Liberal Party, has accommodated the legitimate concerns of the New Democratic Party. That has manifested itself in Bill C-48, and I am delighted to be able to say that. I say it with great pride and modesty as well. Canadians have made their views known. The whole neo-conservative agenda, well, I will not even go into that. I do not want to be partisan today.

In the few moments that I have, I rise simply to celebrate the fact that we have managed to turn the political agenda back to the interests of ordinary Canadians, all within the context of a balanced budget. I want to emphasize that again and again, because last night, laying in my bed watching CPAC and watching some of the speeches by the Conservatives, I felt like putting on my suit and tie, coming down here and challenging some of the misinformation. They would have people believe that our agenda of adding some social spending to this year's budget in some way is going to break the bank. Everything is within the context of a balanced budget and that is in fact the historical record of most NDP governments.

I do not have to remind Canadians that the most wasteful, spendthrift government in Canadian history was the most recent Conservative government. That is when the national debt ballooned to $500 billion.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent Ottawa Centre, ON

And the Conservatives in Saskatchewan before that.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Ottawa Centre has reminded me of a graphic illustration. Seven years of Grant Devine's Conservative government almost ruined that province. Eight years of Allan Blakeney budgets were all balanced. Eight years of Roy Romanow budgets were all balanced. Now the current premier has actually turned that province with balanced budgets into a have province instead of a have not province. That is a good track record.

I do not say that to be smart or critical of my colleagues in the Conservative Party, but let us be historically accurate when we make these kinds of claims. It is not fair to do it at midnight when I am not here to defend my party.

I am proud today that with 19 members of Parliament, I believe we have made a difference. I compliment my colleagues from the ruling party, the Liberal Party, for listening to our legitimate concerns and the legitimate concerns of Canadians and accommodating through consultation some of those spending measures.

It should be noted as well that there was another inaccuracy that I want to correct. Some people said that the NDP came in and negotiated an end to the tax cuts that were in the original budget. That is not accurate. We negotiated an end to the corporate tax cuts. Small business and medium size business will still get the original tax cuts that were contemplated in the original budget.

We believed that because there had been four successive cuts in a row to the corporate tax rate, it was time to balance things out a little bit and spend a little bit of our taxpayers' dollars on taxpayers. Not all money has to be shovelled dutifully to Bay Street. It is not written or carved in stone anywhere on the threshold of this place. Sometimes we are allowed to spend some of our surplus tax dollars on the needs of individual taxpayers. What is wrong with that concept?

I cannot understand the party that used to call itself the great grassroots party not standing up for the interests of grassroots Canadians who would enjoy a little bit of relief in terms of tuition for their children going to university, and who would thank the House of Commons.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, before we go to question period, I want to make a point to all of my colleagues.

BlackBerries have to be switched off on airplanes because their transmission interferes with the electronics of an airplane. The same thing is true here. If the BlackBerries are active when they are next to the microphones, the microphones pick it up. It is most annoying and it is broadcast right across the country.

I wish members would turn the things to “no transmit” when they are here, just as they do when they are on airplanes.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the member for his electronic expertise. Members can take that advice, as they will, please.

Lung Association
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Lung Association has been helping Ontarians for more than 100 years. The Peterborough branch has worked in our community for many years.

In the early days, the Lung Association successfully fought TB. In recent years it has been at the forefront of the fight against tobacco smoking in public and in private.

The association's “Lungs are for Life” school program directly addresses young people at a time when they are most vulnerable to tobacco addiction and at a time when lifestyles tend to be set.

Although great progress has been made against public smoking, there is still a great deal to do. One in five Canadians still smoke, 18% of young people still smoke and 12,000 people a year die from tobacco use in Ontario alone.

I commend Health Canada for its support of the Lung Association's fine work and I urge that it continue. I thank all those in the Peterborough Lung Association for their fine, dedicated work. I urge members to visit www.yourhealthyhome.ca.

National Defence
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, in the 1950s and 1960s the Department of National Defence sprayed agent orange, agent purple and other highly toxic chemical herbicides at Base Gagetown in New Brunswick. The health and well-being of many were put at risk because of the use of this poison. Civilian and military personnel, their dependants and the public in general who were living near the base were told there was no danger. It was obvious they were misled.

The Government of Canada has known the consequences of this spraying for many years now and since then has continued to dither, hide evidence and deny any responsibility for its actions. The Minister of Veterans Affairs has suggested in the House that she is eager to help. However, with 20 files on her desk seeking compensation without any resolution, I suggest her definition of eager is somewhat similar to the actions the government displayed on the issue of hepatitis C.

The government was quick to come up with a $4.5 billion ad hoc budget scribbled on the back of a napkin in a hotel room in Toronto to serve its own political agenda, but when it comes to helping ordinary Canadians, it has failed to act.

Science Fair
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this occasion to congratulate a 14 year-old student from my riding, Alexandre Harvey, who recently won the gold medal at the Canada-wide science fair held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Alexandre attends École secondaire Sainte Marie in New Liskeard. His project, aptly titled “Ça cliques-tu?” measured the effect of the sound of a metronome on students writing mathematics tests or spelling dictation.

By comparing marks, Alexandre was able to determine that students who wrote tests to the sound of a metronome got 25% better marks.

Alexandre's goal was to find a way to help students get better marks, regardless of their work methods.

Alexandre is obviously a young scientist who bears watching in future, judging by these excellent results.

Congratulations, Alexandre, we are very proud of you.

La révolte des pêcheurs
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 1 in Rivière-au-Renard, I had the pleasure of attending a dramatic reading of the Maurice Joncas play La révolte des pêcheurs , directed by Francine Guimond.

This play based on historical facts re-enacts the terrible experiences of a group of fishermen in the Rivière-au-Renard area of Gaspé in 1909. They had had enough of being exploited by the Jersey merchants, and rose up in revolt.

The Liberal MP of the day panicked and sent two Canadian navy frigates as scare tactics. Soldiers came ashore at Pointe-à-la-Renommée in the dark of night and searched homes at gunpoint. They tracked people into the woods and arrested a number of them.

William Savage, Édouard Riffoux, Jos Tapp, Urbain Chrétien, Aurèle Élément and many others have gone down in history as the ones who organized this uprising.

I salute the courage and tenacity of these fishermen who stood up to the injustice and exploitation to which they were being subjected. Yet all they wanted was a modicum of freedom and respect.

Child Soldiers
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Russ Powers Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of rising in the House today to discuss the efforts of a number of students in my riding to make the world a safer place for children.

Bryan Vanderkruk, Allison Klimeck-Stark and Brad Fonseca of the Hamilton District Christian High School have formed the Making A Difference Political Involvement Group. Working in collaboration with like-minded students from Hamilton's Westmount Secondary School and the St. Thomas Moore Catholic Secondary School, the students are trying to stop the use of child soldiers in armed conflict.

The students would like to see Canada play a leading role in bringing attention to this horrible tragedy that affects an estimated 300,000 children worldwide. I ask my colleagues to join me in saluting the efforts of these students to see that the practice of using child soldiers will not be tolerated.

Seniors
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, today there are at least four million Canadians over the age of 65 and the number continues to grow. In my riding of Carleton—Mississippi Mills, about 4,000 residents are seniors.

Those over the age of 65 are becoming a dominant segment of our society. Currently one in eight in our population is a senior. As the baby boomers become seniors, those over 65 will become one in four in our population. I support strong and focused policies for seniors in the areas of health care, tax relief and benefits to help improve the quality of life for seniors.

Every year in June, Seniors Month is celebrated across Ontario. Seniors Month is an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to all seniors. They are the ones who built our society and it is only fitting that their contributions to our way of life be acknowledged.

I extend my best wishes for health and happiness to all senior citizens in Carleton—Mississippi Mills.

U.S. Open Golf Tournament
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate David Hearn, a 25-year-old resident of Brantford, Ontario. David is an exceptionally skilled golfer and this week he is competing for the first time in arguably the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, the U.S. Open being held at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

After a very successful career as a junior golfer, David attended the University of Wyoming on a scholarship and continued to achieve at a very high level.

Indeed, David has been tremendously successful at all levels, including the time he spent on the Canadian Tour, the Nationwide Tour and now as a member of the PGA Tour. It is not an exaggeration to say that the PGA Tour consists of the world's finest golfers and David Hearn certainly deserves to be ranked in that category.

Most important, David is a true gentleman, both on and off the golf course. He is a credit to his parents, to his community and to our country. He is a rising star in the PGA Tour and his name will be recognized by all golf fans in the very near future.

I congratulate David for all he has accomplished.

Satellite Radio
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the CRTC gave the green light to satellite radio, by granting its first two licences. The decision will perhaps appear in the coming years as one of the most important and reckless ever taken by the CRTC.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage noted a good two years ago that the Canadian government was inadequately protecting Canada and Quebec's cultural sovereignty and now the CRTC is doing the same thing by imposing very few restrictions.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has to wake up. Since the Broadcasting Act will have to be amended in order to put the decision into effect, why not take the opportunity to implement the recommendations of the standing committee to strengthen cultural sovereignty?

Although we remain certain that sovereignty for Quebec is the best way to protect Quebec culture and to foster its development, we can assure the minister that we will support any initiative in this regard.

Albert and Jeannette Lord
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, June 18, I will be attending celebrations marking the 70th wedding anniversary of Jeannette and Albert Lord. They will be celebrating 70 wonderful years together.

It is not every day that a couple celebrates such an event and such an anniversary. This is why I want to express my own congratulations and those of the people of Madawaska—Restigouche to Mr. and Mrs. Lord.

They are a remarkable couple, who invested time and energy in their family. They had 11 children, who produced 25 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren.

In closing, I reiterate my congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Lord on their 70th wedding anniversary. I wish them many more wonderful years together.

Health Care
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Durham, Lakeridge Health is a multi-site organization with four hospitals facing critical challenges that began when its funding no longer met its needs as a consequence of the government's $25 billion cut in health care spending.

Programs delivered at the smaller rural hospital in Port Perry to serve Scugog Township are now under threat.

The government has promised a health care fix for a generation. The government seems to think that wait times is the only crisis facing our health care system. In the meantime, the special needs of multi-site and rural hospitals such as Port Perry are being challenged.

It is critical to meet this special need and not forget rural Canada and the health care funding crisis it faces.

I ask the government to address this funding issue with recognition that we may lose the most basic of health care services in our rural small towns and communities.

NATO Military Committee
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week General Ray Henault assumed his duties as chairman of the NATO Military Committee, becoming NATO's highest ranking military officer. This is only the second time a Canadian has been selected for this position.

General Henault will bring the same attributes of professionalism, commitment and dedication to the chairman's position that he so clearly demonstrated in his three years as chief of the Canadian Forces. Indeed, his qualities of honour, dignity and courage are representative throughout the members of our armed forces.

His election clearly demonstrates Canada's commitment to and leadership in the world's premier security organization and places a Canadian at the most senior level of the alliance's strategic leadership.

In his role, he will chair the senior military committee, offer his advice to the secretary general and will, with NATO strategic commanders and representatives of other NATO nations, conduct operations and shape the alliance of the future.

General Henault's service will bring a Canadian's perspective to NATO transformation. The whole House wishes him well, and Godspeed.

Youth Suicide Prevention Walk
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the third annual Youth Suicide Prevention Walk just arrived on Parliament Hill.

The walkers left Duncan, B.C., on March 30 to raise awareness across the country of the aboriginal suicide epidemic. The rate is at least six times the national average. Currently, the national budget for suicide prevention in Canada is minuscule, not nearly enough to make a difference in the lives of our youth.

Walkers are advocating for a national suicide prevention program and a national aboriginal and youth suicide awareness day.

In my riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan, the need for suicide prevention programs is very clear. One of my first duties as an MP was to attend the funeral of a young man who had committed suicide.

I would like to thank Reno Trimble, Elyse Mather, Emily Williams, Charlotte Qamanig-Mason and Nancy Saunders as well as their supporters Vincent Watts, Darnell Krutko and Angela Vane for their dedication to the cause of youth suicide prevention.

China
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the last two weeks I have continuously asked this government why it is giving aid to communist China. I have pointed out examples from CIDA's own website, projects it says it funds in China with the various ministries of the Chinese government. Yet the minister continues to deny she gives money to China.

China has a deplorable human rights record. This week CBC reported that six farmers were killed while trying to defend their land from a company that wanted to build a power plant. Who owns the power plant? According to the Washington Post , it is the Chinese government.

Furthermore, China now reportedly has 1,000 spies in Canada. Who is paying for that? Canadians.

It is time the Liberal government stopped funding the communist government of China. Quite frankly, there is no reason that we should be giving aid to China. Not only is its human rights abysmal, it does not need our money.

Sarah Gault
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Denise Poirier-Rivard Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, last April, Sarah Gault was named the women's swim team rookie of the year at Rutgers University in the United States. This is the first time in the history of the 94-year-old institution that a foreigner has won this title.

This woman from Châteauguay gave a remarkable performance in the 100 metre breaststroke, the 50 metre freestyle and the 400 metre relay at the Big East Championships in January 2005. Thanks to her performance, Rutgers finished third in the competition.

Sarah Gault's academic performance is also brilliant. As a student in television and radio journalism, she has maintained a 3.5 average, earning a certificate and making the dean's list as a result.

The Bloc Québécois pays tribute to the achievements of this extraordinary athlete and hopes that success may long accompany her in her professional and athletic careers.

Congratulations, Sarah.

Relay for Life
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Langley just had its first ever Relay for Life and it was a huge success. Seventy Langley teams raised more than $200,000 for cancer research and services.

People signed up with their co-workers, neighbours, family and friends. The young and the old participated. An incredible feeling of community pride developed on that beautiful sunny Langley day.

The top fundraising team was Team Trimac Trucking, which raised $12,000. The top individual fundraiser was Barb Shannon, who personally raised $3,000.

Most of us have been touched by cancer. I am so proud of my community and the way we stepped up to meet the challenge. This was an amazing event that brought Langley citizens closer together, united in raising funds to fight cancer.

Congratulations to all the participants and to all the incredibly hard-working organizers of that event.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the Liberal government, the Ontario government, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the City of Toronto signed two historic municipal funding agreements under the new deal for cities and communities.

Today's announcements represent the fourth gas tax agreement and first public transit agreement signed under the new deal. The result will be environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure, better public transit, improved water and waste water management and cleaner energy systems in communities.

My colleagues from Toronto and I fought hard to give cities sustainable funding and a place at the table.

This is the beginning of a whole new relationship between the three levels of government in Ontario. I am very proud of it. It is a historic moment. I ask the House to join us in this historic moment in Ontario.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, documents provided by Hao Fengjun, the former Chinese policeman and defector, show Chinese spies in Canada were targeting Jillian Ye, a Falun Gong practitioner and database consultant from Scarborough.

There is growing and concrete evidence of a massive Chinese network actively spying and reporting on the activities of Canadian citizens and engaging in economic cold war activity.

Has the foreign affairs minister called the Chinese ambassador to express our government's objection to these deplorable actions? What specific measures have been taken to address this serious sovereignty and security breach?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before in the House, the government takes the collective security of Canadians and their individual safety and security very seriously.

In relation to the alleged harassment of any individual, that is a very serious matter and is one that has to be taken up by law enforcement officials.

As I have said before in the House, CSIS is very much aware of the allegations that have been made in relation to certain alleged activities regarding China. I can reassure everyone in the House, without discussing operational details, that CSIS does everything necessary to protect--

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Central Nova.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the foreign affairs minister said that Chinese visitors are meant to respect Canadian laws and that when he learns otherwise he refers them to the appropriate authorities of our country and yet nothing is done.

Reports show that the Chinese spies were and are taping phones and waging campaigns of threats and harassment, all actions that contravene Canadian laws. China has a huge interest in owning our natural resources and dominating our economy. Our country is losing billions through economic espionage while the government practises wimp diplomacy.

Why is the Prime Minister so weak on matters of defence of our foreign and domestic interests and so gutless on Canadian sovereignty?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. As was indicated yesterday, the Prime Minister did discuss issues of sovereignty and other issues when he was in China some months ago.

However, to focus on what is allegedly happening here in Canada, let me go back to some very simple facts about this situation. For example, if any individual believes he or she is being harassed, that is something that should be taken up by law enforcement officials.

Again, let me say that CSIS is aware of the allegation--

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Central Nova.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, again, no action, no answers.

A thousand Chinese spies have infiltrated Canada and are targeting sensitive industries. Industrial espionage costs our economy $1 billion per month.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs says he takes these allegations very seriously. Can he tell us, then, what specific actions he has taken with the Chinese government in order to resolve this situation?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, our relationship with China is a complex one. We are all aware of that and, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, when issues of concern arise, we sit down and talk about those matters as a matter of mutual concern.

We would expect, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, to resolve most of the issues that exist between our two countries through dialogue.

However, as I have said before, we are fully aware of the allegations that have been made in relation to the presence of some in this country who may be carrying on certain activities that are unacceptable.

CSIS, the RCMP and regular law enforcement in this country are well aware--

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Niagara Falls.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have known for many years that China clamps down on the religious freedom and expression of people within its own borders. Now we have evidence that it is trying to do the same thing here in Canada.

CSIS has known about this for quite some time. Canadians of Chinese descent have known about this for some time. Why is it that the Liberal government is always the last one to figure out there is a problem and to do something about it?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, far from being the last ones to know, as I have said before, without divulging operational details, CSIS is well aware of the allegations that have been made. CSIS is doing everything that is necessary to ensure the collective security of Canadians.

I would suggest to the hon. member that if he has evidence of harassment of any individual of whatever origin, he has a responsibility to provide that information to regular law enforcement authorities.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is very typical of the government. With all the threats to the freedom of Canadians, the Liberals always give us the same answer, some variation that they have concern.

Let me suggest to the government that it move beyond concern and start putting the time, effort and money into cleaning up this problem.

If the government does not have any money because it gave it all to the NDP, why does it not suspend trade with and foreign aid to China and do something with those resources to expel all these communist spies in our country?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, every day there are remarkable and unbelievable statements made on the floor of this House by the official opposition and I think we just heard another one.

Did I actually hear that person suggest that we should suspend trade with China? If one wants any further evidence as to why those people are not ready to govern, we just saw it.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, when she was a Conservative, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development said she was in favour of creating an independent employment insurance fund. The minister will no doubt be delighted to learn that the majority of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities voted yesterday in favour of the creation of such a fund.

Does the minister, who was in favour of an independent fund in a past life, intend to respect the committee's decision, which will serve to prevent the government from continuing to plunder the EI fund?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, great strides were made in the budget bill to make the EI account more independent and more transparent.

With regard to the report yesterday, we are very pleased that the Speaker ruled that a royal recommendation was necessary for various parts of that bill. We know the report will be tabled today. We hope you, Mr. Speaker, will rule on it when we come to discuss it.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite what the parliamentary secretary says, the way things are at the moment there is nothing to prevent the fund from being plundered by the government.

Does the parliamentary secretary therefore intend to support the bill to create an independent fund, thereby assuring workers that in the future their contributions will be properly protected against any government interference?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I think the member knows that successive auditors general have said that these funds belong in the general revenue fund. This is the government's position and it is the Auditor General's position.

By the way, I think, Mr. Speaker, with regard to your rulings on the royal recommendation, it is your position as well.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary ought to check his sources, because what he has just said is incorrect.

On June 14, members were unanimous in expressing their support for a motion on an older worker income support program. That motion was not about the pilot projects the minister boasts about endlessly, but about the creation of a permanent program to help older workers when they lose their jobs.

Does the minister intend to respect the wishes of the members of this House and create an income support program for older workers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we recognize that some older workers are having problems when they are laid off. We do understand that. We know also that people are working longer and are retiring later.

The government has had a number of projects. I would mention in particular the investment of $50 million in the older workers pilot projects initiative which concludes this year.

I am pleased to advise all members in the House that this initiative was recently extended to 2006 and enriched by $5 million.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the pilot projects do not meet the needs of older workers, who cannot be retrained and are the victims of massive lay-offs.

Can the government understand that what is needed is a permanent program to provide income support for older workers between the time they lose their jobs and the time they start receiving their pensions?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the EI program is designed to help all workers, whatever their age. We are continually adjusting it to changes in the labour force, be it changes in the demography of the labour force or in the gender balance of the labour force.

I would point out that many older workers are assisted through our existing employment programs. In fact, 160,000 workers aged 45 or over were assisted by those programs this year.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, last February, the Prime Minister said that Canada would not participate in ballistic missile defence.

Apparently, U.S. defence contractor, Raytheon, did not get the message and, as we now know, is scouting Goose Bay as the site for the “eyes” of the U.S. missile defence shield.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister stand in her place today and tell Raytheon that Canada is not interested in its proposals? Will she reaffirm the government's commitment that there will be no star wars in Canada and no participation, or will this be yet another broken Liberal promise?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, myself and everyone in this House have been very clear on this. Canada is not participating in ballistic missile defence and we have no intention whatsoever of participating in ballistic missile defence.

If a private company wishes to go around and scout out, as the hon. member said, or try to sell something, there is nothing we can do to stop that. It is a free country.

However we have not been approached by the United States government. There have been no discussions of any kind about this on an official level. This is a purely speculative matter by the hon. member. I can assure her that she should not worry about it because we are not entering into ballistic missile defence.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister said that it was just a matter of speculation.

Why wait for George Bush or Raytheon to come forward with an official suggestion? Why not tell them right here and now that it is a no go in Canada? Why do the Liberals not send that message, or are they simply waiting for the prospectus to come forward from the self-titled industry leader in the battlespace integration?

Let us send a clear message. We should say no and make that clear. Never mind any speculations, just say no now.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I do not have the liberty of the hon. member who is capable of saying no to something when she does not know what is being proposed.

I do not know what Raytheon is proposing. I do not know the technicalities of what it is suggesting. It is a free country and if it wants to go around talking about it, that is fine.

If it is participation in ballistic missile defence, the answer is a very clear no, but at least let us get an official request of some kind to which we can respond before we say no.

It is no to ballistic defence, no, no, no, but not no to something that is purely speculative that we do not know anything about.

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of State for Northern Development defended the appointment of the chairman of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The government continues to be vague.

When the Minister of Indian Affairs was in Yellowknife on March 15, he told a CBC recorded public meeting that he was not familiar with this individual but that “his name came forward”.

This is an important board and it has significant responsibility in respect of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. The minister has an obligation to set the public's concerns to rest and reassure Canadians of the integrity of the appointment process.

Why did the government ignore the legislation and the wishes of the existing board and appoint this individual?

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Western Arctic
Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew Minister of State (Northern Development)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Burlingame has a proven track record of professionalism throughout his tenure as chair of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. The Auditor General's report states that this board has taken the initiative. The work of Mr. Burlingame has proven that the board has set standards for all boards to follow.

I am confident that Mr. Burlingame is ensuring that the board is operating in its usual professional capacity and that all business is being addressed in a timely and expeditious manner.

I believe and I have been assured that there are no--

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Centre-North.

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us speak about what is happening at the board. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board has been in complete disarray since this appointment, and we know now, today, that the premier of the Northwest Territories has in fact raised this issue with the minister.

On January 21 of this year, the government's own public appointment process shortlisted three respected candidates, a lawyer, an aboriginal chief and the interim chair of the existing board.

The Minister of Indian Affairs took no issue with those recommendations but unilaterally appointed a friend and associate of the junior minister. Why did the government ignore its own legislative process?

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Western Arctic
Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew Minister of State (Northern Development)

Mr. Speaker, the board has had no delays in determining the applications that have come forward, absolutely none. It is business as usual.

The latest information we had yesterday is that the board has made a decision to move toward coordinating and synchronizing all the information, by-laws and procedures to come up with an integrated resource management strategy which would meet the challenge of the Mackenzie Valley gas project.

Further to that, the chair of the board has the technical knowledge, the expertise, the experience and all of the qualifications--

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Selkirk--Interlake.

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, news reports confirm today what I stated yesterday. The only reason the governor of North Dakota is delaying the opening of the Devils Lake diversion is wet weather and the high level of the Red River. When things dry up, he fully intends to open up the diversion.

The three amigos, the environment minister, the foreign affairs minister and the Treasury Board president, stated that an agreement for delay had been reached. It is just like the Liberals to take credit for the weather.

Who is telling the truth, the ministers or the Governor of North Dakota?

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, since the member repeated the same question, I will repeat the same answer.

It is that we have received assurances that as long as the intense negotiations we are having with the Americans are going on, the outlet will not be opened.

If the governor said it is because of the weather, that is fine with us, as long as we have time to find a good solution for the Red River, the Sheyenne River, Lake Winnipeg and the quality of the environment and good water quality.

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, that just plain is not true. Manitoba has been working on this issue for eight years. Three years ago the U.S. requested an IJC referral. The government refused. Yesterday in the House the government took full credit for something it did not do.

The governor of North Dakota said that the only reason the diversion would not be opened July 1 is the weather, not because the Prime Minister called.

When will the government quit misleading Canadians and embarrassing us with its Liberal spin and actually find a solution to this problem?

Natural Resources
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the first way to find a good solution is not to buy the bad arguments that are being made. The member is not helping the cause when she says those things.

It is not true that the Government of Canada rejected the IJC referral three years ago. It is not what happened, not at all. The member has bad information. We never rejected an IJC referral. She is accepting a spin that is not helping the cause of Canada. She has wrong information. She is not helping the cause at all.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, during final arguments, Jean Chrétien's lawyer asked Justice Gomery to formally exonerate the former PM in his report and told journalists that he had been assured by the government that a new challenge of Justice Gomery's bias could be filed.

Is that not proof that the exchange of letters between the government's lawyer and Jean Chrétien's lawyer gave the former PM enough assurance to continue to hold his threat over Justice Gomery's head?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there was no secret agreement. As the leader of the Bloc Québécois said himself, it was merely a legal statement of the facts.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, Jean Chrétien's lawyer told the press on Monday that this guarantee had reassured him about what to do next.

Does the Prime Minister realize that this guarantee gives Jean Chrétien's lawyer exactly what he needs to maintain pressure on Justice Gomery, just as the latter is about to start drafting his report?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, ultimately, in terms of principles, we have supported the Gomery inquiry in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, in view of the Minister of Labour and Housing's failure to renew the SCPI immediately, shelters, community kitchens, drop-in centres, soup kitchens and homelessness prevention services will all be closing their doors.

I call on the Minister of Labour and Housing to not buy time on the backs of the homeless, to avoid budget and electoral blackmail and to answer the following question: will he or will he not revive and improve the SCPI now?

Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Richmond
B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Minister of State (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, the SCPI program is very important. It does a very good job in helping seniors. The government has renewed it. We are extending it. We are going to do a good job in making sure that all seniors in this country are being looked after.

Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that if he does not renew the SCPI—not later, not in six months or a year—in view of the administrative delays involved in analyzing projects, many shelters and drop-in centres, soup kitchens and hostels run the risk of having to close their doors by March 31, 2006?

Will he stop putting this off and act now?

Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Richmond
B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Minister of State (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why the hon. member does not want to take yes for an answer. I just said that the SCPI program would be renewed. The government is going to ensure that the homeless and seniors are looked after.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister seems bound bent on ensuring that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency remains unaccountable. As it stands, Bill C-27 permits the CFIA to seize or destroy property without accountability for its actions or compensation for those who have been unfairly treated. The CFIA itself defined accountability as training its inspectors in the new rules and regulations.

Why does the minister refuse to legislate that the CFIA be held responsible for its actions?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, accountability and good public management are issues that the government is very much seized of. That particular minister has a very strong voice on it. I know he is looking at these issues as we look at the broader question of how we hold public sector institutions to account.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister is asking us to approve legislation that protects the CFIA but not producers or processors. Nothing is stopping the government from amending Bill C-27 to ensure that the CFIA does not abuse its powers.

As it stands, agrifood processors can have their inventories seized and operations shut down by the CFIA for two years, be found innocent and then have no recourse for their losses. Can the minister explain why he believes this is just and fair?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the minister who is deeply engaged in these issues would say the same thing that I said to committee yesterday on a different bill. We do a great disservice to the citizens of Canada when we try to legislate by responding to question period questions. It is not about winning a point. It is about building legislation that is in the best interests of this country.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, a week ago I received a letter from a young farmer in my riding. On the verge of bankruptcy, he was told he did not qualify for government assistance for spring seeding. When he tried to get some interim funding under CAIS, he was told that he was ineligible as he had not farmed for long enough and that he should wait and apply next year.

Why does the government make it impossible for young farmers to keep their farms?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, any time a person gets into the kind of trouble that was described by the member it is a tragedy. It is difficult. Farming is very risky. A great deal of problems can occur. It could be the weather or people's ability to get their crops to market. However, I will say that the minister has done more than anybody in recent history to ensure that the business risk system is as flexible and as progressive as it possibly can be.

Rather than trying to respond to a specific case, the member should concentrate on supporting the minister in putting in place the best business risk management program that a country can have.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government will have to toot its own horn pretty loudly to drown out the cries of young farmers.

If the government is so confident that CAIS works, why did the agriculture committee ask the Auditor General to audit farm aid spending through CAIS and why did the Liberal MPs try to block the review?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to comment on issues that happen within committee. The member can ask that in committee of the other members who are dealing with these issues.

I rather suspect it is exactly the same as what is going on in a number of committees where the official opposition, unlike the other two opposition parties, are not the least bit interested in engaging in making good legislation. The official opposition is simply interested in winning a political point, which unfortunately may work in this forum, but does not create good legislation.

Nato
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, former chief of defence staff General Ray Henault was formally installed as chairman of NATO's military committee on Thursday. What does this mean for NATO and what does this mean for Canada?

Nato
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the hard work he does on the defence committee.

I think all members of the House would take pleasure in knowing of the appointment of our former chief of defence staff as the highest ranking military officer in NATO, our most important military alliance. This will give a chance for Canada's perspective to be brought forward at the highest councils of NATO as it goes forward with its transformation in the hands of a highly professional, dedicated officer who was a great chief of the defence staff here.

I know he will contribute greatly to this important alliance. It is most important to bring a Canadian perspective there at this time. We are grateful he is there. We wish him well in this important task.

Democratic Reform
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for electoral reform.

Twenty-five years ago, two distinguished Canadians, John Robarts and Jean-Luc Pepin, recommended that a system of proportional representation be added to the House of Commons. They said the need was urgent on a national unity basis. Regrettably, since then nothing has been done. We still have elected, unrepresentative, regionally divisive caucuses.

Will the minister assure the House that he will accept the report that was tabled yesterday that includes citizens engagement and almost certainly will result at last in a system of proportional representation in the House of Commons?

Democratic Reform
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member and the others on the committee who did a very good report which was tabled in the House yesterday. Although the committee did not ask for a government response, it is the intention of the government to respond fully to this report in the usual timeframe.

I want to say that it is going to be treated very seriously, but one should be careful not to prejudge the work that the committee itself has recommended we do in engaging with the citizens and having a special parliamentary committee. The government will respond fully and seriously to this report without prejudging its work.

Democratic Reform
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's answer and I take him at his word.

The minister knows full well that if the citizens engagement group and the parliamentary committee are to get under way early in September, preparatory work will have to be done starting as early as in the next few weeks, especially for the citizens engagement process.

Will he assure the House that this work will be undertaken in the next few weeks so that the committees can start their work early in the fall?

Democratic Reform
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the government will do what has to be done in order to address this report in a serious and respectful manner, in the way that the committee itself did its work. In the spirit of that report, the answer is yes.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I received a package of information on the Nappan Experimental Farm through access to information the day before yesterday. On the same page where it states that the Nappan Experimental Farm is going to be closed, the second part of the story is given, that a second farm in Nova Scotia is going to be closed.

Every Nova Scotian should listen to these words. The document states that the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre at Kentville will be phased out; the food quality safety program will be moved to Prince Edward Island; the horticulture research program will be moved to Quebec; and the plant breeding programs will be phased out.

At a time when farmers need all the help they can, why are these experimental farms being closed?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, exactly the same process is going on in my province.

The minister in this particular case has made a commitment that there will be no diminishment of the research capacity in the province. What there is is a sincere attempt by a group of stakeholders to reorganize the research infrastructure to get the best possible value out of it. That is what is going on. It is an attempt to improve things, not make them worse. Unfortunately, the opposition never takes enough time to try to understand that.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, this paper is labelled as secret for some reason, but this is scary. The Minister of Public Works represents the riding where the Kentville research centre is located and it is now depending on the public works minister, whose main purpose in life is to divest of government facilities. The centres have to depend on him to defend them.

The President of the Treasury Board says it is a great thing to do. Agriculture in Nova Scotia cannot afford this and the government has to change it. We want the government to stop the closures in Nappan and Kentville, and to do it now.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, there are simply none so blind as those who will not see. The reality is that the minister has made some commitments. He has committed that research capacity in the province will be maintained. He has provincial stakeholders involved in it. They are looking at this. They are working to get to the best possible solution they can on behalf of farmers.

That is what the minister is committed to. That is what he has always been committed to. That is what the government and the Prime Minister are committed to.

Finance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, in his 2004 budget, the Minister of Finance set the surplus at $1.9 billion, only to admit a few months after the last election that it was really $9.1 billion. This was a continuation of the previous finance minister's sorry record of consistently lowballing the surplus.

The minister finally decided to buy some time by appointing Tim O'Neill to do a comprehensive, independent review of the government's economic and fiscal forecasting. The press release announcing the appointment stated that the review was to be completed by early 2005. I would remind the minister that it is June 17, 2005. Where is the report?

Finance
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, Dr. O'Neill has worked very hard on his assignment. I would expect that he will be able to put his report in the public domain, and then it would be referred to the finance committee of the House of Commons, perhaps as early as next week.

Finance
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance were caught lowballing the surplus again last fall, they were sufficiently embarrassed and concerned about their lack of credibility that they appointed Tim O'Neill to study the situation.

Meanwhile, the finance committee has also considered the merits of having an independent fiscal forecasting office and is ready to report back to Parliament. The problem is that we still have not heard from Mr. O'Neill. The minister has the report, we understand, but will not release it. Is that because it is telling him something he does not want to hear?

Finance
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the report is being translated and it will be available very shortly for members of Parliament. I made the commitment that it would go to the finance committee, and whatever Dr. O'Neill has to say about the forecasting requests of the finance committee will be very shortly in the public domain.

In the meantime, we continue to have the best fiscal record in all of the G-7 countries.

Border Crossings
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology yesterday passed a resolution inviting the ministers of international trade and of public security and emergency preparedness to explain Canada's choice to not be part of the work to improve the Lacolle border facilities, as the Americans are doing on their side.

Is the government aware that, if the work is not done, the Lacolle border crossing, Canada's fourth largest, could become an impenetrable wall?

Border Crossings
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, we regularly assess our needs at all major border crossings, both the infrastructure needs and the human resource needs. I am very well aware of the importance of the Lacolle crossing.

The Canada Border Services Agency will ensure that whatever infrastructure is required to facilitate the movement of low risk goods and people across that border crossing is in place. I can reassure the hon. member of that fact.

Border Crossings
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is all very well for the government to contend it has spent significant amounts to improve Canada's border crossings, but witnesses tell me in committee that this does not apply to the Lacolle crossing.

Why is the government not investing the funds needed to make Lacolle as efficient a border crossing as the one on the American side?

Border Crossings
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as I say, we regularly assess the infrastructure and human resource requirements of our major border crossings. We do this on a regular basis and we make the investments necessary to ensure that low risk goods and people cross our border in a timely fashion.

I can again reassure the hon. member that the CBSA is very much aware of the situation on the ground in Lacolle. We are very much aware of what is happening on the U.S. side of the border. The CBSA will do everything that is necessary to ensure that our side of the border facilitates the movement of goods and people.

Tsunami Relief
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, both Norway and France have delivered on over 80% of their tsunami aid pledges. Canada has not delivered half that amount. The Prime Minister promised to “verify that Canadian aid is getting through to parts of Sri Lanka controlled by Tamil rebels”. He said, “This is something we are going to monitor and we'll insist it be monitored on a continuous basis”.

Why has the government not fulfilled its promise that Canadian aid dollars would reach those in need?

Tsunami Relief
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Barrie
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the House that the Prime Minister's commitment is being undertaken very faithfully by me. I am in regular communication with my counterpart in Sri Lanka, as well as Indonesia and other tsunami impacted countries.

We have disbursed a very large amount of the moneys to go toward the reconstruction and the plans we have for those areas of Sri Lanka. Sixty per cent of that area is in the northeast and our communications and our rollout are exceptional.

Tsunami Relief
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Sri Lankan government's main ally quit the ruling coalition. His move was over plans to share tsunami aid with survivors in the Tamil controlled northern regions. The Sri Lankan government has now been reduced to a hamstrung minority.

With the Sri Lankan government in chaos, how can the minister ensure the equitable distribution of Canadian aid money?

Tsunami Relief
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Barrie
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister of International Cooperation

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, there has been some concern expressed by members of the coalition--

Tsunami Relief
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

An hon. member

Answer the question.

Tsunami Relief
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie, ON

I am attempting to do that, Mr. Speaker. We are in constant communication with our authorities on the ground with regard to recent events and the joint mechanism withdrawal of some parts of the Sri Lankan government.

I do not require the kind of apparatus that is being suggested by the member. We are working through the United Nations. We are working with NGOs. Our aid is being disbursed. My CIDA people are on the ground. I can assure the House and Canada of a very effective reconstruction program in that area of Sri Lanka.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the Restigouche region in the riding of Madawaska—Restigouche is considered one of the best salmon-fishing areas in the world. Atlantic salmon is obviously very important to the region's economy.

Could the minister tell us the impact of the Atlantic salmon endowment fund, announced in the 2005 budget?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

First, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his hard and tireless work on this particular issue. This work has paid off. In the last budget, the Minister of Finance allocated $30 million for the establishment of the Atlantic Canada salmon endowment fund. This will go to habitat improvement, stock enhancement, monitoring and conservation. The fund and the governing structure are in the process of being established.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. lumber lobby is continuing to cost the Canadian industry millions in legal fees by filing new legal challenges at every level with the support of their government. The Americans are trying to squeeze out the Canadian industry.

The Canadian industry asked the Canadian government to defray its legal costs. The minister then announced $20 million in April, but has failed to deliver. It is the same old story with these Liberals: promises made, promises broken. When can the Canadian industry expect delivery on this promise?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, there have been few ministers of agriculture in the history of this country who have done as much for producers at a difficult time as this minister has. I do not need to go through the list of all of the investments he has made. He takes this very seriously. He is seized of it. He is working, not with an opposition that will not work with him, but with producers, to reach solutions.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, this has nothing to do with the agriculture minister. This has to with the trade minister.

The minister wants to cut a deal prior to the NAFTA extraordinary challenge decision expected in August, but he does not have industry consensus. Is it not true that the minister is trying to starve the industry to accept a deal that is not in Canada's best interests?

It is widely expected by all parties that Canada will win the NAFTA final appeal decision, confirming that our lumber exports do not constitute a threat to U.S. industry. Is it not true that the minister's lack of support for the industry is an attempt to--

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. President of the Treasury Board.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I am in fact four ministers today, but given the nature of that last question, if I may on behalf of the minister of trade, I would give the same answer.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a documentary on Australian television, a Canadian company in Congo-Kinshasa, Anvil Mining, played an active role in the massacre of over a hundred civilians by the Congolese army.

Does the government intend to follow up on the call by a group of NGOs to investigate Anvil's role and responsibility in this tragedy, as required by resolution 1596 adopted by the UN Security Council?

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Oral Question Period

Noon

Barrie
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, Canada wants lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for the welfare of all the Congolese.

I am not sure I am able to answer the member's concerns and, specifically, his question. However, I will speak to my colleague, and I assure the member that an answer will be forthcoming.

Public Service
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Wajid Khan Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has become all too common in the House for the official opposition to portray the hard-working men and women of our public service as inefficient and ineffective. Given that this week is set aside to celebrate the fine work being done by the members of our public service, would the President of the Treasury Board please take this opportunity to, on behalf of the government, thank them for the important work they do for Canadians?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

Noon

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I think I can speak on behalf of all members of the House on this particular issue. The Government of Canada is the largest organizational entity in this country. Our direct spending drives a third of this economy. We have the largest labour force in this country. We have the most complex organization. A large organization like B.C. might have 11 lines of business. We have 463.

Our programs are the foundation upon which the quality of life of Canadians is built and they are delivered by the public service of Canada.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

Noon

Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-43, including the Atlantic accord provisions, has now gone through all stages in the House and on to the Senate, where we are guaranteed, at least by Conservative senators, that it will receive speedy passage.

Let me ask the minister this. When can the province of Newfoundland and Labrador expect to get its cheque and will we be paid the $40 million in interest we have lost since the signing of the agreement in February?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

Noon

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government is glad to see Bill C-43 complete its passage through the House of Commons. It is now of course in the other place and we too hope that the Senate will be able to deal with this matter on a very expeditious basis so that the cash can begin to flow.

I only regret that the opposition delayed it so long. This could have been done in March.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, the attitude of the Minister of National Defence is deplorable. While the people of Shannon are justifiably worried about the health effects of contaminated water, the minister is keeping a preliminary report on the extent of that contamination secret.

Can the minister understand that the people of Shannon consider access to the preliminary report at least as important, if not more so, than the solely material contributions the minister wants to restrict his role to? Will the minister release this report?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

Noon

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, and the day before, we have spent more than $30 million to support the people of Shannon by providing homes with safe drinking water.

What is more, we are sharing all raw data with the municipality, the province of Quebec and the owners of the land where tests have been carried out. There is no report. What there is, which we are sharing with the public, is the raw data on all the testing. We will continue to cooperate with the citizens, the municipality and the province.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Deputy Speaker

I have notice of a question of privilege by the member for Ahuntsic.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

Noon

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege. Some remarks that were made by an hon. member were only brought to my attention this Monday past .

During private members' business on Monday, May 9, the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, while presenting examples during debate on his Motion No. 312, made reference to my riding of Ahuntsic and stated:

In another riding, it was discovered that the returning officer was the president of the Liberal association for the riding. It is time somebody woke up. This is Earth calling. The returning officer is the president—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. I had assumed that this was a point of privilege arising out of question period. Since it is not, I would ask the hon. member to give us some notice. The requirement is to give us an hour's notice. If the member were to do that and bring it forward at that time, I would appreciate it.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not want to leave any confusion in the mind of the Deputy Prime Minister. My suggestion to the government is that it suspend all foreign aid that it is giving to China until the government expels all communist spies.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. whip for that point. The hon. deputy House leader.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, on this point of order, I would certainly hope that we ensure that the tape of this exchange today is maintained in the Speaker's office.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All records are kept by Journals in their regular place as they will be for today and every other day.

House of Commons
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour of tabling the House of Commons Report to Canadians 2005.

Canadian Forces Housing Agency
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of the 2003-04 annual report of the Canadian Forces Housing Agency.

Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table in the House today, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments recently made by the government.

Certificates of Nomination
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 110(2) I have the honour to table two certificates of nomination.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government responses to 17 petitions.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on chrysotile asbestos, a very important natural resource for the regions of Asbestos and Thetford Mines.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the Committee requests that the government table a response to this report.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Bill C-280, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (Employment Insurance Account and premium rate setting) and another Act in consequence.

Members of the standing committee have been diligent in taking your two rulings into account as a guide in putting forward several amendments to this bill. The underlying principle in this private member's bill relating to financial initiatives by the Crown remains intact. Therefore, members on this side of the House voted against reporting Bill C-280 in its present form.

I wish to point out how cooperative the members of the committee have been, despite a divergence of opinions.

Parliament of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-408, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (change of political affiliation).

Mr. Speaker, this bill was written and co-sponsored by the member for Simcoe--Grey. I wish to thank her for her hard work and dedication on this issue.

Canadians speak of democratic reform and the failings of the democratic deficit. This private member's bill ensures that voters' wishes do not get ignored. All members of Parliament must honour the wishes of their constituents and not achieve personal gain. We as members are and must be accountable to the people. Voters must be listened to. If passed, this bill will ensure that happens.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans presented to the House on Tuesday, March 22, be concurred in.

I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Vancouver Island North for seconding the motion.

We raise this issue at this time because of the start of the salmon fishery in British Columbia and the concerns that all those involved, all stakeholders, have in this industry.

Yesterday we were presented with responses to two major reports on the failure of the sockeye fishery on the Fraser River last year. One of these reports was tabled by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. It is a comprehensive, pointed report that deals with the crux of last year's situation.

The recommendations made by the standing committee were responded to, and let me give the minister and his department credit, much more quickly than in ordinary situations. The committee emphasized to the minister the need for a quick response, so that action could be taken this year to prevent what happened last year where we saw the near decimation of the sockeye fishery on the Fraser River.

The second report was done by Justice Williams which was tabled shortly after the report presented by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and the minister has also responded to that report.

One of the reasons the department was able to respond relatively quickly to both reports is that both were very similar. When we have thorough investigations, then we are going to get the same kind of evidence. There is only one way to respond to such evidence, and that is with clarity and truth. The two reports presented to government were very similar. They basically made the same recommendations and outlined the same problems.

In the past we heard that complaints were hearsay and we could not react to hearsay. We could not react to innuendo and we could not react to accusations or local jealousies. That has now been dispensed with and we are concentrating on the facts.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans visited the area and had extensive hearings earlier this year. The Williams committee of course has been having hearings as well, throughout the late fall and into spring. Every stakeholder involved had the opportunity to come forward to express their various concerns about what happened last year and to emphasize to the department that action had to be taken to ensure that such a disaster would never happen again.

In one case last year on one of the runs, a provision had been made by the department, through its counting efforts and its monitoring, to actually start off with about 90,000 salmon reaching the headwaters for spawning purposes. Last spring and early summer, the temperatures were relatively high in the Fraser. This raised concerns because the higher the temperature the greater the stress on the salmon, particularly if there are other stresses up the river, such as gillnets, drift nets, overfishing, or whatever.

An allowance was made that there would be some losses due to mortality because of the water temperatures. The number of breeders was raised to 129,000. We had a significant increase in the number. When the count was finally made, of the 129,000 salmon expected to reach the headwaters it was discovered that only 9,000 salmon reached the headwaters for breeding purposes.

This means that four years from now, when the salmon return to the river, that run in particular will be to the point where it will be unable to be fished. If t it happens again this year and over the next couple of years, we could see the complete destruction of the salmon fishery on the mighty Fraser River.

People would think this is unheard of, but I remind them that 30 years ago one could go anywhere off the coast of Newfoundland and catch cod using any method whatsoever. Cod was in abundance. People never thought they would see the day when they would be unable to catch one fish for a meal of fresh cod, which they were used to having, certainly during the summer and fall. The same thing can happen to salmon on the west coast if we are not careful.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans presented a pointed report to the minister. The Williams commission did the same thing. Both reports were very similar. If we listened to the evidence presented by stakeholders involved and if we used the collective experience around both the tables of the standing committee and the Williams committee, the recommendations would have to be similar because the people involved have a concern about the future of the stocks.

The minister's response, even though there are positive components, does not give many of us a hope that much work will be done to preserve the stocks. It has an awful lot of what I refer to as government wording, such as “we have to study”, “we have to monitor” or ”testing will determine”. All these things are wonderful, but the monitoring, testing and experimentation have been done. It is over with. The evidence is hard and fast that we have a major problem with the salmon fishery on the west coast. Fingers were pointed at certain aspects of the harvesting and it is up to the minister to respond.

When we met with the various stakeholders, it was made quite clear that the department's monitoring of the stock was inadequate. The enforcement certainly was inadequate.

The minister this year says that the government will to zero in on enforcement. That seemed to be the biggest problem, as highlighted by both committee reports. He has not said the government will increase the number of fisheries officers on the river. He has said it will give them overtime, let them work a bit longer.

Fisheries officers are very dedicated individuals. They do not just sit around when there is work to be done. They do not necessarily work their eight hour days, punch the clock and go home. Many of these people work a lot of overtime anyway. Many of them work a lot of overtime for which they never get recognition or pay. Therefore, to ask them to work overtime will not give us the type of surveillance that is necessary on the river. It was recommended by the standing committee that the number of fisheries officers be greatly increased, that it be brought up to the number of officers who originally patrolled the great Fraser. The minister refused.

The other consolation he has offered is if we need other fisheries officers above and beyond what we have now, they will be taken from other parts of the province and moved into the Fraser. Unfortunately for the minister, and fortunately for the people involved in the fishery, salmon do not stop and wait until the fisheries officers come back before they head off to the various rivers. They do not stop and wait to go up certain rivers because the fisheries officers have gone up the Fraser.

The salmon runs approximate each other in most rivers. At the time when the fisheries officers on the Fraser are busy, they are busy everywhere else. To think that we can move fisheries officers around during peak season is a pipe dream. If we try to solve a problem in one area, we create a bigger one somewhere else.

It was a disappointment to us when the minister refused to add to the fisheries officers on the Fraser. He did say, however, that we would have more overflights with helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. Having said that, he admitted that a lot of the overfishing, for want of a better word, took place in the canyons.

Flying through canyons is not a pleasant chore for anybody. The minister also mentioned, maybe without thinking, that a lot of the overfishing and the illegal fishing went on at night time. Can hon. members imagine what it would be like to fly a fixed wing aircraft through the canyons off the Fraser at night time? I do not know if the department will call for proposals for kamikaze pilots, but that is what we would need. It is impossible to patrol the Fraser by air at night time, certainly in the areas of the canyons.

This does not make any sense whatsoever. It is a big area so overflights in the day time would be of some help. I am not trying to belittle the amount of assistance being provided. I am just saying it is completely inadequate.

The main concern I have is that in response to all recommendations, at no time does the minister show or give us any encouragement whatsoever that there will be stronger enforcement. The one word that predominated at all meetings with all witnesses last year during our hearings and at the meetings held by Justice Williams was “enforcement”.

We have had fishery officers, people who fish on the river, all types of people state that they have been witness to blatant, illegal overfishing. In many cases nothing whatsoever is done. Either there is a lone fisheries officer or a couple of fisheries officers and the people involved greatly outnumber them. It is the fear factor. Other times, they do not want to cause a stir because it would cause poor relations, maybe with native bands.

It should not matter who is doing the overfishing. If somebody is illegally fishing, whether it be a recreational fisherman, or a trawler, or somebody with set nets, or somebody illegally using drift nets, or an aboriginal or a tourist, it should not matter. If people are deliberately destroying a stock, they should be punished for it. That has not happened. If we let people break the law, they just take it for granted that it is their God given right to do so and they continue to do it.

This is where I see the response completely and utterly fails. I will just read a couple of general elements of the response.

It says that additional resources will be provided in 2005, and we thank the minister and the department. However, additional resources mean nothing if they cannot be properly used and if there is no result to their effect.

Here is what the department will do. It will allow for more patrols, better surveillance and increased operational activities, including more helicopter and overflights. I am quite sure nobody has ever been charged yet from an overflight. All they can do is spot the activity and try to relay it to people on the ground. It depends on when, where, how far away and how many fisheries officers they have, and that is a difficult chore.

All these words are great but there is not one thing about taking action against those whom they catch breaking the law, using illegal gear or blatantly fishing illegally or overfishing.

It says that the department will increase catch monitoring and provide for better tracking of the catch. That needs to be done because there are questions as to how good the actual count was at Mission last year and whether the department had a good handle on the numbers. We know a lot of fish disappeared going up the river, but it is almost impossible to tell how many. People do not know how many went through the bridge in the first place.

It says that it will “evaluate”, another beautiful word, the feasibility for improved assessment of Fraser River sockeye abundance at Mission, using two technologies. This is wonderful, consoling stuff. We do not want evaluations. We do not need any more feasibility studies. We have all the information we would ever want. What we need is concrete action.

Another one says that the department will improve estimates and timeliness of environmental and fishing impacts. What we need to do is improve the conditions that are created by the impact of overfishing.

This is a beaut and a real dilly. It says that it will provide for specific research such as a drift net study to evaluate the implications of fishing methods and fishing plan preparation. In other words, it is not saying that drift nets should not be used, as everybody wants, except mainly those who illegally use them. It does not say that there are certain times or places where set nets should not be used. Nobody knows how much loss occurs from dropout from these nets which sometimes are left untended for days.

The department is not taking action against illegal drift netting or banning drift netting. It says that it must do more research to see the effects. Talk to the fishermen. It does not matter which type. They will tell us that there are negative effects. They will tell us that there is illegal drift netting taking place. How can the salmon get up a river if there are wall to wall nets? Salmon are great at jumping. I have seen them jump through waterfalls, but it is very difficult to keep jumping. Trying to go up the Fraser River is just like doing the hurdles at the Olympics. That is not how we will get salmon to survive. Also, water temperatures, stress and everything else are factors which negatively impact the salmon stocks on the Fraser.

What should we do? The minister is concentrating on trying to work his way around the real issues. Saying that he knows what is causing the decline of salmon on the Fraser and saying that he is going to take action and anybody who is involved in impeding the progress of salmon illegally will pay a price, would give us some consolation in that area.

However, just stopping people from fishing is not enough. Salmon, like cod, is a renewable resource. Once we understand what is causing the destruction, we must also be prepared to build the biomass. We must look at improving the habitat. We must concentrate on factors that will help grow the stock. Maybe some day will come when the amount of salmon we are taking now we can take legally because collectively we all work together to build the stock.

This is a serious situation. It does not seem that this year will be any better than last year. If we do not wake up, there will not be a tomorrow to worry about.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place and I believe that I would have unanimous consent to proceed to questions on the order paper.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is that agreed?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is indeed a good day to have this debate, although in the 12 years that I have had the privilege of representing my constituents of Prince George—Peace River here, it seems as if we have been debating it over and over in these last dozen years.

In the real world outside of Ottawa before I became involved in politics, I was a farmer. I know what tough times farmers are having, not only in my riding in northeastern British Columbia and in western Canada but indeed all across Canada.

Farmers are having a tough time, but I cannot imagine how some of the fishermen who rely on the Fraser River salmon have been able to survive in these last 12 years. As a farmer, I can probably project the tough times that they have had with this disaster that has faced the fishery for quite some time now.

I have a couple of questions for my hon. colleague. The first one deals with exactly what I am relating this back to, and that is the number of times this has happened over the last 12 years. Just as he is even more familiar with the disaster that faced the cod fishery in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I am sure he is familiar with this ongoing disaster in British Columbia with the Fraser River salmon fishery.

What has he noticed in the last dozen years? How many times have the fishermen in British Columbia had to face this type of ongoing disaster and how little has the government done? The government has been in power for almost 12 years now, since the fall of 1993, and as with so many important issues, it seems that the Liberals get up to express their great concern and say they are going to study it and try to arrive at some solutions, but in the end nothing happens. It must be extremely depressing for those fishermen.

My second question is about this latest go-round. I have heard various numbers, but how much does the member project that this has actually cost the B.C. economy? One of the numbers I have heard is $80 million and some.

It is just incredible to think about the struggle that my home province of British Columbia has had in the last while. I am the first to admit that part of it is due to some very ineffective and inefficient governing by the New Democratic Party in the recent past, but this disaster has been an enormous hit, not only to those individual fishermen and their families but by extension to the B.C. economy as a whole. Does the member have any idea of a number so we can put some framework around what this has meant to the province of British Columbia?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, in relation to how often concerns about the Fraser have come up, I have been here five years. Every year since I have been here, and for my four years on the committee, there has always been a problem, last year of course highlighted by the fact that it was a disaster. Every year stakeholders are expressing concerns.

The positive things that have happened around the west coast salmon fishery resulted basically from the part played by the different stakeholders through their organizations. They have done a great job, but of course they are not the ones to call the shots. They can set the scenario. They can make the recommendations. It is up to the government to carry out the recommendations.

It is the same thing on the east coast. The government has done a tremendously poor job of managing the stock, a lot of that because it has no real scientific basis. The science is readily available because the people involved in the fishery know exactly what is going on. It is a matter of collection, coordination and involvement. The department has done a tremendously poor job of that.

In relation to the loss to the B.C. economy, I think it would be much greater than $80 million. There are three main aspects we have to look at: the recreational fishery, the commercial fishery and of course the aboriginal food and ceremonial fishery. All of these are extremely important to the different sectors. All of them benefit greatly and all of them add tremendously to the economy. It is hard to get a handle on one.

To give the members an example, this year alone, one of the major concerns is what the department has been or was planning. Departmental people were telling me as late as yesterday that they have not made a final decision, but it looked as if the department was going to limit the sockeye fishery on the Fraser to try to preserve the colonies of sockeye. There are only a handful of them left. In order to prevent the complete decimation of that stock, they are limiting the fishery. With the small numbers, limiting the fishery has very little effect on the rebuilding of the colonies, but it has a tremendous effect on the fishery; in fact we are told it is perhaps as great as $60 million to the commercial fishery alone. That is just one phase of the total problem.

I would say that the effect on the province of British Columbia is astronomical, but if we let things go on the way they are and there is no science, no management and no enforcement, then a few years down the road the salmon fishermen in all sectors in British Columbia will be like the cod fishermen in Newfoundland. They will be asking the government if it will allow them to go out for one day to catch one fish just to set her back on the water and that is a pretty sorry state of affairs.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of the comments made by the member across the way. This was a major issue that occurred in last summer's run of the salmon in the Fraser River. It has certainly been a major concern of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

I want to congratulate and thank the member and the other members of the fisheries committee for all the work they did over the last winter.

As the member knows, this is a very complex issue. There is no one simple solution that can be identified. The minister knew this last fall. He knew there was a real problem. He knew there were a number of different causes for the problem. People in British Columbia were pointing fingers at each other.

The minister appointed Mr. Justice Bryan Williams and another panel to do a post-season review and come back with recommendations and a report. Also, of course, the members of my committee, who are the masters of their own destiny, decided that this was the number one issue facing us over the winter months. We spent at least three to four months on this issue. Both the panel and the committee wrote reports and, as the member pointed out, they are both good reports, and the minister responded.

One thing concerned me in this whole thing. As a member of the House, I was very embarrassed about it. After the minister appointed Mr. Justice Bryan Williams, former chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court and a former president of the Canadian Bar Association, to chair the post-season harvest report in British Columbia, Justice Williams was met with a full court frontal attack in this House, led by the members opposite. He was criticized. He was ridiculed. There was a motion in the House for a judicial inquiry. There was a motion to the committee to fire him. Of course he had no means or mechanism to respond to these attacks. It was very embarrassing and unjustified. It brought this House into disrepute.

I have a question for the member opposite. Given the excellent report that Mr. Justice Williams prepared and given the work of the committee, is the member not embarrassed like I am? I should point out that the charge was led not by that member but by the member for Delta—Richmond East. As a member of the Conservative Party, is he not totally embarrassed by his party's actions over the last winter?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, before I answer the last question, let me pick up on what the member was saying. He is a member of our standing committee and knows full well some of the serious issues we have taken up.

In fact, over the last four years that I have been on the committee, we has undertaken some major studies. I would suggest that there are issues being dealt with today which would never have surfaced if our standing committee had not done a great job. We have been able to do it because we have been strictly non-partisan. At our committee meetings it is very difficult to tell who represents which party. That is the way it should be; perhaps that is the way it should be here in the House.

One of the issues we dealt with certainly was the major report on the Fraser River. We have done it with infrastructure. We did a great report on overfishing. This coming fall we will be starting to ask the question of what happened to the northern cod and why it has not come back after 12 years. I hope we never get to the day when we are asking where the Fraser sockeye have gone and why they have not come back after x number of years. The committee does a good job.

In relation to Mr. Williams' report, I really cannot answer, because I do not know Mr. Williams. I have never met him. I do know that a lot of concern was expressed, not because of Mr. Williams but because of the way the department operates. Quite often it tries to sneak in some kind of activity to try to cover up for its inadequacies, and it appeared the government was picking someone who would probably tell it what it wanted to hear. It might have tried that with Justice Gomery and it was wrong there also.

I will be the first to admit that Justice Williams picked a very good representative group of people to be on his committee. Originally there was talk about bringing in everybody involved, over 30 people, to the committee, but no one thought that would work properly. He put together a concise committee of people heavily involved in the fishery, all of whom were stakeholders, many of whom also had concerns about how well the committee would operate, and they did a very good report.

I would say to the member that it was no better than our own, maybe not as pointed but a very good report, because we were dealing with the same topic and talking to the same people. One of the reasons our committee tabled its report before Justice Williams' report was so the minister could easily see that this was all legitimate.

The bottom line is that two good reports were done. It is the response that concerns us.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that if you seek it, this time you will find unanimous consent to proceed temporarily to questions on the order paper.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 147, 149 and 154.

Question No. 147
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Do any of the terms of the first ministers health accords of 2003 and 2004 prohibit or discourage the provinces from contracting with privately owned health care clinics for the delivery of publicly funded, medically necessary health care services?

Question No. 147
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

The 2003 first ministers accord on health care renewal, February 2003, and the 2004 first ministers 10 year plan to strengthen health care, September 2004, do not deal with the issue of private care.

However, in both of these accords, first ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the five principles of health care insurance as described in the Canada Health Act, namely those of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. For both accords, first ministers agreed to ensure that timely access to medically necessary health services is based on need, not ability to pay. This means that all medically necessary hospital services and all medically required physician services are available to insured residents of a province or territory on a prepaid basis, that is, without direct charges to insured persons.

In addition, the 10 year plan includes funding of $41 billion to meet the funding recommendations of the Romanow report and builds on the 2003 accord which provided $27 billion over five years to ensure timely access to quality health care. The 2004 10 year plan also includes a commitment to the Canada Health Act dispute avoidance and resolution mechanism that requires the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work collaboratively to avoid and resolve intergovernmental disputes while respecting the legislative provisions of the governments involved.

Question No. 149
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

With respect to rail passengers communicating with the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding improvements to the Renaissance rail cars, owned and operated by VIA Rail Canada, how many: ( a ) from all parts of Canada, have concerns regarding limited amounts of space aboard the Renaissance rail car; ( b ) have originated from Atlantic Canada and travel on the Halifax to Montreal rail line; ( c ) have noted concerns about the purchase of a rail car designed for European rail networks being used on the Canadian rail network; and ( d ) are senior citizens?

Question No. 149
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

In response to (a), the Canadian Transportation Agency has received three formal applications concerning the Renaissance cars owned and operated by VIA Rail Canada Inc. Each of the three applications has raised concerns regarding limited amount of space aboard the Renaissance rail car.

In response to (b), none of the applications have originated from Atlantic Canada or as a result of travel on the Halifax to Montreal rail line.

In response to (c), one of the above noted formal applications has noted concerns about the purchase of rail cars designed for European rail networks and being used on the Canadian rail network.

In response to (d), the agency does not ask a person’s age when an application is received and therefore does not know if any of the applicants or if any of the persons who made inquiries or comments are senior citizens.

Question No. 154
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

What were the criteria used by VIA Rail Canada in the awarding of contrats from 1994 to 2004, including all changes that may have occurred during that same time period?

Question No. 154
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, from 1994 to 2004, the criteria used by VIA Rail Canada Inc. in awarding contracts are:

The purchase of goods and services must be carried out in a manner that results in the best value to the corporation when considering price, quality, service availability and operational performances. Purchasing quality goods and services implies purchasing only those products for which VIA has a clear need and which are the least expensive to perform satisfactorily their intended function. In evaluating and selecting the least expensive product to perform the intended function, generally the following factors are taken into account: purchase price, life expectancy, operating and installation costs, risk of failure and additional costs associated with failure, et cetera. In evaluating and selecting service providers, consideration shall be given to the following: cost, past experience, solvency and reputation of firm, ability to deliver results on time, qualification of personnel, knowledge of rail passenger business, adherence to and understanding of the terms of reference.

There were no changes to the above criteria over the specified period, however additional internal procedures were implemented in 2003 and 2004 to strengthen the controls associated with the contracting for goods and services.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 144 and 146 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 144
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

How many person-years have been allocated and what has been the total cost spent by both Foreign Affairs Canada and International Trade Canada, for each year since 1994, for the following activities: ( a ) organizing, operating and participating in the National Committee on Firearms; ( b ) formulating, implementing and administering the Canadian Plan of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons; ( c ) developing and implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects; ( d ) developing and implementing the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; ( e ) developing and implementing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons; ( f ) developing and implementing the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (Inter-American Convention), signed by Canada in November 1997; ( g ) developing and implementing the European Union (EU) Joint Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons adopted by the EU States on December 17, 1998; ( h ) developing and implementing the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports adopted by the EU States; ( i ) planning and participating in the Small Arms Survey 2001 and 2002; ( j ) participating in the planning, implementing and administering the Canadian Firearms Program, the Firearms Act and regulations and Part III of the Criminal Code; and ( k ) processing and issuing import and export permits for firearms and related products?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 146
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

For groups under its direct jurisdiction (for example, Aboriginal Persons, RCMP, veterans, prisoners), does the government make payments to any privately-owned clinics, including the Shouldice Hernia Centre in Thornhill, Ontario, for the delivery of medically necessary health care services and if so, how much did the government pay for such services in 2003 and 2004 and at which clinics?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 146
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining question be allowed to stand.

Question No. 146
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 146
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

We will resume debate with the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, I would ask that you seek clarification because I distinctly heard the Chair recognize my colleague from Vancouver North for debate before the other side.

My understanding of the rules of the House of Commons is that the member who rises first and is recognized by the Chair subsequently has the floor. He was on his feet and he is prepared to debate.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

In reply to the point of order I want to advise the hon. member that, first, there was an agreement that we alternate from one party to the other party as far as speakers.

Second, the parliamentary secretary had been on his feet before but because of some confusion with regard to what we were resuming debate on the hon. member asked a question on a point of order.

Therefore I recognize the hon. parliamentary secretary and we will continue as such.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would seek further clarification. I distinctly heard the hon. parliamentary secretary ask the Chair whether he was rising to continue on the debate on Bill C-48. It was obvious to all that is what he intended to debate, not the concurrence motion by my colleague from Newfoundland.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I would like to advise the hon. member that we knew, as far as the Table and the Chair were concerned, that the intent was for the hon. parliamentary secretary to debate on the motion. We already had his name on the list as speaking on this point. Therefore we will continue with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the ruling. I want to start off by stating publicly that I want to thank the member across for his presentation. I also want to take the opportunity to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for the excellent work they did on this particular issue over the past winter.

As I think everyone probably is aware, certainly everyone in British Columbia is aware and everyone who has any interest or involvement in fisheries across Canada is aware, the 2004 salmon harvest on the Fraser River was disastrous. The catches were down dramatically from what was expected and it was just a bad year.

The trouble is that when a situation like this arises, it is a very complex situation, which I will get into a little further into my remarks, but there is no one simple answer. However there are those in British Columbia and those in this House who think there is one simple answer, that if we put these people in jail or do this or do that, everything will happen and the sun will shine and these problems will never occur again.

I should point out that this is not the first time this has happened in the Fraser River. We have had problems, and I do not know the exact years, but over the last 15 years it is my understanding that on at least three occasions there have been disastrous catches in the Fraser River. If we look at it, there will be a bad year and then there will be three reasonably good years, so it is really not a situation where we can blame one particular factor.

We cannot say that it was all illegal or unauthorized harvesting because these people who are doing these activities do not behave in this way. They are not going to go and do a whole bunch of illegal, unauthorized harvesting this year and not the next year, then pick it up in three years and then leave it for three years. That is not the way the situation works.

The point I want to make is that there is no simple solution.

Because it is a very important industry in British Columbia, people start pointing fingers at everyone else. They do not point the finger at themselves. They say that it is another group of fishermen up or down the river who were involved in illegal fishing. Some people blame high water temperatures. Some people blame environmental concerns. Some people blame the quality of the water in the river. Some people blame the monitoring or the methodology used for counting the fish. There is a whole hodgepodge out there. Again, this is a very complex issue with no simple solution.

I want to stress how important the fishing industry is to the province of Prince Edward Island. Basically we can divide the stakeholders into three groups. We have the commercial salmon industry, made up of the commercial, non-aboriginal fishers, commercial aboriginal fishers who basically fish under management restrictions imposed by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. We also have the recreational fishers, an industry that is tremendously important for all of British Columbia. We then have the aboriginal fishers who fish under the food, social and ceremonial purposes licence, mainly located above the bridge at Mission.

I should also point out that we are not dealing with one aboriginal group. I stand to be corrected, but I believe I am correct in saying that we have 97 different bands above Mission that have the right to fish salmon for food, social and ceremonial purposes. If we were dealing with one aboriginal band, the issue would become much less complex, but one can visualize the complexity of this situation.

As I pointed out before, the catch was extremely disappointing in last year's run of the Fraser River and this quickly became the number one management concern in Canada for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

However, the minister, in some way and through some mechanism, needed to find out the exact facts of the situation in order to find out what caused the extremely low run of salmon. He immediately established a commission to do a post-harvest review and the person he appointed to chair that commission was Mr. Justice Brian Williams.

Judge Williams is a former retired chief justice of the province of British Columbia. I recall that when I was a practising lawyer back about 15 years ago now, Mr. Justice Williams, then Brian Williams, was the president of the Canadian Bar Association, that organization representing all lawyers across Canada. Therefore he comes to the commission with a lot of credentials and a very distinguished career, both practising law and in the judiciary.

Although I congratulate the members of the committee, I was very disappointed and disturbed by the attack that the members across took against Mr. Justice Williams. However, as the member across pointed out, Mr. Justice Williams did what we expected him to do. He basically ignored the comments emanating from this House. He appointed an excellent panel, he did great work and he wrote a good report. For that, I want to publicly thank him and all members of the panel that he chaired. They certainly did a great job.

Also, because of the seriousness of the issue, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans felt, like the minister, that this was the number one management concern in fisheries in Canada at this point in time. We in the committee, who are the masters of our own destiny, decided that we would spend a good portion of the winter months, over the last six months, doing our own report as to the problems experienced in the Fraser River salmon run during the 2004 season.

We started this report and in the early part of December of last year six or seven members of the committee spent three days holding hearings in downtown Vancouver. We heard from a lot of the stakeholders involved in the salmon industry, the aboriginal groups, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and many of the recreational fishers associations. We heard from members from the auditor general of British Columbia, officials from the Auditor General of Canada and a whole host of other stakeholders who gave very good testimony and good evidence on this issue.

However, the more we heard and the more documents that were presented to the committee, the more we realized that this was not a simple solution. It did not lead to a clear answer and it was a very complicated and difficult issue.

We presented our report back in March. It is my belief, as has already been stated here in the House by the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, that this was a good report and I associate myself with those comments.

At the same time, about two weeks after the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans wrote its report, Mr. Justice Williams wrote his panel's report which made more recommendations than our report. I believe his report had 47 recommendations while our committee report had 11, 12 or 13 separate recommendations. However I believe our recommendations were much more focused and pointed because we had less of them.

I have read both reports and it is certainly striking, the similarity of the recommendations and findings as between the Williams report and SCOFO report. What I want to do in my remarks is deal with both reports together. Although Mr. Williams, I believe, heard from more witnesses and perhaps had more access to documents and more time than us, both reports, I believe, did a really good job and both reports are, in my opinion, good reports that make excellent recommendations.

We can divide the problem into three or four separate areas. I will mention the first area that is dealt with both in the Williams report and in the SCOFO report and I would classify it as environmental. As we heard from the experts who testified in Vancouver and some of the experts who testified here in Ottawa, salmon do not survive in warm water. The warmer the water gets, the more difficulty they have in returning to the spawning grounds. The bottom line is that if the water reaches a certain point, the salmon basically die. It is as simple as that.

However, there are management methods to deal with this problem. The warmer the water gets, the salmon may not die, but they certainly have much more difficulty in getting to the spawning grounds of the Fraser River. In that regard, there is a connection between the water temperature and the management of the run.

It has been our recommendation that if the water become a certain temperature, DFO ought to shut down the fisheries to all groups of fishers. The salmon that are operating in warm water are having enough difficulty getting up the river without trying to get through nets and other obstacles in the way.

That is one of the issues that presented itself both to the Williams committee and to our committee. We also heard the evidence from the people who studied this very carefully. They stated that the water temperature last summer was extremely warm in the Fraser River and was one of the major causes of the disappointing results in last year's salmon run.

I would like to go off topic a little for a minute to talk about an issue that has been mentioned by several of the experts and has been mentioned also in the House. I am just concluding on the whole environmental issue. I want to talk about global warming.

I believe that what we are seeing in the Fraser River is, to a certain extent, the result of global warming. It seems to be getting worse as we go on. I am not talking from year to year. If we look at the results of water temperatures for over the last 50 years, I believe this may be the so-called canary in the coal mine syndrome. It is something to which we, in Parliament, may want to pay particular attention. Global warming is not, as I have heard some other members describe it, a figment of someone's imagination.

The second issue, and I am not able to quantify what is the most important issue or what issue caused the most problems, is the illegal or unauthorized fishing in the Fraser River during last summer's run. If anyone suggests that there was no illegal fishing or unauthorized fishing, then those individuals do not know what they are talking about. We have heard very clear, convincing, and cogent testimony from a number of witnesses who gave vivid testimony as to unauthorized or illegal fishing, both by the aboriginal bands above Mission and perhaps to a lesser extent, the commercial fishers below Mission.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has our recommendations and the recommendations from the Williams report on this issue. It is a very serious issue and an issue that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the officials within his department will have to deal with much more vigilantly this year and in the years to come.

Again, it is easier for me to say that in the House of Commons. It is much more difficult to do it. I do not want to understate how difficult it is on the Fraser River. We have heard testimony on the way the Fraser River is set up. In some areas it is like a canyon. It is difficult to access by vehicle and some helicopter surveillance is done during the season.

As I stated before, we are not dealing with one aboriginal band. That would make it much more simple and much less complex. We are dealing with 97 different aboriginal bands and some, the evidence is clear, were partaking in illegal and unauthorized fishing on the Fraser River. Some were not. Again, this is something that will have to be addressed this year.

Monitoring is another issue. The recommendations that were set out and now reported in the Williams report dealt with monitoring of the catch that is harvested by the various stakeholders. The department must get a better handle on the exact number of salmon that are being caught on the river, but it also must improve the methodology used to count the fish.

The way the fish are counted has been a perennial problem. There have always been allegations that the counter that is located at the Mission bridge, which is done by a seismic counter, does not actually count the fish but gives an estimate of the fish going by. I cannot confirm or deny the allegation that the count is in some respects inaccurate.

There has also been evidence given that sometimes the salmon will go by the counter and because of the water temperature or whatever reasons they will swim back into an ebb pool and then come back through the counter again. If that happens then the fish are counted twice. That is another issue that is set out in both these reports.

Basically, both reports make many parallel recommendations. We want better monitoring, more enforcement, and better methodologies used in counting the fish. We want better management of the fishery and better relationships between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the various stakeholders on the Fraser River, specifically some of the aboriginal bands.

I was extremely pleased that the minister did respond to our report. He responded quickly and decisively yesterday before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

I do not have a lot of time left, but I will highlight some of the response. There has been $5.2 million allocated for additional enforcement, science and monitoring on the Fraser River. There will be more science on the difficulties in the Fraser River vis-à-vis water temperature. There will be more monitoring of the catch by all stakeholders. The department will give consideration to the purchase and installation of a better system of counting the fish, but it did not state clearly that it will do that this year.

Perhaps most importantly, officials will try to develop better relationships, and there has been some very clear evidence that the relationships between the department and some of the stakeholders have improved. All sides will certainly continue to work on that. Also, there have been some announced organizational changes within the department dealing with the whole area of protection and enforcement.

I want to congratulate the minister. He did the right thing by making it the number one management concern. He and his department officials have spent a great deal of time over the last winter dealing with this issue. I was pleased with the nature and the depth, and the comprehensiveness of the response made yesterday to both our report and the Williams report.

However, the proof will be in the pudding. According to the member for Delta—Richmond East, who I should point out knows much more about these issues than I do, being a former fisher himself, the fish are in the river now and hopefully as we look forward to the 2005 season we will have better environmental conditions this summer.

Hopefully, with the new enhanced and improved enforcement that is on the river, there will be better control over any illegal or unauthorized fishing and hopefully, this year we will not see a repeat of last year's problems. However, I should reword that. The minister or anyone in the House has no control over issues like the warmth of the water in the Fraser River, but hopefully, it will be more conducive to a successful salmon run this year.

I want to again congratulate the committee and the minister. This is the way the House should work and I invite questions.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to echo the comments of the parliamentary secretary. The members of the fisheries committee have done a tremendous amount of work over the last few years in bringing to the fore a big challenge in my province of British Columbia. This includes not only fisheries in general but specifically the Fraser River fishery which has had ongoing challenges, as the parliamentary secretary eloquently mentioned.

I would also like to thank Judge Williams for his work and the very cogent solutions and recommendations that he has put forward to save our fishery. We know that it is a combination of challenges that affected the fishery including, yes, warm water. Poaching has been taking place as well and that has caused a major problem along with the degradation of the areas where the salmon actually spawn.

One of the biggest problems we have had for many years in my province is the fact that logging is taking place, going right down to the edges of rivers. Under those circumstances, sensitive habitat that is required for salmon to spawn is damaged.

One of the things that we have been struggling and trying to deal with is how to manage the rehabilitation of the critical salmon stream spawning areas that are essential for the longevity of the species.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in British Columbia who was responsible for salmon habitat reclamation and those who operate the fish enhancement projects. There are thousands of British Columbians who day in and day out work on rivers and streams, and stream beds, to rehabilitate them and who also grow and hatch the fish. Our salmon hatcheries in British Columbia have been quite extraordinary and in many ways are essential to the longevity and the sustainability of the various salmon species.

I have a number of questions for the hon. parliamentary secretary. What has been done with respect to the hatcheries? I know that the minister has been very interested in this. What has been done to support the hatcheries in British Columbia? Could he also reiterate the investment that the Government of Canada is making into enforcement and increasing the number of enforcement officers who are not only going to be put to work on the west coast but specifically are going to be applied to the Fraser River, so that the laws will be adhered to, poaching will be stopped, rehabilitation will take place, and our salmon species will have a long and fruitful future?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member's question highlights one of the comments I made earlier about the complexity of this issue. This is not a simple issue.

The member talked about logging and he is quite right. When logging goes right to the stream, it causes all kinds of problems with silt and allows other substances to get into the waterways, even if it is not the Fraser River. It might be a tributary off the left of the Fraser River and this causes all kinds of problems. I do not want to overly criticize the logging industry.

The agriculture industry does tremendous damage to some of our salmon and other marine species habitat. Nutrient enrichment is a very serious problem, which again is not only a federal issue, it is a provincial issue as well. A lot of work has been done now, but I want to state clearly that a lot more work has to be done in the whole issue of protecting marine habitat and in the area of science. It is a matter of balancing the two out.

To answer the member's question, the Pacific coast salmon enhancement fund was a major investment several years ago and that has done a lot to increase habitat, stocks and hatcheries. That involves the whole industry.

Perhaps one of the highlights of the member's question is the importance of this industry to British Columbia. After listening to the witnesses in British Columbia, I believe it is more than dollars and cents. When we talk about it as being $800 million, we are missing the point. The salmon take on almost a mythical element in British Columbia.

There has been increased enforcement on the Fraser River. One of the ways the minister is dealing with this is by allocating a certain number of enforcement officers. They perhaps will not be stationed in the Fraser River, but they will be there for a short time, the four or five weeks or wherever the salmon run.

I will reiterate that the response received yesterday was a good, well thought out, comprehensive response to this issue.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot remain calmly silent about the statements just made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

We have been given many opportunities to address the Fraser River salmon matter. The responses we received yesterday, during the minister's appearance before the committee, are indicative of the fact that neither the government nor the department has anything to be proud of in this matter.

I have a very simple question for the parliamentary secretary. What measures is the department taking to deal with the situation in 2005? The problem is that the Fraser River salmon is endangered, although not to the same degree as other threatened species. It is endangered for many reasons, in particular, the inaction or lack of good management by the department, which hesitates before taking any real action.

I do not get the impression that any immediate, concrete measures are planned for 2005. I will give the parliamentary secretary a chance to prove otherwise. I want him to give us a detailed response on the measures in order to reassure us about this situation. So far the responses have been rather vague, just like the action. The situation will likely not improve and an umpteenth report on the same issue might announce the total disappearance of salmon in the Fraser River. I want to give the parliamentary secretary the opportunity to explain what measures will be taken in 2005.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify one of the comments the member made. I am not boasting about the file. That is certainly not my intention.

As anyone knows who has read our report, we were critical of the department and it needs to respond to it. I am not going to stand here in the House and say that everything has been perfect vis-à-vis the management of the salmon in the Fraser River. That is not the case. Members will see that when they read our report. The minister did respond quickly and decisively to our report. He knows there are issues.

There is one point that I do want to make this afternoon, that this is not a simple problem that has one simple answer. It is a complex problem and it has to be dealt with as such. If it were one issue and if it took a little bit of money here and doing this or doing that, then I am sure it would have been done years ago. As I have stated before, this is not the first time this incident has occurred on the Fraser River.

If I may deal with the specific question of the member, as the minister pointed out in committee yesterday, he has taken about seven or eight specific detailed measures for this year's management plan. The first and perhaps the most important is to enhance the number of officers, to give them more money so they have better equipment and more allocations for overtime. It is basically to improve and enhance the enforcement on the Fraser River.

The second issue is to improve the relationships between the Government of Canada and the different stakeholders there. It comes down to that. However, from what I have heard over the last year, if we had 10,000 officers on the Fraser River, they would not stop all the illegal or unauthorized fishing.

There will be much better and improved monitoring of the fishery. The minister has also restructured his department. There will be very clear roles of accountability and responsibility in dealing with this issue.

To answer my friend's question, I believe the minister has made a very detailed and comprehensive response to our report. The minister has stated that he and his officials have for the last number of months viewed this as the number one management issue in fisheries in Canada. I am confident that these measures will pay off in this year's run.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming more and more difficult as a British Columbian to stand here and listen to the smokescreen put up by Liberal members of the House.

The member for Charlottetown likes to describe this as a complicated issue. By so doing, he can set up a smokescreen to avoid accountability for what has essentially been a very simple, straightforward failing on the part of his government. That relates to two areas: lack of enforcement of the Fisheries Act and regulations and a lack of funding for the critical and priority areas of management on the west coast, and I am sure it applies to other areas of the country as well. There is nothing complicated about that.

The member likes to talk about a mythical element in terms of British Columbia's attachment to its resource. The mythical element is this. Where the government is when it comes to managing the fishery on the west coast? I have a high appreciation for the fisheries committee in what it is able to obtain and how much it can do it in a non-partisan way. I sat on that committee for a number of years. It is not the committee that is failing, it is the government.

It is one thing to log reports. It is another thing to be concerned about where it is all leading. This is now the fourth incident in 12 years where we have had a major collapse due to lack of enforcement and a lack of dedication of resources to managing the Fraser River fishery. We have other problems in the British Columbia fishery. This happens to be the one everybody is focusing on today.

There were reports written on the previous occasions as well and the recommendations were very similar. The evasions for government were very similar. The most recent one is that this is somehow probably all related to global warming. We know that is not true. We know the Mission counter was improved, despite the fact that the Mission counter was proven to do its job as early as 1992. We have had other investigations and reports look at it. There was major redundancy or duplication built into the way that counter admission worked in 2004. Yet the government is dragging up the same old criticisms of the system because it helps to diffuse and set up a smokescreen for what it did not do. What it did not do was manage the fishery.

This becomes not only difficult for people such as myself who sat on the fisheries committee. It is difficult for anyone involved in the fishery. It becomes extremely difficult for the population at large who are now on to the government. They know the government did not back its enforcement people this year. The entire Fraser Valley knows that because there are other people on the river. People go camping. They are there 24 hours a day. They saw what was happening on the river. They know fisheries officers who live in the community. They know what those officers were told. They know that there was no political will to support them. They know this is a long-standing circumstance. They know that probably 90% of the issue is those fish that were poached.

Instead we get an announcement and rhetoric that is 90% pointing everywhere else. That is not in anyone's interest. The minister made an announcement yesterday. The minister ignored the majority of the key recommendations made by the fisheries and oceans committee in its report, the very report we are talking about.

We know that the minister shut down part 2 of the Williams inquiry once it became clear that the evidence was pointing a finger at DFO mismanagement. We know that the minister's response came 25 days after the deadline he was given by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. We know the minister ignored the committee's recommendations to put an immediate halt to drift net fisheries between Mission and Hope on the Fraser River. We know the minister failed to send a clear signal that fisheries violations on the Fraser River this year would result in swift and severe repercussions.

The minister instead continues to depend on the goodwill of stakeholders. If people who poached salmon in 2004 are being asked to suddenly operate in a sense of cooperation and goodwill, what kind of credibility does that give to the minister?

Finally, on the call for a redeployment of fisheries officers during critical periods, give us a break. Those are also critical periods in other parts of the salmon fishery on the coast.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings on the motion at this time.

I wish to inform the House that there is one hour and 42 minutes remaining in the debate on the motion for concurrence in the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Accordingly, the debate on the motion will be rescheduled for another sitting.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from May 2, consideration of the motion.

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Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion regarding climate change and Kyoto. It is a very important topic, one which I hope all members of the House are taking very, very seriously.

I want to focus on our strong interest in working in much closer partnership with a full range of stakeholders across society as an essential aspect of making progress on climate change. This is required for the development of a truly national response to this challenge.

Climate change is an issue that can either bring the world community together or push us further apart. The choice is ours to make. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, it is either all or nothing, or better, all or none, because we are talking about people in this case. We need to do this in order to draw on the respective strengths and capacities of all constituencies across Canada.

Meeting our emissions gap of some 270 megatonnes will not be achieved without considerable action on the part of all regions and stakeholders.

In our climate change efforts to date, it has been extremely challenging to lever significant changes in a society with a GDP in excess of $1 trillion a year and with expenditures in the order of hundreds of millions per year.

We recognize that we need to move forward with an approach that fully engages provinces, territories, communities, industry, business, as well as individual Canadians if we are to be successful in meeting our Kyoto obligations in a manner that fully advances our economic interests.

In looking to partner with provinces and territories, the federal government clearly recognizes that it does not have jurisdiction in all policy areas that are relevant to climate change mitigation. Our collective efforts need to intersect to provide financial and policy support to drive economic competitiveness while simultaneously addressing urban air quality concerns, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring greater social equity across our communities.

Provincial support and policy alignment are essential for effectively managing our climate change responsibilities, not only in terms of electricity regulation and building codes, but in terms of research and development, in terms of land use intensification and transportation policy, in terms of public transit promotion, and in terms of supportive policy for sustainable rural development, agriculture, forestry and industry.

We can provide incentives to encourage the adoption of far more efficient vehicles, but we need the cooperation of provinces to provide the owners of these vehicles with preferential access to high occupancy vehicle lanes to speed their commute to work, or better yet, to encourage their owners to work from home several days per week.

We need to move forward with all provinces and territories in the areas of clean energy development, energy end use efficiency, renewable energy development, waste reduction, public transit expansion, smart growth, rural development, and dovetailing incentives and disincentives to drive the behaviours that they want. I think the scope for improvements is enormous in this case.

Greater cooperation with industry and business is also needed in moving forward with our climate change objectives. There remains considerable untapped potential in this domain as well.

In a carbon constrained world, business as usual is not a viable option. Industry and business must focus on adding as much value to our resource base as possible while meeting legitimate public expectations for a clean and healthy environment and the continued provision of good paying jobs.

The federal government can assist in a variety of ways, including targeted support through research and development of next generation manufacturing technologies and with the provision of market intelligence that allows for market expansion and product export.

Our progress on smart regulation and in streamlining decision making could also help in this regard. No one benefits by wasted efforts or regulatory inefficiency.

There will be huge markets opening internationally as a result of carbon constraints. We need to ensure that we benefit to the maximum extent possible in positioning our economy to thrive over the longer term.

Market incentives can be designed to encourage the application and deployment of far more efficient technologies and far better designs that entail lower operating costs and environmental burdens without incurring large social costs that are borne outside market transaction by innocent third parties.

The recent announcements concerning large facility emitters, the technology investment fund and the auto industry, along with the introduction of the climate fund, have set the table to allow the private sector to become fully engaged in exploiting the opportunities inherent in the climate change agenda and to better manage the risks inherent in their existing operations.

Through the new deal for cities and communities, we anticipate ongoing investments of a portion of the federal gas tax revenues toward more sustainable municipal infrastructures across Canada. These investments can further Canada's objectives on climate change by promoting more efficient use of water resources, smarter and more energy efficient patterns of urban development, far more efficient public transportation networks, and by capturing landfill gas that would otherwise escape to the environment and combusting it to produce electricity and heat for use by local utilities and industry. There was a very important announcement this very day with regard to these matters in the province of Ontario.

Addressing climate change will require a concerted effort over decades. The growing international marketplace in a carbon constrained future will pose huge opportunities for clean and resource efficient technologies in all fields of human endeavour. Effectively addressing the issue requires leadership at all levels of society, but we need to begin the transformation now.

The pathways forward are known. Energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, renewable transportation, covenants with industry, restorative agriculture and forestry, investments in R and D and innovation, and adjustment of the tax system to foster sustainability figure prominently in national strategies on climate change.

As we move forward in the next number of months on climate change, we will make concerted efforts to far better align our interests at the federal level with those of the provinces and territories, with those of industry and business, with those of consumers and communities, and those of the professions.

We anticipate having a far more directed ask, where each participant in the process brings something to the table and agrees to make binding commitments. Engagement will be encouraged and will be a prerequisite for gain sharing.

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Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, while weighing our Conservative priorities and policies, my thoughts actually went to two important principles.

In this case, these two important principles are in conflict. The first principle is of course the division of powers and the respecting of provinces. The second is the national and international effects of Kyoto and how best in this case to deal with that issue.

In all issues of conflict a balance needs to be struck. On this particular issue I think there needs to be a real balance struck between the competing interests and what is ultimately going to benefit all Canadians.

While the Conservative Party does of course support the division of powers as set out in the Constitution, we must also recognize the larger picture of the planet and of course the international treaty, which in this case is Kyoto.

In respecting provinces and provincial jurisdiction, the Conservative Party understands that the provinces want that control of what they should have: the powers that they were originally given in the division of powers under the BNA Act. Of course, they have been infringed over the last 50 years, primarily by the Liberal government taking over many of the jurisdictional powers of the provinces.

We further encourage provinces and provincial governments to take the initiative in issues that cross provincial and federal jurisdiction, such as this particular issue. For example, Alberta is proceeding with its own climate change plan and other provinces are working with provincial and federal departments to make changes to implement Kyoto strategies most effectively for the particular province.

However, the waste demonstrated by the Liberals today when it comes to the administration of their Kyoto file has members of the Conservative Party extremely concerned.

In weighing the two competing interests in this case, we have come to the conclusion that implementation of Kyoto in just one province or in one province at a time would be undesirable, as it would lead to inconsistencies and instabilities in the Kyoto protocol itself and would jeopardize our international commitments, which are so important to the world at large and of course to most Canadians.

Therefore, the Conservative Party cannot support this motion.

We believe that the Kyoto targets are unrealistic and unattainable at this stage, only because there has been total inaction by the Liberal government over the past 12 years. As Sierra Club director John Bennett has said, the only reason Canada will have to spend $5 billion over the next five years purchasing hot air overseas is because of no action since 1992.

As such, the Conservative Party cannot support a motion that would lead to Kyoto implementation in one province while ignoring the rest of Canada's concerns. We prefer a made in Canada solution. We prefer a North American solution.

Because this motion deals with two very important issues, respect of provincial powers and Kyoto, I would like to talk a little about each issue.

The Conservative Party believes in federalism. There is no doubt that we believe in the federal system. As government, the Conservative Party would restore the proper and legal constitutional balance between the federal and the provincial and territorial governments.

The Conservative Party is committed to the federal principle and to the notion of strong provinces within Canada, which will make for a stronger united Canada. A Conservative government would work cooperatively with the provinces to improve the lives of Canadians while still respecting the balance of powers.

A Conservative government would ensure that the use of federal spending power in provincial jurisdictions is limited to what provinces actually want. Provinces would be able to use the opting out formula with full compensation if they want to opt out of any new or modified federal program in areas of shared or exclusive jurisdiction.

With regard to the Kyoto accord itself, the Conservative Party has solid policies in that area, such as the following: long term energy framework policies, an environmental principle policy, clean air principles, and of course respect of international treaties.

There is no question in this case that Canada has some unique natural economic advantages. We have an abundance of fossil fuels, an abundance of hydro power generation, some of the world's best wind regimes for wind power, and other renewable and non-renewable sources.

The Conservative Party, if government, would develop a renewable and non-renewable energy framework that takes into account our unique differences in Canada and our outstanding obligations, which would meet our long term requirements for domestic consumption and export, not just the short term requirements but the long term requirements.

In essence, we need to keep our economy hot but, at the same time, clean up the 30,000 contaminated sites across Canada that are making Canadians sick every single day. We need to eliminate smog and at the same time protect the world through reducing climate change.

The Conservative Party believes that strengthening the energy market integration will ensure greater reliability of energy supplies across Canada and, most important, will secure our economic and environment future, another balance that we have to strike.

A Conservative government would explore ways to reduce barriers, which I believe in this case the motion speaks to, in particular to the movement of energy products across provincial and other borders.

A Conservative government would initiate a review of all environment and energy initiatives, including the Kyoto protocol and our targets. We would also adopt a new environmental strategy at the international level to actually get results, not just to spread more hot air.

Talk is cheap; results take planning, effort, strategy and innovation. The Conservative Party, through our members, has those initiatives.

We would reduce CO

2

by reducing government talk and rhetoric and concentrate on getting results. We would legislate caps on smog causing pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic components.

We learned recently that in Ontario alone 5,000 people will die from smog related diseases just this year. It is incredible.

As a Conservative government we would negotiate power plant and smoke stack emission limits with the United States and the northern border states, which we see as a very important step in this process. Of course, most obviously, we would begin by building a good relationship with our friends in the United States, instead of using name calling or sarcasm.

Lastly, before entering into any new major international treaties or undertakings, a Conservative government would ensure that Parliament and this House is fully informed, and that we have full debate and discussion of those issues before binding action is taken. We would not do any backroom deals. We would deal with the people who represent the people.

This speaks to the motion itself and, more important, it shows respect. The provinces would be fully consulted and respected if such treaties were to have a direct effect on the authority and finances of the provinces themselves in their areas of responsibility, which of course this does, and it would be respectful to do so.

The Conservative Party, however, in this case, opposes Motion No. 162, not because we do not respect provincial jurisdiction, but because this is an issue of national and international critical importance that has lagged far behind in the last 12 years because of inaction by the Liberal government. There is no question that Kyoto targets are just simply unreasonable and unobtainable at this stage because nothing has been done.

Again, this is not an issue confined to Quebec, to Alberta, to the Northwest Territories or to Newfoundland and Labrador. This is an issue of national and international importance and it needs a national solution taking into account national economic and geographic considerations which are tied to all provinces and territories, not just one, because we are a unique country with unique needs across the country.

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Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the last two speakers, I think that, finally, with the Bloc Québécois, we are hearing the voice of reason. I know that the Chair may not comment on this, but it may find it interesting all the same. I hope that the other colleagues will reconsider their position on Motion M-162, which was introduced in a very timely fashion by my colleague from Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

I want to read this motion to ensure that my colleagues understand it:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should cede to the government of Quebec, with full financial compensation, complete responsibility for implementing the Kyoto Protocol within its jurisdiction.

The Conservative member who preceded me was talking out of both sides of his mouth. He said he could not support this motion, but twice in his speech—I was listening closely—he said that if the Conservatives won the next election, they would let the provinces opt out with full financial compensation if a federal measure were unsuitable. I heard this twice. However, his party opposes Motion M-162. This is quite contradictory. Perhaps, after I speak, the Conservatives will change their position.

To put it simply, this motion is the result of the futility of Project Green, which I now call the Liberal government's project red. This plan was tabled on April 13. It is filled with contradictions. It has raised numerous concerns, not only for the Bloc Québécois, but also the Quebec government, the three parties in Quebec's National Assembly, environmental groups and all those working to keep our planet, air and water clean. These people are very concerned about the plan tabled by the Minister of the Environment on April 13.

Project Green does not allow Canada to fulfill its commitments for 2008-12. If there is one thing about the environment that everyone agrees on, it is that the federal government's approach to implementing the Kyoto protocol is a dismal failure. Have the objectives been achieved? I want to take a few minutes to talk about this.

The objective was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% between 2008 and 2010. What actually happened was that in recent years there has been a 20% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet its objectives, the government will now have to decrease emissions by 30%. Because of the Liberal government's lackadaisical attitude, we are a long way from the 6% we ought to have achieved in the next few years.

The focus of the plan at this time is more on polluter-paid than polluter-pay. The proof of this lies in some of the programs included in this plan. The Liberal Government's climate change action fund is such that the taxpayers' money ends up being used to help out polluters. These polluting companies now wanting to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions—which is normal, everyone must do their part—will have an opportunity to use the money of the taxpayers, that is all of us, to implement a plan to achieve that objective.

This plan also favours companies which are in a position to make major reductions. This disadvantages others which have made reductions at their own expense for some years. In Quebec there are many such industrial and manufacturing companies.

For example, on one of my tours I met with representatives of cement companies right here in Ottawa. They told me they had already been involved in measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for some years. If that is the case, and improvements have been achieved, too bad, because the federal government will not make any effort to compensate them for past costs.

Companies that have done nothing all these years, and now have no choice, are going to be able to attain their objective by helping themselves from the taxpayers' pockets. That is absolutely unfair, I am sure we agree.

There is another program, the partnership fund, which will be used to fund the closing of coal-fired plants in Ontario. Once again, Quebec taxpayers' money will be used to finance this, when these same taxpayers have borne the whole cost of constructing hydroelectric plants themselves.

It cost a fortune, but we are very proud of it. We are happy that our taxes were used to construct hydroelectric plants. The problem, however, lies in the fact that we have heard that they will now be used to pay for the closure of coal plants in Canada's richest provinces. We have no choice. But we paid for our hydroelectric plants ourselves. Everyone is wondering why we should pay so that a province as rich as Ontario can assume its environmental responsibilities.

The climate fund will be used to buy credits abroad. My colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who is familiar with the matter, spoke at length about it. I have to say I read his speech on the subject in order to be able to explain it myself. The 2005 plan provides no limit for the purchase of credits abroad. With taxpayers' money, the federal government can buy a huge amount of these credits, which I might call pollution entitlements.

The government should let the major polluters unable, or, worse, unwilling to reduce their emissions—there are some of them, unfortunately—buy their own credits. The money the government would thus save could go to ecological projects here. That would make sense. The major polluters that do not want to or cannot reduce their emissions should buy these credits with their own money, and not with public funds.

We are not opposed to buying credits. We understand that some businesses simply cannot meet these objectives, at least right now. The purchase of credits would appear to be the solution providing some form, as it were, of acceptable compensation.

If the government did not stick taxpayers with the cost of these credits, it would have money to invest in green energy. The Bloc is known for being strongly in favour of wind energy and all the alternative energies, which are becoming increasingly efficient and lower priced. I hope that, one day, they will replace all the polluting energies. Ontario's decision to close its coal plants is a step in this direction. It is a good decision. The problem is that it is the taxpayers who are footing the bill.

I must also mention the unfortunate agreement between the federal government and the auto industry, which we have discussed endlessly. This is a serious problem. Does the auto industry really need government assistance? I am not talking about employees. For example, the GM plant in Boisbriand could have really used some help. I am talking, instead, about assistance to fight pollution.

There is an agreement to reduce emissions by 5.3 megatonnes, which is not very much. Cars are responsible for no less than 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Based on that figure, the auto industry should be cutting emissions by 8.5 times the amount I indicated earlier, of 5.3 megatonnes, for a total reduction of 46 megatonnes. This, clearly, would make a difference.

Furthermore, no regulatory framework is set out in this agreement. No penalties are imposed. Everything depends on the goodwill of the industry. Yes, we presume that people, including the auto industry, will act in good faith, but we should not be naive. I do not want to be unkind, but I think that the Minister of the Environment is being naive here. A mandatory approach is required. We need some mandatory measures signifying a real political will to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I will conclude by mentioning the tax measures that for the past 10 years or so have resulted in a 33% increase in tax incentives for the oil and gas industries. I remind hon. members that these industries are responsible for 55% of the emissions. That is another problem.

To sum it all up, it is an unfair plan for Quebec and its companies.

It is highly important that Quebec be able to divide the weight equally among the various industries. It is a simple question of logic. Quebec is best able to determine the appropriate measures for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bloc Québécois realized that a long time ago. That is why in October 2004, we introduced a motion for the federal government to give full compensation and full responsibility to the Government of Quebec for implementing the Kyoto protocol on its own soil. The Bloc Québécois is also calling for an implementation plan for this protocol that: reduces greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 6% of 1990 levels, which is the objective Canada promised to achieve between 2008 and 2012; applies the polluter-pay principle, for which the Minister of the Environment's Green Plan causes some problems that I mentioned earlier; and, finally, is fair to Quebec.

That is why I am asking this House to pass Motion M-162.

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Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The mover of the motion now has the floor for five minutes to reply and close the debate. The hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are approaching the end of the second hour of debate on the motion I introduced on May 2. That motion concerned implementation of the Kyoto protocol and called for respect and recognition of the efforts made in Quebec since 1990.

I would like to thank my colleagues from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and Richmond—Arthabaska for their contribution to this debate, which is of importance to Quebeckers.

I respect the dissenting views of the other parties, but at the same time have trouble understanding what prevents them from acknowledging the efforts made by Quebec.

We are already fully engaged in the process of attaining the Kyoto protocol objectives. Quebeckers are concerned about the environment. They have made serious efforts to encourage industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Much work has been done. Quebec has made a huge effort. But what does the government do? Once again, it introduces a bad plan based on the polluter-paid, instead of the polluter-pay, principle. The government really ought to do its homework better.

This motion calls for efforts to reduce polluting emissions to be assigned according to territory, with the reference year being 1990. Quebec would then be required to make a fair effort at reduction that would recognize its past pro-ecology choices. This motion also calls upon the federal government to enter into a bilateral agreement, to give the Government of Quebec full responsibility for implementing the Kyoto protocol within the province, with fair financial compensation. Most importantly, the motion calls on the federal government to respect the territorial approach and give top priority to the following: making public transit passes tax deductible; establishing a reduction for the automobile industry eight and a half times that set out in the voluntary agreement, which must be accompanied starting today by a regulatory framework setting out heavy fines for non-compliance; eliminating tax incentives to oil and gas producers; and offering tax deductions for purchasing hybrid vehicles. These are just examples.

This forward-looking motion will enable all the provinces to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto protocol and help strike a better balance by requiring that the efforts made to date by Quebec be recognized.

Let me reiterate what was said about Canada's Kyoto protocol implementation plan. In various joint statements, environmental groups denounce the environment minister's plan, the lack of detail on the mechanisms and concrete measures that will be used, the lack of deadlines and interim implementation targets, the lack of transparent mechanisms and instruments for measuring results, and the target for major emitters, which is so low it puts an unfair burden on other aspects of the plan.

Some 64% of reduction objectives are achieved by the individual efforts of Canadians or with the help of public funding, while individuals are responsible for only 23% of all emissions. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, have come to an alarming conclusion.

I call on all hon. members to support this motion to give the country a chance to honour its Kyoto commitment, by giving the provinces concrete, tangible, viable solutions that will ensure environmental sustainability for our families and our children.

I am asking all my friends and colleagues to vote with me in favour of Motion M-162.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 22, 2005, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:05 p.m.)