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 salmon.

Topics

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Oral Question Period

June 17th, 2005 / 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?