Debates of Feb. 5th, 2007
House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was payday.
- Question Period
- Board of Internal Economy
- Climate Change Accountability Act
- Canada Elections Act
- Criminal Code
- Jack Frost WinterFest
- Ghislain Picard
- Border Crossings
- Cruelty to Animals
- International Development Week
- Oil and Gas Industry
- Pierre Fortier
- Émilie Paquet and Ariane Fortin
- Student Activists
- Canada Post
- Child Care
- Senate Tenure Legislation
- The Environment
- Child Care
- Aerospace Industry
- Aerospace Industry
- Child Care
- The Environment
- Broadcasting Industry
- Canadian Heritage
- Organized Crime
- National Defence
- Tabling of Document
- Canada Post-Secondary Education Act
- Committees of the House
- Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
- Request for Emergency Debate
- Criminal Code
- Business of Supply
Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC
Mr. Mohammad Mahjoub is on the 74th day of his hunger strike at Kingston Immigration Holding Centre. Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei are on day 63.
The Minister of Public Safety has taken no initiative to find an end to this situation. Is the minister prepared to let these men die in his custody, never having been charged, never having been convicted and not knowing the evidence against them?
Will he immediately today appoint the Correctional Investigator Canada as an ombudsperson to speak to the men and make recommendations about their grievances?
Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety
Mr. Speaker, I cannot talk about individuals whose cases are before the Supreme Court but I can tell the public about the facility, which I visited about two weeks ago. It is a brand new $3.2 million facility with six cells in it. The doors open on to a common area where there is a large kitchen. Detainees have their own washer and dryer, microwave, and a refrigerator stocked with a variety of juices, soups, soy milk, chocolate sauce and honey.
Also available to them is a separate unit where they have their own office space. They have a medical room. They have an exercise room with modern universal equipment. They are visited by a health care practitioner at 10 o'clock every morning.
Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC
Mr. Speaker, a full refrigerator does no good if one feels the only option is to starve oneself to death.
Medical experts have pointed out that hunger strikers should be monitored daily after day 10 and that after day 49, serious health issues like heart failure, renal failure, and heart arrhythmia are very likely. Still the hunger strikers in Kingston are not being monitored. A request for a doctor today by Mr. Mahjoub has been ignored.
Will the minister ensure daily monitoring takes place at the living unit and that a full examination of these men by an independent medical doctor is urgently arranged?
Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety
Mr. Speaker, again I cannot speak about individuals who may be detained and have cases before the Supreme Court.
Going further, it would have helped if the member had actually visited the facility once, instead of giving a very discredited picture to Canadians. It is not the case at all as he suggests.
There is also a medical practitioner on call. There is a psychologist on call. As I said, the unit is visited daily at 10 o'clock every morning by a health care practitioner. There is also a common area where families can have visits seven days a week.
It is also designed so that any detainees who are there can have their spiritual needs met by visits from their spiritual leaders and even constructed in a way in which they can pray in the right--
The Speaker Peter Milliken
The hon. member for Yukon.
Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT
Mr. Speaker, in the last election the centrepiece of the Prime Minister's Arctic sovereignty strategy was a promise to build a deep water Arctic port and a fleet of icebreakers. Several communities are now actively lobbying and preparing construction for this deep water port.
Leaked documents suggest the Conservatives will now only build a refuelling site for naval ships and the construction of six small Arctic patrol vessels that cannot even go in the ice. This is a far cry from a deep water Arctic port and a fleet of icebreakers.
Why is the Conservative government breaking yet another promise and failing to protect our Arctic sovereignty and our northern resources?
Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence
Mr. Speaker, this is a case where one cannot always believe what one reads.
This government will meet its commitments. The commitment to the north is at the centre of our defence policy. We will enforce our sovereignty. We will ensure that the air force, army and navy are there in increased capacity in the north.
James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives believe it is important to help our neighbours when they are struggling. Nowhere is this more important than when it comes to providing housing for the homeless, particularly when it affects our youth.
I know that our government invested money in housing trusts in budget 2006 and we announced a new homelessness partnering strategy in December. Just last week there was a funding announcement in my province of Manitoba.
Could the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development tell this House and Canadians more about this project and our government's plan to help with shelters and homes?
Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government does believe that we have an obligation to help the homeless, which is why we have announced $270 million in the homelessness partnering strategy, $1.4 billion in the budget for a housing trust. We did announce $80,000 for the U-Turn project in Steinbach, Manitoba to help youth who are without shelter in the evening. It is very cold these days.
This new Conservative government is happy to help those who need help.
February 5th, 2007 / 3 p.m.
Garth Turner Halton, ON
Mr. Speaker, people from across the country who wish to see income splitting for families came here to debate it last week. Two days later a finance official told the media:
It's highly unlikely income splitting will be in the next budget. It's nowhere near the top of the list.
He also said that the government prefers personal income tax cuts and that it wants to lighten the burden on businesses.
Does this guy speak for the Minister of Finance? Did the minister authorize this leak of budget information? Is this what families can expect?
Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance
Mr. Speaker, no decision has been taken with respect to issues, including income splitting and other important tax policy issues, that are being reviewed in preparation for the budget.
I am pleased that we have proceeded with pension splitting, which is a very important step forward. It has been demanded for a long time in Canada. It is excellent for pensioners and seniors.
My friend from Halton will have to await the budget with respect to other tax items.
Tabling of Document
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Mr. Speaker, last week the member for Ottawa—Vanier requested the tabling of a letter that was referred to by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women during question period. I am now able to table a copy of that letter in both English and French.
Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC
Mr. Speaker, just before the debate on my Bill C-288, which would force the government to respect the Kyoto protocol, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons rose on a point of order to argue, once again, that my bill would make it necessary to spend public funds and, therefore, requires a royal recommendation.
This shows how afraid they are of the Kyoto protocol, but it does not give them the right to say anything they want about the bill.
Mr. Speaker, you have already rejected, and rightly so, a similar argument that had been used by the government regarding the same bill. The arguments presented today and on Friday are the same ones that were used unsuccessfully at second reading stage.
On Friday, when they were making their new attempt, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons raised two points that I am going to address here.
The first point deals with two amendments made in committee. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons referred to two minor amendments made in committee, stating that they call for the expenditure of public funds and, consequently, require a royal recommendation. That argument is unfounded. In fact, the two amendments do not require any expenditure. These are minor amendments that complement perfectly the original version of Bill C-288 which, as you have ruled, does not require expenditures.
The first amendment referred to by the government inserts subparagraph 5(1)a)iii.1, which states that the Climate Change Plan must contain:
Measures to provide for a just transition for workers affected by greenhouse gas emission reductions,
Nothing in this amendment requires expenditures. The amendment simply calls for measures. It is up to the government to decide what those measures will be. In fact—and this is important—the committee clearly rejected a motion seeking to include the word “funds” in this amendment, because the committee did not want to make it necessary to have expenditures. Paragraph 5(1)(a) already provides a series of measures to be included in the plan and you have already ruled—quite properly—that paragraph did not require expenditures. This amendment only adds one measure to this series of measures. There is absolutely nothing new in that.
The second amendment raised by the government is subclause 10(1) of the bill. Once again, the amendment that has been made involves no expenditures. It does exactly what the original version of the bill did. That is to say, it requires that an existing government agency examine and comment on the Climate Change Plan.
In other words, it calls for an accounting. The only change consists in assigning that examination to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy instead of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. That change was made at the request of the Auditor General of Canada, who considered that the examination of a government plan prior to its implementation went beyond the audit role of her office. Thus, no new allocation of funds and no reassignment of funds is necessary.
You have stated that the fact of assigning the duty of examining the Climate Change Plan to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development—as was provided in the first version of the bill—did not involve an expenditure. This amendment simply replaces the government agency charged with that examination by another existing governmental agency. The original provision did not call for expenditures and neither does the amendment.
You stated previously that having the plan reviewed by a federal entity, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, did not require spending or reallocating public funds. It is therefore illogical to imply that having another federal agency conduct the same sort of review would require spending.
The government is grasping at straws and trying to find ways to avoid having the House vote on this important bill, which would require the government to draw up a plan to meet Canada's obligations under the Kyoto protocol.
The Conservatives' second argument hangs on a statement I made on the radio and is even more far-fetched. They are referring to something I said in an interview on CBC radio and trying to put words in my mouth.
During the interview, I said that, if it chose, the government “could” spend money to meet Canada's obligations under the Kyoto protocol. The bill does not require any expenditures by the government. It can do so by regulation. The bill simply requires that the government establish a plan to indicate how it intends to proceed and to make regulations. It is up to the government to decide how it will comply with the Kyoto protocol. It does not have to spend or reallocate public funds if it does not wish to do so. The decision is up to the government and only the government. The bill has been clear on that from the start.
The amendments the Conservatives mention are minor ones that do not necessitate any spending. There are no expenditures and no reallocations of funds. The government wants to drop a bill that is very important to our country, which shows bad faith on its part, and it is embarrassed to vote against it.
Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Mr. Speaker, we have heard the arguments. I presented the need for royal recommendation on Friday. I know you are taking that under consideration and that we can expect a ruling sometime in the near future.
However, let me just respond to my hon. colleague by saying, as he well knows, that should the private member's bill, Bill C-288, be passed into law, it will require the government to perform certain obligations and, as he pointed out in a CBC interview, it will probably be in the $4 billion range. Perhaps the member does not think that $4 billion is an amount that we should be concerned about but, quite clearly, it is consistent with the royal recommendation argument that we presented saying that there will be new expenditures required should Bill C-288 come into force, and that obviously requires a royal recommendation.
However, we are not here for debate, Mr. Speaker. I know that you are taking this under very serious consideration and we look forward to your ruling in the near future.
Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON
Mr. Speaker, this may be more from a procedural standpoint, which could be very helpful. As we know, a decision was rendered on September 27, 2006, that Bill C-288 on Kyoto did not require a royal recommendation.
We are also aware, based on the work of the committee, that there were a couple of amendments. I think they were well-represented, in terms of the intent of the committee, one with regard to the national round table work, which appears to be totally within the purview of its scope of mandated activity and the funding therefore, and the first one with regard to the just transition for affected workers, which is the responsibility of all government programs that affect workers to ensure that it is fair and just.
We are quite confident that these are principles and criteria that should be taken into account.
Mr. Speaker, the normal practice procedurally, as I understand it, and I ask for your feedback on this, is that bills would receive a final disposition from the Chair with regard to the need for a royal recommendation at the commencement of third reading and, should a royal recommendation be required, the debate would continue at third reading but a vote not be put at the end.
The House is aware that two amendments were made at committee which do affect and can affect the need for a royal recommendation if they were not considered in advance and certainly when the Officers of the House had done their review and due diligence on the whole aspect and to opine on whether or not there was a likelihood of a royal recommendation.
We have not heard anything since the opinion of the Chair on September 27, 2006 that a royal recommendation was not required. We can only assume that the Table properly reviewed the two amendments that were made at committee and, as a consequence of not having made a final decision on royal recommendation, we can only assume that their due diligence had not indicated any changes in the assessment of that need for a royal recommendation on this bill.
If that is the case, then I would like to advise the Chair that we would like to have full argument and reasons therefore on a decision on this matter expeditiously. The reason we are asking for that is that today, if appropriate, there will be a swap arranged so that this bill will come back again for its final hour of debate this coming Friday. That exchange has been already arranged for and the papers will be filed today.
I would ask the Chair if we could please have a clarification and a clear decision on this. It does affect the decisions that we intend to take in regard to this important bill, Bill C-288.