House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conditional.

Topics

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the government is doing nothing to tackle climate change in Canada and now we learn that the Minister of Finance has called for imports of one of the highest polluting forms of energy, liquefied natural gas, from Russia no less.

Could the minister explain how importing gas from Russia is part of the made in Canada solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think the member is referring to discussions at the G-7 meeting in Moscow in February where there was some discussion of negotiations and potential agreements between Petro-Canada and one of the Russian gas companies. Those are private negotiations between those entities.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the government is so confused. On the one hand it says that it is wrong to buy carbon credits overseas and, on the other hand, it says that it is okay to spend money overseas for one of the highest polluting forms of energies.

Could the minister tell us how importing liquefied natural gas from Russia will do anything to clean the air that Canadians are breathing or does the government just expect Canadians to buy the government's hot--

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of the Environment.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, what will clean the air Canadians breathe is an investment in renewable fuels. Last week we had a historic meeting where all the territories and provinces came out in agreement that we need to move forward on a 5% target for biodiesel and ethanol. That is cleaning the air Canadians breathe.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has abandoned Canadians to fend for themselves on climate change. For months now, the government has been proposing that Canada join the Asia-Pacific partnership and that that organization be the focus of our climate change efforts.

On May 25 the United States Congress adopted a resolution terminating funding for AP6. In one stroke, fully 30% of the budget vanished. Why did our government abandon Kyoto and sign on to a partnership whose budget is slashed at a whim by the United States?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the only party that abandoned the Kyoto protocol is the Liberal Party of Canada. It never put a plan in place, it never took any measures to reduce greenhouse gases to reach the target and now it is criticizing a partnership that includes four of our Kyoto partners in that partnership.

The hon. member might like to know that the former environment minister for the Liberal Party actually looked for membership in Asia-Pacific but, guess what, the party was not welcome.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. Minister of Finance and we will now hear from the minister.

Member for Ajax--Pickering
Privilege
Oral Questions

May 31st, 2006 / 3:05 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of personal privilege.

On May 18, 2006, the member of Parliament for Ajax—Pickering stood in the House and accused me of using my position as Minister of Finance to benefit a family member. The member stated as fact that I had adopted a capital cost allowance for forest bioenergy in the 2006 budget in order to benefit Dorset, a small industrial chemical company that is owned by one of my brothers.

Referring to environment programs, the member for Ajax--Pickering said:

It is time for the government to listen to Canadians. Instead of slashing valuable programs like EnerGuide and keeping only the program that benefited the finance minister's brother, the government needs to focus on the priorities of Canadians, honour our Kyoto commitments--

I call upon the member to apologize. I would table the letter from the Ethics Commissioner declaring that there is no conflict of interest.

Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Report
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale
B.C.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, copies of the 2004-05 annual report of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale
B.C.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I also have the honour to table, pursuant to Standing Order 34, reports from the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association regarding the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association United Kingdom Branch Seminar on “Restoring Faith in the Political Process: Tackling Corruption, Upholding Human Rights, the Role of the Media”, held in London, England, January 22-28, 2006.

I have an additional report from the 55th Parliamentary Seminar at Westminster Palace held in London, England, March 16-17, 2006.

Document Quoted from during Oral Questions
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, this refers to a point of order that was raised yesterday at the conclusion of question period.

The member for Nunavut asked the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to table a document from which she indicated the minister was reading.

I can inform the House that the minister will be tabling that document tomorrow as soon as it has been translated into both official languages.

Judges Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts.

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

Judicial Compensation
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying only a moment ago, our government today is introducing a bill to implement the May 2004 recommendations of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. Two of those recommendations will be implemented in modified form.

Some members will recall that the previous government introduced Bill C-51, which would have implemented all but one of the commission's recommendations, including an increase in judicial salaries of 10.8%, but as was typical of the previous government, it did nothing to move the bill forward and it died on the order paper when the election was called.

When Canadians voted for a change on January 23, they voted for a government that is willing to recognize its responsibilities, make tough decisions and implement them.

There are a number of constitutional principles which guide governments in establishing judicial compensation, both from Supreme Court case law and the Constitution itself. The Constitution specifically provides that it is the role of Parliament to set judicial salaries and benefits. This is accomplished through amendments to the Judges Act.

Judges are prevented from negotiating directly with governments. Instead, independent commissions are established to examine and make recommendations on judicial compensation.

These commissions are an integral part of the process of establishing judicial compensation. Their deliberations and recommendations must be taken seriously, but decisions about the allocation of public resources ultimately belong to legislatures and governments. Governments can reject and modify the recommendations of these commissions, but they must provide legitimate, factually based reasons.

Earlier this week our government released its response to the commission's response. The response addresses the substances of the commission's recommendations fairly and objectively. It is consistent with promoting the effectiveness of the commission process, depoliticizing the establishment of judicial salaries and preserving judicial independence.

The bill introduced today reflects the response. The bottom line is that this government is prepared to accept all of the commission's recommendations, with two modifications. First is the recommended salary increase. Second is the proposal on legal costs for the judicial organizations. On that issue, the government's bill takes the same approach as Bill C-51.

The government has decided to depart from the commission's recommendation of a 10.8% salary increase. Instead, the government is prepared to support a salary increase of 7.25%, or $15,700 retroactive to April 1, 2004 plus the annual cost of living increment.

There are two main reasons that we believe 7.25% is an appropriate increase, which are fully explained in the government's response.

First is the overall economic and financial position of the federal government. This is one of the statutory factors that the commission is required to consider under the Judges Act. The government's view is that the commission gave insufficient consideration to this factor in determining the adequacy of judicial compensation. Because judges are paid from the public purse, judicial compensation must be understood in relation to other legitimate demands on public resources and the economic and social priorities of the government.

Second is the need to attract outstanding candidates to the judiciary, another statutory factor that the commission is required to consider.

In summary, our view is that too much attention was paid to the salaries of lawyers in private practice and in particular, those who practise in large urban centres. There are a significant number of appointees from outside private practice and from outside those large urban centres. This fact needed to be given more weight.

I want to thank the members of the commission for approaching their task in a thoughtful and diligent manner.

Under our Constitution, it is not the government that sets judicial compensation; that is Parliament's job. We therefore call on parliamentarians to carefully discharge their important constitutional responsibilities in an informed and respectful fashion in light of the constitutional and statutory principles that are engaged.

Given the need to move forward on this matter, we will be referring the bill without delay to committee for its immediate consideration.

Judicial Compensation
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, section 100 of the Constitution Act, 1867 requires that the salaries and allowances of federally appointed judiciary be established by Parliament.

The Supreme Court of Canada has established a constitutional requirement for an independent, objective and effective commission. The commission's purpose is to depoliticize the process of judicial remuneration. The statutory mandate of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission must consider: one, the prevailing economic conditions in Canada, including the cost of living and the overall economic and financial position of the federal government; two, the role of the financial security of the judiciary in ensuring judicial independence; three, the need to attract outstanding candidates to the judiciary; and four, any other objective criteria that the commission considers relevant.

Earlier this week the current government responded to the commission's latest report in a different manner than the former government had in some areas, notably by introducing the commission's recommendation on the salary increment over the four year period.

It should be noted that the government's response is reviewable in a court of law and must meet the legal standard of simple rationality.

Now the government will present a bill, we are told, knowing that it can ask Parliament for approval. It also knows that Parliament has no ability without a royal recommendation from the government to increase the financial aspects in this bill.

We know the commission has already gone through a challenging process. Also included in that process were two days of public input. We thank the commission for its hard work.

The government is telling us in its reasoning that it is taking into account the overall financial and economic position of the federal government. I would remind the minister that our former government left his government with a $12 billion surplus and the best economic situation in all G-8 countries.

The respect in which Canada's judiciary is held is a key factor in the strength and stability of our nation of Canada. Our tradition of judicial independence is not only an important element in this country's democratic framework, it also provides a model from which others can take hope and from which they can learn.

The government must understand that constant attacks on the independence of the judiciary, however they may come, whether they are from the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin or any other government member, do not make for acceptable public policy.

An independent judiciary is a fundamental part of Canadian democracy. This independence must be respected.