House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bankruptcy.

Topics

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that Public Works is cooperating fully with any RCMP investigation. That is the right thing to do. Beyond that, Public Works is cooperating fully with the Gomery commission by providing over 28 million pages of documents to the Gomery commission.

We are interested in getting to the truth. We are interested in supporting the work of Justice Gomery and working with the RCMP to do the right thing on behalf of Canadians.

All they are doing over there is in fact bringing disrepute on the work of Justice Gomery and disrepute on the important work of the RCMP.

Human Resources Development
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, today thousands of volunteers from across the country have participated in the CanWest Raise-a-Reader campaign to raise money for literacy. The most recent report from OECD shows that 42% of working age Canadians perform well below the required level of literacy for a knowledge based economy.

Could the Minister of State for Human Resources Development please tell the House what the government is doing on its part to address this very important issue?

Human Resources Development
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Minister of State (Human Resources Development)

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to recognize the volunteers, organizations and businesses involved in this important campaign.

The government has committed to developing a comprehensive strategy on contributions. Over the summer, I met with stakeholders across the country to get feedback from communities and know what their priorities are in terms of a comprehensive strategy.

I want to assure the House and Canadians that I will be working very closely with the provinces, territories and communities on this important issue. The provinces and territories have made literacy their priority and so will this government.

Transport Canada
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday another CN freight train derailed, this on top of four serious derailments in August.

An investigation into a fatal derailment in 2003 states:

Although TC had developed a program...that called for...inspections and audits...the program was not consistently carried out....

The review concluded:

Because there was no Transport Canada...audit of work procedures, there was no opportunity to identify...[problems].

Transport Canada dropped the ball and two people died.

Investigating CN is not enough. When will the minister start doing his job at protecting Canadians?

Transport Canada
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

Not only has a full investigation into CN practices been ordered, which was carried out over the past month and the results of which I have received a few days ago, but inspectors in my department have met with CN officials and challenged them to immediately correct any flaws, otherwise they would face much more serious action on our part.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Independent

Carolyn Parrish Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, immigration to Canada can take up to 60 months. French speaking candidates can and are processed through overseas Quebec offices in five short weeks. Quebec receives $3,785 per immigrant, a formula that does not take secondary migration into consideration. Immigrants land in Montreal and within days, sometimes hours, they move on to Ontario and other provinces with no attached settlement fees. They stay in Quebec.

When will the minister take the necessary steps to ensure every province and every immigrant are treated fairly, particularly before we open the floodgates to 300,000 new Canadians next year?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in recognizing the member's interest in immigration and its powerful dynamics with respect to the growth of the country. In fact, many people say that immigration is wealth and we should have more of it. The fact that we spend a substantial amount of money on settlement and integration programs speaks to the way that we keep people in the country and make them into solid Canadians who build the country of the future.

I am happy to say that both the Premier of Ontario and the Prime Minister have been engaged in discussions on settlement and integration issues, discussions that will go on with other provinces.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Doug Horner, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development for Alberta.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I believe the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is rising on a question of privilege.

Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few points with respect to the question of privilege that was raised yesterday by the member for Delta—Richmond East respecting Question No. 151. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to put a few points forward prior to your making a decision.

Yesterday the member for Delta—Richmond East suggested that the government had attempted to deny answers to a member of the House of Commons. The member cited a Speaker's ruling on December 16, 1980, which stated that:

While it is correct to say that the government is not required by our rules to answer written or oral questions, it would be bold to suggest that no circumstances could ever exist for a prima facie question of privilege to be made where there was a deliberate attempt to deny answers to an hon. member—

The complete quotation from that Speaker's ruling in 1980 added:

—if it could be shown that such action amounted to improper interference with the hon. member's parliamentary work.

That part of the Speaker's ruling, which the member conveniently left out, is absolutely germane. I can demonstrate that there was in this case no intention whatsoever to interfere with the member's parliamentary work.

The Minister of Labour and Housing wrote to the member for Delta—Richmond East earlier this year and indicated that the material which the member was seeking was part of an action before the British Columbia Supreme Court and, as such, goes to issues before that court. The letter provided background information on the matter of interest to the member. However, given that the matter was at that time before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the minister explained that it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the particular case.

The government has also declined to provide the material requested by the member because this, itself, would interfere with the court's proceedings.

It is clear that this was not an attempt to interfere with the member's parliamentary work but was done in order to protect the integrity and the work of the B.C. Supreme Court.

The member's suggestion that there is a question of privilege has to be taken in the context of all the circumstances of this case. In fact, if the government had provided the material requested, this would have been an abuse of the obligation of the government and Parliament to protect proceedings before the courts. We in this House have a tradition that Parliament does not assert its privileges at the expense of ongoing judicial proceedings and that is a position which I believe we should continue.

In conclusion, there was no deliberate attempt in this case to interfere with the member's parliamentary work. Rather, the government's approach was guided by the longstanding principle of the respect for the integrity of the courts.

If the House agrees, I would be prepared to table, in both official languages because I think it is important that the House see that, copies of the minister's letter to the hon. member in this case.

Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. the parliamentary secretary have the consent of the House to table the letter in question?

Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to allow that to happen until I have had the opportunity to find out what the net effect of this is on my colleague, who is not in the chamber at this particular time. If the letter indeed was a correspondence between the minister and himself, then the member for Delta—Richmond East should have the opportunity to at least give his approval of that before it is released. I would think that would be the appropriate thing.

Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table this document at this time.

Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

That settles that.

This being Thursday, I believe the hon. opposition House leader has a question he would like to ask. I apologize for forgetting this at the end of question period.