House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Court Challenges Program
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am from a party that has a long tradition of supporting human rights in our country, going back to Mr. Diefenbaker and the Canadian Bill of Rights, the extension of the franchise for women in the country.

I find it more than passing interesting that when I was a boy, aboriginal Canadians did not have the right to vote. The Conservative Party extended those rights to aboriginal Canadians. We have a long, proud history of that.

The charter of rights is a part of that proud history, and I am very proud to be associated with it.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

April 16th, 2007 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is at it again. He knows the rules: public servants must “avoid or withdraw from activities or situations, including procurement actions, that would place the public servant in real, potential or apparent conflict of interest—”.

When a minister holds shares in a company described as a “strategic partner” of another company to which his own department is going to award a $400 million contract, that looks like a conflict of interest. Or is it a conflict of interest for any Canadian except Michael Fortier?

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services has not been involved either directly or indirectly in the selection process for this contract or for any other contracts since he became Minister of Public Works last February.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, who does not report to this House, believes that his appointment to the Senate allows him to circumvent the rules.

It is clear now that the new Public Service Integrity Office must open an inquiry into this matter, without delay.

Will the government agree to a full, fair and transparent inquiry, or will it expedite the process in order to quickly award this $400 million contract to Michael Fortier's friends?

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Quite a change of attitude on that side of the House, Mr. Speaker. Those members want to have an inquiry into a contract that has not even been signed yet.

As I said in answer to the first question, the minister was not involved either directly or indirectly in the selection process for this contract or for any other contracts since he became Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

We have been clear about this. We want an open, transparent government, and that is exactly what we are providing to Canadians. In fact, the new leader of the Liberal Party says that she is for that. If he does not believe me, she is right there. Elizabeth May, say hi.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. parliamentary secretary is an experienced member. He knows that making reference to the presence of someone in or not in the gallery is not permitted and he will want to refrain from such conduct.

The hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence.

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to railway safety, the Minister of Transport seems to be asleep at the switch. Train derailments have become commonplace, some with disastrous environmental consequences, all under his watch.

Today the transport committee had scheduled an examination of the problem with expert witnesses, but the minister appears to have caused the chair of the committee to pull the item off the agenda.

What is the minister afraid we will find out and how many more personal injuries and environmental disasters is he willing to tolerate before he acts on rail safety?

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the hon. colleague is confused with the facts. For 13 years the Liberals sat by and watched rail safety in this country go down the tube.

What we have done is not only introduced that piece of legislation, so that we are able to hear from all parties on this particular issue but we have also created a board that will review this situation, and come back and give valid, legitimate information so that we can go forward and protect Canadians who use the rail system.

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, rhetoric instead of action and of course we are talking about the last 13 months. We are not talking about the last 13 years.

Railways are key to Canada's economic infrastructure and to the health of hundreds of communities. The minister cannot guarantee rail safety or reliability. Recent problems at CN have caused havoc to the economy as shippers were unable to get product to the market and rural communities were isolated. CN service is once again strained by strikes and lockouts, with already alarming economic consequences everywhere.

Will the Minister of Transport finally take an interest in this file or is he going to wait until the Minister of Labour picks up the slack?

Rail Transportation
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that when we are talking about strikes in the transportation sector and at Canadian National, that is the responsibility of the labour department. Our government has been very active in trying to help the two parties reach a negotiated settlement in this labour dispute.

Unfortunately, the discussions on Saturday did not produce the desired result. We have said several times in this House, and our government has been very clear from the start, that our responsibility is to protect Canada's economic stability and the reliability of the railway system for Canadians and our trade partners, and we are going to act.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bill to improve employment insurance is compromised because the government refuses to give a royal recommendation.

Will the government listen to the arguments of the union leaders, workers and unemployed who have gathered on Parliament Hill today to ask that it remove the final obstacle to the adoption of Bill C-269 by giving a royal recommendation?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has now come out in support of different initiatives regarding employment insurance private members' bills to the tune of about $6.2 billion a year if they were all implemented. That would bankrupt the employment insurance system, leaving unemployed workers holding the bag. We cannot allow that to happen. The government has moved to both reduce premiums and improve benefits in a responsible, sustainable way.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, when he was a member of the official opposition, the current Minister of Human Resources and Social Development rightfully accused the Liberal government of pocketing the money of the unemployed and using the employment insurance surplus to pay down the debt. Now that he is in power, he is adopting the same attitude that the Liberals had when they formed the government.

Should the minister not be using the fund surplus to help the unemployed rather than using it for other purposes, as he pointed out when he was in opposition?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member is simply wrong. This government has moved to reduce premiums. In fact, we have cut taxes of all kinds including the GST, which certainly benefits everyone.

We have also moved to improve benefits. In areas of chronically high unemployment, we have extended benefits. We have also improved benefits for people who are looking after terminally ill family members. This government has acted, whereas the previous government for 13 years did nothing except rhetoric.