House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trafficking.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade).

As the Secretary of State knows, Brenda Martin remains in a Mexican jail awaiting trial. My constituents of Northumberland—Quinte West are worried about Ms. Martin, while people like the member for Pickering—Scarborough East are using ambulance chasing tactics to try to make Ms. Martin's plight a political tool.

Could the Secretary of State tell the House what steps our Conservative government is taking with Mexico to advance Ms. Martin's case to ensure a speedy trial and her rights are being respected?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, the member for Northumberland—Quinte West has worked tirelessly to advance Ms. Martin's plight.

Our Canadian officials regularly supply Ms. Martin with consular services. We have raised her case at the highest levels in both letters and personal representation up to and including the president of Mexico.

I returned last night from Mexico, where I met face to face with its foreign minister and its attorney general, where I again raised Ms. Martin's case. I also met with state and federal officials, expressing our concerns for consular matters and Ms. Martin's need for a very speedy trial.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Norbert Lammert, President of the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would also like to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Paul Oram, Minister of Business for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader could indicate his intentions for House business over the next week at least and hopefully two weeks.

I would point out to him that the House business advice that he gave to other parties last Tuesday is now obviously outdated because of events that have taken place in the meantime.

I would be particularly interested to know his plan for disposing of Bill C-3, because there is a court imposed deadline for dealing with that issue.

I would also be interested to know if he is yet in a position to designate any of the opposition days that must be designated during this supply period.

I wonder if I could ask as well whether there would be unanimous consent in the House for a motion that is on the order paper standing in the name of the member for Winnipeg South Centre which states:

That this House endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007, and call upon the Parliament and government of Canada to implement fully the standards contained therein.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure to whom the opposition House leader was asking this question. The last part was addressed to me, but perhaps we can have the answer to the first part and then he wants me to ask for consent for the second part later.

We will deal with the first part of the question from the government House leader first.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, since this is the first Thursday question of the year, I want to formally welcome everyone back to the House of Commons. Hopefully, we will be even more productive in 2008 than we were in 2007.

Judging by the first sitting day, I think we will be.

So far, the House has passed Bill C-8, on railway transportation, and Bill C-9, on the settlement of investment disputes.

Moreover, Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act, and Bill C-27, on identity theft, have been referred to committee.

This is a rather good start.

We hope to keep up that level of productivity by quickly passing our legislation to strengthen the security certificates process, which started debate at report stage today. That is of course Bill C-3. We now have a House order to assist us in facilitating that debate. We will continue to debate the bill until report stage is completed.

While all members of the House do not understand the importance of the bill, I believe that the official opposition does. I hope that we can work together in a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship to have it passed before the date identified by the Supreme Court of Canada as the date by which it would like to see the law passed, February 23.

Following Bill C-3 tomorrow we will continue with the unfinished business from this week, namely Bill C-33, renewable fuels; Bill C-39, the grain act; Bill C-7, aeronautics; and Bill C-5, nuclear liability.

Next week will be a safe and secure Canada week.

Debates will continue until the bill is passed by this House.

After that, we will debate Bill C-25, which would strengthen the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and Bill C-26, which imposes mandatory minimum penalties for producers and traffickers of drugs, particularly for those who sell drugs to children. We also hope to discuss the Senate's amendments to Bill C-13, on criminal procedure.

Finally, in keeping with next week's theme, I would suggest that my hon. colleague opposite explain to his colleagues in the Senate the importance of quickly passing the Tackling Violent Crime Act, the bill which is overwhelmingly supported by Canadians across the country, and which was the number one priority of the government throughout the fall session of Parliament and which passed this House last fall. It has already been in the Senate longer than its entire time in the House of Commons, yet the Liberal dominated Senate has not even started committee hearings on the Tackling Violent Crime Act.

While the elected accountable members of the House rapidly passed the bill, which I would like to remind everyone was a question of confidence, unfortunately it looks like the unelected, unaccountable Liberal dominated Senate is up to its old tricks again of delaying and obstructing in every way. Let me be clear. This government will not stand and allow Liberal senators to obstruct, delay and ultimately kill the bill. The Tackling Violent Crime Act was quickly passed in the House and Canadians expect the Liberal dominated Senate to act in the same fashion and pass it quickly.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House leader for the official opposition asked if the House would give its consent to pass, without debate, the motion “That this House endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007, and call upon the Parliament and government of Canada to implement fully the standards contained therein”.

Is there unanimous consent to adopt this motion without debate?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a member's duties
Privilege
Oral Questions

January 31st, 2008 / 3:10 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the question of privilege raised by my friend, the hon. member for Mississauga South, a couple of days ago.

Requests for information received at Health Canada from members of Parliament and senators are of great importance to me and to my officials. We take them seriously. In order to facilitate the flow of information to MPs and senators, Health Canada officials follow the departmental guidelines that have been in place for many years. Indeed, these guidelines were in fact inherited from the previous government.

These guidelines advise officials to provide all public information to parliamentarians immediately. Upon receiving the inquiry, officials complete an electronic form, which is sent to parliamentary affairs officials in the department in case follow up action is required. This electronic form is used for tracking the inquiry.

The information is passed to the minister's parliamentary staff, who, as a courtesy, will often contact parliamentarians to ensure that they are provided with accurate information. Indeed, in this case, the minister's staff did contact my hon. colleague and provided him with the information sought.

It is important to note that the electronic form in question was developed many years ago and was, as I have said, inherited by the present government. It did include contact information to ensure follow up and, yes, it did include party affiliation. I recognize that this could be misconstrued and give the wrong impression. Consequently, I agree with my hon. colleague that this is something that should have been stopped many years ago. I have, therefore, instructed my department to remove the information pertaining to party affiliation and we have asked officials not to seek this information. This was done yesterday.

Yesterday, the hon. member stood in his place and raised a point of order indicating that he had not received the form in question and that my office failed to correctly provide the information that he had requested. I trust the member has now, after 24 hours, taken the time to read the four documents and web links my staff provided to his office, because it is clear that he had not done so when he stood in the House yesterday. If he had read the documents, he would have realized that the note in question was regarding lead coating on pencils and not lead pencils themselves. That is the point.

My officials provided that document to the hon. member so that he may inform himself and his constituents on the issues surrounding topical lead coatings on products, including paint brushes, pencils and toys. Had he but taken the time to read past the first paragraph of the note, he would have found information on the health impacts of lead exposure, how to determine if someone is suffering from lead exposure and other vital information. This includes lead coating of children's toys, as the member requested.

Mr. Speaker, I hope these brief remarks address the member's very important question of privilege. Mr. Speaker, through you, I sincerely hope that this action and explanation assures him and all those who are watching that Health Canada will continue to respond to inquiries from all parliamentarians quickly and efficiently, regardless of their party affiliation.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a member's duties
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister coming back a second time to explain.

Yesterday the minister advised that the question was inappropriate. He also stated, if my memory serves me correctly, that it is not standard practice to ask for party affiliation. As a consequence of the minister's statements today, it is clear that yesterday when he spoke to the House, he misspoke himself about whether or not this was standard practice, which is what he is declaring today.

Finally, with regard to the information that was sent to my office, it had to do with lead in pencils and other things.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a member's duties
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Sit down while you are ahead.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a member's duties
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

I would thank the House leader for a little bit of order.

Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of privilege which affects all members of this place. The minister yesterday made a representation which he admits today was incorrect. Also, in his statement today before the House he said that this addresses my inquiry because my inquiry was about lead in pencils, toys and other things. That was not the inquiry. This is how incompetent the minister's department is on these matters.

The question was clear and it was documented by the personnel in his department. The question was, what is the government's policy on the importation of goods to protect the safety of Canadians? The issue of China was one example that was given.

In fact, if the Minister of Health had read the intervention I made in the House, it was clear in my intervention that I used China as an example. The inquiry was a general inquiry from a constituent. It was an inquiry to ask the policy of the government with regard to product safety on the importation of goods. It is not a China question. It is not a lead question. It is not a pencil question.

The minister misled the House both yesterday and today as to the facts. The fact remains that when my office contacted product safety, as they were instructed to do by Service Canada, they asked the question of the product safety personnel who took the inquiry. The inquiry was recorded and they said they would have to call back. The call back to my staff, to reiterate, was, “Is your member a member of the opposition?”