House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was policy.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Chamber of Commerce Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Friday night I had the honour of attending the Chamber of Commerce awards banquet recognizing the outstanding business leaders from the great community of Rocky Mountain House.

It is often said that small business is the backbone of the Canadian economy. The heart and soul of small businesses are the owners and employees, whose dedication and commitment provide jobs and services in communities from coast to coast to coast.

Our government knows the demands of running a business in the 21st century. That is why we are creating a competitive economic environment that supports innovation, rewards success and reduces unnecessary regulations and red tape.

Budget 2008 responded to requests from groups such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, whose members wanted to see an end to the big surpluses in the employment insurance fund and the use of these surpluses for unrelated programs.

I know all members will join me in congratulating the Rocky Mountain House Chamber of Commerce award recipients: Lorrie McMeekin; Francis Baich; Wesley Eror; James Brady; Challand Pipeline; and Civic Tire and Battery.

I thank them for the valuable contribution they make to life in and around Rocky Mountain House.

Kidney Health Month
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is Kidney Health Month in Canada, and tomorrow, March 13, is World Kidney Day.

While ongoing research and new treatments have greatly improved the lives of those affected by kidney disease, there is still much work to be done.

Two million Canadians have or may develop kidney disease. Each day, 14 Canadians learn that their kidneys have failed. Seventy per cent of Canadians waiting for an organ transplant are in need of a kidney.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada funds almost one-third of kidney research projects in Canada. I wish to commend the Kidney Foundation for its role in supporting this important research and speaking up for Canadians living with kidney disease.

Michel Gouin
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, ultramarathoner Michel Gouin, of Drummondville, literally crushed a world record, running more than 1,000 km in 11 days on a treadmill. He shattered the previous record, set in February 2007 by a German, Peter Bartel, who ran the same distance in 14 days and 11 hours. Michel Gouin's performance shaved nearly 66 hours off the record.

Around 30 volunteers worked with him around the clock over the course of his run. In order for the record to be authenticated, Michel Gouin, 47, was always in the presence of two witnesses.

Michel's next challenge will be to take part in a 10-day race through the streets of New York City, an international competition that will be held from April 23 to May 3 featuring the 70 best long-distance runners in the world.

On behalf of the people of Drummondville, I would like to congratulate Michel Gouin. We hope to see this record soon in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Immigration
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, every day more stories emerge about the Conservative government's heartless immigration practices.

First, a hard-working father and husband is being deported even though his Canadian wife is sponsoring him.

A gay man was deported last week to Malaysia, where he is likely to face torture and discrimination.

A disabled Canadian boy's family faces deportation to Uruguay, where he will not get the care and education he desperately needs.

Today we learn that an Israeli woman who suffered physical and mental abuse is being deported. As a result, her children will be cruelly separated from their mother and may be at risk.

Instead of focusing her energy to remove the almost 2,000 known criminals under deportation, the minister only seems to go after the most vulnerable.

This heartless Conservative government cannot be trusted. Why is the minister not intervening in clearly humanitarian cases and making Canada's immigration system fair for everyday families?

Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, one week ago today, the Senate passed Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Museums Act. Later this week, Bill C-42 will receive royal assent.

This bill will establish the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as a national museum in my home province of Manitoba, the first new national museum since 1967.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will help Canadians, especially our youth, understand the sacrifices the people of our nation made to build this country.

I want to thank the Prime Minister of Canada for his vision for my province of Manitoba. This is the first time a national museum has been located outside the national capital region.

I also want to thank Minister of Canadian Heritage for introducing legislation to create the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Finally, I want to congratulate all those who worked so hard to bring this museum to fruition, especially Gail Asper and the Asper Foundation. What a momentous day for all Canadians.

Fay Bland
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the West Island of Montreal recently lost one of its most caring and dedicated advocates for the mentally disabled.

Fay Bland was the visionary founder of AVATIL, a non-profit organization that promotes independent living for the mentally disabled, and was the recipient of many awards, including the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award for her decades of volunteer work.

Throughout her life, Fay was an inspiration to all who knew her. She had a rare gift for motivating people to get things done. Fay saw things that needed to change and then worked to change them.

In the 1950s, Fay realized that the West Island's services for children with intellectual disabilities were woefully inadequate. So with an audacity of spirit that one can only say was typical of Fay, she set out to ensure our community offered more and better services for these children.

Fay's legacy will live on in the institutions she helped create and foster and in the lives that are now better because of her kindness.

Post-Secondary Education
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, in November 2006 the government presented “Advantage Canada”, our national economic plan.

One of the objectives set out in “Advantage Canada” is for Canada to have the best educated, most skilled and most flexible labour force in the world.

This is good news for the riding I represent and for all of Hamilton, which includes four post-secondary educational institutions: McMaster University, McMaster Divinity College, Mohawk College and Redeemer University College.

Since being in government, we have increased transfer support to the provinces for post-secondary education by $800 million per year, starting this year, with a guaranteed increase of 3% per year until 2014.

Our contribution to post-secondary education through the Canada social transfer program totals $3.2 billion in this fiscal year alone. As well, we are committing $123 million over four years, starting next year, to streamline and modernize the Canada student loans program.

As McMaster University President Peter George said: “...the strong signals in the federal budget about the government's commitment to supporting universities and the important role they play in Canada's economic prosperity were welcome indeed”.

Quebec Declaration
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, together with numerous representatives of Quebec's civil society and international partners, the members of the Bloc Québécois have expressed support for the Quebec association of international cooperation organizations' manifesto, Déclaration du Québec: Responsables aussi du monde.

This declaration expresses our shared vision for international development and solidarity. Among other things, we want to build a world based on the law and individual and group rights, a world where men and women are truly equal, a world that condemns war and military action as pathways to conflict resolution, a world where access to basic education for all people, male or female, is a priority.

The Bloc Québécois invites all parliamentarians to sign the Déclaration du Québec: Responsables aussi du monde.

2010 Paralympic Winter Games
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, today marks the two-year countdown to the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

From March 12 to 21, 2010, the world's best athletes with a disability will come to Canada to compete. In 64 medal competitions, they will inspire us with their determination, their drive to excel and their physical ability.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games will be Canada's games: one festival, two events and 60 days of celebration. They will be an inspiring and inclusive celebration and a proud moment for Canada as we show the world our very best.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Games will be “Canada's games”—one festival, two events and 60 days of celebration. The games will unite and inspire many, and will be a very proud moment for Canada, as we show off our best to the entire world.

Darfur
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”.

Today I would like to recognize the students and teachers of Maple High School for their campaign and support for the people of Darfur.

I would like to thank the STAND group and, in particular, a determined student leader, Nagina Shahsamand, and an exceptional educator, Michelle Hadida, for their commitment to this just cause that requires immediate international attention.

The men, women and children of Darfur live the painful and harsh reality of brutal murders, destruction of villages, the spread of deadly diseases and the displacement of millions of individuals.

The Maple High School community is giving a voice to the voiceless. Its perseverance and dedication to the Darfur awareness campaign has drawn the support of hundreds of students who want the Canadian government to act in concert with international partners to put an end to this human tragedy. As they stated, “Every minute wasted is another life lost”.

Bloc Québécois
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am always surprised to hear Bloc members quote a Quebec government minister or the leader of the official opposition in Quebec City. After all, their former Bloc colleague from Lévis said:

Personally, I am not interested in speaking on behalf of Mario Dumont or Jean Charest here in the federal Parliament.

The Bloc Québécois is once again trying to convince people that our government's leadership in the climate change file is disadvantageous for Quebec. Yet, on February 8, 2007, the Bloc leader said:

For a number of years, Quebec has asked the federal government for $328 million, to enable Quebec to implement the Kyoto protocol within its borders.

I am very pleased to see that, even according to the separatists, we, Conservative members from Quebec, responded with $350 million for Quebec to reduce its emissions within its borders.

The Bloc Québécois will be taken to task for its powerlessness and inconsistency, since Quebec is growing stronger under the Conservatives.

Women's Equality
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, Canada celebrated the 97th annual International Women's Day. Around the world, we have witnessed a significant change in society's thoughts about women's equality but there is so much yet to do.

Two years ago in Iran, Iranian women came together to organize the One Million Signatures Campaign, also known as the Change for Equality Campaign, in order to fight to change the laws in Iran that are hugely discriminatory toward women.

Parvin Ardalan, a founding member of this campaign, was to be acknowledged internationally with the 2007 Olof Palme award in Stockholm for her courageous work. On March 2, Ms. Ardalan was aboard an Air France flight about to leave Tehran to go to Stockholm to receive her award when she was arrested and removed from the flight.

Ms. Ardalan is facing possible imprisonment for her part in organizing the Change for Equality Campaign.

The Olof Palme Memorial Fund chose Parvin Ardalan because she has succeeded “in making the demand for equal rights for men and women a central part of the struggle for democracy in Iran”.

I stand in the House today to congratulate and offer my--

Women's Equality
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Don Valley East.

Federal-Provincial Relations
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, my constituents are wondering what the Conservative government has against the people of Ontario.

The Prime Minister first thumbs his nose at the province by denying Ontario the legal number of seats in the House of Commons, which it is entitled to under the Constitution of Canada. When the premier pointed out that it was unfair to deny Ontario its democratic rights, the Conservatives called him “the small man of Confederation”.

Now the Conservative finance minister is continuing the relentless attacks on Ontario. Is this what the Prime Minister defines as a new era of harmony with the premiers?

By calling Ontario the “last place” to do business in Canada, the finance minister is being totally irresponsible and scaring off foreign investment and sacrificing jobs in Ontario.

If this is how the Conservatives do business with the provinces, our country is in serious trouble.

International Day of La Francophonie
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 20 is the International Day of La Francophonie, when francophones will celebrate the language spoken by more than 264 million people around the globe.

French is one of the 10 most commonly spoken languages in the world. It has a rich history and a wide-reaching cultural heritage. With English, it is the only language taught in every country on the planet. And the number of people who are using and learning French is growing steadily.

However, the government's attitude toward the French fact is deplorable. It is sad to hear the pleas of federal prosecutors who, to save $2.8 million a year, want to abolish the court challenges program, which has provided valuable assistance for minority francophone communities.

In the face of the Conservatives' indifference, let us take time to affirm our pride in our francophone heritage and celebrate a living language that sets us apart from the rest of North America and reflects the culture in Quebec today.

Linguistic Duality
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1969, the Parliament of Canada enacted the Official Languages Act. This legislation has had significant and positive impact on minority language communities.

Since then, we have also expected our government to affirm, on a regular basis, the benefits and the importance of linguistic duality. Therefore, as we celebrate the Semaine de la Francophonie this week, it is appropriate to reaffirm in this House, with a loud and clear voice, the importance of linguistic duality for our country.

We are talking about much more than just a simple asset or a series of programs to be funded every five years. We are talking about a defining characteristic of our identity. In fact, linguistic duality is an integral part of this country's social fabric. For that reason it must be treated with respect and given priority, and we must provide the requisite financial support.

Therefore, I ask my colleagues to join with me to ensure that linguistic duality remains a core priority and part of the legacy we will pass on to our children.

Leader of the Liberal Party
Statements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, as my dad used to say, it is time for the Liberal leader to fish or cut bait. Actually, he used a different saying but with the same meaning.

In 2006, the Liberal leader was quoted as saying that he was counting the days to the next election. I would like to remind him that it has now been over 450 days since he immediately called for an election. Perhaps he has a different meaning for “immediately” than I do.

We have a Liberal leader who charges toward an election with an army of 80 rejecting his leadership and supporting the responsible leadership of a balanced Conservative budget.

Again this weekend we heard the Liberal leader in Hamilton telling Canadians to be ready for an election call at any minute. Who is still listening?

On Monday, in this very chamber, the Liberal leader again backed down or, as his dog, Kyoto, would say, he rolled over on the environment.

The Liberal leader predicted that 2008 would be a whole new ball game, and he is right. This government and this Prime Minister continue to hit home runs.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today I have a multiple choice question for the Prime Minister: (a) what did thePrime Minister mean by “financial considerations” when he spoke on the tape; (b) will he ask Michael Wilson and Ian Brodie to step aside; (c) why did he authorize his party's in and out scheme during the last federal election; or (d) why did his environment minister's chief of staff call the OPP?

He can take his pick but none of the above is not an option.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have previously noted as one example the unacceptable leak on the Obama campaign. An investigation is being undertaken by the Privy Council Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs and I am sure they will do a thorough look into this.

We will continue to work hard to ensure that we maintain good and productive trade relations between Canada and the United States.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister failed the test.

We will give him another chance. On the tape, the Prime Minister mentioned an offer made to Mr. Cadman by party officials to help resolve Mr. Cadman's financial situation in the event of an election. The questions are: (a) What offer? (b) What officials? (c) What financial situation?

While the Prime Minister is at it, he should tell the truth and answer all three questions once and for all.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have said there was a meeting with Mr. Flanagan, Mr. Finley and Mr. Cadman about the possibility of Mr. Cadman rejoining the Conservative Party, receiving the Conservative nomination and running as a Conservative candidate. Our answers are clear.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, again he did not answer and did not even mention the tape. We will give the Prime Minister another chance.

Who is he accusing of lying: (a) Mr. Cadman's widow; (b) Mr. Cadman's daughter; (c) Mr. Cadman's son-in-law; (d) the journalist, Lawrence Martin; (e) all of the above; or (f), and this is a hint, the government and the Prime Minister are misleading the House and Canadians?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let me do my own multiple choice. I was wondering at the beginning of this session: (a) whether the official opposition might support us on our budgetary and financial policies; (b) whether it might support us on our crime policies; (c) whether it might support us on our foreign policies; or (d) whether it might support us on our environment policy. The answer is: all of the above.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, after 10 days of this, a pattern of evasion is emerging in the government's answers on the Cadman affair.

Inside the House, Conservative spokesmen deny the allegations but outside the House, they duck and cover. This pattern of evasion is unworthy of a government that walks around claiming that it is clean.

I will try again with a key question in the affair. Was a financial inducement ever offered by one or more representatives of the Conservative Party to Chuck Cadman, yes or no?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

The answer to the question, Mr. Speaker, is no. I have said that a number of times in the House of Commons. I have said it in a number of interviews outside of the House of Commons. I have said it consistently. The answer is clear. We have been consistent. The Liberals can keep changing their story, but we will stick to the facts.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, that answer is a bit troubling because yesterday, outside the House, the parliamentary secretary refused to say whether or not the Conservatives had made an offer to Chuck Cadman.

If we ask the question again, inside the house, will the parliamentary secretary answer in the same way? Will he say the same thing outside the House that he is saying here, inside the House?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I have already done so a number of times in the past week and a half or two weeks.

However, I did want to say that we have been consistent on this issue. I am not asking the opposition to take my word for it, but I did want to cite for the Liberals the story that just came out today:

One of Chuck Cadman's closest political advisors said the Independent MP clearly told him Conservative Party officials offered no inducements to change his vote on the 2005 confidence motion....[Chuck Cadman] said, 'They offered me the same support they offered me before', [the advisor recalled]. “But, no, he said, 'They didn't offer me anything specific and I didn't ask for anything'.”

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, when asked about the offer made to Chuck Cadman, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works replied, and I quote, “—the Prime Minister, like everyone in our caucus, knew that Chuck Cadman had received an offer to rejoin our caucus—”

If the Prime Minister knew about the offer, as the parliamentary secretary said, why did he not mention it during the interview he gave to Chuck Cadman's biographer in September 2005?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said that there were discussions between party representatives and Mr. Cadman about the possibility of him rejoining the Conservative caucus, receiving the Conservative nomination, and running as a Conservative candidate. That is clear.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not at all what we heard on the tape. I think we are getting the fictional version today. He is making up a story now, in 2008, to try to make us forget what he said in 2005. He never said that. He talked about financial considerations and details. Back then, he did not remember that Mr. Cadman had been invited to rejoin the caucus. That is a bunch of baloney.

What did he mean by “financial considerations”? That was the only thing he talked about.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc is the one changing the story. The Bloc changed the date from May 17 to May 19. The Bloc decided that Chuck Cadman did not want to run again. Now the Bloc has to admit it got things wrong.

While I am up, I should mention that the Federal Court has ruled on the subject of the Taliban detainees.

If I could for a minute mention that the Federal Court has just issued an important ruling on Taliban prisoners. We understand that it has accepted the government's arguments on these matters. We are looking at—

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Papineau.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, after trying for more than a year to investigate Afghan detainee transfers, the chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission has decided to hold a public hearing on allegations of torture of transferred detainees. The main reason for this decision is the government's refusal to give the commission full access to Foreign Affairs and Correctional Service Canada documents.

Given this new blatant example of lack of transparency, will the Minister of Foreign Affairs transfer all—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, as usual, on this issue the member is not correct.

In fact, I would suggest that the Government of Canada has met a very high standard when it comes to disclosure and transparency on this issue. We have given the Military Police Complaints Commission as much, if not more, information than would have been provided had a public hearing, with subpoena powers, already began.

We will continue to cooperate with it. We have responded to it formally in a letter. Again, that information is public.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's pattern of concealing information and not being transparent will prolong the investigation by several months and cost taxpayers an additional $2 million.

Will the minister finally make public the information the commission needs to determine whether detainees transferred to the Afghan authorities were tortured?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that what the member said is incorrect.

We have made those disclosures. The Department of National Defence always takes these complaints and issues very seriously. We are in complete compliance. We have made those disclosures, and we are always prepared to work with this commission.

As the Prime Minister has noted, the Federal Court has now given a ruling with respect to the application of the charter when it comes to Taliban prisoners, and the charter does not apply. However, we will continue to work with all bodies and live up to our statutory obligations.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister may say that the government has been cooperating with the Military Police Complaints Commission, but here is what the commission chair says, “we have been left with no other choice than to call a full and open inquiry” because of “the government's refusal to provide the commission with full access to relevant documents and information”.

The Prime Minister's government stands accused of withholding key information, witnesses and the kinds of documents essential to get to the bottom of the alleged prisoner abuse in Afghanistan.

Why the refusal to cooperate?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no refusal to cooperate. In fact, the Department of Justice has made very clear that it will provide all information it is able to provide under the law. There are some statutory obligations with regard to what can be released and what cannot be released, and those rules will be followed.

Once again, I want to mention that the Federal Court has just rendered a decision on the Taliban prisoner case. It has accepted the government's arguments. We are obviously very pleased by that, and we are looking at the decision more carefully.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Military Police Complaints Commission has all sorts of powers. This is very important. What we are looking for and what we want from the government is a clear decision, a clear direction.

Will the Prime Minister ask his ministers to cooperate instead of concealing information, as they have done for the past year, during which time the government has not provided the documents the commission requested, yes or no?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our instructions are always clear. By law, departments must cooperate, and that is always the policy of this government.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has produced a dirty tricks manual for its committee chairs. The media claims that it tells Conservative chairs to “if necessary, storm out of meetings to grind parliamentary business to a halt”.

The Prime Minister is so determined to duck any questions about what financial inducements the Conservatives offered Chuck Cadman, his flunkies even forced the respected chair of the justice committee to abandon the chair yesterday.

What are the Conservatives so afraid of? Why are they afraid of having the justice committee look at whether the law to prevent bribery is an effective deterrent?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 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, the only thing people have to be afraid of is the declining reputation of a Parliament wherein Liberals are intent on hijacking every parliamentary committee, not to do the serious work of Parliament, not to process legislation in front of them, but rather to turn those committees into kangaroo courts.

I would note that in the particular case in question, it was the Liberal chair of the ethics committee who already ruled the exact same motion out of order in three different cases. For that reason I have every reason to believe the decision of the committee chair in this case was the correct one.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cut and run every time there is an investigation of their questionable behaviour.

It is time for some real answers in this House about what actually happened. But the parliamentary secretary would not dare repeat these answers outside the House, because even he does not believe what they are forcing him to say.

When will the Prime Minister stop hiding? When will he tell Canadians what he meant by the “financial considerations” Chuck Cadman would have received if there had been an election?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, and as I have already said here, in this House, the only offer made to Chuck Cadman was to return to our caucus, to run as a Conservative Party candidate and to get elected as a Conservative. I said the same thing here, in the House, as outside it.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, to a question about a life insurance policy, the Prime Minister's own words were, “I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions”.

So he knew of the life insurance policy and of discussions about it involving Mr. Cadman and legitimate representatives of the Conservative Party and he did not stop those discussions, even though, if the Cadman family is telling the truth, what was being offered was unethical, illegal, criminal, was about buying a vote to bring down a government.

The Prime Minister has a lot of explaining to do and he knows that we know he has no answers. His own words—

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, very simply, we have said this a number of times. The accusation by the Liberals that there was a million dollar life insurance policy offered Chuck Cadman is false. Chuck Cadman himself said so.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a great irony here. Why is the Prime Minister, so famous for silencing rights groups under the court challenges program, for silencing advocacy groups by cutting off their funding, for trying to silence political rivals with lawsuits, for silencing his caucus, for silencing his cabinet, for trying to silence any and all voices different from his own so that only his voice matters, why, Mr. Speaker, is the Prime Minister silencing himself?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, from the foremost experts, why were the Liberals so silent on the vote on the budget? If the Liberals are such foremost authorities when it comes to standing up and speaking the truth, why were they so silent on the throne speech, so silent on the budget, so silent on agriculture, so silent on trade?

The reality is while the Liberals talk a big game about the alleged indiscretions of this government, we continue to appreciate their support in votes of confidence in our government.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, page eight of the Conservatives' paper, Detailed Emissions and Economic Modelling, clearly shows that, from 2006 to 2020, greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands operations will double from 25 megatonnes to 50 megatonnes. Furthermore, the carbon capture and storage requirements will only apply to major emitters as of 2018, and only to those corporations that start up operations after 2012. André Bélisle, of Coalition Québec-Kyoto, rightly states that the announcement of these deadlines has set off a race to complete projects that pollute.

Will the minister be honest and confirm his department's figures, and admit that that greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands will double between 2006 and 2020?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. With respect to oil sands and existing facilities, regulations already existed for this part of our industry. We have established stricter measures for those under construction and for new facilities. We have introduced a real plan for reducing greenhouse gases.

It is very important. For the first time in Canadian history, real measures have been introduced and we have taken action to obtain real results.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister of Conservative environmental propaganda should stop manipulating the numbers. He must stop passing the buck and bragging.

Can he rise in this House and say to Quebeckers that his plan does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands but, on the contrary, allows this polluting sector to double its emissions?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that this government has taken action. We have met expectations by giving $350 million to Quebec to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

That is very important. This is the first time that a federal government has worked with the provinces. The Bloc Québécois will be taken to task for its powerlessness and inconsistency, since Quebec is growing stronger under our government.

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, Jacques Saada, the president and chief executive officer of the Quebec Aerospace Association, is criticizing the poor economic spinoffs from the contract for 17 Hercules planes and is confirming the Bloc Québécois' fears that Quebec, which has 54% of Canada's aerospace industry, will come out losing in this operation.

How does the government explain that, out of all the contracts, only 28.5% went to Quebec? Where is the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec? Is he sleeping?

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we disagree. The government does not award the contracts; the companies do. I encourage the hon. member to put his question directly to the companies.

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, for his part, how does the Minister of National Defence, who is also the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, explain that the share of contracts for his region exceeds that of Quebec, when Atlantic Canada has only 5% of the aerospace industry?

In light of such injustice, where are the ministers from Quebec hiding? Are they sleeping or are they keeping mum in order to maintain their privileges?

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as I said a moment ago, the government does not allocate contracts. Companies make those decisions. I would encourage the hon. member to speak directly with the companies.

If I might say parenthetically, the Bloc is simply interested in pitting Canadians against Canadians. We are interested in building a country and an aerospace industry that is among the best in the world.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, in December 2005, the Prime Minister denied that his party had reached any kind of agreement with Alan Riddell so he would step aside to make room for another Conservative candidate. He was asked twice and denied it both times.

An agreement was in fact reached on November 25, 2005, a month before the Prime Minister denied it right here.

Why should we believe the Prime Minister today, when he denies making a financial offer to Chuck Cadman?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 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, I fail to see what this has to do with the administration of government business.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 5, 2005, at two separate events, the Prime Minister was asked about an offer to Mr. Riddell, and he replied each time “there is no agreement”. However, an email from his party reveals there was in fact a binding agreement in place on November 25, 2005, 10 days before the Prime Minister's categorical denials.

Given these facts, why should anyone in this House believe the Prime Minister now when he categorically denies there was any financial consideration or offer to Chuck Cadman?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:45 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, this has nothing to do with government business and that continues to be the practice of the Liberal Party. It talks about imaginary and fictitious scandals that do not exist, to condemn patronage appointments that were never made, and to be upset about interference in court cases that never occurred. Why? It is because the Liberals would have done all those things.

Why do they talk about those things, the scandals, instead of about public policy? It is because they cannot make any decisions.

In fact, when we look at the leader of their party, it is very simple. His position is clear. Once he has made up his mind, he is full of indecision.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the job of the Canadian Ambassador to Washington is our most sensitive diplomatic post, so sensitive that the Prime Minister usually appoints someone who he can trust to manage such an important relationship.

Yet, it seems our current Ambassador, Michael Wilson, forgot the first rule of diplomacy, knowing when to keep his mouth shut. By leaking confidential conversations to the media, Michael Wilson directly interfered in the American Democratic primary. Will the Prime Minister bring Michael Wilson back from Washington before he causes another incident?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are taking this matter very seriously. This is why the Clerk of the Privy Council is carrying out an investigation right now. We are being a responsible government and we are going to get to the bottom of this investigation.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are so desperate they are trying to sweep this issue under the rug.

For days now I have asked the Prime Minister to be clear about who is under investigation for the multiple leaks of sensitive diplomatic conversations. At least two of these leaks came from the Prime Minister's inner circle: chief of staff Ian Brodie and Ambassador Michael Wilson. Yet, the government has refused to clearly state whether they are under investigation.

I will ask my question again. Are Ian Brodie and Michael Wilson under investigation? Will the Prime Minister ask them to step aside, yes or no?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we cannot prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The investigation is underway, led by the Clerk of the Privy Council. We will see the results in due course.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, our Canadian government has expressed concern for the ongoing violence in Sudan and Chad. The situation is destabilizing the region and no one wants to see the violence escalate.

As a prosperous and caring nation, Canada has an obligation to help those in need. We know that when lives are threatened, every second counts. Reports have suggested that thousands of refugees are in desperate straits.

Can the Minister of International Cooperation tell the House if the government has offered any humanitarian assistance to the region?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, our government knows that the ongoing violence and instability in Chad and Darfur is devastating the lives of millions.

Today, this government announced it is making a significant commitment to support the refugees in the region. Through organizations such as the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, we will be providing clean water and sanitation, emergency health care, food and shelter, and increasing coordination of emergency services.

Today's announcement means more humanitarian aid for those in Chad and Darfur.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, Justice John Gomery says his landmark report on ministerial responsibility is being ignored and disregarded by the Conservative government. Of course, he is right.

Two of the most senior Canadian government officials are at the heart of the NAFTA-gate leaks, our Ambassador to Washington and the Prime Minister's chief of staff.

The Gomery report states: “Ministers are fully responsible and accountable for the actions of exempt staff”.

Why has no minister taken any responsibility for the leaks? Why is Justice Gomery being repudiated by the government?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the government's response to Liberal corruption was the accountability act, the most sweeping anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history.

As a result of the government's response, Canadians now have an independent Ethics Commissioner, a new lobbying act, a stronger Auditor General, tougher rules for political financing, and real protection for whistleblowers.

These are things that members on the opposite side would not do when they were government. In fact, they perpetrated that--

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Burnaby--New Westminster.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, even under Liberal corruption, even during the sponsorship scandal, several Liberal staff members, under suspicion, were placed on paid leave until the investigation by the Gomery inquiry was complete. The Ambassador and the chief of staff are at the heart of NAFTA-gate and the government should do the same.

There is a bizarre limbo dance contest going on between Conservatives and Liberals on who can go lower on ethical standards.

Why is the government failing to meet even the low ethical bar set by the previous government?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have a very solid relationship with the Americans. We will maintain our solid relationship with the American government. The free trade agreement signed by the three countries has been working well. It has meant prosperity for all three countries, increased wealth and raised the standard of living in the three countries. We hope to continue to build on the solid relationship we have with the United States.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, borrowing from their Republican idol's playbook, the Conservative government is turning Parliament Hill into the libel belt.

When the Prime Minister cannot answer questions about his own words caught on tape, he threatens to sue questioners. When the environment minister is reminded of his links to Walkerton or staff meddling in police affairs, libel letters are fired off. When the Conservative Party gets caught manipulating its expenses in the last election, it takes Elections Canada to court.

Will the government stop abusing the court system and start giving Canadians the answers they deserve?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

2:50 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, we, of course, are very respectful of this Parliament. We always answer every question in a very forthcoming fashion.

It is sad that we have across the aisle a party that comes here, supports the government on every major issue in virtually the past year, allows every single major file to pass, asks its people to sit down on every single vote, and shows lack of respect for the voters.

On Monday, the Liberals will be asking Canadians to send four more Liberals to sit here to collect six figure salaries for another year while they sit on their tails and do not even vote.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of copying Brian Mulroney's intimidation and delay tactics, the Prime Minister should be accountable to Canadians.

Would an accountable Prime Minister, caught on tape, not simply tell us what his own words mean?

Would an accountable Prime Minister not simply ask his chief of staff if he personally leaked confidential and diplomatic information? Would that not be better than chill letters from the Prime Minister?

Why does the Prime Minister not just answer the questions being asked and tell Canadians the truth?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

2:50 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, we always tell the truth, but we also come here and do our jobs seriously, and with respect for the House.

When there is a budget on the table, we vote on it. When there is a throne speech setting out the direction of the government, we vote on it. When we set an environmental direction for this country, we vote on it. When it comes to tackling violent crime, we take action and we vote on it.

What has to be asked is, what will happen when the Liberals have to go back to their true accountability to Canadians and explain why for almost a year so far they have come to this House, collected their salaries, enjoyed their privileges, yet not had the responsibility--

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Ajax—Pickering.

Municipal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, which minister was interviewed twice by police about his involvement in bribing Terry Kilrea with a federal appointment, named in court documents by an informant who said the minister met with now charged mayor to discuss the bribe, interfered to help elect that same mayor, and played games with the light rail project leaving taxpayers on the hook for a $280 million liability?

Court documents and informants have named this minister, will the government?

Municipal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Mr. Speaker, the real question in this matter is, when will the member opposite apologize to Commissioner Julian Fantino of the Ontario Provincial Police for having clearly implied that the commissioner and his officers violated the law by allowing political interference in a potential criminal investigation?

Commissioner Fantino said that any suggestion that the OPP was influenced by anyone or anything except the pursuit of the facts of any part of this investigation was nonsense, and that is what that member is filled with.

Municipal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

What is nonsense, Mr. Speaker, is that the minister's chief of staff would contact the OPP, by his own admission, on two separate occasions in the middle of a police investigation.

What the minister told police directly contradicts Mr. Kilrea's version of events. Mr. Kilrea attested to his version by passing a polygraph, something maybe this minister should consider.

The Prime Minister has the court documents. He knows this will explode when the publication ban ends. Will he ask the RCMP to investigate or will he cross his fingers and hope he can cover it up?

Municipal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Mr. Speaker, I understand the member opposite, who by the way pleaded guilty for violating the Elections Act in a recent campaign, asked the RCMP to investigate, and it has not. That is the member who tried to exercise political interference into a police matter in this respect.

I know this much. When it comes to credibility, if Canadians are given a choice between believing Commissioner Fantino and the Ontario Provincial Police or the conspiracy theorist from Ajax—Pickering, I know who they will believe, and it is not the member opposite.

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a totally unacceptable situation on the Magdalen Islands. Islanders have had to wait eight days for a flight out, because three flights were cancelled this past weekend by the bad weather. The situation would certainly have been different if there were a permanent maritime link between this Quebec archipelago and Prince Edward Island.

Could the Minister of Transport tell us what he intends to do in the short term to remedy this situation, which falls right in the midst of the Magdalen Islands whitecoat observation season?

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I sympathize with the people of the Magdalen Islands, as I do with all the Canadians hit with record snowfalls this past weekend, particularly in eastern Canada.

People must understand, however, that the Department of Transport is actively involved in making sure there can be a permanent, year-round link with the Magdalen Islands. As I have already told the mayor, we will be working on the file and the business plan, and will carry out the project next year.

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities tell us why the last Conservative budget does not include any financial assistance for the creation of a permanent maritime link between the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island, yet there is assistance for the one between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador?

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, facts are facts. The hon. member is misinforming us.

The federal government ensures there is transportation ten months of the year. We are working on a pilot project. Let him go tell this to his fellow citizens.

Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, for seven months the procedure and House affairs committee has been trying to study election law violations by the Conservative Party while the government members did every procedural trick in the book to stall that committee. Frustrated committee members recently elected a new chair.

My question is for the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London. When will the chair call a meeting to study the elections violations of the Conservative Party, as well as voter identification Bill C-6, which was passed in the House on November 15?

Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I would like to remind the member that I was forced to take this position over my protest, but the member for Cambridge is a great chair, and fair and equitable.

In that I am new to the process, it will take some time to study the legislation before the committee before setting the agenda.

Health
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Wajid Khan Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last summer the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health announced Canada's first ever Mental Health Commission. Mental health groups from across the country gave an enthusiastic welcome to this long overdue action to help some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Those who failed Canadians sit on the benches on that side of the House. After years of struggling in the shadows under the previous government, individuals and families dealing with mental health issues can finally count on help from this federal government.

Could the Minister of Health inform the House on how this Conservative government is keeping its promise to help Canadians?

Health
Oral Questions

3 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, let me first thank the hon. member for an excellent question. I would say to the House that even in good economic times there are those at risk of being left behind, but Canadians are guided by the values of compassion, kindness and generosity. That is why we created the Mental Health Commission in the first place.

That is why the Minister of Finance, demonstrating those important values himself, announced funding in budget 2008 for the commission to establish five pilot projects across the country to help show the way on how we can help those who are homeless and suffering from mental illness.

Mr. Speaker--

Health
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative agenda is getting us nowhere. According to Louis-Gille Francoeur, of Le Devoir, the government will incur a minimum $35 billion penalty for not respecting the Kyoto protocol. Canada made legal commitments to the planet, and the Conservatives are not following through on them.

Why does the minister not invest now to fight climate change, instead of wasting our money on penalties?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if we receive a bill, I will send it to the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Party.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the Conservative government, Canadian families are getting soaked by big oil in two ways. First, they watch as the government forks over billions in corporate giveaways to the petroleum industry. Second, they get gouged at the pumps because the government leaves gas prices unchecked and uncontrolled.

Working families deserve better. Will the government legislate and fund an independent regulatory agency to monitor the price of oil and gas, so that instead of protecting the interests of big polluters, the government can start protecting the pocketbook of the average Canadian?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands
B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, first of all, one thing we do know for sure is that under the Liberal plan, the price of gasoline would skyrocket.

Market prices are the only thing that is going to work. That has been proven over and over again. Once the government tries to regulate, it is proven that it does not work.

Our government has taken action. Our government has reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We will continue to reduce taxes for all Canadians to ensure that they can have their hard-earned income.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, five years ago today, the Liberal government unveiled its action plan for official languages. This plan ends in three weeks, at the end of March, and the budget did not include any money to renew it, even though the Conservative government had promised to renew it in the last throne speech. When the committee invited the minister to appear, she declined. When the committee invited her emissary, Bernard Lord, he also declined.

Considering the uncertainty her government is creating, why is the minister refusing to appear before the committee and explain her inaction? Why does she prefer to keep communities waiting?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. I did not refuse to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. In fact, I appeared on December 6. I will be pleased to discuss the second phase of the action plan for official languages further as soon as it has been introduced by our government.

Labour
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, some members of this House may be aware that a recent study found that in 2005, Canada lost more days of work due to labour disruptions, both lockouts and strikes, than any other G-7 country. The big picture is that these numbers represent $700 million in lost annual gross domestic product.

Could the Minister of Labour inform this House how he is addressing this very serious issue?

Labour
Oral Questions

3 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, I am concerned about those numbers. Work stoppages hurt workers, their families and their communities and they are also bad for businesses.

As Minister of Labour it is my responsibility to look for new ideas to keep the talk going on between unions and employers. I have launched a study on the causes and impacts of work stoppages. The study will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on ways to improve labour relations in our country.

An expert, Mr. Peter Annis, will consult with unions and employers and will submit a report to me with recommendations.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Mr. Goran Lennmarker, President of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to certain provisions that have been included in ways and means Motion No. 10, which the Minister of Finance tabled in the House yesterday.

Page 758 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice states:

The House must first adopt a Ways and Means motion before a bill which imposes a tax or other charge on the taxpayer can be introduced. Charges on the people, in this context, refer to new taxes, the continuation of an expiring tax, an increase in the rate of an existing tax, or an extension of a tax to a new class of taxpayers.

The purpose of ways and means Motion No. 10 as indicated by its title is clear. It is:

... to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008 and to enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget.

However, included in this ways and means motion are provisions that would have the effect of cancelling the provision in a private member's bill, Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions), adopted by the House at third reading on March 5, 2008.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of my point of order is to object to those provisions in ways and means Motion No. 10 that relate to Bill C-253 for three reasons.

First, I believe that this creates a dangerous precedent and impedes on the rights of all private members, those who are not part of the executive, to exercise fully their rights as legislators.

Bill C-253 did not need to be preceded by a ways and means motion. House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 898 states:

...private Members' bills which reduce taxes, reduce the incidence of a tax, or impose or increase an exemption from taxation are acceptable.

Ways and means motions are necessary for bills that impose a tax or other charge on the taxpayer. Bill C-253 does not do that.

However, the government is attempting to use the instrument of ways and means to basically kill a private member's bill that did not require a ways and means motion. If this is allowed to proceed, the government could in the future void any private member's initiative that it does not like, even though the bill has respected all the rules and practices of the House.

It is every member's right to bring forward legislation which reduces taxes, reduces the incidence of a tax, or imposes or increases an exemption from taxation. As these initiatives do not require a royal recommendation, they need not be preceded by a ways and means motion. Allowing the government through the process of ways of means to cancel or render totally void a private member's bill would be a severe impediment to the rights of every member of the House.

This brings me to my second point. For the reasons I have already stated, I would argue that ways and means Motion No. 10 goes beyond its purpose, which is to set the terms and conditions of the bill that will implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008. Its purpose is not to amend or cancel a private member's bill.

Finally, this attempt to reverse the decision of the House on Bill C-253 through the back door is offensive to the practices of the House in recent years with regard to the budget implementation bill. It has become the practice to include most of the measures contained in the annual budget presentation in one large omnibus bill. Successive Speakers have always expressed reluctance to expand the use of omnibus bills, but no exception has been taken to budget implementation bills under the strict understanding that these bills will be limited to matters that were put forward in the minister's budget presentation.

The issue of Bill C-253 arose well after the budget presentation and could not have been included in the budget presentation. Therefore, this does not belong in the budget implementation bill and if it is allowed to remain in this package, the door will be flung open to future abuses of this process.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would argue that you find sections 45 through, and including, 48 of Ways and Means Motion No. 10 to be out of order.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 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, I have a couple of points. First, I will respond briefly to the new arguments that have been raised by my friend for Markham—Unionville.

We need to be clear. The government is in no way precluded from putting in a ways and means motion for measures that do not require a ways and means motion. In fact, most budget ways and means motions have other measures in them. That is certainly the case.

The arguments that the member made with regard to budget implementation bills being narrowly circumscribed to matters that were only in the budget speech is clearly wrong.

Earlier this year we voted on a budget implementation bill which included all the provisions of the fall fiscal and economic update, a series of measures that were obviously not covered in the budget of 2007 and yet were included and, quite properly, approved by this House and, I might add, with the cooperation of the official opposition in its usual manner of abstaining on the question.

That is the fundamental nub of all these issues. These are matters that are properly decided by Parliament. They are not matters that need to be put to you, Mr. Speaker, to decide. They are properly decided by Parliament, particularly in a minority Parliament like this where we do know that all that party needs to do to have the success it is seeking is to simply vote on the matters before it.

From that perspective, I would simply put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that the arguments the member has made to you on that question do not have a basis. It is entirely appropriate and a well-established practice of this House to deal with a range of matters.

On the question of it being dealt with solely in the ways and means motion, the minister has been quite clear. The purpose of the ways and means motion is expressed clearly in its title, which addresses, as an adjunct in addition to the budget itself and implementing it, the question of preserving the fiscal framework, which is reflected in the budget.

The question of the private member's bill, Bill C-253, is that of undermining the fiscal framework, which is the essence of the budget that is created at the same time by potentially putting this country into deficit through funding, through spending or through a loss of revenues that is not contemplated in the budget. The purpose of it is of course--

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. government House leader has the floor. We will have some order, please.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know they like to come and talk but not bother to vote. At least they could let other people talk sometimes. I will make the best effort to continue, notwithstanding the interruptions.

In terms of the question, the Minister of Finance has been clear that that intention reflected in the ways and means motion will also be carried forward in the budget implementation bill. The ways and means motion corresponds exactly to what will be in the budget implementation bill. It is not a question of dealing with the statutory measure through the ways and means motion. It is a question of dealing with it through the budget implementation bill and creating, through the ways and means motion, the authority to do that and proceed with that.

On the other questions that were raised yesterday, Mr. Speaker, you heard submissions from the member for Pickering—Scarborough East in which he argued that the government's ways and means motion tabled yesterday was out of order based on the rule of anticipation. He argued that the previous consideration of Bill C-253 made it impossible to now consider the ways and means motion.

Marleau and Montpetit observes at page 476:

The moving of a motion was formerly subject to the ancient “rule of anticipation” which is no longer strictly observed.

In fact, if we read on, they go on to observe that it is even stronger than that. The rule of anticipation is not just “no longer strictly observed” in the Canadian Parliament, it never really was. Also at page 476, they write:

While the rule of anticipation is part of the Standing Orders in the British House of Commons, it has never been so in the Canadian House of Commons.

I would repeat and underline, “it has never been so in the Canadian House of Commons”.

They go on to conclude:

Furthermore, references to attempts made to apply this British rule to Canadian practice are not very conclusive.

Simply put, the argument posed by the member for Pickering—Scarborough East might succeed were he in the British House of Commons but it cannot succeed under Canadian parliamentary practice. There is no barrier to considering a different item touching the same subject matter, and most certainly the budget bill and this Bill C-253 cannot be considered to be two bills similar in substance.

Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada clearly sorts out the Canadian rule at paragraph 655, found on page 198. It states as follows:

A bill is in order when substantially different from another bill on the same matter previously disposed of during the session.

That rule applies clearly to the situation at hand. The budget implementation bill is substantially different from another bill previously disposed of during the session, that being Bill C-253. In fact, the difference is so great that the government opposed Bill C-253. It is introducing and obviously supports the budget implementation bill.

Clearly, it is substantially different, not just in its breadth of subject matter but also in the substance of its effect.

The ways and means motion and budget bill are significantly broader than Bill C-253, applying to a wide range of taxation and fiscal measures. They are also substantially different in the impact they will have on the finances of the public treasury and the effect they will have on the narrow question of how RESPs operate.

In addition, and putting it another way, the ways and means motion in part is reversing a decision the House made with respect to Bill C-253. The precedence for proceeding this way is as follows. At page 496 of Marleau and Montpetit, it states:

The House may reopen discussion on an earlier decision...only if the intention is to revoke it;

Standing Order 18 basically says the same thing.

Beauchesne's Citation 592(1) states:

A resolution may be rescinded and an order of the House discharged, notwithstanding the rule that a question, being once made and carried in the affirmative or negative, cannot be questioned again....

Technically indeed, the rescinding of a vote is the matter of a new question; the form being to read the resolution of the House and to move that it be rescinded; and thus the same question which had been resolved in the affirmative is not again offered, although its effect is annulled.

There have been examples of orders being rescinded, revoked and discharged that could be found in Journals of May 7, 1898, page 269; August 1, 1942, page 708; November 22, 1944, page 923; November 24, 1944, page 927; and December 23, 1988, the House adopted an order revoking an order with respect to the sittings of the House which can be found at page 80 of the Journals of that day.

Therefore, repealing, rescinding and revoking a previous decision of the House is considered a different question.

Rule 655 of Beauchesne's can be seen to be definitive in determining that a ways and means motion and a budget bill based upon it are properly in order before the House. The roots of the rule in Beauchesne's, let us call it the Canadian rule, go back to just after Confederation.

A ruling of the Speaker on June 4, 1872, is exactly on point. The question the House was considering was an effort to legislate that one could not sit both in the House of Commons and in a provincial legislature at the same time, but two different efforts to do the same thing in a slightly different way were allowed to be considered in the same Parliament. This was found acceptable by the Speaker, who overruled an objection raised by the MP for Bothwell, who had argued, “that the principle involved in the bill is precisely the same one as the one voted on before”. More particular, he argued, “it proposes to deal with the same subject, and disqualify as candidates for election to the House of Commons the same class of persons”.

The Speaker found that was a “technical argument and that substantially the questions were different”.

As an aside, it is fascinating to read those Journals to see Sir John A. Macdonald's name listed among those voting in the majority at that time on that question in favour of the measure opposed by the Liberals of the day. It is also fascinating to see on the same day the vote on amendments from the Liberals seeking to ban any shareholder in the Canadian Pacific Railway from standing for Parliament, a discriminatory and unfair measure that the House wisely rejected that day.

However, returning to the main point, that ruling in 1872 is the anchor for the Canadian rule, different from the British, that a substantially different bill can deal with the same subject matter previously disposed of during the same session, which is exactly the case here.

The Canadian rule has been reaffirmed in many Speakers' rulings in the years that have followed. On February 24, 1971, Speaker Lamoureux restated the rule quite conclusively. He stated:

There is, therefore, in my view nothing procedurally wrong in having before the House at the same time concurrent or related bills which might be in contradiction with one another either because of the terms of the proposed legislation itself or in relation to the proposed amendments.

Related bills yet in contradiction with one another and, thus, substantially different, therefore, are entirely in order, just as is the case here.

In another decision on June 8, 1988, the Speaker reviewed all the relevant precedents and concluded as follows:

...I must declare that the practice of one bill amending another bill still before the House or not yet given Royal Assent is an acceptable one.

Again, this applies exactly here. Bill C-253 has not yet been given royal assent and the ways and means motion on budget bills seeking to affect it are acceptable under this rule.

The essence of the Canadian rule on those matters can be summarized by saying that the Speaker is never empowered to block such bills through a rule of anticipation. It is a question for the House of Commons to decide.

As Speaker Fraser ruled in 1992:

The Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons has not been given any specific authority over the form or content of omnibus bills.

Mr. Speaker, you are not empowered to do what the member for Pickering—Scarborough East is asking you to do by ruling on the content of the ways and means motion and the budget implementation bill. It is up to this House to pass judgment on the content of the motion and the bill.

I will re-emphasize once again that in a minority Parliament it is fully within the power of those members in opposition to pass that judgment contrary to the will of the government if they see fit to do so. They are seeking not to do so and seeking, instead, Mr. Speaker, to have you do that for them.

For the integrity of the government's fiscal plan, the government believes that if Bill C-253 becomes law, then it must be repealed in order to implement the provisions of the budget. We are talking about $900 million to $2 billion in lost revenues annually for the federal government and $450 million to $1 billion in lost revenues annually for provincial governments.

When the House adopted Bill C-253, it had not yet seen the detailed proposal that is contingent on repealing an earlier proposal. I see nothing procedurally wrong with the proceeding on the matter. One recent example is Bill C-27, the identity theft bill, which includes a coordinating amendment that would effectively replace the provisions of Bill C-299, a private member's bill currently before the Senate on identity theft, with the provisions in Bill C-27.

Ultimately, it is up to the House to decide. Speakers have consistently ruled that they do not have the authority to divide a bill and the question of the contents of a bill is best left as a matter for the House to decide.

Mr. Speaker, the final authority I would draw your attention to is the ruling of Speaker Fraser on November 28, 1991. It concluded, as well, that these issues are matters for the House to decide. The bill in question in 1991 was Bill C-35, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies, archaisms and errors in the Statutes of Canada. It proposed to amend, under certain conditions, a bill that was at second reading, a bill that had just received third reading, two other bills that were at third reading and two bills that were at committee.

The Speaker noted:

The legislative process affords ample opportunity for amending proposed legislation....

Speaker Fraser's observations in 1991 are a worthy guide to your role here, Mr. Speaker.

He concluded that:

It is the duty of this Chair to safeguard the rights of the Members and the House to make fully informed decisions on the matters before it....

He continued:

The legislative process offers ample opportunity....

Then he goes on to review the options and scenarios, such as amendments, refusal, approval, further study and more, but ultimately he concludes:

All of these avenues offer Members full remedy to this conditional approach to legislating should they object to it. That decision rests with the House.

I repeat that key conclusion: that decision rests with this House.

The authorities are clear. Beauchesne's states the Canadian rule authoritatively:

A bill is in order when substantially different from another bill on the same matter previously disposed of during the same session.

Yes, the ways and means motion and the budget implementation bill do, in small part, touch the same subject matter as Bill C-253, but they are substantially different: different in scope, different in breadth of issues, and different in the substance of what they seek to do on the limited subject matter that they do have in common.

That difference in substance renders the ways and means motion and budget bill in order and properly a question to be decided by this House, not, with the greatest of respect, by you, Mr. Speaker. It may not be the British way, but it is the Canadian way from the time of Sir John A. and the days when he represented the fine constituency of Kingston in this House, which you represent today.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the official opposition finance critic. It seems to me that including in the ways and means notice tabled this week provisions directly or indirectly affecting Bill C-253 is politically abusive and unparliamentary.

It must be kept in mind that the intent of the ways and means notice is to implement the budget implementation bill tabled on February 26. The ways and means notice was tabled on March 11, but Bill C-253 was passed by this House between those two dates. Had the bill been passed after March 11, the Minister of Finance and the government would not have been in a position to include provisions that short-circuit the majority decision of this House. In my opinion, it is totally contrary to the rules to include in the ways and means notice any provisions relating to Bill C-253.

If the government is dissatisfied, it has other parliamentary methods at its disposal for reopening the debate. At this point in time, however, it would be totally abusive and unparliamentary to include in the ways and means notice provisions relating to Bill C-253. Moreover, the government has made no secret of the fact that the ways and means notice includes provisions to override Bill C-253. We do not want to hear that the ways and means notice contains some elements that are substantially different from Bill C-253, because the government has admitted publicly that it would use the ways and means notice to override the majority decision by this House.

As well, the figures presented by the leader of the government in the House of Commons are pretty well ridiculous. If they were on the up and up, I fail to understand why the Finance Department and the Minister of Finance did not raise them at the Standing Committee on Finance during examination of Bill C-253. I was there, and the department people were asked to give a figure for the cost of the measure proposed by the Liberal member who tabled Bill C-253, but no reply was ever forthcoming. That was last spring.

How can it be that, 365 days or so later, they have not been able to let all parliamentarians know that this measure would cost $900 million? I hold no faith in that figure. It cropped up once the House had passed the bill. It is also very clear that the bill has other processes to go through, in the Senate in particular, and will probably not affect the Minister of Finance's budgetary framework for the current year.

For all these reasons, it seems to me that we are faced here with a tactic that is unparliamentary and politically abusive. As my Liberal colleague has done, I would request that you find out of order all those sections which, directly or indirectly, with Bill C-253.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again on this very important point of order.

Despite the citations by the hon. House leader, I think it is fairly clear, Sir, that your decision to this House of Commons on November 1, 2006, declaring that Bill C-253 standing in my name was indeed receivable and was in fact in order, is something that this House relied on.

Mr. Speaker, you will know that I have followed the procedures of this House. Not only did this House dutifully vote on the bill at the second reading, but it also passed in committee. It also passed at report stage, concurrence and third reading. I am very concerned about the ability for the government to now challenge, by an indirect means, a decision made by this House.

There are two issues. One is an issue of concern to me as to what I would refer to, and you would be familiar with, as detrimental reliance. We rely on your decision and the Chair to make a decision that is in fact applicable in determining whether a private member's bill can indeed proceed.

I would submit that this bill has done just that. Unless the hon. House leader is actually suggesting a challenge to your ruling, I would suggest that you have no choice but to rule the position of the ways and means motion by the government House leader and by the Minister of Finance, who has clearly linked this to Bill C-253, as indeed out of order.

Mr. Speaker, if we do not have that reliance on your decisions carrying through, it says much about future decisions. The hon. House leader is in fact trying to create a precedent through the back door, knowing full well that once a bill in the same session has been treated in this House, it cannot be undone and it cannot be reconsidered.

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you again that your ruling of November 1, 2006, in which you declared Bill C-253 a bill that was indeed in order, must stand. Indeed, debates on the bill have gone on in this House in which the hon. minister and members have participated, and several members from that side of the House and that party supported the bill in principle at second reading. It seems to me that if you have made a ruling you must stand by that ruling and therefore rule this rather nefarious attempt by the minister and the House leader as indeed out of order.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, tempting as it is to address the other issues raised, I have only addressed the new ones. Tempting as it is to seek to appeal your earlier ruling on the admissibility of Bill C-253, I will resist the temptation to do that at this point, because that is of course not what the intention is of the ways and means motion.

The ways and means motion is quite clear. Its intention is very different. It is not indirect. It is very direct, contrary to what my friend said. It is a direct effort to repeal Bill C-253, something that is entirely proper for us to do in this fashion.

We respect the ruling that you have made, notwithstanding our submissions on the admissibility of Bill C-253 originally. This does not seek to question that. This simply seeks to launch an initiative properly through the ways and means motion and the budget implementation bill to repeal Bill C-253 because of its detrimental impact on the fiscal framework. The fact is that it is entirely contrary to the fiscal framework that this House adopted in the past, although very few members of that party participated in the vote on it.

Ways and Means Motion No. 10
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I want to thank the hon. member for Markham—Unionville, the government House leader and the hon. members for Joliette and Pickering—Scarborough East for their interventions on this matter. I will soon come back to the House with a ruling.

Notice Regarding Opposition Day Motion
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is the seventh and the last day of supply. Page 722 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit sets out that “Parliament does not grant Supply until the opposition has had an opportunity to demonstrate why it should be refused”.

That is why we have opposition days: to hold the government to account for its spending. But for this historic and ancient right to hold the Crown to account for its spending to be relevant, it also has to be operational. For there to be debate in which the government can be meaningfully held to account, there has to be notice given as to what it is that will be debated.

The Standing Orders set out how the notice is to be given. There is currently a 48 hour notice period required for an opposition day notice under Standing Order 81(14)(a). This standing order was created at a time when such notice was sufficient to allow all members to know what would be debated on an allotted supply day, because the practice at that time was that only one motion was put forward by a member of any recognized party.

There was even a standing order put into place to allow for the situation where more than one motion was presented, and that is, as we know, the Speaker's power to decide between competing motions. That is outlined under Standing Order 81(14)(b).

Since 1983, after the McGrath committee report, this House has published a projected order of business to allow members to prepare themselves for the business of the House. It has been the practice that the government informs the Journals Branch of its intentions for the next sitting day, and the Journals Branch places this information, as we know, on the projected order of business. It is, of course, very helpful to all members in the House to know what business may be coming up.

The practice has been changing with respect to notice on allotted supply days, changing because all parties now place numerous motions on the notice paper 48 hours before an allotted day has been designated but only inform the Clerk and, through her, you, Mr. Speaker, which one will be chosen for debate 24 hours before the allotted day. As we know, this usually means that in regard to an opposition day motion that a party chooses, we will all understand what that motion is at 6 p.m., because that is when the projected order of business goes out.

Today, however, on this final day of supply, we are facing a new situation. The Liberal Party has decided to give you, Mr. Speaker, and through you, all members of the House, less than two hours' notice. In fact, it really was one hour. We learned of it at 2 p.m. today, with notice of what its motion would be for its allotted supply day today. We find this to be a completely unacceptable practice. In fact, it is a new low for the official opposition.

I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that this delay is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the actual notice periods for which our rules provide and which the projected order of business was created to address.

Page 974 of Marleau and Montpetit states:

The Order Paper lists all the business which might be taken up by the House on any given day, but it does not indicate which items the government intends, or is likely, to call. The Projected Order of Business, published each sitting day, is a tentative working agenda which lists all the government and Private Members' Business expected to be taken up on a particular day.

I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the official opposition abandoned its responsibility to inform you and, through you, this House, of what motion it intended to call when it failed to inform you in time for the publication of the projected order of business which motion would be called in the House today. By using such tactics, and by failing to give meaningful notice as to what it would call for debate, the Liberal Party is attempting to do through the back door what the notice rules demand it do through the front door.

Even though the motion that the Liberals finally selected at two o'clock today is, we believe, on a very serious subject matter and raises the question as to why would they throw it in at the last minute, I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that they have forfeited their right to call any motion today, given that the question surrounds supply. It is indeed questionable that the opposition is opposing at all.

I therefore submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that today's supply day should be a debate on supply, on the unopposed items in supplementary estimates (B). However, if you feel that Standing Order 81(14)(b) compels you to choose a Liberal motion for today, I believe that the proper choice would be the motion that first received notice, which is the motion from the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

We cannot allow the deliberate subversion of the rules of this place by allowing tactics that deprive members of the House of proper notice periods, which the rules say that we should have. As you have said before, Mr. Speaker, no one shall do through the back door what cannot be done through the front door.

If this practice is allowed, then it raises the question as to why any party should give any notice, or indeed why the government itself should give any notice of whatever matter is coming up. That is why we have these rules to provide a meaningful and proper notice period.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you take this into consideration and make a decision today to not allow the motion of the Liberals to stand, given that we only received notice at 2 p.m.

Notice Regarding Opposition Day Motion
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would point out for the hon. member, for you and for other members of the House that the order paper, which I have in my hand, clearly indicates that the item we wish to discuss today was put on the order paper on December 4, 2007. Therefore, proper notice has been given to all members of the House that this matter may be called on an opposition day when one of those opposition days comes along.

Thursday of last week the government House leader officially designated that this would be an allotted day for the official opposition, the Liberal Party. It is therefore our prerogative, under the rules, to call for debate one of the items that stands in the name of a Liberal member as identified in the order paper for the business of supply. That is exactly what we are proposing to do.

The motion standing in the name of the member for Mount Royal is the item we wish to call forward for discussion in what remains of this opposition day after all of these points of order. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the item standing there since December 4, 2007 is perfectly in order and the debate should proceed.

Notice Regarding Opposition Day Motion
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:40 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, I have considerable sympathy for the submissions from the New Democratic Party House leader.

We were in our office working late last night. There was an unusual circumstance. With the House sitting until midnight, Journals would not publish what was being selected, if proper notice were not given until midnight. Our staff kept working until that time to advise those who had to prepare for the debate of the outcome.

Journals published, indicating that no motion had been selected by the Liberal Party, which led all of us to conclude, as the NDP concluded, based on what was published at that time, that the motion to be dealt with today would be the government's supply motion and the unopposed items in the motion for supply. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that there is merit in that.

The question of notice is a significant and important one as it affects the ability. It is designed to allow the members of the House to exercise their privileges to speak to matters that are important to them and to have the opportunity to be aware and to prepare for those items. That is why there is a requirement for notice. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that in this case notice did not occur, and I would support the submissions of the member for Vancouver East insofar as that is concerned.

However, Mr. Speaker, if you do not agree with that and do believe that the failure to provide notice does not disentitle the official opposition, the Liberal Party, to proceed with a motion, I believe if you do consider, and I respectfully do not share that opinion, that the Liberals can proceed with an opposition motion, notwithstanding the lack of notice, that decision also carries with it their right to select which motion with which they wish to proceed.

Notice Regarding Opposition Day Motion
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

I have one further item that I would draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker. I am looking at the projected order of business, which we all receive on a daily basis. I note at the very top of that projected order of business the advice is offered to all members of the House that it is subject to change without notice.

Notice Regarding Opposition Day Motion
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, such an important debate cannot be held without the Bloc Québécois' contribution. I am a little surprised that the NDP House leader made remarks in favour of limiting the opposition's rights. In fact, the government always has the possibility of changing things at the last minute; and we need more time.

I would have liked to see the Liberal Party motion sooner than we did. However, at the same time, I will recognize that it has been on the Notice Paper for more than 48 hours. In my opinion, the Liberal Party can debate the motion it has chosen, with the notice it has given, but—again—it would have been more elegant to have told us about it in advance. I do not see why the opposition parties would ask you to give us fewer rights than the government has.

That said, Mr. Speaker, if you decide that the Liberals are not entitled to their opposition day, I will remind you that if you follow the rules, the Bloc Québécois could very well step up in the Liberals' place, since we are still entitled to roughly three quarters of an opposition day. And we are ready.

Again, the right decision would be simply to uphold the Liberal opposition day, with the motion placed on notice not so long ago, but in accordance with the rules.

Notice Regarding Opposition Day Motion
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair is prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Vancouver East.

I point out that contrary to past practice, and I have been here a number of years and remember when there were never any opposition motions sitting on the order paper, we now have 30 opposition motions sitting on the order paper, all of which have been placed on notice with more than 48 hours notice and are therefore eligible to be called for debate on days that have been awarded to that party based on the division of opposition days.

These opposition days are assigned to the different parties of the House following meetings between the House leaders and the whips. It is not the Speaker who decides all this.

The other important thing about this is that the government can choose the topic for debate at any time.

I point out that page 406 of Marleau and Montpetit says:

The business that the House is to consider during Government Orders is determined solely by the government. On occasions when the Opposition has protested a change in the projected order of business for a specific sitting day, the Chair has reminded Members of the government's prerogative.

In other words, if the government decided that tomorrow instead of bill X it decided to call bill Y, it could announce it at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, in effect with no notice, and proceed with bill Y instead of bill X, as long as bill Y is on the order paper and 48 hours notice of its introduction has been given and it is before the House.

We have in this case, in my view, a similar situation in respect of the opposition. The opposition has placed notices of motions for supply days on the order paper, as I have indicated. Apparently the choice was not made until earlier this afternoon. I just became aware of it once the point of order was raised. However, whichever one it is, notice has been given, so technically the members are aware that the subject is one that could be called for debate at a certain time on a certain opposition day, and that is what has happened today.

Accordingly, in my view, the motion that we are about to debate, whenever we complete routine proceedings, assuming we get through them before 5:30 p.m., will be the one that is the subject for debate today, and I so rule.

I will not speculate on whether a motion that had not been placed on notice would be eligible. I will that for another argument for another day, and possibly for one of my fellow Chair occupants.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in relation to women's ski jumping at the 2010 Olympic Games.

Women's ski jumping is an important sports event and worthy of Olympic status. Therefore, the committee urges the government to encourage the International Olympic Committee to recognize and include ski jumping as an event at the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Games.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-525, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act (protection of the public).

Mr. Speaker, this bill is in response to the tragic death of a Nova Scotia teaching assistant, named Theresa McEvoy, who was killed in a 2004 car crash by a repeat young offender. It encompasses all the Nunn commission recommendations, including those which Bill C-25 failed to address.

I should emphasize the work of Mr. Justice Nunn and also thank Mr. Hugh Wright, the lawyer for the family of Theresa McEvoy, for his assistance with drafting the bill.

Finally, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, for seconding the bill.

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

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-526, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to introduce my private member's bill. As members may be aware, auto theft has long been a concern to the residents of Winnipeg. From January 1 to March 2, there have been 750 actual car thefts and 740 attempted car thefts in the city of Winnipeg, a staggering number. Though the actual car theft rates have been slowly going down in recent years, there remains a real problem that needs to be addressed.

Accordingly I am introducing this bill, seconded by my colleague from Saint Boniface. With the bill, everyone who commits theft of a motor vehicle for a second or subsequent offence would be guilty of an indictable offence and would be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.

I put forward the bill in response to a meeting that took place with the Manitoba delegation and with government and opposition leaders in Ottawa. Liberals members met with Premier Gary Doer, Justice Minister Chomiak, Mayor Katz of Winnipeg, Mayor Burgess of Brandon, opposition leaders, Chief Dennis Meeches of the Long Plain First Nation and citizens who have been affected by crime in Manitoba.

The delegation brought forward a number of proposals and motor theft as an indictable offence was pre-eminent among them. This is a step in the right direction and I hope the bill will make Canada a safer place.

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

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 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, I have tried this a couple of times, but this time I think it will actually work. There have been discussions among the parties and I have the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, on Thursday, March 13, the House shall again consider Government Business No. 5 and unless previously disposed of, at the expiry of time provided for government orders the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of Government Business No. 5.

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have consulted with members of all parties and I believe if you seek it, there will be unanimous consent to pass the following motion: “That, in the opinion of this House, September of every year be declared ovarian cancer awareness month”.

Ovarian cancer affects us all and I am honoured to see the House united in such an important cause.

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Davenport have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Afghanistan
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no unanimous consent.

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this income trust broken promise petition.

The petitioners, who come from Scarborough, Ontario, remind the House that the Prime Minister promised that he was not going to tax income trusts, but he actually broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax which permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, many of whom are seniors.

The petitioners therefore call upon the government to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions; to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

The Quebec Nation and Bill 101
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition signed by 769 Quebeckers who are calling on the Government of Canada to demonstrate that it respects the Quebec nation and Bill 101.

Charitable Tax Credit
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to table two sets of petitions. The first set is on Bill C-476 and I am glad the member for Winnipeg Centre is here.

This bill addresses the charitable tax rate in this country. It introduces more generous tax deductions for those who give to charities. It mirrors the political tax credit which is very generous right now. The bill would revolutionize charitable giving in Canada. It would make it fairer and would treat charities the same as political parties.

As well, it is of interest to note that the government has actually reduced the charitable tax rate. It has actually gone in the opposite direction. Right now we have submissions from around 200 people on this issue.

Animal Cruelty Legislation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second set of petitions is related to animal cruelty. The petitioners are calling for changes to the animal cruelty laws, which have not been dealt with since 1892.

It is important to note that thousands of people in my area alone have signed the petition to update the animal cruelty laws.

The member for Windsor—Tecumseh has been active on this case and we are looking forward to seeing him bring amendments to the Senate bill.

It is important to note that this law has not changed since 1892 and New Democrats have been pushing for more responsible animal cruelty legislation in this country.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from thousands of Canadians from right across the country. They note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known, yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. Canada spends millions subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use all around the world.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to ban asbestos in all its forms and institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities they live in, and to end all government subsidies to asbestos both at home and abroad. They call upon Canada to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe at this time that if you consult the House there will be unanimous consent to pass the following motion: I move:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should designate September of each year as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian cancer affects us all and I am honoured to see the House united on such an important issue.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, if you could ask for the House's consent to revert to motions, I believe there is a will in the House to do that. Unfortunately the consultation that had been anticipated before had not been undertaken. It has now been undertaken and I think you will find the will in the House that the hon. member for Davenport is requesting.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to revert to motions?

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House of the House to adopt the motion?

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 182 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 182
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

With regard to the tendering process used for deciding the in-service support contract for the Victoria-class submarines: (a) what policy on industrial and regional benefits was used as a methodology by the government in the evaluation of bids in the procurement process for the in-service support contract to maintain the Victoria-class submarines; (b) when did the government decide not to award the contract for the in-service support contract of the Victoria-class submarines as a major Crown project and did any department formally object to this decision; (c) has the government calculated the loss of employment and other economic opportunities to Atlantic Canada as a result of the decision to award the in-service support contract to another region; (d) with regard to (c), what is the estimated loss, in dollars, to Atlantic Canadian companies as a result of the awarding of the in-service support contract; and (e) what is the cost to the taxpayer, for the transit of a Halifax-based Victoria–class submarine to the West Coast of Canada for extended docking work?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should stand consistently against the death penalty as a matter of principle, both in Canada and around the world.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2008, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the motion that stands in my name. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should stand consistently against the death penalty as a matter of principle, both in Canada and around the world.

One would have hoped, and believed, that such a motion would not even have to be proposed, but it has been rendered necessary by the government's own action and inaction in these matters, in its refusal to seek clemency for Alberta born Ronald Allen Smith, the only Canadian on death row in the United States, and in particular, by the government's reversal of a long-standing law and policy, principle and precedent, on both the domestic and international levels.

What is more, not only have the government's actions and inaction reversed long-standing law and policy—with respect to principle and precedent, which is troubling—they also reflect a disturbing trend that puts the priority on ideology and politics at the expense of long-standing, respected principles and policies.

Indeed, an appreciation of the government's decision reveals a government acting in ignorance of, or indifference to, law and precedent, both domestic and international, and even unaware of what its own departments and diplomats are otherwise affirming.

For example, on October 27, 2007, just days before the government flip-flopped on this issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed Canada's traditional policy, stating that “Canada's policy is to seek clemency, for humanitarian reasons, for Canadians sentenced to death in foreign countries” and that “there is no death penalty in Canada, and the government does not support the death penalty”.

As well, it would seem the government was not yet speaking with an informed and unified voice.

Canadian diplomat Kimberly Lewis of the Canadian Consulate in Denver visited Mr. Smith in prison on October 2007 on the occasion of the government in Ottawa saying it would not seek clemency for Mr. Smith, wherein she personally promised Mr. Smith, “the Canadian government was and would continue actively pursuing both his commutation and transfer to Canada”.

Accordingly, when the government's decision not to seek clemency then was announced, Mr. Smith called Kimberley Lewis, with whom he had just met. Ms. Lewis had to acknowledge that she was unaware of the policy reversal.

A Canadian diplomat entrusted with the carrying out of Canadian policy was not even aware of the abrupt change in that policy, thereby misinforming a person on death row that the government will seek clemency on his behalf when the government decided not to seek clemency on his behalf.

What kind of decision making is this, even leaving aside as a matter of principle the wrong-headed reversal of Canada's long-standing Canadian law and policy? Indeed, even the justice department's own website still reads, as I speak, that “the abolition of the death penalty is considered to be a principle of fundamental justice”. Surely something so fundamental should not be so abruptly, if not callously, changed without consent or consultation of the governed, in disregard of the Constitution, and in ignorance of the government's own diplomats entrusted with carrying out its policy.

This is a shocking display of ineptitude, ignorance and callous indifference to principle, policy and human life.

I would like now to outline eight major grounds of principle and precedent, law and policy, which the government has either been ignorant of or indifferent to and which has necessitated this motion. It is as much a matter of setting the record straight as reaffirming our long-standing law and policy on both the domestic and international levels.

First, the government's abrupt about-face contradicts Canadian law and policy respecting extradition. Canadian law prohibits the extradition of an individual to a jurisdiction which imposes the death penalty. Specifically, Canadian law would therefore prohibit the extradition of an American national to a state in the United States that practises the death penalty. Yet the Canadian government will not intervene in the case of a Canadian citizen sentenced to death in an American state.

So the question: Does the Canadian government plan to change our extradition law as well, and if it does not, as it recently suggested, will we then have double standards applied, for example, to Canadian and American citizens in the matter of the death penalty, with no protection for the Canadian citizen, or will the government continue to act as if there is no extradition law at all?

Second, the Supreme Court of Canada in the Burns and Rafay case held that capital punishment was a violation of the section 7 charter right to life, liberty and security of the person and a violation of the principles of fundamental justice thereby, as well as a violation of section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Consequently, the court ruled that Canada could not remove Canadian citizens to the United States without receiving assurance from the state concerned that the death penalty would not be imposed.

In the words of the court, “an extradition that violates the principles of fundamental justice will always shock the conscious.... The death penalty has been rejected [in Canada] as an acceptable element of criminal justice. Capital punishment engages the underlying values of the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It is final and irreversible”.

Is the government aware of this decision and opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada, or is it indifferent to decisions and opinions of the Supreme Court and prepared to proceed, notwithstanding the law of the land?

Third, Canada's abolitionist policy, and leadership, on the death penalty has extended beyond our borders, as evidenced by our international undertakings in this regard.

On November 25, 2005, Canada ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights wherein Canada expressed inter alia that as a state party to the protocol, it is “desirous to undertake hereby an international commitment to abolish the death penalty”.

As minister of justice at the time, I stated that, “becoming a party to the treaty is part of Canada's effort to send a clear message on this important human rights issue”. I added, “Canada opposes the death penalty and we support the international trend toward its abolition. We urge all states that retain the death penalty to abolish it or to impose a moratorium on its use, and to become parties to the Second Optional Protocol”.

Is the government aware that we ratified this protocol? In this case as well, is it prepared to act in disregard of, or indifference to, our international commitments let alone our international leadership on these matters?

Fourth, on November 1, Canada did not co-sponsor a resolution presented to the UN General Assembly calling for an international moratorium on the death penalty. This also contradicts Canada's traditional position. Our country co-sponsored similar resolutions before the UN Commission on Human Rights every year from 1988 to 2005. Are we to conclude that Canada is turning its back on its international partners?

Fifth, the United States Supreme Court suspended execution by lethal injection in the state of Mississippi until a study could determine whether the method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, which is forbidden under the American bill of rights.

In the case of Canadian Ronald Allen Smith, now sentenced to death by lethal injection in the State of Montana, is the government aware of the judicial review of the constitutionality of this practice now before the American Supreme Court; or is it, yet again, indifferent to it and prepared to turn a blind eye to what is happening, in breach, once more, of Canadian and international law and practice?

Sixth, a comprehensive study of the effects of capital punishment just released by the American Bar Association demonstrates that homicide rates in non-death-penalty states are no higher than in states that impose the death penalty. More importantly, the study shows that in death-penalty states, there is a disproportionate and prejudicial impact on minorities, the indigent, and those unrepresented by counsel or represented by ineffective counsel. Is the government aware of this data, or is it also indifferent to it, as it does not comport with its own ideological and political bent?

Seventh, any decision not to seek clemency presupposes in every instance that both a person is guilty and that the death penalty is the appropriate penalty. What this fails to account for is the possibility of wrongful conviction or other miscarriage of justice, and that there is no appeal from a wrongful conviction.

It is pertinent and poignant to recall that in 1959 a young 14-year-old named Steven Truscott was charged and convicted of the rape and murder of a 12-year-old and sentenced to hang. Fortunately, the sentence was commuted and 48 years later it was determined that Mr. Truscott was the victim of a miscarriage of justice, and an acquittal was entered into his case.

It is as painful as it is shocking to appreciate today that had capital punishment then been imposed, Mr. Truscott would not even have lived, let alone to have lived to have his wrongful conviction overturned and his name cleared.

Moreover, since 1973, 124 death row prisoners in the United States have later been found innocent.

Eighth, is the government's inconsistent and rather unprincipled character reflected in its clemency policy.

I am pleased that the government announced that it will seek clemency for Canadian citizen, Mohamed Kohail, under threat of the death penalty by decapitation in Saudi Arabia. But it did so while it maintained its position of not seeking clemency for the only Canadian on death row in the United States.

This brings me to the second part of my remarks. The reasons offered by the government for its unreasonable and even callous reversal of decision, which are even less reassuring.

For example, the government's initial mantra was that it did not want Mr. Smith to be returned to Canada and that it wanted to protect the security of Canadians. However, this was a red-herring. No one was seeking his return to Canada. The opposition is to the imposition of the death penalty, not to his conviction or to him serving a life sentence in the United States. We understand the pain and suffering of the victims of Mr. Smith's criminal act.

Fortunately the government no longer repeats this untenable and discredited mantra. The government then stated that it will not interfere “in a jurisdiction that is both democratic and respects the rule of law”, however, no one is arguing that Mr. Smith did not get a fair trial, or that the United States is not a democracy.

Indeed, the government is conflating the issue of capital punishment policy in a state of the United States with that of U.S. policy as a whole, or more, with whether the U.S. is a democracy or not, a matter that is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand.

The government then proceeded to ground its reversal on a “case by case basis” and thereby justified its decision to intervene in the case of Saudi Arabia and not in the case of Mr. Smith on the grounds that it will “consider to seek clemency on a case-by-case” basis.

However, this is a seemingly arbitrary determination without criteria or process, which inherently prefers some lives before others, a notion also at variance with principles of equality and due process.

Moreover, is the government thereby wishing to convey in the case of Mr. Kohail that Saudi Arabia is not a democracy or that it does not exercise the rule of law, or both? If so, will it so advise its diplomats, conveying that decision to Saudi Arabia, with the attending prejudicial fallout that this might have not only for our diplomacy but also for advancing the justifiable case and cause for seeking clemency for Mr. Kohail?

As well, this ambiguous policy has been further obfuscated with the more recent addition that such case-by-case determinations would also factor into what is “in the best interest of Canada”, a no less vague and arbitrary measure, the whole of which creates a decision-making process without criteria or oversight, and seemingly without basis in law, principle, or precedent.

I would hope as well that the government will not resurrect again its false and ugly canard that those who support the abolition of the death penalty do not care about victims of crime.

Indeed, our party and all parties that support the abolition of the death penalty are no less committed and care about victims of crime.

However, the issue of the death penalty, as the Supreme Court has put it, is not one about victims of crime whose suffering we appreciate, but about fundamental justice under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law. It is about respect and reverence for the sanctity of human life.

As the United Nations human rights committee stated, “The right to life...is the supreme right from which no derogation is permitted” even in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation.

In a word, Parliament has abolished the death penalty. Canadian courts found it to be in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a matter that shocks the conscience.

The Government of Canada has exercised international leadership on the matter of the death penalty “à plusieurs reprises”. International tribunals have affirmed and reaffirmed the sanctity of the right to life and characterized the death penalty as an assault on that fundamental right. The government is either ignorant of all this or choosing to be indifferent with all the negative and prejudicial fallout that this accounts for.

Certainly, the government, given its rhetoric about democratic countries with the rule of law as the basis for its seeking clemency on a case by case basis, should take this into account: our Canadian democracy, through which Parliament said no to the death penalty; our courts, including the Supreme Court, which said no to the death penalty; and our charter, which says no to the death penalty. Ours is a democracy speaking on this matter.

It should be noted here that Parliament recently voiced its opinion on the Conservative government's abrupt reversal of Canada's longstanding practice and policy by voting to reaffirm the traditional policy of Canada. Regrettably, the Conservative government voted unanimously against.

The government has repeated it has no intention of reopening the death penalty debate. I would like to take it at its word. However, the Prime Minister did state in 2004 that both the death penalty and the issue of abortion are not issues “for the first Conservative government”.

I am sure all members of the House and all Canadians would appreciate clarification from the government, given that indeed the death penalty has been opened up as an issue by this first Conservative government.

In summary, the government's decision is not only a violation of longstanding law and policy, principle and precedent both domestic and international but the reasons articulated by the government for its decision reflect a disturbing mindset where ideology and politics trump principle and policy.

It is time for the Government of Canada, as per the motion, to stand, consistently as a matter of principle, against the death penalty, both in Canada and around the world. This would be in accord with our law and policy, our principles, and precedents both domestic and international.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my friend representing the constituency of Mount Royal could read to us in one crisp, clear statement one clear example of any member of Parliament, government or otherwise, who has articulated in this Parliament a desire to reopen the debate on the death penalty? Could he give me one? Just one is all we ask for, not a long meandering supposition but one clear statement from one MP anywhere in this House?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the very reversal by the government of the longstanding Canadian law and policy, principle and precedent, domestic and international, which I recounted throughout my speech, if the hon. member was listening, is the basis for questioning. That is as I put it, for questioning whether the government seeks to in fact reverse that policy as a matter of an act of Parliament.

The very policy reversal was itself putting the matter at issue already in this Parliament without the consent of Parliament.

My question, therefore, as I put it in my statement is: Is the Government of Canada prepared to give a reassurance that it will not any more reverse the longstanding Canadian law and policy, principle and precedent, as set forth in both domestic and international law?

Will he give us that assurance?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister was asking whether any Conservative members were at all in favour of the death penalty.

I have a document here that I will read slowly for the interpreters: “At the time...Canada intervened to ask that the death sentence be commuted, but was not successful.” This was in the case of Stanley Faulder, a Canadian who was executed in the United States in 1999.

However, while Canadian authorities and a delegation of members from this side of the House were making their case, a member of the Canadian Alliance, who is still a member for Calgary Northeast, went to Texas to affirm his support of the death penalty. He now sits in the Conservative caucus.

I would like to know what the member thinks about this statement, which came directly from the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I stated in my remarks, in which I put a question rhetorically to the government, the Prime Minister stated in 2004 that both the death penalty and the issue of abortion are not “issues for the first Conservative government”. I added that I take the government at its word.

However, I said, and I repeat, that I am sure that all members of the House and all Canadians would appreciate clarification from the government given that the debate on the death penalty has been reopened as an issue by the Conservative government, and that is why we are debating this motion today.

I would add that when a motion was presented in the House recently calling on the House to reaffirm traditional Canadian law and policy in this matter, all opposition parties voted in favour of the motion. The Conservative government, as a whole, unanimously voted against that motion. What are reasonable people to infer from a position unanimously taken by the government in opposition to that motion?

The question, therefore, is: Will the government show its true intention to commit itself to Canadian law and policy, principle and precedent, both domestic and international, by voting in favour of this motion? That will be the true test of where the Conservative government stands. That will be the true test whether it is seeking to not only open up this issue but in fact seek a subsequent reversal of this in Parliament.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will give the member for Mount Royal this scenario.

I would ask him to take the Smith case, with the same set of facts and points that have been proven or admitted to in the courts in Montana, but to add this one fact, that before Mr. Smith was apprehended he was able to escape from Montana and find his way back across the Canadian border. It is the same set of facts and allegations with regard to the murders.

Could he describe to me what would have happened at that point under existing Canadian law and, in particular, under the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada with regard to the extradition in those circumstances?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the hon. member's question because if Mr. Smith had somehow managed to return to Canada, then the Canadian government, by law and policy, and, in particular, pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Burns v. Rafay, would have been obliged not to extradite him back to the state of Montana unless the state of Montana provided express assurances that it would not impose the death penalty.

That, in fact, is the law of the land at this point and the question by the hon. member exposes fully the contradiction, if not absurdity, in the policy and practice of the present government in these matters.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment for the Minister of Public Safety. They said that the Conservative Party was against the death penalty. But Canada surprised all of its natural allies by refusing to sponsor a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, a European Union initiative which had the official support of 87 countries. This was under Conservative rule. This gives us reason to worry about a return of the death penalty.

I wanted to give another example of why we are wondering about the Conservatives' motives concerning the return of the death penalty. They do not want to support a resolution that would abolish the death penalty, as was done over the last few decades. Under the Conservatives, the government abruptly changed its position in October 2007. That was not too long ago. There is another example.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my remarks, on November 1, Canada was absent from the list of co-sponsors of a UN General Assembly resolution seeking an international moratorium on the death penalty. This decision also goes against Canada's traditional policy. The current policy of this government goes against our principles, our precedents, our law and our policy in this regard.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is such an important issue but Canadians may not understand the key message that we want to give. I would like to give the hon. member an opportunity to reiterate, in some simple, straightforward terms for Canadians, the true Canadian position with regard to the death penalty.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian position, as set forth by previous Canadian governments, is long-standing, affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and reaffirmed in our international commitments. It says that capital punishment is not part of the law and policy of Canada, that Canada will, therefore, seek clemency for any Canadian abroad who faces the death penalty in that jurisdiction, and that Canada will exercise international leadership with a view to both abolishing the death penalty or at least seeking a moratorium on its use in as many states as possible that at present practice the death penalty.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise you that I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Calgary East.

The motion that is before us today, I say regrettably and unfortunately, is a waste of this House's time. I say that with respect to the member who has just spoken from across the way because he is usually not one who would be engaged in an activity which, in fact, is a waste of the House's time.

This is an attempt, and I will not say by the member but certainly by the Liberal opposition, to draw debate where there is no debate, which is why we are opposing the motion. There are too many important issues before Canadians right now for us to be spending hours on this particular motion when the government has been most clear on this particular topic.

Some have suggested that this motion is a distraction from other difficulties that the Liberals are having, most notably the increasing and continual litany of humiliating voting responses by the Liberals, where it has gone as far now, as we have seen, where the leader of the Liberal opposition proposes a motion of non-confidence in the government and then tells his own members that they cannot vote for it. It has gone as far as being asked to join in a vote to ask the Senate to expedite very important criminal justice bills through the Senate, a simple motion like that, and they all walk out. The public is noticing one after another of these humiliating situations in which the Liberals continue to put themselves. Maybe that is why they are using something like this to take up House time and distract from the grim realities in which they now engage.

The motion calls on the government to reaffirm that there is no death penalty in Canada. We have said before and we will say again that there is no death penalty in Canada. The Minister of Justice and other members of the government have clearly said that. The member for Mount Royal must know that. This position has been articulated a number of times in recent days and he still has some audacity to stand in the House and say that they want to hear this articulated when it has been articulated on a number of occasions.

The government is not changing the law in our country with respect to the death penalty. We do not know how much clearer we can make that.

Since December 10, 1962, no one has been executed in Canada. That is over 45 years.

On July 14, 1976, the death penalty was removed from the Criminal Code. The death penalty was then removed from the National Defence Act on December 10, 1998. Since that day, there has been no death penalty in Canada in law as well as in fact.

In 1987 there was a free vote right here in the House of Commons regarding reinstatement of the death penalty. The result of that vote by members of Parliament, who had polled their constituents before the vote, sent the very strong signal that Canadians were in favour of maintaining the abolition of the death penalty and, as the Prime Minister has confirmed, this government does not have the desire nor the intent to reopen the death penalty debate in Canada. We have said it before and we are saying it again. I do not know how much clearer we can make it.

The government continues to speak for Canada and make its voice heard at the international level on all matters of foreign policy, including international human rights.

In addition, Canada's voice is a principled one which supports international standards and the rule of law.

It should be recalled, somewhat parenthetically, that the death penalty is not in and of itself contrary to international law. International law clearly recognizes that different states may legitimately take different views on the issue of the death penalty itself.

One of the foremost human rights treaties, adhered to by over 130 states, is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Canada has been a party to that treaty since 1976. The covenant does not prohibit the imposition of the death penalty, but it sets out that states that retain the death penalty must abide by certain rules.

Canadian advocates have talked about, as we have talked about consistently, a strict adherence to and full respect for safeguards and the due process of law where the death penalty is still in use. We insist on that due process of law.

I want to conclude by reassuring the House. Despite suggestions from the opposition that we are wavering in our support for the abolition of the death penalty in Canada, nothing could be further from the truth. The House has spoken on this issue previously, we have spoken authoritatively, and we will not reopen this debate. I want to underline this. We said that clearly before this motion came into play, in the clearest of terms from the Minister of Justice and from other members of the government.

This is why we are saying that this particular motion is a distraction. It is taking important and necessary time away from debate, because it is not necessary since it is asking the government to do what the government has already done very clearly on a number of occasions.

Canada's record on justice issues speaks for itself. This is a government that stands for the rule of law, justice and the protection of human rights. Protection of society is a priority. It is not an afterthought. Our government remains unwaivering in its determination to keep Canadians safe. We will continue to deliver on what is important to Canadians: the safety and security of their communities.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has characterized this debate as a waste of time. As I stated at the beginning, I would not have wished to have to introduce this motion, but the motion was necessitated by the government's own reversal of longstanding Canadian law and policy, principle and precedent, which I have set forth.

The motion did not, as the hon. member said, call for the reaffirmation of the Canadian policy on the death penalty. That was a motion which the government voted against some two weeks ago. This is a different motion. This motion asks that the government support “as a matter of principle” the policy against the death penalty, both domestically and internationally, which means it would support seeking clemency on humanitarian grounds for a Canadian who faces the death penalty abroad. That is the specific nature of this motion.

Therefore, I am inviting the government to announce that it is changing its policy of not seeking clemency and is reverting to the traditional Canadian policy.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is jumping all over the place. That is understandable, because he knows he is on shaky ground on the question of where the government stands on the debate regarding the death penalty.

The government has been very clear on this. As I said in my remarks, the Minister of Justice has been very clear. Other members of the government have been very clear. We are not reopening the debate. We have no intent or desire to reopen the debate on the death penalty.

When I articulate that in the clearest of fashion, even as other members have done so, what does my hon. colleague do? He gets up and begins to cloud the debate with other issues when the motion in fact is very clear. The member should stick to the motion and stick to the question.

That is why we are saying, as we read the motion, that clearly we are in favour of maintaining the government's position in terms of being opposed to the death penalty. The essence of the motion is not the problem. The problem is that it is being used to waste time and distract from other things when our position is very clear.

We are not opposed to the Liberals continuing to ask the question. We are opposed to them using the valuable time of the House to ask a question that has been answered in the clearest of forms a number of times, and very recently.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this debate with quite a bit of interest.

I will say about my esteemed colleague for Mount Royal that his ears must have been burning as he listened to the Minister of Public Safety repeat over and over again that it is the policy of the current government not to seek to overturn the death penalty in Canada. While I do not have the information in front of me, I will be more than happy to table, later today or early tomorrow morning, specific quotes from the minister himself, from the Prime Minister and from other members of the Conservative government who clearly stated that they support the death penalty.

The government may have a formal policy that it will not seek to reinstate the death penalty in Canada, but members of the cabinet, including the Prime Minister, and members of the Conservative caucus have clearly made public statements that have been publicly reported which indicate that they do favour revisiting the issue of the death penalty and having it reinstated.

I would ask my colleague from Mount Royal if his ears were burning as he listened to the Minister of Public Safety obfuscate--

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine cannot ask the question of the member for Mount Royal because the hon. Minister of Public Safety is the one who is on questions and comments.

I do not know if the hon. Minister of Public Safety wants to respond. He probably cannot answer for the member for Mount Royal.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to deal with my emotions here in regard to being saddened at the suggestion that the member would rather hear from her own colleague than from me. I am going to try to pull myself together emotionally so as to be able to handle that.

We have been very clear, in the clearest of forms--

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

If you want the death penalty to come back, you should say that again.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I listened patiently to the member's question and she seems to have lost her patience even before I have begun here, but that is her right and also her past record.

I do not know how many times I have to repeat it in the clearest of language. This government does not want, intend or desire in any way to reopen the debate on the death penalty. I do not know how much clearer we can say it.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time that I rise to speak on this issue.

I will not repeat exactly what the Minister of Public Safety has just said, but he made it extremely clear where this government stands. Yet here we have this motion, which keeps coming up. The Liberals keep thinking about this. I do not understand why they are trying to think about this, about our principles.

The fact of the matter, as the Minister of Public Safety has said very clearly, and as the Prime Minister has said on many occasions, is that this government has no intention of bringing in the death penalty in Canada. This position is very clear and we are going to say it again and again until the Liberals finally get it into their heads that this government is not going to bring in the death penalty.

They can change words. They have been doing so since this budget was presented. They have been wording it this way or the other way and trying to twist the facts. There was one case where, instead of putting a non-confidence vote to the government--of course, they did not vote--they put a non-confidence motion to the opposition party, which is something new.

Perhaps I will repeat again what the Minister of Public Safety has said, which is that this government's position is clear: there is going to be no death penalty in Canada under this government.

Since December 10, 1962, no one has been executed in Canada. For over 45 years there have been no executions in this country. On July 14, 1976, the death penalty was removed from the Criminal Code when Parliament decided, after years of debate, that capital punishment was not an appropriate penalty. The death penalty was then removed from the National Defence Act on December 10, 1998. Since that day, there has been no death penalty in Canada in law as well as in fact.

In 1987, a free vote regarding the reinstatement of the death penalty was held in the House of Commons. The result of the vote sent the very strong signal that Canadians were in favour of maintaining the abolition of the death penalty. As the Prime Minister has confirmed, and I will repeat it so my colleagues can understand this, this government has no desire to reopen the death penalty debate in Canada.

As we have said repeatedly, in cases where Canadians face the death penalty abroad, the Government of Canada, on a case by case basis, will continue to consider whether to seek clemency. According to today's headlines, a majority of Canadians support our case by case approach. As well, we found out last fall that the majority of Canadians supports our overall approach to justice, an approach that focuses on tackling violent crime and community crime.

In terms of playing a leadership role in promoting the abolition of the death penalty internationally, this government has been and will continue to be a leader in speaking up for a principled stand on human rights and the rule of law in all international fora. For those states that legally retain the death penalty, this government will continue to advocate for full respect for international law, including the international legal restrictions in its application.

It is worth recalling and reminding all Canadians that the death penalty is not in and of itself contrary to the international law. International law clearly recognizes that different states may legitimately take differing views on the issue of the death penalty.

One of the foremost human rights treaties adhered to by over 130 states is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Canada has been a party to this treaty since 1976. The covenant does not prohibit the imposition of the death penalty, but rather sets out that states that retain the death penalty must abide by certain rules.

Many states do retain the death penalty. International law imposes restrictions on the use of the death penalty and imposes strict safeguards on its imposition. Canada's interventions with other states, whether made at the bilateral level or in multilateral fora, are made in the context of supporting human rights within the framework of international law.

Canada advocates full respect for safeguards and due process of law where the death penalty is still in use. In the fall of 2007 Canada led 41 co-sponsors in securing the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly of a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran.

This resolution expressed our serious concern at Iran's practice of multiple public executions, executions carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized safeguards, the continued issuing of sentences of execution by stoning and the execution of persons who were below 18 years of age at the time the offence was committed, in clear violation of Iran's own constitution and its obligation under international law.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs issues an urgent appeals to other governments to overturn the death sentences for crimes committed as minors. For example, the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued an urgent appeal to the government of Iran on July 17 2007, concerning the death sentence of Sina Paymard in Iran for a crime committed as a minor. Only six days earlier, we also spoke out against the execution by stoning of Jafar Kiani in Iran.

Canada has also participated in joint demarches with other diplomatic missions in countries abroad to highlight concerns regarding the use of the death penalty.

Our position has been clear, very clear. There has been no death penalty in Canada for 45 years and this government has no intention to change that. We will not reopen this debate. We have also indicated that whether to seek clemency will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Lastly, the government continues to speak for Canada and make its voice heard at the international level on all matters of foreign policy, including international human rights. In addition, Canada's voice is a principled one which supports international standards and the rule of law.

The government has been and will continue to be a leader in speaking up for a principled stand on human rights and the rule of law in all international forums.

I thank the House for providing me with the opportunity to remind Canadians and the members of the House of our government's clear and principled position on the death penalty both in Canada and internationally.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Richmond Hill, Afghanistan.

We shall continue with questions and comments.

The hon. member for Mount Royal.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has repeated, as did the minister, the principle over and over again, as they see it, that the government does not wish to reopen the death penalty debate in Canada. However, we are here debating this issue because, by the government's reversal of long standing Canadian policy and precedent in these matters and Canadian law and principle, it has opened up the debate in which we have now engaged it.

I will put for the hon. member one test as to whether the government does not want to reopen the debate and it is committed against the death penalty. Will the government support today's motion? That is the test. It is a simple test. Will the government support today's motion and in so doing seek clemency for any Canadian citizen who is facing the death penalty abroad?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, we cannot be more clearer than what we have been. The death penalty is not going to return to Canada. We are not going to seek a debate on this.

As far as other cases are concerned, we are as clear as we can be. Clemency will be sought on a case by case basis.

As for his question, are we going to support this motion, I am going to say very clearly again, we feel this is a waste of time because we have made our position very clear. However, the opposition members do not want to listen. Perhaps this will make them happy. Yes, we are going to support the motion.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question just posed for the member was specifically with regard to opposing the death penalty for all Canadians abroad who are facing the death penalty.

The member responded by saying, yes, that the Conservatives would support it and that they were in agreement, but his answer was that they would review them on a case by case basis. That is a qualification that is not in the official policy of Canada, a long-standing policy.

Will he now answer the question directly, not on a case by case basis but on every case they will fight the death penalty for Canadians abroad?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is the Liberals' idea of talking out of both sides of the mouth without understanding.

Let me make it very clear. We are going to support the motion because it talks about the death penalty in Canada. I have stated, and I will state it again. There will be no death penalty in Canada. As for international issues, all cases will be reviewed on a case by case basis. I do not understand what is wrong with that.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the case by case basis, what is the exact criteria the government uses to make that case by case status? I would like to hear specific criteria on how the Conservatives evaluate those who the will advocate for and those who they will abandon.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about case by case, many factors are taken into account, not just one factor I repeat, we will take many factors into account. We stand for human rights. I have just mentioned the international law that states how the death penalty works, and I gave examples. If he had listened, he would have made up his mind. We have stated that it will be on a case by case basis.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs if he read the motion carefully as it stands, because the motion talks about—and this is a matter of principle—the death penalty in Canada and around the world.

He said he would vote in favour of the motion. Furthermore, he just said in his reply that he would look at it on a case-by-case basis, outside of Canada. It is very confusing. I would like him to be more clear.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is worth recalling and reminding all Canadians that the death penalty in and of itself is not against international law. Do members get it? It is not against international law.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the hon. member for Mount Royal whose concern for human rights is well established. The member for Mount Royal was a professor emeritus at McGill University. He served as justice minister and his passion for human rights issues is well known both in Canada and around the world. I congratulate him for the timeliness of his motion.

It is at times like these that we realize just how strange our government is, a government that has no common sense, that does not deserve a majority mandate, and I hope this expression is not unparliamentary, that is dangerous. We are no longer talking about healthy differences in ideologies between left and right. We have before us a government that is extremely dangerous, in terms of ideology, that is taking us decades back in time.

We had a somewhat conservative streak in Quebec under Robert Bourassa, who was for privatization and deregulation, but one could not imagine that a government that claims to adhere to the rule of law could be so disconnected from Quebec values. I allowed myself the use of the anglicism in the other official language, and I apologize to any former French teachers among us. One cannot imagine that a government could be so out of touch with the people.

This is no small matter. In the past three decades at least, in international forums such the United Nations, of course, all the governments of Canada have talked about, supported and promoted the fact that the death penalty is not the way to administer justice anywhere on the planet. It is possible to sentence people to life in prison, refuse to release them or make them ineligible for parole. But could any government be so archaic, so prehistoric, so behind the times that it would want to challenge a principle that speaks to the very essence of humanity?

Any country that has signed major international treaties dealing with the human condition, human rights and economic, social and cultural rights has an obligation to report. Canada has ratified the two major international treaties and must report as well. We are not talking about how we fight poverty or whether we are more to the left than other countries. We are talking about a fundamental principle that Canadian diplomacy has defended for 30 years in the international arena: Canada does not want to be associated in any way with regimes that retain the death penalty.

Not only does Canada not want to be associated with regimes that still use the death penalty, but when a Canadian or a Quebecker abroad is threatened with the death penalty, we expect the government to use all the means at its disposal to make representations and plead to have the death penalty commuted to life imprisonment.

We need to be clear. If people abroad, like Mr. Smith, have committed heinous crimes that are against our laws as well, we are not saying that they should be absolved and not punished. That is not our position. But administering justice by taking a life is not human. No democracy worthy of the name will defend such a principle. Despite all that, we have a government that is not able to make representations when they are needed.

This is not the first time that we have been embarrassed by this government on the international scene. We can give a number of examples. My colleague from Abitibi explained, in caucus, that this government was spineless, had no backbone, when the time came to defend the aboriginal peoples and ratify an international declaration. This government does not care about human rights.

For example, here in Canada the federal government and every province but one have a human rights charter with a clause prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of social condition. It is not rocket science. In Quebec, this clause has made it possible for heads of single-parent families to sue and win against owners who refused to rent them accommodation because their income was too low.

On two occasions, I tabled a bill to add social condition as a prohibited ground of discrimination to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The member for Sherbrooke also introduced a motion to this effect. The Liberals and my NDP friends gave their support. Who was opposed? None other than the Conservatives.

It is as though human rights were not on their radar. It is incredible to hear that. Not only are the Conservatives willing to recognize governments, but they are unable to make representations, when needed, to defend Canadian nationals facing the death penalty.

I was listening to the parliamentary secretary and other departmental representatives speak about countries that recognize the rule of law. What does the rule of law matter if you are facing the gallows? Such logic. They recognize the rule of law but are prepared to allow individuals to die, victims of capital punishment.

What a disappointing government.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the kind of person who gets upset about every little thing. But I was certainly upset about something that happened in my committee, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. My colleague, the member for Beauséjour, introduced a motion to conduct an investigation into the Cadman affair. This affair has to do with ethics. There are allegations of corruption. And section 119 of the Criminal Code is very clear. We cannot have allegations of corruption; charges should be laid if necessary. The member for Beauséjour introduced a motion in committee, and we were not able to investigate anything because the Conservatives were against it.

This is not the first time that this government has committed worrisome human rights violations. The Bloc Québécois cannot accept that we are not advocating loud and clear, on the basis of human rights, the principle that the death penalty is not the way to administer justice.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that it went against the great liberties, such as the right to security or the right to freedom, and that we have the right to sentence people, to discourage them from re-offending without using the death penalty.

It is truly unbelievable when we know that Canada has been a huge defender of the principle of the integrity of the individual. And not just Canada, but Quebec as well. We should acknowledge that Mr. Humphrey was one of the authors of the United Nations charter, which certainly defended these principles.

So it is rather disappointing to see that we are once again having this debate.

I know that the leader of the Bloc Québécois, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, made representations to the Governor of Montana about this individual, Mr. Smith, who was threatened, but nonetheless charged. We do not dispute the fact that he should be punished, but we did not think he should have been sentenced to death.

I would like to share with my colleagues the letter that was sent:

As members of Canada's House of Commons, we felt obliged to write to you regarding Ronald Allen Smith who is to be executed shortly in the State of Montana.

As you know, Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976. This position has been reinforced by the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that, under Canadian law, the death sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The principle of cruel and unusual punishment falls under the charters enshrining the great fundamental freedoms, such as the Canadian Charter and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The letter continues:

This is in line with Canada's traditional policy to oppose the death sentence, especially when the death sentence is applied to one of its citizens. We feel it is our duty to intervene with you, sir, in order to reaffirm that position.

We are perfectly aware that it is not up to us to interfere in Montana's legal affairs. That is why we are not seeking clemency for the crime committed. Mr. Smith was convicted and we respect that ruling. We are simply urging you to commute the death sentence in his case and to hand down some other form of sentence that will respect the basic right to life.

The State of Montana uses capital punishment. All the members of the Bloc Québécois, if I am not mistaken, signed the letter. And when it says “some other form of sentence” that could be a life sentence without parole. Every jurisdiction has its own criminal law, and it was not the intention of the signatories to interfere in that sort of detail.

The letter goes on:

In no way do we wish to excuse or comment on Mr. Smith's actions. We feel the utmost sorrow for the victims' families.

Of course, out of respect for the families of the victims, we have no wish to excuse this kind of behaviour. We are also very concerned about the repercussions of such crimes on the victims' families.

The letter concludes:

We hope, sir, that you will look favourably upon this letter. We also believe that Montana will do the right thing in the eyes of the international community by reversing its decision to enforce the death penalty, while maintaining its firm stance on the crime committed, by commuting the penalty to a different sentence.

The Ronald Allen Smith case is very similar to that of Stan Faulder, a Canadian executed in the United States in 1999. At the time, Canada intervened and asked that the death sentence be commuted, but without success. However, while the Canadian authorities and a delegation of MPs were intervening, a member of the Canadian Alliance went to Texas to show his support for the death penalty.

That very member currently sits in the Conservative caucus and is chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member. The governor who rejected the application to commute Stan Faulder's sentence was none other than George W. Bush, current President of the Unites States, friend and mentor of our Prime Minister.

With their letter, the members of the Bloc Québécois wanted to challenge this traditional view held by people who lean ideologically to the right that the use of the death penalty is a means of administering justice. Fortunately, tremendous progress has been made over the past two decades and fewer and fewer countries use the death penalty.

We have international watchdogs, through organizations such as Amnesty International, that report on this, and often even go to the prisons and intervene.

The members of the Bloc Québécois have done their job. My colleagues will correct me if I am wrong, but I think the Liberals and the NDP have also intervened with the Governor of Montana.

Resorting to the death penalty is not a good way to administer justice or to deter people.

I will conclude by saying that many studies are available. Countries with the death penalty do not necessarily have lower crime rates. That is not the right way to analyze these phenomena. The two are not connected. Some countries have higher crime rates than others, and very often, rising crime rates have more to do with economic circumstances than with criminal justice policies.

Obviously, this does not mean that we should accept just anything or that some situations should not be condemned or discouraged. That is not what we are saying. We recognize that in some situations, it may be justified for a court of law to sentence a person to 20 or 25 years for a particularly sordid crime, as a real deterrent. The administration of justice would lose its credibility without that kind of penalty. However, there is no correlation between the death penalty and lower crime rates in communities. This has been documented for years, and now, more and more liberal democratic countries are getting rid of the death penalty.

Therefore, I think that the government should revisit its policy. Both the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice should make it clear that they will not make decisions on a case by case basis, and that there is a non-negotiable principle, which is that regardless of the crime committed, a Canadian in a foreign country must be able to count on his government's support to escape the gallows. Of course, we have to make sure that justice will be served in that country. That might mean very heavy sentences.

According to a principle of sovereignty, we must respect other countries' internal justice systems, but we must also defend certain principles. For example, we would never consider deporting a citizen to a country that practices torture. We would consider that kind of scenario or situation unacceptable.

It is very sad that the hon. member for Mount Royal has had to table a motion on this. In my opinion, there ought to be such unanimity on it that it need not be part of the business of the House. As the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead has rightly pointed out, I am convinced that, in a sovereign Quebec, there would be such total consensus on this issue, with our code of values and our collective identity, that there would be no one in the National Assembly interested in defending the death penalty as a solution in the administration of justice.

This is the position of the Bloc Québécois, and one we have had to remind people of on a number of occasions. We have asked questions. Our foreign policy critic, the hon. member for Papineau, and other members have raised this in the House. Every time we have been disappointed with the government's response. What we got was a lukewarm and wishy-washy response, even though we are entitled to expect the government to be intransigent, affirmative and vigilant on these principles. I am sure that the day the government achieves such vigilance, affirmation and determination, it will find that all opposition parties will rise above all partisan differences and give it their support.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said that the government's position is to go on a case-by-case scenario to decide whether or not it will intervene in the case of a Canadian abroad who is facing the death penalty.

I would like to ask my colleague about this type of strategy. My concern is that we did not hear the parliamentary secretary outline a case about how the Conservatives would go about deciding who would be left behind and who would get advocacy. We also have not heard what that criteria might be and whether there would be a public policy. It will be interesting to see whether the Conservative government will actually table the rationale and the process that will be undertaken to identify who will receive support for advocacy or who will be abandoned.

I also was wondering what type of resources the government might actually invest on investigating a case that it may or may not advocate. Will the Conservatives actually put the proper resources in place to evaluate whether or not someone should get this advocacy?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the government's intentions are or what sort of resources it plans to invest, but I certainly share the member's concern that this type of situation must not be considered on a case-by-case basis. There needs to be a clear universal principle. The Conservative government has broken with the principles its predecessors upheld.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Seeing no further question and comments, I think the House would probably understand if the Chair saw the clock as 5:15 p.m.

It being 5:15 p.m., therefore, and this being the final supply day in the period ending March 26, 2008, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion--Death Penalty
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #64

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

moved:

That Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008 be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #65

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

moved that Bill C-48, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2008, be read the first time.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

moved that the bill be now read a second time and referred to committee of the whole.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent of the House to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion presently before the House with Conservative members present this evening voting in support, and I would like the Prime Minister to be added to the vote.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals who have voted on the previous question should be registered as voting in favour.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois members will vote for this motion.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP are proud to be the official opposition and vote no to this motion.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I vote in favour of this motion.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Independent

Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I vote in favour.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #66

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Accordingly, this bill is referred to committee of the whole.

I do now leave the chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.

(Bill read the second time and the House went into committee of the whole thereon, Mr. Blaikie in the chair)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The House is now in committee of the whole on Bill C-48. The hon. member for Davenport.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the President of the Treasury Board to provide the House with the assurance that the bill is in its usual and habitual form.

(On Clause 2)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Chair, I can assure the member that the bill is in its habitual form.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Clause 2 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 2 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Clause 3 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 3 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Clause 4 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 4 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 5 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 5 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Clause 6 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 6 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 7 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 7 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Schedule 1 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 1 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Schedule 2 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 2 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Clause 1 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall the preamble carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Preamble agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall the title carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Title agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall the bill carry?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Bill agreed to)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall I rise and report the bill?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Bill reported)

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

moved that Bill C-48 be concurred in at report stage.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Speaker

The chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the motion taken previously to the motion presently before the House with Conservative members present voting in favour.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members from the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the motion.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP opposition party will vote against this motion.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of this motion.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Independent

Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I vote in favour of the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #67

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

The hon. chief government whip is rising.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion presently before the House with Conservative members voting in favour.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Could I shorten this by suggesting we just apply the vote just taken to this? Is that agreed?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #68

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The next question is on the motion for concurrence in interim supply for 2008-09.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

moved:

That this House do concur in Interim Supply as follows:

That a sum not exceeding $23,434,275,693.65 being composed of:

(1) three twelfths ($14,916,139,069.65) of the total of the amounts of the items set forth in the Proposed Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 which were laid upon the Table Thursday, February 28, 2008, except for those items below:

(2) eleven twelfths of the total of the amount of Canadian Grain Commission Vote 40, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Vote 10, Library of Parliament Vote 15, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Vote 20 and Treasury Board Vote 5 (Schedule 1.1), of the said Estimates, $869,309,833.33;

(3) seven twelfths of the total of the amount of Canada Council for the Arts Vote 10, National Battlefields Commission Vote 55, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Vote 25 and Office of Infrastructure of Canada Vote 55 (Schedule 1.2) of the said Estimates, $1,520,747,083.33;

(4) six twelfths of the total of the amount of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Vote 25, Justice Vote 1 and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Vote 20 (Schedule 1.3) of the said Estimates, $282,285,500.00;

(5) five twelfths of the total of the amount of National Arts Centre Corporation Vote 50, Public Service Labour Relations Board Vote 85, Citizenship and Immigration Vote 5, Environment Vote 10, Human Resources and Skills Development Vote 5, Indian Affairs and Northern Development Vote 10, Industry Vote 1, Canadian Space Agency Vote 35, Statistics Canada Vote 95, Marine Atlantic Inc. Vote 35 and Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Vote 70 (Schedule 1.4), of the said Estimates, $3,742,192,874.16;

(6) four twelfths of the total of the amount of Agriculture and Agri-Food Vote 1, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Vote 15, Public Service Commission Vote 80, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Vote 15, Finance Vote 1, Health Vote 10, Public Health Agency of Canada Vote 45, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Vote 15, Indian Affairs and Northern Development Vote 1, Indian Specific Claims Commission Vote 50, Veterans Affairs Vote 5 and Veterans Affairs Vote 15 (Schedule 1.5), of the said Estimates, $2,103,601,333.33;

be granted to Her Majesty on account of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #69

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

moved that Bill C-49, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2009, be read the first time.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Chief Government Whip.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion presently before the House with Conservative members voting in favour.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, please record the Liberals who voted on the motion to concur in interim supply as having voted against this motion.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois are in favour of this motion.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP are voting no to this motion.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of this motion.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Independent

Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be abstaining.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Elmwood—Transcona will not be counted in this vote, and there were votes Nos. 4 and 5.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #70

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Accordingly, this bill stands referred to a committee of the whole. I do now leave the chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.

(Bill read the second time and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Bill Blaikie in the chair)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Order. The House is now in committee of the whole on Bill C-49.

(On clause 2)

The hon. member for Davenport.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the President of the Treasury Board to provide the House with the assurance that the bill is in its usual habitual form.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Chair, I wish to assure the member that this bill is in its usual habitual form.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Comforted by the fact that the bill is in its usual and habitual form, shall clause 2 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 2 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 3 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 3 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 4 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 4 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 5 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 5 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 6 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 6 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 7 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 7 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall schedule 1.1 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 1.1 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall schedule 1.2 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 1.2 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall schedule 1.3 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 1.3 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall schedule 1.4 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 1.4 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall schedule 1.5 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 1.5 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall Schedule 2 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Schedule 2 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall clause 1 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall the preamble carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Preamble agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall the title carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Title agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall the bill carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Bill agreed to)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

Shall I rise and report the bill?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Bill Blaikie

(Bill reported)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

moved that the bill be concurred in at report stage.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, were you to seek it, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote taken previously to the motion currently before the House with Conservative members present this evening voting in favour.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to apply the previous vote to this motion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. NDP whip wish to say something?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Yes, and we want to remove the member for British Columbia Southern Interior.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

That being done, the numbers may have changed slightly. They will be recorded, but the result will be the same.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #71

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is working so well let us try it one more time. That would be to seek unanimous consent from the House to apply the results of the vote previously taken to the motion currently before the House.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, we would like to add the member for British Columbia Southern Interior to this vote.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #72

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from March 5, consideration of the motion.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

The division was deferred to this date. It was not a matter of putting the question again. I did not skip it deliberately, but the hon. chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think were you to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to pass this motion unanimously.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from March 6 consideration of the motion.

Foreign Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 410 under private members' business in the name of the member for York Centre.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #73

Foreign Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

It being 6.25 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from February 14 consideration of the motion.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The House will now resume debate on Motion No. 183. The member for Niagara West—Glanbrook has eight minutes left in his speech.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the motion of the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River that asks this House to direct the government to develop a policy to support Canadian content levels for public transit projects. I thank the member opposite for putting forward the motion.

At this time I would like to table the government amendment, in both official languages, which reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop a policy, which respects Canada's international and internal trade obligations where applicable and respects the provincial and territorial jurisdiction to support Canadian content levels in public transit projects by supporting domestic labour market and suppliers while ensuring that public funds are used to provide the best value to Canadians.

I think most members of this House support the intent of such a motion. First, it speaks to the need for increased investments in public transit, which this government is doing through its $33 billion Building Canada infrastructure plan, and $500 million just announced in budget 2008 for a transit trust fund.

Second, we all support Canadian manufacturers and seek to increase manufacturing jobs in Canada. Canada has some of the best equipped manufacturers, as well as engineering, financing and construction firms, that can, and do, compete with the best in the world in building public transit projects.

The government is firmly committed to supporting Canadian businesses in the manufacturing sector. We support Canadian businesses through tax reform and measures that give Canadian companies ready access to international markets.

As I have said--

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I understand that the government wants to move an amendment to the motion with the concurrence. I do not believe it has been formally moved, which it is necessary to do before the member goes into debate on it.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

It would seem to me that the hon. member did not move the motion because he wants to continue debating it. I assume that at the end of his time he will move the motion that he has already described to the House.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is, indeed, the case.

As I have said, this government's commitment to public transit and building more public infrastructure is unprecedented.

We can support this motion because it reflects the government's commitment to accountability. The government is committed to ensuring that public investments made with federal government funding represent the best possible value for taxpayer dollars. Value for money, fairness, openness and transparency are key elements that drive federal procurement policy.

The government supports the intent of the motion from the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, which is to encourage and to support more public transit and Canadian content in such projects.

Through Building Canada, I am proud to note that the government is working with other levels of government to ensure our $33 billion investment in public infrastructure produces results for Canadians.

In budget 2008, the government announced an additional $500 million in support of capital investments to improve public transit. The public transit capital trust will support investments in public transit, projects such as rapid transit, transit buses, and high occupancy vehicle and bicycle lanes.

This investment in public transit projects will clearly result in benefits for the environment, for the economy and for Canadians.

The government will continue to develop policies in support of Canadian businesses and manufacturing industries. We will, therefore, give due consideration to the hon. member's revised motion regarding Canadian content levels for public transit projects, a motion that includes key considerations for trade implications, provincial and municipal jurisdictional matters, value for taxpayer money and other practical considerations.

We look forward to moving forward together in support of a sustainable investment in public transit and strong support of domestic manufacturing.

I therefore move:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop a policy, which respects Canada's international and internal trade obligations where applicable and respects provincial and territorial jurisdictions to support Canadian content levels in public transit projects by supporting domestic labour market and suppliers while ensuring that public funds are used to provide the best value to Canadians.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

It is my duty to inform hon. members that pursuant to Standing Order 93(3) no amendment may be proposed to a private member's motion or to the motion for second reading of a private member's bill unless the sponsor of the item indicates his or her consent.

Therefore, I ask the mover of the motion, the hon. member for Thunder Bay--Rainy River, if he consents to this amendment being moved.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

As there is consent, the amendment moved by the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook and seconded by the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, is in order.

The hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to put but a few words on the record regarding the initiative by the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

It is certainly a good idea, an idea whose time has come. However, one has to ask why it took so long and why we do not have something of more substance, perhaps presented by the government. It sounds like the government will support this motion.

I am disappointed, however. The Liberals had 13 years in office before the Conservative government took over in 2006. Given the impact on Canada, particularly in Ontario, and given the downturn over a long period of time in the manufacturing sector in the industrial heartland, why did they not bring something like this before the House?

I read the earlier speeches in the House by the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River and my colleague, the member for Parkdale—High Park. Both were excellent in laying out and detailing the impact of just such a policy on a very important industrial sector in our economy, particularly in Ontario.

They spoke of the nations we trade with and the so-called free trade agreement we had with them and the fact that they had these provisions in place for a long period of time. If a government, whether it is state, national or provincial, invests heavily in infrastructure and equipment to provide services to its people, it could in put in place requirements that a percentage of the work be done in the country that makes those investment.

Given the knowledge and understanding that we in Canada consistently come up against that, as we have tried to give life to support and ensure our industries, particularly in this province, have a fair chance to compete and continue to provide work, and given the support that kind of activity provides to communities, I do not know why we have not done this sooner.

The Liberals and the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River were in government. When they look at the impact of the downturn in manufacturing and the very difficult environment within which manufacturing operates now, particularly since the introduction of the free trade agreement, which they subsequently supported, I do not know why they did not put this in place to protect some of the industries, like the one he is obviously concerned about in his own backyard, Bombardier.

I was in Thunder Bay a few months ago to see Bombardier's excellent plant. I spoke with the workers. They have worked so hard to develop their skills to become qualified in their trades. They told me how happy they were to have those jobs, to make a half decent living and to contribute to the community of Thunder Bay. They pay taxes on their property, spend that money, which contributes to the economy of Thunder Bay. They also contribute to the community by way of their volunteer efforts after work in the various, and are proud and happy to do that. They want to continue to do those things.

It is interesting.

I visited that factory with Mr. Adam Giambrone, who was at that the chair of the Transit Commission of the greater city of Toronto. He and some of his New Democrat colleagues in Toronto took it upon themselves, without the support of and framework of a provincial and federal regime to encourage and to impose regulation on governments to purchase locally, to go ahead and sole source that contract any way. They understood that we had responsibility for each other in our country. One part of the country that struggles with its economy should be helped by another part of the country that makes investment so both parts can be healthy industrially and economically.

I think that is good. We should be doing more of this. We should be thinking about each other, thinking about how we might help each other's industry. At the end of the day, we are very interconnected and dependent on the taxes we pay, the work we do and the opportunity that we provide each other.

The visit to Thunder Bay with Mr. Giambrone reminded me of the efforts of the Ontario New Democratic Party when we were government between 1990 and 1995. We were living under a terrible worldwide recession at that time. I remember the impact that had on some very important and viable industrial sectors in northern Ontario. In my community of Sault Ste. Marie, a steel mill went into protection. Along with that, a paper mill and the ACR, our railroad, one of our major transportation infrastructure pieces were in difficulty.

As a government, we could have stood back, as the Conservative Party and Liberal opposition at that time at Queen's Park suggested we do, and let the market determine the future of those very important industries, but we did not. We brought leadership to those industries. We brought together the various parties and partners to the table, both labour and management, and financial institutions. We did everything we could to ensure that coming out from under protection, those industries and those businesses would have a business plan that would work.

In fact, I am proud to stand here today and say that because of the work in the early nineties by the NDP government, of which I was proud to be a part, those very important industries are still making steel and paper with railroads taking those products to market. Had it not been for the initiative of government at that time, not only in Sault Ste. Marie but in Thunder Bay, had we not worked with provincial papers and a number of forestry related industries in Thunder Bay and Kapuskasing and saw mill after saw mill in small communities across northern Ontario, had we not come in under the able guidance of the then minister of northern development, Shelley Martel, and my colleague from Algoma, Bud Wildman, none of those industries would have been protected and saved. Those communities and the investments that were made in those communities by those workers, their homes, small businesses, cottages and so on, the infrastructure that they paid for through their taxes, all of that would have been for naught and literally flushed down the river. However, that did not happen.

The government of the day came to the table, did the right thing, became engaged and got involved.

Out of that history of New Democrat involvement, out of that belief New Democrats have, the government has a role to play. The government should be interventionist in making sure that we are protecting our own interest, particularly where industry is concerned and our economy is concerned.

I stand as a New Democrat today, speaking with the member for Parkdale—High Park and on behalf of my colleagues, to say that we support this. We will do everything that we can to ensure that it moves forward even more aggressively to develop the regulation and the legislation we need to make it work.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the manufacturing sector has been experiencing a serious crisis for several years, the Bloc Québécois is very happy that such a motion was introduced in the House. It is a first step in the right direction.

It is hard to believe that there is no “Buy Canadian” policy for federal government spending, since the government is the largest purchaser of goods and services.

Motion M-183, which the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River agreed to amend in order to obtain the support of the Bloc Québécois, respects Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. This is why my colleagues and I will fully support this motion.

However, I must remind members that public transit projects do not fall under federal jurisdiction; it is up to the Quebec nation to define these types of projects on its territory. Nevertheless, the motion as amended respects the areas of jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec.

We support this motion because it will encourage the purchase of public transportation equipment from local suppliers, while still respecting Quebec's areas of jurisdiction and trade agreements.

It is difficult for Canadians or Quebeckers to imagine that their own government has no legislation or measures that provide incentives for purchasing locally. It is true that globalization gives the purchaser more options and choices when it comes to price and quality.

But for every purchase the federal government makes it should consider one key concept and add the opportunity cost. For example, the federal government's decision to buy its currency paper from a German supplier costs us more. In the price it pays for those goods, the government should assess the possible economic spinoffs that could come from spending that money within its own borders. If the federal government had awarded that contract or made that purchase at a local company, it would have created jobs. Those workers would have paid taxes and contributed to their region's economy. Other jobs would have been created and so forth. It makes the wheel go round. In fact, I want to show that by buying locally, wealth is created here, for our citizens, while when we buy abroad, wealth is created elsewhere.

In the purchase price of a good or service, the government has to calculate what percentage more it is prepared to pay to use a local supplier. Buying locally will allow the government to get some of its money back through taxes, the wealth created and all the positive external factors that stem from buying locally. It is simple. The federal government's purchases it pays for with money from Canadian and Quebec taxpayers must benefit those taxpayers whenever possible.

In closing, the Bloc Québécois supports the motion of the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River without reservation because, first, it responds to the will of the Bloc Québécois to promote local economies. It will favour local suppliers whenever local agreements allow. This is nonetheless a first step; no legislation requires the federal government to give preference to local suppliers. Second, the amendment accepted by the hon. member requires the federal government to respect the jurisdictions of the Government of Quebec and the nation of Quebec. Third, the Bloc Québécois tabled a similar bill in November 2005: Bill C-440. Motion M-183 reiterates the same idea.

Motion M-183, on purchases for public transportation projects that respect the jurisdictions of the Government of Quebec, is a first step in the right direction. The Bloc Québécois gives its unconditional support to the initiative of the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to join briefly in the debate to lend my support to this noble idea, this worthy initiative to revisit the made in Canada procurement policies generally.

In this case, the motion is specific to municipalities and their purchase of transit buses and transit systems, but we need to take this opportunity to contemplate our appalling made in Canada procurement system, which fails us in so many ways. I rise just briefly to interject, because something happened in the province of Manitoba in my home city of Winnipeg and, Mr. Speaker, in your home riding, just this last year, something of which everybody in the House should take note.

If we want to talk about a made in Canada procurement policy collapsing, falling down and failing to protect Canadian jobs and workers, there is the example of Motor Coach Industries. I believe we make the best buses in the world here in Canada, but when our army, our military, wanted to buy troop carrier buses, they ended up buying German ones.

Motor Coach Industries, in the heart of Winnipeg and the heart of your riding, Mr. Speaker--and this should frost your socks too--put in a bid that was $2,000 per unit more expensive than the German price. On buses worth $500,000 each, and there were 34 of these buses, the difference in price was $2,000 each and the Canadian military bought the German bus instead. That difference is less than the cost of a set of tires for those buses.

Our tax dollars are now creating jobs for that bus company in Germany. Perhaps the worst thing of all, and the reason that we should reconsider all of this made in Canada procurement, is that our NATO allies see Canadian troops getting ferried around in German buses, so the Canadians might as well say that if anyone wants a good troop carrier bus they should buy the German one.

That is what we did, even though in our own backyard and your own riding, Mr. Speaker, we make the best buses in the world, I would argue. Frankly, the Canadian military mostly runs MCI buses. The military now has to bring in new mechanics, new training, a new parts inventory and new warehousing just to accommodate this little cluster of foreign made buses instead of buying Canadian.

I am heartened and encouraged when the House of Commons is seized of an issue like a made in Canada procurement policy, but I had to reinforce the need for my colleague's bill by this graphic example in the heart of the city of Winnipeg and the heart of your riding, Mr. Speaker.

I hope that my colleague's motion will have a ripple effect and that we will revisit our made in Canada procurement policy generally for all of our government procurement.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Resuming debate. In the absence of other members rising, I now recognize the hon. member for Thunder Bay--Rainy River to wrap up the debate with the final five minutes.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to conclude debate on Motion No. 183.

This is a journey that I started nearly two years ago and I am pleased to be taking these final steps toward the successful passage of this important policy recommendation.

Over the past two years, I have spoken with many hard-working Canadians about the intent of the motion and I have come to understand even more clearly just how vital it is that Canadian taxes support Canadian jobs.

I think of the Bombardier plant in my riding. Just a few years ago, most of its workers were laid off because of a shortage of work. I attended numerous meetings with plant manager Ron Dysievick, union leader Paul Pugh and other local elected provincial and municipal government members to discuss how we could get these people working again.

The community rallied behind us and, through a lot of hard work by many, many people, Bombardier was successful in obtaining a contract with the Toronto Transit Commission. That contract will provide thousands of hours of work to hundreds of people over the next four years.

I heard from Nova Bus in Quebec about its plan to open a facility in New York to allow it to bid on U.S. projects and about its frustration at not having the same level of policy support at home.

I worked with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, whose association undertook a study to explain the economic benefits of using our tax dollars to expand and improve our infrastructure.

I spoke to Talfourd-Jones Incorporated, a Canadian bus bumper manufacturer, who expressed its aggravation at this country, which clearly indicates there is a national interest in this program, and at seeing American-made bus bumpers on government funded buses in Canada.

I benefited from the help of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Auto Workers, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which spread the message among their members.

I conversed with suppliers to Canadian manufacturers who expressed their strong support for this policy because they immediately recognized positive benefits to our economy. I talked to thousands of people across my riding and around the country who also believe that their taxes should benefit the Canadian economy rather than some other nation. Indeed, when we see the community rallying, when we see Bombardier's success, when we see these things happening, we know that this cause is a valid one.

Implementation of this recommended policy is an opportunity for the federal government to lead the way for our provincial, territorial and municipal governments.

I am pleased to see that this discussion is now spreading to other levels of government. I know that Bill Mauro, a member of the Ontario provincial parliament, will soon be reintroducing a private member's bill in the Ontario legislature on this very issue.

As we know, every other G-7 nation and the 27 European Union member countries have each implemented domestic content policy levels for their public transit projects. It really is time for Canada to get on board.

The goal of this motion is not to solve every Canadian procurement issue but to provide a measure focused on public transit that will put Canadian manufacturers on a more level playing field with their international competition and will encourage foreign manufacturers to invest in our economic future.

I believe this motion is an indication to our manufacturing sector companies that we are standing up for them. It shows our skilled workers that we are sincere about keeping them meaningfully employed. It signals to our engineers that they do not have to leave Canada. It signals to Canadians that we are serious about restoring Canada's prominence as world class innovators and exporters.

All parties have cooperated on this motion. To repeat an old slogan of mine, “Working together really works”.

I look forward to the day when, regardless of whatever city we are in, we can feel pride in knowing that the bus, the trolley, the light rail vehicle or the subway we are travelling in has been made in Canada by Canadian workers, and that I played a small part in making it happen.

I thank all the MPs and all the parties for supporting this motion.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The next question is on the main motion, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Content in Public Transportation Projects
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

(Amendment agreed to)

Pursuant to Standing Order 37, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Motion No. 310 under private members' business.

The House resumed from March 5 consideration of the motion.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in this House. I believe that the only logical course of action for members of this Parliament is to support the motion.

The Bloc Québécois has always defended and recognized the enormous sacrifice made by Canadian and Quebec personnel serving in peacekeeping and peacemaking missions abroad.

Peacekeeping and peacemaking missions are very important to Quebeckers and Canadians. Therefore, it is not unusual for parliamentarians to wish to commemorate the tragic death of a Canadian or Quebecker fulfilling this role.

These missions are very important to the Bloc Québécois. We must make every effort to ensure that war and violence do not break out between two or more factions. In such a situation, it is often necessary to intervene in order to prevent acts of violence between the groups and civilians.

Quebeckers and Canadians have always held their fellow citizens who are involved in these missions abroad in high esteem. The blue berets and blue helmets of peacekeepers have symbolized international missions and interventions to generations of Canadians and Quebeckers.

When Canadian government personnel are killed while serving in overseas peacekeeping or peacemaking missions, they should receive all the honours due to them. It is only fair that the flag on the Peace Tower of Ottawa's Parliament be half-masted and that we observe a minute of silence in the House.

I would like to reiterate that, when faced with the unfortunate situation where a Canadian citizen is killed in one of these missions, that individual should receive full honours. The Bloc Québécois supports motion M-310 to show our respect for members of the Canadian Forces and other government personnel killed overseas while serving in a peacekeeping or peacemaking mission.

When Corporal Richard Renaud, a son of Alma in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, was killed by a bomb in Afghanistan on January 15, 2008, the town of Alma lowered all Canadian and Quebec flags to half-mast on the weekend of his funeral, not only to pay tribute to Corporal Renaud, but especially so that his family could grieve their loss, knowing that he did not die in vain. In this way, the Renaud family knew that the husband, son, brother, sister and friend that they had lost was being remembered by the public and its representatives. The Renaud family gave one of their own to the international community in the name of democracy, freedom and peace.

I would like to add that I attended Richard Renaud's funeral service. I think that all the military protocol and expressions of sympathy from friends, loved ones and representatives of the public during the event brought some sort of comfort to the grieving family.

We have a procedure here in the House of Commons that allows us to observe a minute of silence in honour of national tragedies, but each situation is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

We must not forget that these people serving overseas are doing so in service to their nation, whether that is Quebec or Canada. They are asked—and they have no choice—to go to dangerous theatres of operations. If they lose their lives there, it is important to honour them, not only for the soldiers themselves, but especially for their families and loved ones.

Let us think back to the world wars: the first world war from 1914-18 and the second world war from 1939-45. We were not always able to commemorate those who died in those conflicts.

Many families have lost loved ones and do not even know what happened to them. For those surviving family members, mourning and suffering are more painful. Conducting ceremonies, lowering the flag to half-staff, observing a moment of silence in the House, if it is sitting, and allowing the family members to attend gives them some comfort.

The Bloc Québécois is not trying to debate the type of mission covered by this motion. But it will come as a surprise to no one that, for the Bloc Québécois, peace missions are much more acceptable than combat missions such as the current mission in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many people say that peace missions are on the decline. If this is true, then we must refuse to accept this situation.

Canada's foreign policy was built, 50 years ago, on peace missions. Peacekeeping and peacemaking missions began in 1956, to secure peace after a conflict between two parties or to make sure a conflict did not escalate into war. A peacekeeping mission is a mission undertaken by the UN that involves military or police action. These missions are carried out in an area in crisis, to prevent hostilities between two parties. Peacekeepers are not authorized to take offensive action and can only fire their weapons in self-defence.

We in the Bloc Québécois understand very well that, regardless of the missions in which our soldiers are involved, they have no choice but to go. They are serving their country, their nation and their people. We may be heard criticizing certain missions, but we never criticize the soldiers who carry them out. We respect and admire the men and women who serve abroad. It is the civilian authorities, such as Parliament, who decide what our soldiers will do. As part of these civilian authorities, we have our say about the kind of missions we want and how they should be carried out.

In closing, I want to reiterate that with motion M-310, we support this mission. Quebeckers and Canadians are committed to peacekeeping and peacemaking missions. They believe that this is how Canada should be represented internationally rather than participating in combat missions.

I would like to summarize the main points of my speech. First, no mission is more important than peacekeeping and peacemaking. Further, if a Canadian soldier dies overseas while engaged in a peacekeeping or peacemaking mission, that soldier should receive due honour for the enormous sacrifice made in the name of peace. Lowering the flag to half-staff and observing a moment of silence is the least we can do.

We cannot say it enough: peacekeeping and peacemaking missions are very important to Quebeckers and Canadians. Therefore, it makes sense for us to mark the tragic death of a Canadian—or a Quebecker, of course—during such missions. Canada should commit to this gesture of respect because it meets the expectations and wishes of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The Bloc Québécois therefore supports motion M-310 as put to the House by our Liberal colleague.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a pleasure to stand in this House to support this motion put forward by the member for Kitchener—Waterloo, which I had the pleasure of seconding.

The motion reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, in order to show respect and to honour Canadian Forces and other Canadian government personnel who were killed while serving in overseas peacekeeping, peacemaking or humanitarian missions, the government should lower the flag on the Peace Tower to half-staff for the day following their demise as a remembrance of their important service to Canada and Canadians and that a moment of silence to be observed in the House, if the House is sitting on that same day.

Most of us come from different parts of the world and we make Canada our home. Many new immigrants have a great interest in this country and many of us serve our adopted country in many different ways.

Throughout the years, we have seen many young individuals rise to the call of duty and serve our great country. These are people who serve our country and sometimes surprise the rest of us. As recently as a week ago, a constituent emailed me some pictures of Sikhs and their proud participation in our armed forces, and their proud participation in World War II.

I had the opportunity not long ago to travel to Europe and visit the Commonwealth cemeteries, and witness firsthand the different names of the ethnic representations of our young men and women who had given their lives in the service of our country.

Canadians have participated in many wars since our country was founded in 1867 in support of democracy, rights and freedoms. Canada was among the first nations to provide peacekeepers in order to provide safety and keep the warring sides apart.

I have personally witnessed the great work which our peacekeepers did on the Island of Cyprus and other parts of the world. For close to 40 years, Canadian peacekeepers stood between the two sides in Cyprus walking the green line and keeping the two sides apart.

Although the flag has not flown at half-mast in the past when one of our soldiers or diplomats has given his or her life for our country, it is time that we change this.

Lowering the flag to half-mast will be the ultimate sign of respect. Canadians support our troops with lapel pins, bumper stickers and wearing red every Friday. We line the bridges on the Highway of Heroes in silent tribute when the remains of our soldiers are returned home.

The least we can do for our fallen soldiers is lower the flag to half-staff on the top of the Peace Tower. We can, and should, start a new tradition.

Canadians are looking to this government to support their efforts, and to show respect and sympathy for the fallen soldiers and their grieving families. After all, it is all of us who have sent the young men and women to serve our country.

We lower the flag for Privy Councillors when they pass away. Being a Privy Councillor myself, when I pass away, the flag will be lowered to half-staff on the Peace Tower.

However, that was not the case for a member of my extended family, Sergeant Christos Karigiannis, who was killed in action in Afghanistan last summer in June.

Sergeant Christos Karigiannis was called upon to serve our country in Afghanistan. He did not question our decision to be in Afghanistan. He did not question the merit of the decision taken by this House of Commons in sending him to Afghanistan.

Christos Karigiannis did not question, argue, or hesitate to fulfill his call of duty. He gallantly laid his life in order for us to be safe and enjoy our freedom and democracy. He gave his life fighting for democracy half a world away.

The least that we could do for our soldiers, the men and women we ordered to protect our way of life, is to honour them. Our fallen soldiers have paid the ultimate price for their service to our country.

I urge all members of this House to show the ultimate respect to our fallen soldiers and diplomats, and agree for the flag to be lowered to half-staff on top of the Peace Tower when we lose an individual in the call of duty.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Motion No. 310 tonight.

I want to being by saying that my remarks will lead to my calling on the mover of the motion to send this to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in order to undertake a full study of the half-masting rules.

The committee could study the issues raised by this motion in the context of a full policy. It is better to complete a full study and then decide on what changes, if any, should be made.

Since 1966, the Government of Canada has had a policy governing the half-masting of flags. Revised in 2003, the Department of Canadian Heritage administers the half-masting policy for the Government of Canada. The policy outlines the circumstances under which the national flag of Canada is to be flown at half-mast.

The policy includes guidelines for half-masting that are mandatory in section I, discretionary in section II, and discretionary with the authority of the Prime Minister in section III.

Because the government speaks for Canada and Canadians, half-masting is inherently a government responsibility. All flags at federal buildings and establishments, including Parliament, fall within this responsibility.

Under section I, mandatory half-masting, six special days are observed to remember the contributions and sacrifices of brave Canadians. Among the other special days, section I, part II, called “Special Days” under the current policy, states:

The Flag will be Half-masted on all federal buildings and establishments in Canada, including the Peace Tower, from sunrise to sunset on the following days:

c) November 11, Remembrance Day, unless Half-masting occurs at the National War Memorial or a place where remembrance is being observed, then Half-masting can occur at 11:00 or according to the prescribed order of service, until sunset;--

In addition, the Flag will be Half-masted on the Peace Tower:

f) from sunrise to sunset on April 9, Vimy Ridge Day;--

Both Vimy Ridge Day and Remembrance Day allow us to remember the sacrifices of those who have served their country. The half-masting of the flag on these occasions is an age old signal of a country in mourning.

More than 1,500,000 Canadians have served their country since the first world war and continue to do so today. While considering the importance of the sacrifice of our Canadian Forces members around the world, what must not be forgotten is the importance and meaning of November 11, Remembrance Day.

For many of us, war is a phenomenon that is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend. It is a phenomenon that may both tear a country apart and bring it together.

In fact, it was war, more specifically the battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917, that was a marking moment in the birth of our collective nationhood. The battle marked the first time that Canadian troops from all existing provinces worked together toward a common goal.

In the spring of 1917, the Canadian Corps were tasked with the decisive recapture of Vimy Ridge. For the first time in the Great War, all four Canadian divisions were to fight together on the same battlefield. After extensive planning and training, 30,000 Canadians, drawn from all nine provinces, attacked at dawn on the morning of Easter Monday, April 9, with rain, snow and sleet falling all around them.

With the benefit of a heavy artillery barrage, they took the ridge by afternoon. With tenacity and unflinching bravery, the Canadians fought on and three days later the entire ridge was under Allied control.

It was the most successful Allied advance on the Western Front to that date, but it had a terrible cost: 10,602 Canadians were wounded and 3,598 were killed.

This “turning point battle” resulted in four Victoria crosses being awarded and the cornerstone laid for Canada's image as a proud and confident nation, as well as its place in the world.

On July 3, 1921, during a speech given at Vimy Ridge, Prime Minister Arthur Meighen reflected on Canada's contribution to the Great War and said:

At this time, the proper occupation of the living is first to honour our heroic dead; next to repair the havoc, human and material, that surrounds us; and, lastly, to learn aright and apply with courage the lessons of the war.

That is exactly what we do on Remembrance Day. We remember those who sacrificed their lives during the first world war, the second world war and the Korean War and those who have served and died since, in Cyprus, Bosnia and Afghanistan, to name a few.

Until November 2005, the half-masting policy did not specify when to lower the flag to commemorate the death of military personnel. In the past, this has resulted in half-mastings that were based on the Prime Minister's discretionary powers, as laid out in section III of the current policy.

The Department of National Defence developed initial guidelines for half-masting in the event of military deaths. These National Defence internal guidelines function within the Government of Canada's broader policy on half-masting.

Section II, part 14, “Employees of the Federal Government”, states:

When an employee of a federal department, agency or Crown corporation dies in the line of duty or by reason of the position he or she occupies within that federal department, agency or Crown corporation, the Minister responsible for that organization may decide to Half-mast the Flag. Half-masting in such circumstances can only be carried out on those buildings and establishments affiliated to the organization. The Minister may decide on the geographical extent of the Half-masting and its duration.

The Department of National Defence's internal protocol on half-masting states:

In the event of the death of a member of the Canadian Forces who is deployed on operations to a special duty area, unless special instructions are received, flags will be half-masted as follows:

a. All flags within the task force to which a member is assigned at the time of death will be half-masted from the day of death until sunset the day of the funeral;

b. All flags at the home base/station of the member will be half-masted from the day of death until sunset the day of the funeral;

c. All flags within the environment (sea, land or air) to which the member was assigned will be half-masted from sunrise to sunset on the day of the funeral, and;

d. All flags at National Defence Headquarters and at the headquarters of the operational command to which a member is assigned at the time of death will be half-masted from the day of death until sunset the day of the funeral.

In accordance with the National Defence Protocol, the federal government will half-mast flags on appropriate buildings from time of death until sunset on the day of the funerals for all members of the forces killed on duty.

The members of our armed forces are not the only Canadians who put themselves in harm's way for the good of this country. The current policy allows the Government of Canada to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by all public servants.

Motion No. 310, however, is extremely narrow in its focus and calls for the flag on the Peace Tower to be lowered only for:

...Canadian Forces and other Canadian government personnel who are killed while serving in overseas peacekeeping, peacemaking or humanitarian missions,....”

Being so narrow, the motion fails to recognize Canadian Forces and other Canadian government personnel who make the ultimate sacrifice serving here in Canada. I think of disasters like the flooding in Quebec, the ice storms of 1998 and the Red River flood in 1997. If a soldier were to be killed while serving his or her country at home during disasters like these, their sacrifices would not receive equal recognition under this motion.

The Government of Canada values the dedication and pride of our service people at home and abroad.

The death of any Canadian in the line of duty is truly a tragedy. The rules of half-masting the national flag of Canada allow the government and, indeed, all Canadians to mourn such a loss collectively.

I want to call again on the Standing Committee for Canadian Heritage to undertake a full study of the half-masting rules. In committee, we could study the issues raised by this motion, and other ideas brought by member, in the context of a fuller policy review. It is better to complete a full study and then decide on what changes, if any, should be made.

We have a fantastic opportunity for an in-depth study on this very important policy at committee. I hope the hon. member for Kitchener—Waterloo and all hon. members of this House will consider this option.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rush in and discuss my Liberal Party colleague's motion regarding what I believe is a very serious indication to those who serve our country.

It is quite clear that the hon. member is trying to recognize, in a very solemn gesture, those who serve our country and pay the ultimate sacrifice.

When this debate arose in the previous government, we had discussions about whether or not the Peace Tower flag should be lowered at the death of every individual who passes away in the service of his or her country. I am proud to say that the previous prime minister agreed that was what should be done.

Our Chronicle Herald newspaper, one of North America's largest independent papers, on the death of any soldier overseas, automatically on the front page of its paper has a picture or caption of the Peace Tower with the flag at half-mast until that individual has been properly interned in a respectful manner.

Our Chronicle Herald newspaper has done a great job in recognizing and basically telling people, in a very dignified way, that Canada has lost yet another one of its great heroes. The hon. member is not asking for anything that is going to cost a lot of money.

I know there are discussions about the fact that it will diminish the half-mast observance on Remembrance Day or any other special days, but I would remind the House that if I were to suddenly have a massive heart attack and die right now, there is an extremely good chance that the flag would be lowered tomorrow in my remembrance.

I believe that if it is to be lowered for a member of Parliament, for past members of Parliament and/or Senators, then it should be lowered in the recognition of one of our heroes who pays the ultimate sacrifice. It is the minimum that we can do and I am proud to see that we in the NDP support the initiative fully. We have great respect for the hon. member who brought this issue forward because we know his intentions.

He, like myself, were not born in Canada. We were born in other countries but have the great honour and privilege of calling Canada our home. He comes from a country, as do I, that have ravaged pasts and terrible histories of fighting and war. It was the Canadians, along with our allies, who sacrificed so much so that the hon. member, myself, many others in the House and all Canadians could call this great country home. In fact, many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice, Mr. Speaker, so that you and I can have a good night's sleep.

The reality is that it is time for us to look after them as well. For those who do pay the ultimate sacrifice, we believe that the minimum we could do is show the ultimate respect by showing what is considered the greatest flag in the world, in my own personal view, and thus the greatest flag that we have in Canada, which is on our Peace Tower, be lowered in a very dignified way at half-mast to show the world and to show all of Canada that again one of our greatest heroes has paid the ultimate sacrifice.

It has been a great pleasure to tell the hon. member that we in our party will be supporting this initiative. I understand the debate on both sides of the issue but I do not believe that it diminishes any other aspect of half-masting flags at any other time. It is just a symbolic gesture of respect for those who pay the ultimate sacrifice. It is also a dignified way to show the families that the entire country mourns with them at their time of loss.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Peace Tower was constructed as a living national monument to peace. Its initial purpose was to commemorate the cessation of hostilities at the end of the first world war, which it did by seeking to perpetually remember the ultimate sacrifices made by thousands of brave young Canadians from across the nation.

More recently the Peace Tower has come to be seen by most Canadians as a place where we as a nation can wear our emotions on our sleeves. That is to say, when tragedy strikes Canadians expect to see the flag lowered to half-mast as an outward expression of national grief.

As a matter of fact, the rules posted on the website of the Department of Canadian Heritage clearly state:

The half-masting of national flags is a well-established procedure whereby countries bestow an honour and express a collective sense of sorrow. Given that such flags are recognized as paramount symbols of their nations, the act of half-masting is a dramatic visual statement that speaks to the sense of loss that is shared by all their citizens.

To paraphrase what that says, when our nation wants to show that it has suffered a collective loss, a loss worthy of our recognition and respect, we lower our national flag as a symbol of our grief.

I regret that the government no longer shares my thoughts on this matter. I say “no longer” because when Canadian soldier Lieutenant Chris Saunders was lost as a result of a tragic accident aboard HMCS Chicoutimi, the Conservative MP who is now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works demanded that the Peace Tower flag be lowered without delay. As I recall, every member of the House supported that contention and the Peace Tower flag was lowered.

It is important to mention that under the previous Liberal government, the Peace Tower flag was lowered when Canada suffered the loss of a soldier.

By contrast, since forming government the Conservative Party has remained steadfast in its new-found opposition to the idea that the flag should be lowered upon the death of a Canadian soldier. After rolling back the previous Liberal government's policy of respect, the Conservative government set out its own rules.

This essentially summarizes the way I feel on this matter, and I believe that it summarizes how my constituents feel. The lowering of the flag atop the Peace Tower essentially costs nothing, but the gesture would clearly show that every Canadian from every corner of this nation is truly saddened each time a member of the Canadian Forces is lost in combat. Lowering the flag would show the family members of the specific fallen hero that we stand with them, just as their loved one stood with us as a country.

For me, this is not a partisan political matter. I for one would be more than pleased to stand up and applaud the Prime Minister if he would just do the right thing and lower the Peace Tower flag each time this country pays the ultimate price for our military interventions.

In closing, let me say to all my colleagues in the House that while we might differ in our opinions as to whether or not we support a particular mission, we stand united in support of our men and women in uniform along with others who, in carrying out their duties, make the supreme sacrifice on behalf of Canada and the cause of peace.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, April 2, 2008, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that if you would seek it you would find unanimous consent to see the clock as 7:58 p.m. so we can proceed with the adjournment proceedings.

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Half-masting of Peace Tower Flag
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the issue at hand with regard to detainees, I raised this issue at the end of January with the government with regard to the detainee policy. As we know, there was a great deal of secrecy surrounding this issue as to whether the policy put in place by the government was continuing or not.

Very clearly, we need to have transparency and accountability when it comes to detainees. Why? Because we are in Afghanistan promoting certain values. One of those values clearly is the rule of law. It deals with the issue of prisoners and clearly there needs to be a consistent approach in dealing with this issue. In fact, in the resolution that the House will vote on tomorrow night, we proposed, of course, that we have a NATO-wide approach in dealing with these issues.

My concern at the time, and I raised this in November and again in January, was that we did not know what the policy was. We heard about cases of torture. When someone was captured, we wanted to know what kind of treatment was being carried out. Of course we know what the state of Afghan prisons is, and we are there to improve not only the justice system but also the prison system. In some of them, there are appalling conditions that clearly we would not want anyone to be detained in.

The management of this issue has been fumbled by the government in the past and we wanted to make sure that there was a NATO-wide solution to the issue of detainees. On consistent monitoring, we heard from the government at the time about the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, but it did not have the authority to do the kind of work that needed to be done to track these detainees to ensure that there was no torture taking place. Then the government suspended for a while and it did not of course inform the House that this in fact had taken place.

In the resolution we will vote on tomorrow night, which the government has embraced, we will in fact look at the issue of pursuing a NATO-wide approach to this to make sure that what we are doing is bringing values consistent with human life, and that we are dealing with values in terms of the dignity of individuals regardless of whether they are the enemy.

Therefore, we ought to commit to a greater transparency, to respect for a policy on the taking and transferring of prisoners, and the government has made some movement in that regard. Obviously the support of this resolution, which contains these provisions, is very important. I certainly welcome that now, but when I raised these issues they were not being effectively dealt with at the time.

The government also does not want to indicate when anyone has been captured. The Americans announce when they have captured people. The British announce when they have captured individuals. We still have not done that. When members of the government come before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, of which I am the vice-chair, we do not get the kind of satisfactory answer that we want.

However, I will say for the parliamentary secretary that we are hopeful now, with the embracing of this resolution, that we will see improvement with regard to this issue. Ultimately we are trying to bring the rule of law to Afghanistan. We are trying to improve the conditions for people, whether they be prisoners in the field or wherever they are in terms of the conditions of Afghan prisons.

I know that Correctional Service Canada has been involved to some degree. It is important to have that. We want to be better than the people we are capturing. We are better than these individuals. Therefore, in order to do that, it is important that this be raised in the House.

7:35 p.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Canada is in Afghanistan as part of a UN-mandated mission, at the request of the democratically elected Afghan government and in company with our NATO and other allies.

We are playing a leadership role in Afghanistan and Canadian engagement is wide-ranging because we know that development and security go hand in hand. Without security, there can be no humanitarian assistance, no reconstruction and no democratic development.

We have deployed diplomats, development workers, troops and civilian police to help the Afghan government secure a better future for its people. We are training Afghan soldiers and police. We are mentoring public officials and helping the Afghans implement key national strategies. Canada is contributing to efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan, including the appropriate treatment of prisoners, through support for comprehensive justice and security sector reform.

I can assure my colleague that Canadian officials are also in regular dialogue with Afghan officials at the most senior level in regard to this matter. That being said, the decision to transfer prisoners remains an operational matter and is the responsibility of the Canadian Forces, taking into account Canada's obligation under international law.

In assessing whether these obligations can be met, the Canadian Forces taken into information from a variety of sources, including other government departments. It is important to highlight that the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are fully trained and have clear and detailed instructions on all matters relating to prisoners, including the factors for determining their release or transfer.

As we all know, the military does not release information on how the Canadian Forces process prisoners. Such information could be used against the Canadian Forces by an enemy able to adapt its practices and instruct its fighters on how to better execute operations against Canadian soldiers, Afghan security forces and our allies.

The Government of Canada has an arrangement in place with the government of Afghanistan regarding the transfer of prisoners. This arrangement allows full access to Canadian officials to monitor the condition of prisoners turned over by the Canadian Forces.

As a result, we discovered one credible allegation last fall. The Canadian Forces responded quickly and in a manner consistent with Canada's obligations under international law upon learning of that credible allegation.

Since that time, actions taken by the government of Afghanistan and Canadian officials in Kandahar to address the commander's concerns have been carefully considered and the Canadian Forces are satisfied that based on the facts, transfers can resume. The decision to resume transfers reflects the commander's restored confidence that transfers can be made in accordance with our obligations under international law.

The Canadian Forces exercise discretion every time it transfers a prisoner. Clearly the transfer will not be authorized if the commander assesses that there are substantial grounds to believe there is a real risk that a prisoner would be tortured or mistreated if transferred. The transfer of prisoners remains an operational issue. Any future announcements will be made at the discretion of the Canadian Forces, in light of operational security considerations at the time.

As the government has signalled in the motion currently before the House, we are committed to greater openness. That being said, the Canadian Forces must always balance its commitment to transparency against the need to safeguard operational information and the security personnel.

Canada takes its legal obligations very seriously and I can assure members that the Canadian Forces treat all prisoners humanely. As a matter of policy, prisoners are treated in accordance with the standards of protection afforded to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Canada has been and continues to be in regular dialogue with our NATO and ISAF allies on all aspects of ISAF's mission, including the treatment of prisoners transferred by allied forces.

Canadian officials have consistently underscored the need for Afghan authorities to treat prisoners humanely and in accordance with Afghan's international obligations. We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and the Human Rights Commission to ensure that treatment is proper.

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have no question, nor do my colleagues, with regard to the professionalism of our forces on the ground in Afghanistan. The panel on Canada's future role in Afghanistan indicated, in what is dubbed the Manley report, the need for more openness and transparency, and the government has agreed to that provision, as the parliamentary secretary has indicated.

It is in the motion that we had provided to the government, and we are pleased to see that. However, again, it is imperative we know that when these transfers are done, people are treated in terms of the rule of law.

The parliamentary secretary talks about operational matters. I think that is a bit of cover, given that the United States and others indicate when they have captured prisoners on the field. Nevertheless, we will hold the government to account with regard to the issue of transparency and accountability.

I will take the parliamentary secretary at this word. However, once the motion is dealt with tomorrow night, if it passes in the House, this is one of the provisions that we believe is extremely important. I think all Canadians want to be assured that when these things are done, that we not only provide and bring to Afghanistan a level of security, but also the rule of law for the Afghan people, that we work effectively with Afghanistan in this matter and also in the area of—

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I can assure my colleague that this is the case. In fact, if we want to talk about openness and transparency, there have been 15 technical briefings on the mission in Afghanistan on this and other issues, 14 of them by this government.

The Ministers of National Defence, the current and the previous, have made 17 appearances before committees on this issue. If one wants to check the record in Hansard from the last two nights, one will see how much participation there was in the debate on Afghanistan, which the opposition parties called for, and one will see who actually participated in those debates and who did not.

With respect to this specific issue, we have spend $1.5 million since November in infrastructure improvements to the prison system in Afghanistan. We have trained guards. We have trained police forces. We have made more visits to the facilities.

My colleague talked about our trust in the Canadian Forces. We trust them implicitly. They are the ones on the ground. They know the situation. They are the ones who should be empowered to make the decisions. We trust them to make the right decision because they are, as he said, extremely professional, well trained and more qualified to make those decisions.

The other armed forces the member talked about release partial information some of the time. Their circumstances are completely different from ours. Their policy is not the same as ours, for very good reasons. We have a different circumstance. We choose to release information based on the wisdom of the Canadian Forces, and I trust the Canadian Forces.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:45 p.m.)