House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

2 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 Kitchener Centre.

[Members sang the national anthem]

True Blue Masonic Lodge of Bolton
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that True Blue Masonic Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons 98, located in Bolton, Ontario, is celebrating its 150th anniversary on March 5, 2008.

This is a tremendous milestone that warrants considerable recognition for the lodge's many accomplishments and contributions to Bolton and across Canada.

The Masonic Lodge has become widely known for its founding principles and for its support of various causes affecting Canadian communities, including hearing research, a bursary program for university and college students, as well as alcohol and drug awareness programs in elementary and secondary schools.

The Masonic Lodge has also placed great emphasis on supporting the Canadian blood donor program. We are extremely fortunate and proud to have such a strong and dependable goodwill organization located in Bolton.

As the member of Parliament for Dufferin—Caledon, I congratulate the True Blue Masonic Lodge of Bolton. I wish it another 150 years of community dedication and success.

Beef and Pork Industries
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to highlight the crisis that is occurring in our rural areas. Many farmers, especially the beef and pork producers who have put food on our tables and have supported their families and the local economies, are now facing enormous challenges, increased expenses, a rising dollar and, in many sectors, falling prices.

The families who have developed these industries are proud and do not want handouts but the government cannot continue to ignore the challenges being faced by these sectors.

The loan program offered by the Conservative government last week is not sufficient. One cannot borrow one's way out of debt. The beef and pork producers need an immediate injection to save the farms operated by the families who have devoted their lives to feeding Canadians. This country was built on the backs of the family farm.

I understand that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will be in my province of Prince Edward Island tomorrow or later this week. I urge him, in fact I plead with him, to announce a program that will immediately assist our beef and hog producers.

The Budget
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though 150,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Quebec in the past five years, most of them since the Conservatives came to power, this government's budget shows once again how oblivious the government is to the impact of the manufacturing crisis, which is devastating a number of regions of Quebec.

There is nothing in this budget to help the manufacturing industry in Quebec, including the furniture industry in Berthier—Maskinongé. However, the Conservatives are providing $250 million to help the automotive industry in Ontario. Worse still, they are maintaining the generous tax breaks for rich oil companies in the west.

What are the Conservative members from Quebec doing to help Quebec? They are doing nothing, and they are keeping quiet, which shows that they are powerless and under the thumb of their government.

Their silence proves that only the Bloc Québécois members are truly defending Quebec's interests.

Status of Women
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, nearly 90 years ago, women got the vote and nearly 80 years ago, we were legally recognized as “persons”. However, after decades of progress toward equality, ordinary women in Canada are stalled.

Today, an estimated one in four women will be a victim of sexual violence in her lifetime. In the workplace, women still only earn 70% of what men make. Poverty affects almost half of single, widowed or divorced women over 65 and more than 40% of unattached women under 65.

Instead of dealing with any of these issues, the Conservative government, propped up by the Liberals, passed a budget that gave only $20 million to advance the equality of women, yet it found $50 million for the hog industry. That works out to $3.57 for every hog in Canada but only $1.21 per woman.

There was no new money for the national child benefit, child care, affordable housing, the GIS, a revival of the court challenges program, proactive pay equity legislation or any improvement in the minimum wage or maternity leave benefits.

Even as we celebrate International Women's Day this Saturday, women across this country will recommit to the fight for a fair and just society.

Fire Safety
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend in West Hamilton, within the riding I represent, a devastating fire took the life of five people.

Hamilton's Emergency Services chief, Jim Kay, was quoted as saying, “This is the worst I have seen”. All that could be done to save these lives was done. More than 20 firefighters, 6 fire trucks and 6 ambulance crews responded.

Despite all the heroic efforts, Melissa DenHollander, a 22-year-old mother, perished with her three children: Emma, 4 and a half; Ella, 2 and a half; Alana, 1 and a half; along with a young man of 19 identified as Josh.

The citizens of Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale grieve with family and friends at the loss of these precious lives.

The tragic circumstances of this past weekend call attention to the fire departments' reminder for Canadians to put fresh batteries in their smoke detectors at the same time as we set our clocks ahead this weekend for daylight saving time.

I ask all Canadians to please ensure that they have good quality smoke detectors installed appropriately in their homes to keep their families safe and remember to refresh their batteries this weekend.

Infrastructure
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, last November, Mississauga city council reluctantly voted to implement a special infrastructure levy. Much of the city's infrastructure is aging and, as one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, the needs continue to rise.

Mississauga mayor, Hazel McCallion, has launched a Cities NOW! campaign, calling on the federal government to address those urgent needs, not just for the benefit of city residents, but for the sake of Canada's future prosperity and environmental sustainability.

Cities are the economic engine of our country and ignoring their welfare is a huge mistake that will eventually cost us even more.

As a proud member of Parliament for Mississauga, it is my duty to inform the House about this massive infrastructure deficit and offer the Prime Minister the following advice.

First, he should stop insulting our premiers, mayors and Canadians. It is not only offensive but it is counter-productive. Second, he should end the over the top partisan approach and present Canadians with the urgently needed plan to address this infrastructure deficit.

Agriculture
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, this government delivered on a campaign promise by introducing legislation to free western Canadian barley farmers from under the grip of the Canadian Wheat Board marketing monopoly.

It is a matter of freedom: freedom for producers to sell their own barley to whatever buyer they choose, domestic or foreign, including the Canadian Wheat Board. Who could argue against this freedom?

I find my constituent, Herb Axten of Minton, just a bit cranky when he cannot sell his own grain to whoever he wants, especially at a profit. Who would not be?

Well-known fighter for marketing freedom, Art Mainil of Benson, writes in a letter to the editor, “Today, February 19, world durum wheat is $30 a bushel...CWB price $11; world red spring wheat $20 per bushel...CWB price $7.40; world barley, new crop, $8.50 per bushel...CWB price $6.60.

Let us not condone this loss of thousands of dollars by Canadian prairie farmers. Let us support freedom. Let us stand up for our western Canadian producers by passing this legislation now.

The Budget
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government brought down its budget on February 26. Once again, it ignored the social priorities the majority of Quebeckers agree on.

Once again, this budget shows how unimportant women, seniors, homelessness and social housing are to the Conservatives. On the one hand, the government is cutting funding and refusing to reinvest; on the other, people are getting poorer and must take care of their immediate, basic needs.

In short, this budget is socially unacceptable. Yet the Bloc Québécois had made specific, achievable demands that were consistent with Quebec's priorities, totalling $15.3 billion. That is what it means to understand what people are going through and be attentive to their needs.

It is comforting to see that the Bloc Québécois still understands and is still defending Quebec's legitimate demands, while this Conservative government is moving further and further away from what Quebec wants.

The Budget
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is a great day for Canadians in every province and territory of our land. Last night the third Conservative budget passed the House of Commons. The budget is balanced, focused and prudent. We have built on the decisive pre-emptive action taken in the 2007 fall economic update.

What I do not understand is why the opposition voted against lower taxes for people and businesses. Why did it vote against targeted support for troubled industries? Why did it vote against help for the homeless and those suffering from mental illness?

I would like to thank the 82 Liberal MPs who supported the budget. It is with their support that Canadians will now be able to take advantage of measures in the budget, such as watching their savings grow tax free with the tax-free savings account.

My constituents and all Canadians are pleased to have a strong government and a weak opposition working together to get the job done.

Status of Women
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, on International Women's Day, all Canadian women should mourn the effective silencing of their voices by the Conservative government.

From the day it took office, the government signalled its intent to embark on a concerted, continuous campaign against women in Canada who advocate for equality.

First the Conservatives cut the court challenges program denying vulnerable women access to justice. Then they closed the doors of Status of Women's regional offices denying them access to program funding. Next they gutted the research capacity of the department denying it the evidence based data that showed continuing barriers to gender equality.

The Harper government may consider women to be a special interest group but we are the majority in Canadian society and Canada is signatory to the United Nations declaration that women's rights are human rights.

Erosion of these rights may move women to heed Dylan Thomas' advice:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Status of Women
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I remind the hon. member for Vancouver Centre that referring to members by name is out of order. She will not want to repeat that error the next time she makes a Standing Order 31 statement.

The hon. member for Burlington.

Ethics
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night the media reported something to which the Liberals should pay close attention. The publisher of the book on the life of Chuck Cadman has temporarily halted production so the May 17 date can be removed from the final version of the book.

The facts, as we have stated many times now, are a meeting took place on May 19 between Chuck Cadman, Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan. This is the only meeting that Mr. Finley and Mr. Flanagan had with Mr. Cadman.

The attempt to misrepresent the truth is despicable, and the members for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Brampton—Springdale and York West should be ashamed of themselves.

I have to go back to the fact that if the Liberals really thought unlawful activity had occurred, why did they wait more than a year to bring these concerns forward?

The Prime Minister has asked the Liberal leader for an apology for his awful remarks. I hope—

Ethics
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Status of Women
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, this International Women's Day, women in Manitoba and across Canada are waging a courageous battle for equality.

Today we honour the courage of Amy and Jesse Pasternak of Winnipeg who persisted over three years against incredible resistance and won the right to play hockey on an equal footing with boys; the courage of Lisa Michell and other aboriginal activists who continue organizing marches for missing and murdered women in Manitoba; and the courage of Kathy Mallett, Loa Henry, Cindy McCallum Miller, Cheryl Ann Carr, Linda Taylor and Ellen Kruger being honoured by Grassroots Women Manitoba.

The budget was the time for the Conservatives to back these courageous women with measures that would further women's equality. Instead, they are not standing up for women. They are silent and have set back the women's agenda.

Guess what? The Liberals are supporting them. Yes, the Liberals do not have the courage to stand up to the government and vote down the budget. This is the Liberal twilight zone. They allow the budget to pass one day and the next moment decry the cuts to women's programs.

Today we honour the many women fighting for equality and condemn those who do not have the courage of their convictions to stand up for women in Canada.

International Women's Week
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, this week we are celebrating International Women's Week. Thanks to their determination, Canadian women achieved full recognition of women as persons.

However, since the Conservatives have been in power, we have been moving backward. They want to stifle the voices of minorities. The government has refused to explain why it has stopped funding groups that protect the rights of women. These groups are active all over the country, including in New Brunswick, and they have brought about positive changes for women and our society in general. One might wonder whether the government really believes in the equality of women.

To enable women to keep making progress in our society, the government must show that it is ready to support them in achieving greater equality in our country.

I would like to wish all women a happy International Women's Week.

Member for Saint-Lambert
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the exemplary contribution of the member for Saint-Lambert, who is leaving us today to continue serving Quebec in another forum.

A man of conviction, a man of broad experience and appeal, he represented the Quebec nation in all its diversity.

His deep voice will continue to resonate for some time here in Parliament. His poetic lyricism and his colourful vocabulary will not be forgotten, particularly given that French was his third language.

A man of integrity and rigour, a man of conviction, a persuasive man, he shared his implacable logic and his acute sense of social justice with us all.

Always responsive to the people of Saint-Lambert, he served his fellow citizens with great pride and loyalty.

He was here in the House of Commons when Quebec was finally recognized as a nation, and he will soon be in Quebec's National Assembly, patiently laying the foundation for what will someday be our country.

Thank you, Maka.

Member for Saint-Lambert
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Bravo!

Status of Women
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we approach International Women's Day, we take the time to reflect on the progress made to advance the issues important to women and we celebrate these gains. We also take time to assess the challenges still facing women and consider what future steps we can take to enhance the quality of life of women.

Mental health is an important issue to women. We think back to the untimely death of Ashley Smith, an 18-year-old inmate at Grand Valley Institution for Women. This mentally unstable teenage woman had spent most of her sentence in segregation.

Despite being repeatedly told that our federal prison system has become a warehouse for the mentally ill, the Conservative government continues to ignore the fact that our prisons remain ill-equipped to treat those who suffer with mental health issues.

I call on the government to make it a priority to implement a mental health strategy for our federal prison system so another tragic incident like the death of Ashley Smith never happens again.

Ethics
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I read a bit of interesting news last night. It seems the publisher of the Cadman book has “stopped the presses” to remove the May 17 date from the final version of the book. In fact, we have been clear all along that the only meeting that took place between Chuck Cadman, Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley was on May 19.

The Liberal members for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Brampton—Springdale, York West, the Liberal leader and others are acting irresponsibly as they continue their campaign of misinformation and smear.

Why are the Liberals choosing to ignore the truth? Why is the Liberal leader and his party refusing to apologize for their defamatory comments about the Prime Minister?

The allegations made by the Liberal leader regarding the Prime Minister's involvement are incorrect and are a shameful attempt to mislead the public. The Liberal leader had an opportunity to apologize. Now he is going to have an opportunity to defend his allegations in a court of law. I suggest he get his chequebook out.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister finally admitted that it was his voice on the tape. Therefore, I have another simple question for him.

What did the Prime Minister mean on the tape when he talked about “financial considerations”?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have answered that question on numerous occasions. However, the real point is the leader of the Liberal Party and his party have already said publicly that I offered a bribe in the form of a life insurance policy to a man who was critically ill with cancer. That is their story.

Just like they retracted their position on the budget last night, they will eventually want to retract that policy as well.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I did not receive an answer to my question, so I will ask it again.

What did the Prime Minister mean on the tape when he spoke about financial considerations ? What are these famous financial considerations?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have already given an answer to that. The main problem here is that the leader of the Liberals and his party have already incorrectly answered this question. They have committed an illegal act. This whole thing will play out before the courts. The Leader of the Opposition and his party will want to retract their remarks.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, again, we know why the Prime Minister is afraid to answer. It is because he is afraid of the truth and the consequences.

What did the Prime Minister mean on the tape when he talked about an offer to Mr. Cadman for “financial considerations he might lose due to an election”?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this is amazing. The Leader of the Opposition talks about people being afraid of doing things. The reality of this is we have a Leader of the Opposition who completely reversed himself on his environment position on the throne speech, completely reversed himself on his criminal justice policy and completely reversed himself and even instructed his own members not to support their own budget position.

Yesterday they already retracted the allegation of a May 17 meeting. They are going to eventually want to retract these other allegations as well, but it is going to be too late.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, Dona Cadman continues to maintain that her dying husband was offered a $1 million insurance policy if he changed his vote. Chuck's daughter says that it broke her heart that her father was put in this position. Chuck's son-in-law confirms that a financial offer was made.

Is it the Prime Minister's position that the people close enough to Chuck Cadman to know are lying? If so, how are Canadians going to believe that he alone is telling the truth?

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

Mr. Speaker, those are obviously very tough words for the deputy leader. However, first, I would like to thank him for supporting and showing confidence in our government by supporting our budget last night. That was very good of him, and I thank him for that.

In fact, as has been said a number of times by Chuck Cadman himself and by the Prime Minister, the only offer that was put on the table to Chuck Cadman was our desire to see him present himself as a Conservative candidate and to get re-elected as a Conservative in a subsequent campaign. That was the only offer.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is simply not a credible answer. It is not credible to argue that a dying man would accept a nomination for an election in which he could not participate.

I ask this again. Is the Cadman family lying?

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

Mr. Speaker, Chuck Cadman was not lying when he said there was no offer, as the Liberals are accusing us of making. Chuck Cadman spoke the truth. The Liberals can continue to throw all these kinds of accusations and falsehoods forward, but as George Will once said, these are like cobwebs trying to lasso a locomotive, and it is not going to work.

The truth stands on its own and the truth is that the only offer made to Chuck Cadman was our desire to have him rejoin the Conservative caucus, to present himself as a Conservative candidate and to continue to stand for the things that he believed in for the people of Surrey North.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the interview granted to Chuck Cadman's biographer in September 2005, which was recorded, we clearly hear the Prime Minister say, and I quote: “The offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election—”.

Will the Prime Minister admit that what he was referring to in that interview was financial losses following an election and not financial assistance for an election campaign, as he claimed yesterday?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, no, and the Leader of the Bloc Québécois asked several questions about a meeting on May 17. I must point out to the Bloc leader that the company withdrew that allegation from its book.

I know the Bloc leader does not think this party or this leader offered a life insurance policy to Chuck Cadman at that time in his life.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the date, May 17, was removed from the book, but the Prime Minister's remarks were not.

He says, for instance, that it was, and I quote in English:

“to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election”.

He cannot erase or change this. It is still in the book. Will he now explain to us what he meant by the words “replace financial considerations he might lose”? What does that mean? We have heard enough of these ludicrous explanations.

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the leader of the Bloc Québécois that all that—

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The parliamentary secretary has been recognized. He has the floor. We will have some order, please.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not yell when he was asking his question. He could listen to my answer. All that we have admitted saying to Mr. Cadman was what was said on May 19; that we wanted him to join our caucus and run as a candidate for the Conservative Party. That was the only offer put on the table and Chuck Cadman said so himself.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, that does not hold water.

The idea that Conservative Party representatives asked Chuck Cadman to run as their candidate does not hold water because David Matta was already running for the Conservatives and he had never heard anything about being pushed aside. The Prime Minister was clear on the tape. It was never a matter of candidacy, but rather a question of financial considerations presented to Chuck Cadman to force an election.

Instead of dodging the issue, the Prime Minister should admit, as he already has in a recorded interview, that the Conservative Party made financial offers to Chuck Cadman.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 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, my colleague is not making any sense. There was indeed a candidate, but Chuck Cadman said no to our offer to rejoin the Conservative Party and our caucus. There was no conversation with Mr. Matta after that conversation because Mr. Cadman said no.

As I have said a number of times, the only offer on the table was our desire to see Chuck Cadman come back to the Conservative fold and run as a candidate for us in the 2005 election campaign.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, that does not hold water because in addition to the recording of the Prime Minister, Mr. Cadman's wife, daughter and son-in-law are saying that financial offers were made. The Prime Minister is saying he did not know the details.

Is asking Mr. Cadman to be a candidate a detail when he was critically ill and the Conservative Party already had a candidate? Is that really a detail? Quite the detail.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 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, only three people were at that meeting. My colleague was not there and there were no Liberals at that meeting. There were three people at the meeting: Chuck Cadman, Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan.

Each person has said that the only offer on the table was to see Mr. Cadman run as a candidate for the Conservative Party. All three people said the same thing. Chuck told the truth in his public life; he told the truth in interviews with the media. Chuck's words will live on.

The Bloc Québécois should try to differentiate between fact and fantasy.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the government's apparently effective interference in the U.S. primary process, the government certainly cannot be trusted to investigate itself.

Yesterday the government said that it was going to investigate the second NAFTA leak, but what about the first leak, the leak that actually caused this entire international incident, which in fact has now damaged Canada-U.S. relationships?

I think the Prime Minister needs to clear this up once and for all. Will he tell us who caused the first leak and will he call in the RCMP to investigate the second Obama leak?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said in the House, this kind of leaking of information is completely unacceptable and in fact may well be illegal.

I can say that the Clerk of the Privy Council, obviously working with the Department of Foreign Affairs, is bringing in an internal security investigation on this. Based on what they find and based on legal advice, we will take any action that is necessary to get to the bottom of this matter.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we would have appreciated a clear answer of “yes, we will bring in the police”. It is that serious. I think the Americans need to hear that we are serious about this issue.

No wonder we are facing a crisis of confidence in elected officials. We have an official opposition that will not show up to vote. On Cadman, we get half-truths half the time. When it comes to issues like helping out lobbyists, they can always count on the deputy press secretary to the Prime Minister.

My question to the Prime Minister is simply this: where is the openness and the “we'll get to the bottom of it” attitude that he tried to sell to Canadians during the last election? Where has that gone?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that I could be plainer: we will take every step necessary to get to the bottom of this. The leak of this kind of information, for whatever reason by whomever, is completely unacceptable to the Government of Canada.

It is not useful, it is not in the interests of the Government of Canada, and the way the leak was executed was blatantly unfair to Senator Obama and his campaign. We will make sure that every legal and every investigative technique necessary is undertaken to find out who exactly is behind this.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister was forced to admit that it was his voice on Mr. Zytaruk's recording. In response to a question about a $1 million insurance policy, he can be heard answering, “I know that there were discussions.”

Will the Prime Minister finally tell us what he knew about this $1 million insurance policy?

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, there was in fact no life insurance policy proposal that was made. The Prime Minister has made that clear.

But I again would like to thank my colleague from Beauséjour for his support of the budget last night and his confidence in the government. Last night he confirmed what I have suspected for a long time: that the people of Beauséjour were never better served than when the hon. member did not show up to vote.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister admitted that it is his voice on the Zytaruk tape. On the tape, the Prime Minister is directly asked about an offer of a million dollar life insurance policy to Mr. Cadman. The Prime Minister answers, “I know that there were discussions...”.

What did the Prime Minister know about these discussions and the offer of a million dollar bribe to Mr. Cadman?

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, there were no discussions about a million dollar bribe. The accusation is outrageous. That is why the Liberal Party in the future will be paying a serious and steep price for making these false criminal allegations.

The only conversations that took place with Chuck Cadman happened on May 19. Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan sat down with Chuck Cadman and expressed our desire to have Chuck Cadman rejoin the Conservative caucus, present himself as a Conservative candidate and get re-elected as the member of Parliament for Surrey North.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, here is the Oxford dictionary's definition of the word “bribe”: “to dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favour by paying them or giving other inducement”.

Keeping that in mind, could the Prime Minister explain the tape and its specific mention of “the offer to Chuck”? Could he tell us why any offer at all to persuade Mr. Cadman to vote with the Conservatives could be interpreted as anything but an attempt to bribe him?

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, it is nonsense and a baseless charge and the Liberals know it. Perhaps my colleague in her supplementary question can try to convince this House, with just a bit of energy, that the offer made to the member for Newmarket—Aurora to join cabinet 48 hours before the vote had nothing to do with it.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, let us try again. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary's definition of the word “bribe” is “a sum of money or another reward offered or demanded in order to procure an (often illegal or dishonest) action or decision in favour of the giver”.

Keeping that in mind, could the Prime Minister explain how the offers made to Chuck Cadman to persuade him to vote with the Conservatives could be anything but an attempt to bribe him?

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, there was no offer and no bribe. This is outrageous. This is all in the head of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. The only offer put on the table was to have Chuck Cadman run as a candidate for the Conservative Party.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its press release announcing a 1/2 percentage point reduction in its prime rate, the Bank of Canada expressed its concern that “important downside risks to Canada's economic outlook...are materializing and, in some respects, intensifying”.

Will the Minister of Finance finally remove his rose-coloured glasses and follow the bank's lead by taking action and using part of the current year's surplus to strengthen the aid package for the manufacturing and forestry sectors? It is not too late to take action.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's question gives me the opportunity to remind him that in last fall's economic statement we sensed that there could be economic troubles on the horizon, so that is why we put in place $60 billion in aggressive action. We cut corporate income taxes. We cut personal income taxes. We lowered the GST, unlike the Liberals, who would like to raise the GST.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government must understand that the Canadian economy is operating at two different speeds: we have the western economy, which is spurred by oil, and Quebec and Ontario's economy where the manufacturing sector is in trouble. Its strategy of cutting taxes does not help manufacturing industries that are not turning a profit. He has until March 31 to take action.

Does the minister realize that, if the aid package for the manufacturing and forestry sectors is not bolstered, he will have favoured the oil companies over the manufacturing and forestry sectors and the rest of the economy?

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind all members of this House that there are 755,000 net new jobs in this country. We are tired of the opposition and the Bloc saying negative things about our economy. This economy is strong and it is because of this government that it has gotten there.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Liberals for their support last night in passing this budget.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, Mohamed Kohail, a Quebecker living in Saudi Arabia was condemned to death. All members of Parliament, with the exception of the Conservatives, condemn this barbaric penalty both in Canada and abroad. In a similar case in the United States, Canada did not intervene.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs realize that acting on a case by case basis goes against the fundamental values of Quebeckers with respect to capital punishment?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada stands ready to assist the family in pursuing its appeal through the justice system in Saudi Arabia. We are in close contact with the family and will continue to provide consular assistance. We are very closely monitoring this case and we will seek clemency in this case.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately my question was on the government's approach to capital punishment. The Conservative's approach is bad policy that has no place in diplomacy. Saudi Arabia and the United States both have capital punishment. Canada is implying that the death penalty is acceptable in the United States but not in Saudi Arabia.

Does the minister realize that his case-by-case approach is completely unacceptable and that he is discrediting all of us?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there has been no change in the government's policy and we will continue to look at these cases on a case by case basis.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has been very evasive on how many meetings and other attempts were made to bribe Chuck Cadman to vote with the Conservatives. It has taken a week, but the Prime Minister's office is now claiming there was no $1 million life insurance policy.

Is Sandra Buckler calling Dona Cadman, Conservative candidate in Surrey North, a liar? Is the rest of the Cadman family also lying, according to the Prime Minister's office, or has Ms. Buckler misspoken again?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 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, I know my colleague understands that what she has just said here is actually really quite serious. If she really believes that our government has committed a crime, then she ought to have the courage to say it outside of the House where people who she has falsely accused of a crime can legally defend themselves. She knows better than that.

We have been clear on this. The only offer made to Chuck Cadman was to have him rejoin our caucus and run as a Conservative.

I have a bit of time, so again I want to thank my colleague from Brampton West for showing her confidence in our government in voting for our budget last night.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Prime Minister, three people who knew and loved Chuck Cadman have told their story. His wife, his daughter and his son-in-law all tell the same story, exactly the same. They all said Chuck Cadman was offered a $1 million life insurance policy by the Conservative Party in exchange for his vote.

Why would they all lie?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:40 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, my colleague from Richmond served with Chuck Cadman. I do not think he would want to call him a liar, but I think that is what he just did in his question.

None of the people that my colleague from Richmond cited were at the meeting on May 19, the only meeting that took place between Conservative Party officials and Chuck Cadman. None of them were there, nor was the member for Richmond. The three people who were there all say the exact same thing, that no offer of a $1 million bribe was made to Chuck Cadman.

That is a ridiculous and outrageous suggestion and my colleague should have the courage to say it outside the House of Commons if he really believes it.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear: Chuck Cadman wanted nothing to do with the Conservative Party.

First, the Prime Minister denied that anything was offered to Chuck Cadman. Then in a desperate bid to explain, he comes up with this repayable loan story. How can the Prime Minister expect Canadians to believe that his operatives offered a loan to a dying man?

The bottom line is this. Even if this is a story, is it not still a bribe?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, that is silly. What we have said, I will say again. The Liberals try to avoid the central fact of this. The central fact is obvious and is clear and it is before them. Nothing illegal or inappropriate happened here whatsoever.

All that was expressed was our desire to see Chuck Cadman run as a Conservative, to defeat the Liberal government at the time and to present himself as a Conservative in the subsequent campaign. That is all that was offered to Chuck Cadman.

It is clear that if my colleague has any evidence to the contrary, he would say it outside of the House of Commons, but again he does not have the courage to do so because he does not believe his own story.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, it seems, therefore, that the Prime Minister “forgot” to tell us last week that, two years ago, he told Dona Cadman that he knew nothing about the insurance policy.

Why, then, did the Prime Minister not ask the police to investigate this offer of an insurance policy when Ms. Cadman herself told him about this bribery attempt? Why did he not do that? Does he have something to hide?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, there are two things here. First, there was no such offer. Second, the police and the RCMP have their own mandates and are independent of the government. They carry out their mandates independently of our government and every government in this country. The offer my hon. colleague is referring to was never made.

Anti-Drug Strategy
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last November when our Prime Minister announced Canada's national anti-drug strategy, we committed to do something that has not been done for almost 20 years in Canada: communicate with parents and youth about the dangers of illicit drugs. We committed to do so because we are very concerned about the damage and pain these drugs cause families, and we intend to reverse the trend toward vague, ambiguous messages that have characterized Canadian attitudes in the recent past.

Can the Minister of Health give us an update on the status of Canada's national anti-drug strategy?

Anti-Drug Strategy
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree that when one in four young people across this country has used at least one illegal drug, when twice as many Ontario kids are smoking pot as tobacco, when the number of young Canadians smoking marijuana has almost doubled in the last 10 years, it is time to speak up.

That is why today, along with the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Public Works, I was pleased to launch the very first advertisements in the first anti-drug campaign undertaken by Canada's government in almost 20 years. It has been designed with a lot of input from public and school health associations. This will give parents the tools they need to help their kids.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's middle class families are struggling to make ends meet.

The Prime Minister's number one election adviser says the Conservative agenda is to gradually re-engineer the federal government's spending powers. Economists suggest that corporate tax cuts will permanently slash the total fiscal capacity of government and along with it the capacity to fund the programs that people need.

Will the federal finance minister admit that the budget will permanently deplete Canada's ability to fund social programs?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. Let me tell the hon. member about some of the things that this budget will do.

We are in the second longest period of economic expansion in our history. The budget that we passed yesterday, with the help of the Liberals by the way, will continue on that solid road of growth. We will be the only G-7 member with an ongoing budget surplus and reduction in total debt burden.

It is this government that is providing the economic stimulus to create more and more jobs in this country.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, but the across the board tax cuts contained in the government's budget are taking money out of the programs and services that working and middle class families need to weather the upcoming economic storm.

Ontario alone lost 77,000 manufacturing jobs. What did the budget do? It stole $55 billion from the employment insurance fund to cover the steep costs of the government's corporate giveaways.

Will the finance minister admit that Tom Flanagan is right that reducing the fiscal capacity of government to build for future generations is the goal of the Conservatives' agenda?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I have to point out to the member that not only are taxes going down, but we also see important spending going up, for instance, investment in the guaranteed income supplement so that seniors are able to earn income and not face a clawback.

We also see important new investments in post-secondary education, which will ensure that young people in low and middle income families can have a chance to go off to university and college. This is one of the most important reforms in education in a generation.

We are very proud of the support that we are lending to all kinds of families around this country, with the help, by the way, of the Liberals across the way. I would like to thank them for that. We appreciate it.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that Mr. Cadman told his wife, his daughter and son-in-law that he was offered a $1 million life insurance policy.

We know that for the Prime Minister's version of events to be correct, either Mr. Cadman lied to his wife, his daughter and son-in-law, or his wife, his daughter and son-in-law are lying now.

The Prime Minister has had lots of time now to think of his answer. I would like to give him another opportunity.

Can the Prime Minister tell us who is lying, Mr. Cadman or his family?

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:50 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

Option C, the Liberals, Mr. Speaker.

Global Television again had an interview with Chuck Cadman. All I ask is for the Liberals to believe the words of Chuck Cadman. He was asked, “You had a meeting with the prime minister prior to the vote, did he ever offer you a deal?” “No, absolutely nothing. There was never any deal offered, nothing asked for”. “And the same with Harper?” “Yeah, the same with Harper”.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that on Mr. Zytaruk's tape, to the question, “There was an insurance policy for a million dollars, do you know anything about that?”, the Prime Minister replied, “I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions...”.

What we do not know and only the Prime Minister can answer is that if he did not know anything about “an insurance policy for a million dollars” why did he not say “Insurance policy, what insurance policy? I do not know anything about an insurance policy”.

The Prime Minister now has had lots of time to think of an answer. I would like to give him another opportunity. Mr.--

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:50 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, there was no offer of a million dollar life insurance policy. To make the argument and to say that is entirely not credible. Chuck Cadman had terminal cancer. He passed away a couple of months later. The idea that such an insurance policy could be gotten is in fact ridiculous. No offer of that kind was made at all. The only offer made to Chuck Cadman was our desire to have him rejoin the Conservative caucus, run as a Conservative candidate and that is the simple fact of the case.

The member for York Centre can try to spin and deflect, but unfortunately, he is operating without any of the facts. We are operating on the word of Chuck Cadman and we know that is as solid as gold.

Finance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are told that we can tell whether the Prime Minister is telling the truth or not by looking into his eyes. Canadians want to believe that when a Prime Minister makes a promise, he will keep it.

Will the Prime Minister look into the eyes of two million hard-working Canadians and explain his betrayal of the income trust promise?

Finance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to once again remind the Liberals that the tax fairness plan that this government put in place was actually supported by a good number of Canadians. In fact, it was even supported by some Liberals who actually wrote to the Auditor General.

The comment of the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is, and I quote, “fair assumption that there are going to be challenges to the treatment of income trusts”.

I quote the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, “That made it clear that Liberals had been planning to announce the tax on income trusts”.

Finance
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, when commenting on the TSX decline in public offerings, the CEO of the TSX said, “The federal government knee-capped the income trust industry and it hurt our reputation abroad”.

We now have a finance minister running around the country saying to invest anywhere but Ontario. The Prime Minister has broken his word on income trusts, on the Atlantic accord, on equalization, on capital gains taxes and he trash talks the people of Ontario. Why should Canadians believe--

Finance
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Finance
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me once again the opportunity to remind hon. members that the finance minister actually did his duty to Canadians, stood in this House and voted in favour of the budget. The Liberals de facto supported it.

Let us not forget all of the things that were in this budget. It was to provide impetus to Canadians to regain employment, to maintain a strong economy. The finance minister and the Prime Minister have this country on track.

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government announced that it was giving its approval to the Rabaska project. Yet on November 14, the Bloc Québécois spoke to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities about serious concerns the public has about the impact of building this liquefied natural gas terminal.

Can the minister tell us whether he has had or intends to have a study done on the anticipated effects of climate change on the level of the river and consequently on navigation by liquefied natural gas tankers, as the Bloc Québécois and the concerned citizens requested?

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in the course of the joint assessment by the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada, we examined the issues raised with respect to navigation and marine safety. Once the TERMPOL process had been completed, 76 recommendations were made, and the parties promised to follow those 76 recommendations. The recommendations are posted on the Internet site that was created for everyone to consult. I invite my colleague to look up this information.

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of the TERMPOL study, but an independent study was not conducted. The St. Lawrence River plays a major role in transporting goods, especially considering the environmental and economic benefits of marine transportation.

Can the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities tell us whether the approval he gave to the liquefied natural gas terminal project in Lévis is based on studies of the impact Rabaska will have on the desired increase in marine traffic?

Marine Transportation
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, once again, there is no more rigorous or exhaustive process in the world than TERMPOL for assessing this sort of project.

I therefore want to reassure the member and his party that everything has been done to ensure that the project is safe and secure.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must be pleased that he was able to help his beloved Republicans. It seems his plan to interfere in the American presidential primaries has paid off. The Price? Damaging Canada-U.S. relations.

What about the leaks? The last time we had a leak in Ottawa, the government had an Environment Canada employee hauled off in handcuffs.

Can the Prime Minister tell the House who in the PMO is being investigated and why is Ian Brodie not one of them?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has just answered this question and said very clearly that the government is very concerned about this leak.

The Clerk of the Privy Council, with the department, is fully investigating this leak. When the results are made, with legal advice, appropriate action will be taken, if required.

Fisheries
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret to members of the House that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has shown strong leadership for Newfoundland and for Atlantic Canada with his actions over the last few months, combating illegal foreign overfishing in the North Atlantic.

Fishermen and stakeholders are thankful the government does not sit on its hands when it comes to making important decisions to defend Canada's interests and protect our stocks.

Being from British Columbia, I know west coast fishermen specifically are waiting to see that the same tough resolve will be applied to concerns about illegal and unregulated fishing off the Pacific coast.

Fisheries
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl
Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his assistance and support in relation to dealing with foreign overfishing.

In relation to the west coast, let me also assure him we are taking the same action over there. Just recently, during our Operation Driftnet patrol, six Chinese vessels were sighted using illegal driftnets. After reporting them to the U.S. coast guard, six were apprehended.

The Chinese government has confiscated each vessel, sold five of them, and the owners have had their international fishing licences cancelled. Heavy fines were also imposed.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada recently approved the construction of the Rabaska liquefied natural gas terminal across from the provincial capital, Quebec City, at a very narrow spot along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Last summer—or rather, at the beginning of September—our new Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke out publicly against a similar project on the coast of Maine in the United States because, he said, he wanted “to protect the people and the environment”.

Why does our minister, the member for Beauce, care more about the Americans and their environment than about Quebeckers and theirs?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, once again, I believe the member knows a lot about this project because he was Quebec's minister of the environment when the subject was being discussed. He knows that all of the procedures were followed with respect to the Bureau d'audiences publiques and public consultation.

The Government of Quebec supports the project. All of the procedures have been followed to the letter. This is good for the greater Quebec City area and for Canada.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I was the minister, I told the government that it was so dangerous, I would not even consider it.

The government recently approved another project called Keystone that will send 100 million litres of Canadian oil per day to the United States. Just as in the Rabaska situation, NAFTA requires us to keep exporting, and we cannot stop this from happening.

Rabaska is for the U.S. market. Instead of protecting American economic interests, why not spend more time working for the right of future generations in Canada to energy security? Why not keep our resources here at home? Why endanger—

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, once again, this is a very important project for the greater Quebec City area. All of the conditions were have been met.

I realize that my hon. colleague is trying to compare this project to others, but each project is examined on its own merits. He should know that, having been Quebec's minister of the environment. He is very well aware of that.

This is a very important project for the whole region. We in the government are very happy about it.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, there were two leaks. Why is the Prime Minister's Office not investigating the one that came out of the PMO?

The Conservatives are masters of parsing words for their own benefit. Unfortunately, the first victim is often the truth.

Therefore, let me ask a very clear question. Did the Prime Minister's chief of staff leak information to CTV News about confidential diplomatic conversations concerning Senator Obama's position on NAFTA, yes or no?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I just answered this question. I will answer this question again.

We take this leak very seriously. The Clerk of the Privy Council has been asked to investigate it with the department. When the results come through, if needed, appropriate action will be taken.

I would like to thank the Liberal Party for voting for the budget yesterday.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, for most Canadian couples, laws are in place to provide them a right to equal distribution of assets if their relationship comes to an end.

Unfortunately, this is not the case on first nations reserves. After a breakup on reserve, very often the women and children are left with very little or even nothing.

Yesterday, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development introduced legislation to rectify this terrible injustice. Can the minister tell the House why it is so important to get the bill passed quickly?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is important to pass Bill C-47 as quickly as possible to correct an inequality. It is about extending matrimonial rights to protect aboriginal women and children, to ensure they are treated fairly if things go wrong in the home.

It is something aboriginal groups have been asking for. Human rights groups, the Senate unanimously, including Liberals, asked us to pass this legislation as quickly as possible, as did Lucy Roundpoint, who is a member from Akwesasne. She said that Bill C-47 would protect other aboriginal women from having to go through what she has gone through.

This is a good bill. It is about righting a wrong. It is about bringing equality to first nations women. It is time to get this bill done. It is time to pass it in the House.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, since the first reforms to employment insurance in 1986, the Liberals and Conservatives have been taking turns helping themselves to workers' money.

Why does the reserve fund of the new crown corporation not contain the entire $57 billion that belonged to workers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, there is no question the Liberals did raid the EI account to the tune of well over $50 billion. We cannot do much about that, but we can fix this problem going forward and that is exactly what we are doing.

From this point forward, that funding will go through an independent financing board to make sure that decisions are made based on what is right for workers. Only enough premiums coming in to cover benefits will be required. Any more than that will go toward reducing premiums for the benefit of workers and employers. It is about time.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. I have two reminders for hon. members and I want to quote from page 522 of Marleau and Montpetit, which I am sure is very familiar to all hon. members. First, it states:

The Speaker will not allow a Member to refer to another Member by name even if the Member is quoting from a document such as a newspaper article. As the Chair noted, a Member “cannot do indirectly what cannot be done directly”.

That was a sin committed earlier today.

Second, it states:

It is unacceptable to allude to the presence or absence of a Member or Minister in the Chamber. The Speaker has traditionally discouraged Members from signalling the absence of another Member from the House because “there are many places that Members have to be in order to carry out all of the obligations that go with their office”.

I hope hon. members will bear those statements in mind during the ensuing days and not repeat the mistakes that have been made today.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask for the unanimous consent of this House to have a take note debate later this evening, pursuant to Standing Order 53(1), on the devastating effect the World Trade Organization negotiations will have on the fisheries programs, such as the elimination of small craft harbours programs, the elimination of the capital gains tax exemption, the elimination of employment insurance for fishermen, and the elimination of the gas tax card for fishermen.

These are very important issues that affect the economy of inshore fishermen right across this country.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. member

Agreed.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties with respect to Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), first introduced during the 38th Parliament and reintroduced May 24, 2007.

This bill at long last includes the legal word for “gender” in the categories protected from hate crimes.

On the cusp of International Women's Day, I hope to find consent for the following motion: that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), be deemed read a second time and referred to committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 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 15 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian group of the Interparliamentary Union, respecting its participation at the 51st session of the Commission on the Status of Women, “A parliamentary perspective on discrimination and violence against the girl child”, held in New York, March 1, 2007.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian group of the Interparliamentary Union, respecting its participation at the annual parliamentary conference on the WTO, held in Geneva, Switzerland, December 1 and 2, 2006.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: the ninth report on Chapter 5, Passports Services — Passport Canada of February 2007 Report of the Auditor General of Canada; the 10th report on Chapter 7, Management of Forensic Laboratory Services — Royal Canadian Mounted Police of the May 2007 Report of the Auditor General of Canada; and the 11th report on the Public Accounts of Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, January 28, 2008, your committee has considered Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act and agreed on Tuesday, March 4, to report it without amendment.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee requests an extension of 30 sitting days under Standing Order 97.1 to consider Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a), a motion to concur in the report is deemed moved, the question deemed put, and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Wednesday, March 12, 2008, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in relation to the supplementary estimates.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

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 motions.

The first motion seeks to provide an opportunity to members of the House to have additional time to debate our Afghanistan military commitment mission. I seek consent for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, on Monday, March 10, and Tuesday, March, 11, 2008, commencing at the hour the House would normally adjourn and ending at midnight, the House shall consider Government Motion No. 5, which is the motion that proposes Canada should continue its military presence in Kandahar beyond February 2009 to July 2011, provided that during the debate no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent will be receivable by the Chair and, when no member rises to speak or at midnight, whichever comes first, the House shall adjourn to the next sitting day without the question being put; and, on Thursday, March 13, 2008, unless previously disposed of, at 15 minutes before 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 Motion No. 5.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose these motions?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, there has not been the normal consultation that usually would go along with this type of matter. It is possible that consultation could proceed later but since it has not taken place to this point, we would not be in a position to agree to the item at this time.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the opposition House leader for those constructive comments. There has been some consultation but I am pleased that the parties will consider it further.

My other motion relates to Bill C-47 on matrimonial property and reads: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-47, an act respecting family homes situated on first nations reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

I seek consent for that motion in this International Women's Week.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, hopefully I will have better luck than my colleague, the hon. House leader. I have four motions to present. I know there have been discussions and, hopefully, there will be consent for them. The first deals with the votes tonight. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the deferred recorded division on concurrence in the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance be taken this evening immediately after the recorded division on concurrence in the second report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 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?

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, again, there have been discussions among all parties on the following motions dealing with travel and I think you would find unanimous consent for the following. I move:

That, four members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development be authorized to travel to Toronto, Ontario on March 7, 2008 to attend the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards Gala.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 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 this motion?

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to its study of Tasers, 12 members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security be authorized to travel to Vancouver, B.C. in April 2008, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 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 this motion?

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to its study on small craft harbours, 12 members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to travel to St. John's, Newfoundland; Bay Roberts, Newfoundland; Twillingate, Newfoundland; St. Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island; Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Bathurst, New Brunswick; and Gaspé, Quebec in April-May 2008, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 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?

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Manufacturing and Forestry Crisis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House this afternoon to table a petition from my constituents. As we can see, many people are currently coping with the manufacturing and forestry crisis, which has also been identified as an economic and human crisis in our region.

The petitioners are calling on Parliament to intervene by providing programs for communities to support workers and their families, and by providing money to ensure the long-term survival of their economy. The long term does not just mean giving small amounts of money; it means providing the necessary funds to help our workers and their families, and promote economic development, so that our people are no longer dependent on EI and can continue to work and support their families.

Quebec Nation and Bill 101
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition with 208 signatures. These Quebeckers are calling on the Government of Canada to demonstrate that it respects the Quebec nation and Bill 101.

Justice
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by 200 people from my riding of Red Deer, Alberta. These citizens are outraged at the violent beating of a 61-year-old apartment caretaker by repeat offender, Leo Teskey.

The petitioners, therefore, demand that Parliament pass tougher laws regarding repeat and violent offenders and adequate compensation for victims of violent crimes.

Great Lakes Water Levels
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House today to present a petition on behalf of 3,825 of my constituents.

It is a petition to the Government of Canada regarding the alarming downturn in the upper Great Lakes water levels. They are calling on the Government of Canada to take action immediately.

Youth
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition in this House signed by 45 young Quebeckers and Canadians who are calling on the federal government to make a better effort to listen to and represent young Canadians and Quebeckers.

I applaud their initiative, and I had the opportunity to listen to their requests. I am pleased to represent them before the House today. I hope that the Conservatives will follow the Bloc's lead and listen to what young Quebeckers and Canadians want.

Canada Post
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, on behalf of residents of Malpeque, a petition about their grave concerns with the actions of Canada Post.

They are concerned that Canada Post is switching residents from door to door mail delivery to community mailbox delivery without properly assessing the safety of these community mailboxes to the residents.

Many of the community mailboxes being established in the province of P.E.I. are no safer than regular mailboxes and have additional problems in terms of accessibility, litter, snow buildup and the environment.

The petitioners request that Parliament ensure proper consultations with the affected customers and thorough assessment of the location of the community mailboxes before they are put in place.

Justice
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour of presenting petitions on behalf of a number of concerned citizens from my home province of Saskatchewan and also from Alberta, led by Ms. Shawna Silzer.

The petitioners call upon the government to proceed with changes to the criminal justice system and all necessary legislation to ensure truth in sentencing for violent crimes; to make mandatory that victims of violent crimes are informed about their offenders' whereabouts during temporary release, parole and after completion of their sentences; furthermore, to pass legislation that a violent offender found guilty of subsequent, serious violent or sexual offences should automatically be designated a dangerous offender unless he or she could demonstrate why this would not be appropriate; place greater focus on the rights and needs of victims of violent crimes within the Canadian criminal justice system; and, ensure that victims of violent crime do not bear the financial burden of medical and psychological treatment arising from the crimes perpetrated upon them.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 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, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 98 and 170.

Question No. 98
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

What instructions did Canadian negotiators receive for the fourth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Vienna, Austria, from August 27 to 31, 2007; on what information were their presentations and negotiations based; and what positions did the Canadian negotiators defend?

Question No. 98
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, at the fourth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, KP AWG, held on August 27 to 31, 2007, Canadian negotiators were guided by written instructions.

The information in these instructions outlined Canada’s position on issues under negotiation and set the parameters for what Canada sought to achieve at the meeting. For this meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada’s instructions were developed through analysis and interdepartmental consultations and were approved by senior executives in both Environment Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Canada’s general positions were described in an initial submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in May 2006 and a subsequent one in August 2007.

The instructions provided for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol of the Framework Convention on Climate Change outline the government's position in respect of ongoing negotiations. As such, they cannot be released as doing so could be injurious to Canada's negotiating position and to its international relations.

Question No. 170
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

With regard to the report entitled “National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries” published by the Advisory Group of the National Roundtables on CSR and the Canadian Extractive Industry on March 29, 2007: (a) does the government intend to promptly respond to the roundtable members; (b) will the government act quickly on all the recommendations presented; and (c) what is the government’s official position on implementing the recommendations resulting from this process?

Question No. 170
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway
B.C.

Conservative

David Emerson Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the government is carefully reviewing the recommendations developed by the National Roundtables Advisory Group. Once a response is finalized, the government will make public its proposed course of action.

In response to (b), two of the recommendations have already been implemented: one, Canada’s support for the extractive industries transparency Initiative; and two, enhanced public reporting by the Canada Investment Fund for Africa.

In response to (c), the government is pleased that the industry and civil society members of the advisory group were able to develop a set of recommendations despite the contentious nature of some of the issues at hand. These recommendations represent valuable input into the government’s forthcoming response.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 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, would you be so kind as to call Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-36, in the name of the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

That an Order of this House do issue for a copy of the Canadian negotiators’ briefing book for the fourth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Vienna, Austria, from August 27 to 31, 2007.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, a briefing binder was not prepared for the meeting, which took place in Vienna, Austria in August 2007, I therefore ask the hon. member to withdraw his motion.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In the absence of a request from the member, I hereby order that the matter be transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should introduce, as soon as possible, an amendment to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act, in order to remove the reference to public policy that is added by this bill to subsection 125.4(1) of the Income Tax Act, because this new provision opens the door to unacceptable government censorship of film and video production.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here today to introduce this motion to counter the Conservative government's desire to censor film productions.

The motion calls on this government to introduce, as soon as possible, an amendment to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act, with a view to remove the reference to public policy that is added by this bill to subsection 125.4(1) of the act.

We must ask the question: why should the expression “public policy” be removed? Well, this expression is so vague that it is open to interpretation. I will give a few over-the-top examples to demonstrate how it could be interpreted in various ways.

For instance, would a film that shows someone burning the Canadian flag or insulting the Queen conform to public policy? That is one question. What about a film that criticizes the Conservative government or questions our presence in Afghanistan or promotes sovereignty in the middle of or prior to a referendum, for instance? Would such a film conform to public policy? We must ask the question. Thus, the words “public policy” could be taken even further still.

With respect to Bill C-10, what is the Prime Minister telling us through the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, of course?

Here is the first argument they keep repeating endlessly: given that this bill has already been passed by the House, and is presently being studied by the Senate, we should have acted earlier. That is true.

Nobody pointed out this section on criteria for film production credits. This section is buried in a 560-page bill to amend the Income Tax Act.

When I say nobody, I really mean nobody. The three opposition parties did not see it and the Senate did not see it at first or second reading. It is now at third reading stage. We can even assume—and I did say assume—that the Minister of Canadian Heritage did not see it because it was her colleague, the Minister of Finance, who was responsible for this legislation.

We must humbly acknowledge, and simply say, that a mistake was made and that we are prepared to rectify the situation. That is the important point: let us rectify the situation.

Yet we see that the government continues to make these kinds of arguments.

The second, and not the least important, of its arguments is that this government does not view it as a censorship mechanism. It would serve to prevent the state from funding pornographic movies, child pornography, hate propaganda and so forth. It is true that the state should not fund these types of productions.

We heard the Minister of Canadian Heritage blithely repeating in all the media and even in this House that we must not fund such productions and that the purpose of the section was to prevent such horrors.

I realize that the Minister of Canadian Heritage may not be aware that such movies are not funded in Canada or in Quebec. It is true that we do not have to know everything. In fact, either the Minister of Heritage is acting in bad faith or she is not aware that we have a Criminal Code that prohibits such things. Personally, I prefer to think that she just is not aware of it.

For the benefit of the Minister of Heritage, allow me to briefly summarize the offences found in the Criminal Code in this regard.

Section 319 of the Criminal Code includes provisions on hate propaganda and incitement of hatred. The maximum prison sentence is two years. Section 163 of the Criminal Code on offences tending to corrupt morals prohibits the production and distribution of child pornography and obscene publications.

I could cite other provisions. The famous subsection 163(1)(a) states: “—makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution—”. This all has to do with child pornography.

Subsection 163.1(2) addresses the production of child pornography. Production itself is therefore covered. It also provides for maximum sentences of 10 years for the distribution of child pornography. The Criminal Code also covers other offences, such as defamation and slander.

I also want to remind the minister that the criteria for granting film certificates were changed in May 2005. Section VII, newly created by the Regulations Amending the Income Tax Regulations (Film and Video Productions), stipulates that all pornography is excluded. Child pornography is clearly defined in the Criminal Code. Under this new Section VII created by the Regulations Amending the Income Tax Regulations (Film and Video Productions), productions exclude all pornography. In other words, no tax credit is given to that type of film.

What current events have prompted us to amend the legislation in question? Why were these clarifications added? In my opinion, the question must be asked. Does this legislation not include hidden objectives that reflect the government's desire for censorship? I believe that people are inherently good and I can believe that the government is well-meaning. I am simply proposing that this bill be amended. It is not too late.

We all agree on one thing: the state must not provide funding for pornographic films. The state must not provide funding for child pornography or hate propaganda films either. We all agree on that.

I have good news for everyone: my colleague, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, has tabled a bill to have the CRTC regulate violence on television. He would like violent programs to be broadcast after 9 p.m. when children are already sleeping. The purpose of his bill is to get the CRTC to do its job as a regulator. Broadcasters are currently required to regulate themselves voluntarily. This bill offers a way to control violence on television without having to censor anything.

I would like to bring up an interesting argument from a press release issued by the minister's office. The press release contains something I found rather unusual and it really left me wondering. So I wanted to take a closer look at it. According to this document, the creator of a film that includes content that may be subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code “could technically still be eligible for a film tax credit under the Income Tax Act.” The release goes on to say:

This is a legal absurdity; a loophole that successive governments—first Liberal, then Conservative—have worked to close.

I must admit I am rather surprised that a creator who produces a work that includes content that may be subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code could receive a tax credit. That is unthinkable. Let us assume that this creator produces pornographic movies. Child pornography is subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code. We do not pay for these kinds of things.

The creator would not receive a tax credit.

I must admit that I am rather shocked by this argument, which makes no sense, and just goes to show that the government is flailing around and saying any old thing.

I think that the Conservative government—and I am sure many members will agree—is still using the back door to impose its far-right values. The Minister of Canadian Heritage is accusing us of blowing this out of proportion, and is saying that the film industry is panicking for nothing. If that is the case, the Conservatives should reassure us and simply amend the bill. We will have been wrong, we will have blown things out of proportion, and they will have fixed this little problem.

Unfortunately, our Minister of Canadian Heritage is powerless. She does not make the decisions in her department; they are made by her colleague, the Minister of Finance. I think she is so powerless that she is strongly supporting aberrations that are taking us back to the time of censorship. Now that is really something. It is very sad, but I think this is the only concrete action the minister has taken for the film industry, which is an action against the film industry. It is truly sad.

Indeed, this minister's record when it comes to the film industry is absolutely terrible, pathetic even. Let me explain. She is a minister from Quebec and she still refuses to recognize the existence of the Quebec film industry. She is the first minister to have abandoned the International Centre of Films for Children and Young People, whose head office had been in Montreal since 1990, and which had to move to Johannesburg, South Africa.

I would also remind the House that there was absolutely nothing for the film industry in the recent budget. Out of a $240 billion budget, she could not convince her colleague in the finance department to reinvest $50 million in the Feature Film Fund or the Television Fund. Furthermore, she still does not want to establish a $10 million documentary feature film fund, as called for by the film industry. It is so unfortunate and I am very sad to have to tell the cultural community that we have a heritage minister who is merely an extra.

Yes, the cultural community should be worried. As Pierre Even, producer of C.R.A.Z.Y, said, and I quote: “Despite the numerous representations we have made over the past two years to make the government aware of our needs, there was absolutely nothing in this budget for the film industry ... The government understands nothing about culture or how cultural institutions operate”.

This is very sad, indeed.

Here is how CTVM's newsletter summarized the general impression of this community, and I quote: “Our federal minister does not appear to like our movies”. We love movies. Does the minister not like movies? We would have to ask her. What I would say to the film community is that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is not showing any leadership in this file and is merely a powerless representation of a minister in power, even though she has none. She is a powerless minister.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I was rather surprised at the admission of the Bloc member when she said that nobody pointed out the clause in the bill. I have a news flash for her. It is her responsibility to take a look at the legislation and vote accordingly. There is no excuse for that.

The member also said that she was surprised and flummoxed. I am rather surprised and flummoxed at the fact she does not realize that under the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, which presently governs taxpayer funds that are made available to film producers, the so-called offending clause is contained in its regulations. Let me read it, and it is on its website. It is clause 5, section l, which says, “production for which public financial support would, in the opinion of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, be contrary to public policy” would not eligible for the tax credit program. Those are the words in the bill that the member condemns. It simply brings CAVCO regulations into effect on tax exemption.

Maybe then if she does understand that it is already in the regulations, she could tell us one single solitary example in the history of CAVCO where there has been so-called censorship. I defy her because she knows full well that she cannot name one time. She is making an absolute mountain out of a molehill and she is feeding the lack of information, the ignorance of the fact that this clause already exists in public policy.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to figure out what the question is because I did not hear my colleague ask a question. Nevertheless, I will try to answer my colleague, for whom I have great respect.

If there is no problem, why did they put the words “public policy” in the bill? As I said, this kind of thing is already forbidden. Existing exclusion criteria address pornography, as does the Criminal Code. That is the truth. Currently, there is no problem.

However, what I am saying, what we are saying, is that the government is trying to create a problem. Simply put, it is trying to create censorship. But there is no problem. If there were a problem, we would say, yes, it is true, the law should be changed so that we do not fund pornographic films. But that is already the case.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I found the parliamentary secretary's question to the member rather interesting. We all know that if there is any government that ever resided in this town, there is none better than the current one for bringing in what it really wants through backdoor policies. Clearly the backdoor policy in this instance is censorship.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

It was your bill, Wayne. It was a Liberal bill.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

They are yelling and heckling over there. They really hate to hear the facts and the fact is the Conservatives are bringing in censorship by the back door—

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

It's your bill.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Normally I do not have any problem hearing the hon. member for Malpeque, but there seems to be quite a lot of noise. Perhaps we could tone it down and let him finish. If other members have questions, they will be free to do so.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

I know, Mr. Speaker, that the truth really hurts.

Could the member clearly spell out how this really is a backdoor censorship policy under the guise of a tax policy by the government?

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

When a decision is made to amend a law, it is because something in the law is not working and something needs to be added. When there is nothing to amend, no law or amendment is made. Like it or not, we have to ask ourselves why the government wants to make this amendment if everything is fine? Like it or not, an expression as general as “public policy” can be interpreted in any number of ways.

For example, if two characters in a film have sex and can be seen slightly, is that contrary to public policy? We have to wonder. Would films like Bon Cop, Bad Cop meet the criterion or not?

In my opinion, when no change is needed, then no law or bill should be drafted. There is no need to do anything.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague, the member for Ahuntsic. As I understand it, the government wants to adopt a bill to amend primarily the Income Tax Act because Canada is already subsidizing regular or child pornography or hate propaganda. That is my understanding. Canada is already financing pornography, and that is why the government is making a change with regard to public policy.

I would like my colleague's reaction.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand my colleague's question. This is what she said: if the government presently provides tax credits for pornography or child pornography, there is a problem. We must therefore ensure that that no longer happens.

I will simply say to my colleague that, at present, no pornographic movies receive tax credits and therefore are not indirectly funded by the state. With regard to child pornography, whether or not we like it, it is punished by the Criminal Code. It is illegal in Canada and in Quebec. Therefore, why amend a law if it is not necessary? Whether we like it or not, it is so they can introduce censorship through the back door.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am quite thrilled by the arts. My riding of Cambridge has a new theatre that will bring $80 million in spinoffs to the riding, create jobs and bring in great Canadian productions. We are waiting for the province of Ontario to kick in its share.

Even though the federal government contributed some money to that project, none of these productions will contain offensive material. They will not be like some of the things we have seen in the past, which were sponsored by the Liberal Party, movies like Bubbles Galore and Penis Dementia: the Perfect Penis. These kinds of movies are offensive to some people in my riding and they do not want their tax dollars to be spent in that fashion.

This initiative was started by the Liberal Party many years ago and was supported by all parties, including that member's party. What is the flip-flop here?

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again my colleague is not asking a direct question. I will nevertheless try to reply.

Currently there are pornographic or “offensive” movies. Here again, what is meant by “offensive”? That may mean one thing to my Conservative colleague and another to me. Perhaps it may mean something completely different for my NDP colleague and for my Liberal colleague. What does “offensive” mean?

Once again we have a word that means many things and that can cover many acts in a movie. In my opinion, a porn movie is offensive and I do not agree with funding this type of movie.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Abbotsford.

I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-10. I will start by saying that over the last few days, we have heard a lot of false information about the purpose and scope of Bill C-10, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, in connection with tax credits for the production of films and videos.

I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight and to discuss several things.

First, Bill C-10 is in no way a form of censorship. It is not our goal to interfere with freedom of expression, as the opposition would have us believe. Absolutely not. This bill would ensure the integrity of the tax system. The objective of this bill is to reassure taxpayers about the way public funds are spent. Since the Conservative government is responsible, this issue is important to us.

As some hon. members are aware, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has discretionary power to refuse to issue a film or video production certificate if, in the minister's opinion, the use of public funds is contrary to the public interest. This discretionary power has been in effect since 1995 under the Income Tax Regulations.

The proposed amendments in Bill C-10 come as no surprise to Canada's audiovisual industry. They were announced first in 2002 by the former finance minister in the Liberal government, then in 2003 by that same minister and the former Canadian heritage minister in the Liberal government. We therefore have a hard time understanding why the Liberals and now the Bloc seem to be opposed to the amendments. This is not the first time they have changed their minds, though.

Our government submitted exactly the same amendments to the House of Commons and they were approved by all parties on October 29, 2007, four months ago. All the parties approved the bill last fall. Moreover, four of the 10 provinces use the same wording in their system of tax credits for film production. Three other provinces refer to very similar concepts. In addition, Telefilm Canada, the federal cultural agency that provides financial support for Canadian audiovisual production, also refuses to finance some productions for similar reasons.

Many people have said that Bill C-10 will threaten freedom of expression. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our government continues to passionately defend freedom of expression.

The establishment of reasonable measures, such as the ones contained in Bill C-10, is designed to provide as much opportunity to freedom of expression, as it is consistent with the limits of the law and public policy.

Bill C-10 is about government accountability. It is about responsibility. Our government is a responsible government. A fundamental responsibility we have, as members of Parliament, is to ensure that Canadians are represented in these matters. I believe Bill C-10 does just that.

Bill C-10 also includes many other amendments to the Income Tax Act for which the film industry has asked. For example, amendments to section 241 would permit some disclosure of information to strengthen transparency in the administration of the programs in support of Canada's audiovisual industry.

The proposed amendments will allow the publication of recipients of tax credits, along with the names of the key creative personnel associated with the production. Other amendments simplify the tax credit and hence its benefits.

These measures are in keeping with our government's commitment to transparency, to streamline administrative processes and to reduce unnecessary red tape to make these programs work better for Canadians and, at the same time, make sure that the funds are managed effectively and efficiently.

Beyond the scope of this bill, our government has always demonstrated that it believed in the importance of culture.

We believe that it is important that our programs to support the arts, music, theatre, literature and audiovisual production reflect our country's history and Canadians' experiences. We believe that it is important for Canadians' voice to be heard, just as we believe that everyone should be able to hear it.

Our government has confirmed that commitment in many ways. We recently announced additional funding for festivals, the Canada Council and national museums. Moreover, budget 2006 granted a capital gains tax exemption for donations to public charities, many of which are active in the arts and culture.

Our commitment to culture is also evident on the international scene, as we sponsor and support the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

In addition, our government promotes the creativity of Canada's audiovisual industry every day through many established programs, including the Canadian Feature Film Fund, the Canadian New Media Fund and the Canadian Television Fund.

We are also supporting this industry through co-production agreements and tax credit programs that have proven their worth.

We are also supporting various key organizations that stimulate the creativity of the audiovisual industry. Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission come to mind.

In 2006-07, our government invested more than $765 million in Canadian audiovisual content: $74 million went to the National Film Board, $96 million to the Canadian Feature Film Fund, $252 million to the Canadian Television Fund, $14 million to the Canadian New Media Fund and $330 million to two tax credit programs.

Although public funds play an important role, we believe that they are not the only means available to develop the audiovisual industry. To stimulate the industry, we need policies, legislation and institutions. Important legislation, such as the Broadcasting Act, the Investment Canada Act and the Income Tax Act, along with other policies and regulations, contribute without a doubt to the success of our audiovisual industry.

Bill C-10 is about fairness and transparency. Many critics have said that the process is unfair and not transparent. With the passage of Bill C-10, the next step is for the Department of Canadian Heritage to conduct consultations with industry groups, as it did informally on March 3, and take full consideration of their comments and concerns. We will ensure that this will not have a negative effect on financing practices within the film industry.

In conclusion, let me address more specifically the audiovisual content. At the CFTPA convention, I stated the importance of content. In an open, global and multi-platform world, reaching Canadian audiences with Canadian content is the single most important objective.

This is why the creation of and the access to high calibre Canadian content that appeals to Canadians are the main drivers of our government's support. This is further evidence of our government's commitment to diverse cultural expression. Canada needs risk-takers to deliver this content and to capture the Canadian audience.

Our government firmly believes in its duty to support artists, creators and everyone who plays a key role in our cultural industries.

I would like to remind all Canadians that our government will continue to pursue this course with passion, respect and transparency.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the minister's remarks, and now I would like to ask her a question.

The motion we are considering today, if passed, would require the government to propose an amendment to Bill C-10—which is now before the Senate—to remove a certain clause.

If I understand and interpret the minister's remarks correctly, the government has no intention of following up on the House's wish in this regard. Do I understand correctly what the minister said about the motion before us today?

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Josée Verner Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell my colleague that the proposed legislation is nothing new. He is well aware of that fact because he was a member of the former government. This intent was announced by the former Liberal government, by Mr. Manley in 2002 and by Ms. Copps in 2003. This bill received the support of all parties just over four months ago.

What we need to do is make sure that the right hand is doing the same thing as the left. Right now, it is important to set goals to ensure that Canadian funds, Canadian taxpayers' money, will not be used to fund content that is not in line with public policy. In that sense, our intent is to do the same thing that other provinces were or are doing.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I gather from what the minister is saying is that this aspect of the bill will not contribute to censorship. If that is true, then why is the entire cultural and film community crying censorship. I am not talking about one or two people. The entire community is up in arms: the Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec, the Directors Guild of Canada. I could go on. Creators, producers, the entire community is crying censorship.

Could it be that everyone is wrong and the minister is right? She will have to explain that to me.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Josée Verner Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I understand the Bloc member's logic correctly, her party supported this bill for four months until, all of a sudden, it found there may be something contentious and it is now opposing the bill in order to make political gains. That is the only reason the Bloc has decided to stand up on this point.

For several days now there have been conversations between industry people and officials from my department and my office, simply to explain the direction the government would like to take in amending the Income Tax Act.

Allow me to correct what the hon. member said earlier. As we speak, even if a producer is being prosecuted under the Criminal Code, he could technically obtain a tax credit. That is the reality. And that is not what the hon. member said earlier. What she said was incorrect. If she had read the bill, she would know that.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important that the minister define some of the terminology that she has used this afternoon and which appears in the bill.

Could she define what she means by the public interest when it comes to an issuance of a certificate of a film and video tax credit and also what the legislation means when it talks about something being “contrary to public policy”? What is it specifically? How is that defined? What does that mean when it comes to the application of the eligibility for a certificate for the Canadian film and video tax credit?

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Josée Verner Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, surely the hon. member must know that we are talking about rules that are already being applied in the book and magazine industry. One thing is certain, the famous guidelines will be set. As I said in my speech, we will hold consultations with industry people. We will take their comments into consideration and set the guidelines, as we should, after Bill C-10 is passed.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to engage in this debate on Bill C-10. My sole purpose today is to correct the public record regarding this bill.

As we know, Bill C-10 is a very specific amendment to the Income Tax Act and it clarifies our government's support for the Canadian film production industry. The bill simply permits the federal government to refuse to issue film tax credits where there are sound public policy reasons for doing so.

Regrettably, the debate has been muddied by unfair and inaccurate information emanating primarily from the opposition parties in this House.

From the outset, let me correct the public record by saying that, unlike what has been suggested this past week, the indisputable fact is that this proposal did not even originate with our current Conservative government. For anyone willing to actually examine the issue, it is abundantly clear that this proposed legislation originated with previous Liberal governments, going back to 1995.

As this fact seems to have escaped some of my conspiracy theory colleagues on the opposition benches, it might be helpful to review the historical record of this legislation.

As I have just stated, the very first time a previous Liberal government suggested a public policy limitation on the certification of films or video productions was back in 1995, some 13 years ago. The original release of the draft film tax credit regulations by the previous Liberal government provided discretion to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to refuse eligibility for film or video tax credits if the provision of public financial assistance--in other words, taxpayers' hard-earned dollars--would, in the opinion of the minister, be “contrary to public policy”.

Then again in 2002, the federal Department of Justice recommended to the then Liberal government of Jean Chrétien that such ministerial discretion be authorized in the Income Tax Act. In response, some amendments to the Income Tax Act were released for consultation by John Manley, who at that time was the Liberal minister of finance.

These amendments created a ministerial discretion to deny assistance to a film or video production on the grounds that granting such assistance would be “contrary to public policy”, exactly the wording that is in today's Bill C-10.

At the conclusion of that consultation period, final amendments were published on November 14, 2003. They were published jointly by then Minister Manley and the then Liberal minister of Canadian heritage, Sheila Copps, including the following provision:

“Canadian film or video production certificate” means a certificate issued in respect of a production by the Minister of Canadian Heritage certifying that the production is a Canadian film or video production in respect of which that Minister is satisfied that

public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy.

That provision released by the previous Liberal government is exactly the same provision, verbatim and word for word, that is included in the current Bill C-10, which we are debating today.

I would also like to quote a Liberal government news release that was issued jointly in 2003 by both John Manley and Sheila Copps. It stated:

Today's proposal results from ongoing consultations with all sectors of the film industry, which were undertaken by the Departments of Finance and Canadian Heritage....

To those in the film and television community who now plead ignorance to the introduction of these amendments, let me read a portion of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association press release from November 2003, a release that was still posted on its website the last time I looked, for all the world to see. It stated:

After almost three years of complex negotiations, the Department of Finance and Department of Canadian Heritage unveiled draft amendments to the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, which affects Canadian content production....

“This is going to help a lot of producers, and it's exactly what the industry needs right now. Making Canadian shows and films is tough in the current international markets. While financing is never easy, this is what the doctor ordered”, says Guy Mayson, acting president and CEO, Canadian Film and Television Production Association.

Everybody bought in when a Liberal government was in place.

I encourage people to go to that website and check out that news release. Anyone who reads the press release will note the absence of any serious concern with the discretionary power afforded under Bill C-10. There is nothing about censorship, nothing about it potentially devastating the industry.

As I have stated, these very amendments are now included in Bill C-10. In fact, the bill before us was first introduced in the last session of Parliament as Bill C-33.

In that previous session the bill had completed third reading in the House of Commons with all party support: NDP, Bloc, Liberal and Conservative. Of course, that session came to an end and the bill died on the order paper.

When the second session started, the bill was introduced as Bill C-10 and again received unanimous support from all parties in the House. It passed at second reading, went to committee, came back for third reading, and now it is in the Senate.

During that long process, the bill has been thoroughly reviewed time and time again by the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc, both in this House and at the House and Senate committees. No objections were raised by parliamentarians from any opposition party, Liberal, NDP or Bloc, or even by film or television industry representatives.

Let me be perfectly clear. From November 2006 until very recently no expressions of concern regarding the amendment were raised. There were no fears regarding censorship or devastation of the industry. This is an industry all parliamentarians are proud of and want to thrive, an industry that not only serves a vital cultural role in Canada but an important economic role as well.

That is the history of Bill C-10. I trust that I have been able to dispel once and for all the absurd notion that the bill is a secret plan to introduce censorship. It is just not true.

Quite frankly, I am offended by that suggestion coming from the opposition parties. This is their bill. They introduced it. They thoroughly reviewed it a number of times. They approved it not once, not twice, but at least three times. In fact, this Liberal proposal goes back 13 years.

Now that I have firmly established the Liberal origins of the bill, I would like to turn to the central question. Why is it that both previous and current federal governments support this legislation?

Let me first note that restrictions on funding eligibility for films are not uncommon in cultural policy. Throughout the years most federal funding programs that support cultural works have included guidelines stating that certain materials, such as hate propaganda, excessively violent material, or pornography, is not eligible for government assistance. Most taxpayers find that eminently sensible. Somehow today, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc, who used to support this legislation, do not find it eminently sensible.

In the same way, Bill C-10 addresses only the most extreme and objectionable of film and video productions. What Bill C-10 does not do is in any way ban or restrict cultural productions which are privately funded.

We simply want to ensure that public funds, in other words taxpayers' hard earned dollars, are not invested in productions which are highly objectionable and offensive in their content. In fact, Bill C-10 simply implements long established practices in this regard.

For example, I note that four Canadian provinces have exactly the same wording in their film tax regimes as does our bill and three additional provinces employ very similar concepts, yet the Liberals and the Bloc and the NDP have not been jumping up and down about those jurisdictions having implemented this kind of legislation.

Despite the histrionics from the opposition parties, the Canadian film and television industry can be assured that it has the strong support of our Conservative government, especially the support of our fine Minister of Canadian Heritage. Canadian producers will continue to have great flexibility in the kind of productions they want to produce.

In short, the bill has absolutely nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with ensuring that taxpayers receive good value for the productions that they and their tax dollars subsidize.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to deal with the issue of censorship. It is with reference to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Section 13.(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act enables human rights commissions to basically prosecute someone, if someone says something that offends someone else.

Would the hon. member propose to his party that the human rights committee of the House of Commons, in open hearings, discusses the relevance of section 13.(1) and whether section 13.(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act actually is being used to undermine freedom of speech in Canada?

I personally think it is. In fact, I think we need to take an overall look at the human rights commissions in Canada, but I hope--

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am sure, and as a matter of fact I know full well, that the member who was just speaking is very engaged with this particular issue. I recognize that and I probably find a lot of common ground. However, I suggest that questions and comments typically in a debate relate to the topic at hand.

Section 13.(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act has little or nothing, as a matter of fact it has nothing, to do with this debate.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you might want to go to a different question that does have something to do with this debate.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I think the hon. parliamentary secretary makes a good point. The motion before the House is very specific with regard to Bill C-10 and proposed amendments.

I did not hear anything in the question that had to do with this subject, so I think we will move on to another question, unless the hon. member can tie it in somehow.

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca very briefly, if he can tie it into the motion.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

In view of our conversation, Mr. Speaker, on Bill C-10, I wonder if the hon. member would ask his party to look at whether or not the human rights committee would take a look at human rights commissions in Canada and specifically section 13.(1) of the act.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I do not know if the question accomplished that. If the hon. member for Abbotsford wants to very briefly respond, there are a few other members who wish to ask questions.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to answer that question.

Had the hon. member been listening, I reminded my colleagues in the House that four provinces actually have exactly the same wording that we are proposing in Bill C-10. Three others have similar wording and all hope to achieve the same goal.

If in fact the legislation would violate some human rights legislation in Canada, surely there would have been challenges in some of the other jurisdictions.

I also remind the member that this matter has been before the House. He had an opportunity to address this matter at committee, if he had chosen to do so. He did not raise the issue of human rights.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, if people in the film industry are pointing to potential censorship by the Conservative government, it is undoubtedly because there are examples to prove that the members of the Conservative Party are tempted to act in that manner.

I am referring to the recent appearance of the Chairman of the Board of Telefilm Canada before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The member for Palliser listed movies which, in his opinion, Telefilm Canada should not have funded. This concrete example speaks for itself.

I am also thinking of the guidelines. The government told us that they once existed but that they no longer exist and that they will be issued after the bill is passed by the Senate and receives royal assent.

Does the member not think that, in order to eliminate these concerns, it would be better to remove this contentious passage from Bill C-10?

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I both serve on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and I have appreciated his input.

However, it strikes me as passing strange that the member would get up in the House now and accuse this government of trying to impose censorship. When the legislation was before the House in the first session of this Parliament, his party voted in favour of it. It was before the House in the second session of Parliament and he also voted in favour of it.

Yet, suddenly now he has all of these interesting objections that he wants to raise. I think he is way off base. This is not about censorship at all. In fact, there are provincial jurisdictions across Canada that have similar legislation for their provincial film tax credits.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Mount Royal, Justice; the hon. member for Malpeque, Agriculture; the hon. member for Windsor West, Canada-U.S. Border.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Ottawa--Vanier.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition, I would first like to say that we share the concerns of thousands of Canadians who have clearly indicated, these past few days, their opposition, or at the very least, their concern over the actions of the Conservative government with respect to funding for Canada's television and film productions.

We agree that this requires closer examination to determine the true intentions of the government, what consultations it has already conducted and what it has failed to do. We need to know where things stand. If the situation needs to be rectified, we believe it should be.

But we do not think that the Bloc's motion, or at least their proposed method for tackling this issue, is the right way to go about it. That is why we will not support the motion.

We will not support this motion for several reasons. The first is obvious: the government will not respect it. The Bloc is asking the government to withdraw a section of Bill C-10, which is now before the Senate. Earlier, I asked the minister. Even if the Bloc motion were adopted, the government has no intention of withdrawing this section from the bill or proposing an amendment. So it is not worth it.

There are many examples of times when, although the House voted in favour of various legislative, financial or other types of measures, the government ignored them. I am thinking, for example, of the court challenges program. Many times, a majority expressed that it wanted the government to restore this program, but nothing happened.

The same thing happened with environmental issues. The House even took the legislative route, but we are still waiting for the government to follow up on the majority will of the House. The same goes for the Kelowna accord.

I could go on and on. This is why we have no doubt that even if the Bloc motion were adopted, the government has no intention of following through on it.

The second reason we do not support this motion is that Parliament must do its work. Parliament's role is to legislate and to supervise the government. It must do that work. Government representatives are rubbing our noses in the fact that the House endorsed this bill. On behalf of my party, I would like to say mea culpa, as others have done.

We have to acknowledge the reality of this situation. This is an extremely technical, 560 page-long bill. It was introduced during the first session of this Parliament, and it was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, if I am not mistaken.

However, the government must act responsibly and honourably. The Crown demands a certain sense of honour of its representatives. When the committee studied Bill C-33, which is now Bill C-10, the government's representatives did not say a word about this measure. They tried to sneak it through quietly. That approach seems to have worked here in Parliament.

With all due respect to my NDP and Bloc colleagues, this is a bicameral parliament. Canada's Parliament is made up of two houses: this one and the Senate. Today, my Senate colleagues announced that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce intends to study the matter.

Throughout the history of this institution, we have rarely seen a better example of the usefulness and necessity of a bicameral legislature, a parliament made up of two houses. Even though the government neglected to talk about some parts of the bill, given its very technical nature, the bill was sent to the Senate. Subsequently, the issue was raised publicly, and the Senate now intends to shed some light on it.

I believe that by April, the Senate will hold hearings and listen to those who want to be heard in order to find out what is going on. That is another reason we will not support the motion. We have to give Parliament a chance to do its work. As legislators, both houses of Parliament have a duty that they must carry out.

There is another reason: the proposed motion just puts the ball in the government's court. The minister said earlier that the federal and provincial governments are having some sort of discussion. We can presume that these discussions between officials and her staff have been precipitated in the past few days, for reasons I will get into in a few minutes. With all due respect to the minister, there has not been a lot of transparency here. No one knows when these meetings were held, who attended or what was discussed. We are left to assume certain things, when Parliament has a duty to carry out.

We have to look for the opportunity—and we have it right now, or will have it in the Senate—to clarify and truly understand the relationship that can exist between legislation, or Bill C-10, regulations and guidelines.

I have a question for the House and anyone watching us today. Earlier, reference was made to the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office guidelines. The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia said that clause 5 states:

production for which public financial support would, in the opinion of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, be contrary to public policy

Note that was in February 2004.

Now, if I refer to the regulations, which have more authority under the political and legal conventions of our country and our Parliament, we do not find that in the regulations of 2005. They huff and puff that this is a Liberal initiative, but it must also be recognized that in 2005, under a Liberal government, the regulations excluded this item from the conditions making a film or television production ineligible.

What is this really about? This needs to be cleared up. The Senate, or the committee in question, will give a voice to all those who want to speak up. It could call witnesses. That brings us to the heart of the matter. I hope the Senate will call and listen to Mr. McVety.

This gentleman has made some affirmations that we believe must be questioned. He has affirmed having met with two ministers of the Crown, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice, and that he is entirely satisfied that they have listened to his concerns about guidelines, future guidelines perhaps, who knows, and that he is happy.

Another comment was made on CBC Radio this week by the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board who said that the government has already decided what it wants to do and that it wants to take guidelines from somewhere else and impose them on cinematography and television productions.

When we hear the minister saying that nothing has been done, that he is waiting for the bill and then he will consult, we must be allowed to have some doubts as to what has happened and, thus, the necessity to have these hearings so it will be clear and everyone can deal with this very delicate matter, which is akin to censorship as I have said, in full knowledge of the status of the current legislation, regulations and guidelines and whether they mesh or not. I think that is an absolutely legitimate role of Parliament. I wish that it was being done in the House instead of the Senate but that is not the case. It will be done in the Senate and we support that. I think that is the way to go.

We need to have clarity in this. I have received hundreds of messages and calls, and I know it is the same for many of my colleagues, from people wanting to know what gives. Whenever we deal with censorship, the matter of freedom of speech or the matter of artistic liberty, people have deep feelings about that, as they should. We live in a society where we do encourage respect. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that establishes freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Artistic expression is certainly among those.

We need to understand what the government has in mind, what it did have in mind and what its intentions are. The best way of doing that is to use the ability and tools at the disposal of parliamentarians, whether they be in this House or the next house, to do that. The Liberal members of the Senate have publicly committed to doing that as early as possible, one would suspect as early as the month of April because the scheduling will be taken up in the next few days.

There is another reason why we cannot support the Bloc Québécois motion. This is because the amendment put forward by the Bloc might not be the right one. It might be, but it might not be. Other sections of Bill C-10 would have to be checked. Perhaps the best way to address this problem, once all the information and all the details are on the table, would be to ask that the Minister of Canadian Heritage be given the authority to establish regulations rather than guidelines.

This is important, because regulations are subject to review by Parliament, while guidelines are not. The Bloc Québécois is focusing on one section in particular. But I would like to highlight another section of Bill C-10. As I was saying, it is a 560-page bill that is extremely technical and I will try to quote part of it, in the hope that it will mean something to someone.

Another section says:

The Minister of Canadian Heritage shall issue guidelines respecting the circumstances under which the conditions in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of “Canadian film or video production certificate” in subsection (1) are satisfied. For greater certainty, these guidelines are not statutory instruments as defined in the Statutory Instruments Act.

In English, it says that for greater certainty these guidelines are not statutory instruments as defined in the Statutory Instruments Act. The reason I raise this is that guidelines escape the scrutiny of Parliament. Once the Senate has heard the witnesses, convened officials and had a full airing of this matter, perhaps other sections may or may not need to be amended. Certainly, if there are to be guidelines at some point and anywhere, perhaps these guidelines should be a statutory instrument and therefore subject to parliamentary scrutiny. That would not be the case. There are a number of possible amendments that the Senate could make.

In the same spirit, if we were to rely on the Bloc's motion, we would be asking the government to present amendments. We have clear indications from the minister that the government has no intention whatsoever of providing such an amendment.

Therefore, if we rely on our own, as parliamentarians, be it this House or the next, ability and authority to review legislation and propose amendments, should that be the case, the amendments would come back to this House and we would have a chance to look at them, as I hope we do. That is another reason that I believe the Bloc's proposal is not the best way to go and we will not be supporting it.

I will quickly summarize the situation. We have a bill that has gone to the Senate. Tens of thousands of Canadians and nearly the entire artistic community are extremely concerned about certain statements made by some people to the effect that the government intends to change the guidelines concerning the payment of tax credits. This has created huge uncertainty within the industry.

Apart from the matter of possible censorship and the limiting of artistic freedom, another concern is the financial structure of productions for television or films. If we spend all the money and at the end we are told we cannot, then we cause incredible grief.

That is another consideration that must be addressed. I think the Senate, as my colleagues in the Senate have promised this afternoon, will provide an opportunity for those who wish to be heard, those who wish to express their concerns and those who wish to understand all of the complexities between text of law or a law, regulations and guidelines and how they interrelate. We have a duty as parliamentarians to ensure that is all on the table in a very transparent way.

The way the Bloc is proposing to do this would not provide that at all. It would not provide an opportunity for parliamentarians to do what should have been done in the first place. However, because we are a bicameral Parliament, we have an opportunity in the other House, in the red chamber, to do that.

Therefore, we will not support the Bloc motion, although we share the concerns expressed by tens of thousands of Canadians as to what the intentions of the government are. It is incumbent upon us to use whatever methods we have as legislators to shed the light on that. I am very happy and very proud that my colleagues in the Senate have undertaken to do just that and we will see where that leads us.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for his assurance that the Liberals will not be voting for this motion. It means that we can get on with business.

I would also like to assure him that the document to which I referred was printed off on March 4, 2008. It is on the bottom of my page. Indeed, the document does contain “production for which financial support would, in the opinion of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, be contrary to public policy”. I do not know which website he went to, but this is a current document, currently contained on the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office website.

Second, at the risk of rubbing it in, the point still is that in 2003, Minister Copps and Minister Manley came forward with amendments to the Income Tax Act relating to films and video productions, which is the title, and included in that, and I apologize because the wording is a little weird, but it says the same thing, that public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy as it related to the fact that this would be a change in the income tax provisions.

I wonder if my friend would agree with me that perhaps some of the hysteria that has been created, certainly not by him but perhaps by some other members in the House and certainly by the news media, has been created around a lack of information and a lack of knowledge.

The bill is simply the normalization of the rules that apply to CAVCO and would be the same rules as apply to the Income Tax Act. I would think he would agree that there has not been any censorship, certainly of the type that is envisioned by the people under CAVCO.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary helps me make my point.

He is referring to guidelines. Guidelines are third in the hierarchy of judicial instruments. First, there is the law and currently in the law there is no such mention of discretion by the minister. There might have been in proposals, but they never were introduced in the House, that I know of, by the previous government.

I have referred to, though the member did not because I think he needs to see it, a regulation from 2005 that stands, which does not include that. I think Madame Copps is quoted in today's Globe and Mail saying that we would consult. Perhaps this is what has happened. We need to know all of this. The consultations would have led to not include that in the regulation, to which the guidelines are subjected. This is why we need complete clarity on this. This is why we will not support the motion today. We think it needs to go to the Senate.

Finally, in response to hysteria, I am sorry the member has raised that. However, I have to support the gentleman from the Bloc who asked the last question. If he were to refer to the intervention by the member for Palliser at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage when the new appointed chair of Telefilm attended, he will see there might be reason to be concerned.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to participate in the debate.

We have evidence again this afternoon of the Liberal-Conservative government coalition in action. Earlier the member for Abbotsford spoke at length about how this was Liberal legislation, a Liberal proposal, so therefore it must be okay. In fact, he dedicated seven minutes of his speech to that.

Now we have heard from the member for Ottawa—Vanier, and I am disappointed, that the Liberals will not oppose this because they do not think the government will not do it anyway.

I am glad he talked about the Senate. The reality is the bill could be fixed in the Senate. In fact, the Senate committee that is looking at Bill C-10 is not meeting. It is waiting to hear from the government. The government has told the Senate that it is proposing amendments to fix other problems with Bill C-10. Not only did we miss this provision in this corner but, apparently, the government missed a whole bunch of other problems with the legislation that it is seeking to fix in the Senate.

Therefore, there is an opportunity to support this motion this afternoon to compel the government to bring forward a solution to this problem in the Senate. I would ask that the Liberal Party and the member for Ottawa—Vanier reconsider their position. This opportunity explicitly exists at the Senate and it is because the government will bring forward its own amendment.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby—Douglas was not listening to what I said. I have said exactly what he has asked. Liberals will not support the Bloc motion. All the Bloc motion does is ask the government to introduce an amendment, and we know that will not happen.

This afternoon, my colleagues from the Senate announced that they would hold hearings on this matter. They will review the whole matter. They will call witnesses. They will hear those who want to be heard. They will have clarity. If amendments are the way to go to correct the situation, they will introduce them and the amendments will come back here.

Therefore, we are not having to rely on the government's will to do that. We are relying on the official opposition in the Senate. That is exactly what we are doing. We are not prepared to abdicate the role of the legislature as the Bloc has asked us to do.

I understand the NDP would like to see the abolition of the Senate, but perhaps my colleague will realize that, in this case, we should thank God that we have a Senate.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question for my respected colleague is as follows. I have to say that I, too, am terribly disappointed by this decision. As I understand it, basically, the government does not respect most of the motions we put forward, and it would rather let the Senate do its work because it believes in that institution, and that is fine.

I would like to ask my colleague a question that has been nagging at me. Did the Liberal Party also decide not to vote in case the government made it a confidence vote?

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I gave a very clear explanation of the four or five reasons that we will not support the Bloc Québécois. We believe that the fastest, most efficient and most transparent way to get the facts, to bring to light the concerns of Canadians who are worried about this measure, as we are, is to use the tools of Parliament. Everyone in the House missed this bill for reasons I explained earlier. However, I believe that the government also failed in its duty to be clear about the contents of a bill like this one. The Conservatives did not make it clear in the House, they did not make it clear to the public, and they did not make it clear in committee. Here we are sayingmea culpa for our mistake, but they should be saying mea maxima culpa for their actions.

My answer to the member's question is no. The reason is simple. This way, we will get clarification and perhaps amendment much faster than if we put our faith in the government's goodwill. It is that simple.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad my hon. Liberal colleague has admitted the fact that he probably did not study the bill closely enough the first time around, perhaps not the second time around and perhaps not the third time around. Now supposedly he is finally getting to that.

However, I want to address one comment he has made. He suggested that his views represented the views of tens of thousands of Canadians, yet he only referred to the hundred or so emails he had received. Quite frankly, I have received one email on the issue.

I am on the heritage committee. How does he justify making the statement in the House that he represents tens of thousands of Canadians on this issue? I believe Canadians support this legislation. They want to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used responsibly and not on ultra-violent programs, not on pornography, not on hate programs.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are two things.

First, perhaps my colleague has not received them because people who are concerned realize they will not get what they want from that party.

Second, I would like the member to look at a Facebook that has been created within the last week on this very issue and which now has, I believe, 23,000 members. I would think that this would be a fairly serious indication of concern out there. On top of that, some of the hundreds of messages that I have received are not only from individuals, but from groups, organizations and associations that are practitioners in the milieu, that work in this area and represent, by themselves, hundreds of people.

Finally, I am not the only one who has received messages. All my colleagues on this side of the House, and I believe from the Bloc and probably from the NDP, have also received dozens and hundreds of messages. That adds up to thousands and tens of thousands.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member has referred to these tens of thousands of email messages that he has received, which are supportive of his position. I would ask that he table them in the House. He has referenced these emails in the House. It is his obligation, I believe, to table those.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to table the emails I have received if the government is prepared to tell us of the conversations it has had with Mr. McVety.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I do not think these are legitimately points of order. The hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier was not quoting from any of his emails. I am not even sure that applies to non-ministers. We will move on.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate this afternoon on the motion from the member for Ahuntsic, which reads in part:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should introduce, as soon as possible, an amendment to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act...in order to remove the reference to public policy that is added by this bill to subsection 125.4(1) of the Income Tax Act, because this new provision opens the door to unacceptable government censorship of film and video production.

I thank the member for Ahuntsic and her party for giving us the opportunity to debate this issue, for putting it on the agenda and using one of their opposition days to have this important debate.

New Democrats support the motion to remove this wide open reference to public policy considerations from the guidelines related to the application of the Canadian film and video production tax credit.

We support the motion because we believe the provision is far too broad and far too easily misused. In fact, it is so large that we could drive a truck through it. We have seen that already this afternoon with the inability of government members in particular to define exactly what that clause means.

Over the last week we have seen concerns emerge across Canada about the implications of changes to the Income Tax Act with regard to the Canadian film and video tax credit. The changes to section 125.4 of the act would allow the government, through the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to deny a film or video an important tax credit.

In the provisions of this legislation it says that the minister would have to be “satisfied” that “the public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy”. Earlier when the minister was asked to define what it meant to be contrary to public policy, there was no answer forthcoming.

Another important provision in Bill C-10, with regard to the film and video tax credit, is it also removes development of these guidelines from the usual statutory requirements, leaving the process solely with the Minister of Canadian Heritage. It removes it from the Statutory Instruments Act to allow the minister to short-circuit the usual process, to short-circuit the usual legal import of guidelines and regulations and to develop those regulations on her own. Even though the minister said that there would be some kind of public process around this, the final decision still rests with the minister. That is another serious concern about the legislation.

This was one provision in a large bill of almost 600 pages of income tax changes. The overall intent of the bill was to close tax loopholes and deal with the question of tax havens. I admit I missed this provision when we looked at the legislation. It never occurred to me to look for a censorship measure, or a measure that could be used for censorship in legislation to deal with tax loopholes and tax havens. I think this is why all of us found that this kind of provision was buried deep inside other legislation on quite a different topic.

I now know about this provision. I have now been made aware of it by people in the arts community in particular. Now that this concern has been raised, I will do all that I can to ensure that this problem is fixed fully and appropriately. There will not be any resting until we completely deal with the matter. As of yet, I have not seen that assurance from the government.

It is important that we take responsibility for this. The motion, which calls on the government to take a measure to delete that section from the bill, is an important suggestion, and the government has that ability. As I mentioned earlier, the government has told the committee of the Senate looking at this legislation, that it will be bringing its own amendment to Bill C-10. The Conservatives have identified other problems with the legislation.

It is not only the opposition parties that have problems with the legislation. It is also the government. Therefore, the delay in the legislation now is that the committee in the Senate is waiting for the government to bring forward those amendments.

I think this is the perfect opportunity for this House to tell the government that deleting this reference to a public policy guideline should be part of the amendments that it brings forward to the Senate. I disagree strongly with the decision of the Liberals to back away from supporting this legislation, to refuse to support this motion this afternoon, saying that the government would not do it anyway. The government has the perfect opportunity to do it now. I think the House has the perfect opportunity to encourage the government to bring that forward.

This concern broke after an article appeared in the Globe and Mail last Thursday. At that time, Charles Drouin, a spokesperson for Canadian Heritage, is quoted as saying in a statement:

“Bill C-10, currently at third reading in the Senate, contains an amendment to the Income Tax Act which would allow the Minister of Canadian Heritage to deny eligibility to tax credits of productions determined to be contrary to public policy.”

Mr. Drouin also noted:

“... Upon royal assent of C-10, the Department of Canadian Heritage plans to update the eligibility requirements for the...program.”

That is the Canadian film or video production tax credit program.

Also, Robert Soucy, the director of the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, the office that administers the tax credit program, has been reported as saying that the federal government wants to be more selective about the cultural products it funds.

Mr. Soucy has also suggested that a panel would be set up by his office and it would review content and have the final say on who got the tax credit after this review of content of film and video production. He is also reported in the media to have “hinted that the government was considering a 'public policy' criterion” related to film and video production and also sound recording and publishing.

That is the background of the concerns that have emerged over this past week.

I believe that the government should immediately table any draft guidelines that have already been prepared, so that we can see exactly what is planned in relation to this public policy guideline. The government should also announce a public review of the existing guidelines and a public process around the revisions of the current guidelines or the development of new ones.

I am glad to hear the minister this afternoon say that she would do that kind of process. I am not clear about how extensive that will be or what exactly the commitment was made, but she did mention something to that effect.

Why is this causing such concern? Why is a provision that may have existed for some time, that may already exist in the guidelines, that is now being talked about as being introduced as part of the income tax law itself, raising such concerns at this point?

I think that is because of comments made by members of the Conservative Party in relation to film and video production in Canada and what they think is appropriate or not appropriate. I have to say that, as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, this has been done at the standing committee.

Back on January 31 the standing committee was meeting the new president of Telefilm Canada, Michel Roy. At that time a number of Conservative members took the opportunity to criticize some of the decisions of Telefilm Canada and some of the specific decisions of funding that were made.

One Conservative member of Parliament, and these quotes can be found in the evidence from that committee meeting on January 31, said he believed that “films should be for mainstream Canadian society”. I think this is clearly a limitation on the kinds of decisions that Telefilm Canada was making.

Another member at the time talked about a film that he had seen and he said, “it focused more on recreational sexual activity than loving relationships”. He concluded that that made it “not redeeming”.

Again, another Conservative member had a definitive opinion about what might be appropriate or inappropriate for Telefilm Canada to be funding and raised it directly with the president.

No matter what we think of recreational sexual activity, I do not think it is up to a Conservative member to tell the head of an agency what in fact is objectionable or redeeming in that situation. In fact, the same member, the member for Abbotsford, this afternoon talked about the government needing to take action to ensure that objectionable and offensive content does not go forward in film and video. Again, he never defined what he meant by the words “objectionable” and “offensive”. I think these are the kinds of comments that raise that concern.

Also, at the meeting on February 28, another Conservative member argued that the minister should have the ability, and I am quoting, “to restrict the flow of Canadian taxpayers' dollars to odious and unacceptable and repugnant movies”. Who is defining “odious and unacceptable and repugnant”? Why should anyone in the government have the ability to tell a filmmaker that the story the filmmaker wants to tell is odious and unacceptable and repugnant? I have some strong difficulties with this. Concern emerges in the arts community when it hears Conservative members trying to impose their own particular sensibilities, their own values in this regard.

At the committee meeting on January 31, another Conservative member went on at length about films that he found objectionable, seemingly related to the controversial nature of words in their titles. I do not know that that is a basis for wanting to deny funding to a filmmaker or a creative person in Canada, that somehow we find the wording in a title to be provocative.

Railing against a provocative title, or talking about mainstream films, or something being not redeeming or odious and unacceptable and repugnant are all concerns for a provision in law that is as broad as this public policy provision. That is where the concern stems from, and it is Conservative members who are fuelling that concern. That is why so many people in the arts community believe that the public policy clause in Bill C-10 opens the door to government censorship.

I do not believe that any politician, not me as the member for Burnaby--Douglas, not the former minister, Sheila Copps, who proposed this guideline originally and even acted on it, and not the current Minister of Canadian Heritage, should have the ability to impose our personal tastes, our personal sensibilities, our likes and dislikes, on the creative process, on cultural activities, on films, videos, books, magazines or recordings.

If we should not have that ability, I also do not believe that any bureaucrat or public servant should be delegated that kind of authority. I would have just as much difficulty if the tax certification office and people associated with it were delegated the authority to screen film and video production and its content in Canada and make decisions based on their perception of the acceptability or unacceptability of that content.

We need guidelines to enable the operation of a government program. I do not deny that, and I do not think anybody here would deny that. Those guidelines should be transparent and objective and they should encourage the telling of Canadian stories, but they should not and must not impose subjective limits on the freedom of expression in Canada.

It is not that there are not already some key limitations in place. The Criminal Code outlaws certain activities, child pornography, for example. Those kinds of provisions are already covered by the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.

A loophole as large as the guideline about so-called public policy goals must be closed. It should not be enshrined in legislation, which is what is happening in the case of Bill C-10. My subjective perspective should not be the determining factor on whether or not a film or video gets made in Canada, just as the Minister of Canadian Heritage's personal sense of what is offensive or odious, or Sheila Copps' personal feelings about a particularly tragic story in Canadian history, or even Reverend Charles McVety's perspective should not be the determining factor on which Canadian film gets made.

A country as diverse as Canada must ensure that as many of our stories as possible are told and controversy must not divert us from this goal. Just because a story is controversial does not mean that it should not be told, or that it does not deserve help from the government to assist in its telling. Just because a film or video in its title is provocative does not mean that it does not deserve our support. We have to take measures to ensure that the freedom of expression is protected in Canada. We have to make sure that the creative process in Canada is supported.

Some Conservatives will say that this does not amount to censorship even if the government did deny a film and video tax credit, because the filmmaker can get private funding anyway and make the film privately. That kind of attitude severely devalues the importance of the Canadian film and video tax credit system. Anyone who has worked in film and video production in Canada will explain how important this provision is and how it allows Canada to have a film and video production industry. They will also tell us how important it is to ensure that those stories are told.

I believe that this kind of provision and this kind of discussion and the kind of suggestions that come from Conservative members also have a chilling effect on that kind of production in Canada.

There is another aspect that worries me as well. When we have this kind of debate and these kinds of suggestions are made by the government or by individual Conservative members, I think it also sets up the possibility of self-censorship on the part of the creative community in Canada.

Creators need support and should not be encouraged to self-censor to get an idea past a minister, a bureaucrat or a panel that is reviewing content, who might not share their perspective, their life experiences, their ideology or their religious beliefs. This is completely inappropriate.

To set up this kind of system could lead to the self-censorship of people working in artistic endeavours in Canada.

I have to reiterate that guidelines for the administration of the tax credit program must be objective, transparent, clear and straightforward. They have to support the telling of Canadian stories.

One of the Conservative members who spoke this afternoon spent most of his speech in fact saying, “This was not our measure. This was the Liberals' measure”. Therefore, the conclusion was that it must be okay, that we could not have concerns about something like this because it originated with the Liberals.

I find that a really difficult premise to accept because there is a lot that the Liberals do that I have questions about. It seems again that we have this Liberal-Conservative coalition kind of activity happening where what one does seems acceptable to the other. This is another example, this time coming from the Conservatives who are saying, “The Liberals did it, it must be okay”. I really do have trouble with that kind of perspective.

Sheila Copps did make mistakes in her day as a political leader in Canada. She did much that was good as well, but not everything she did was right and needs to be continued by subsequent governments or members of Parliament today. I think the Liberals were wrong to go down this road and I think the Conservatives are wrong to continue taking us down that road.

The Senate is still considering this. The Senate should propose an amendment to get rid of the clause. I think we should put pressure on the government to make sure that kind of amendment comes up at the Senate committee.

As I said, the Senate committee is waiting on the government to bring in its own amendments to its own legislation because the government has identified problems. Here is one more that the government should add to its list.

We must be rigorous in our defence of the freedom of expression. We cannot minimize the importance of government support or tax credits to the industry. The reality is that the film industry in Canada depends on this support and without it, the possibilities of telling a Canadian story sharply decline.

It is ironic that a reporter in the press today pointed out that a U.S. production filmed in Canada might be eligible for tax credits that are denied to a fully Canadian production due to the public policy clause. That is because the same considerations do not seem to apply or to be considered for the film and video services tax credit used by many foreign productions that are filmed in Canada.

It is ironic that we may have this different provision that does not affect foreign film producers the same way that the Canadian film and video tax credit is administered with regard to this public policy criteria.

In this corner of the House, New Democrats are prepared to take a stand on this legislation. We are prepared to say that we are here to protect the freedom of expression in Canada, that we support the creative process, that we want to encourage the telling of Canadian stories. We want to make sure that guidelines are established that are clear, transparent, objective and straightforward for this important cultural program.

We also believe that we have to spend taxpayers' dollars responsibly, but that for us does not mean that we should not say no to censorship. We also have to say no to censorship or setting up the possibility where censorship can be exercised.

I firmly believe that this is possible. These kinds of guidelines without a provision that is so broad and so open, that raises the possibility of abuse and censorship is not necessary. Another kind of proposal can be drawn up and in this corner of the House we are prepared to take on that responsibility if the government and the official opposition are not prepared to do it.

When it comes down to it, the government, ministers and MPs, must be ready to take the heat when controversy erupts about a cultural production in Canada, when controversy erupts about the freedom of expression in Canada, which it is bound to do because protecting the freedom of expression in Canada and protecting the creative process is worth that effort.

We have to be prepared, as elected officials, to take the heat, to protect freedom of expression in Canada, and in this corner of the House, we are ready to do just that.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am rather amused by the use of the terms “freedom of expression” by my NDP friend.

Apparently he does not believe there should be freedom of expression for members of Parliament who are representing the views of people they speak to when they go back home. The members for Palliser and Abbotsford were doing exactly that.

I believe that of all places in Canada, there must be freedom of expression in this place for people to express the views, the wishes, the desires, and the direction that Canadians want to go. We should not feel encumbered by the hon. member's ideas of what is politically correct to say and what is not. I say shame on him.

With respect to the guidelines, they do not exist. They cannot exist before Bill C-10 is passed. There are simply no guidelines to provide. When Bill C-10 is passed, we will be holding consultations. As a matter of fact, consultations have already begun.

With respect to the misspeak of the official from the department, he should not have used the word “update”. There is no update because there are no existing guidelines as defined by this legislation. Once the legislation is passed, the minister will direct the department to continue those consultations and the guidelines will be developed.

I have a question for the member. I am sure he must be aware of CAVCO, which is the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, and I quote to him from its guidelines. He will find that there is an echo in this chamber, the echo being the words he objects to in Bill C-10 which are repeated in CAVCO's guidelines. It states that, “production for which public financial support would, in the opinion of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, be contrary to public policy”.

Those are the current--

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry, but there is only so much time. If the member for Burnaby—Douglas is to have a chance to respond, I need to recognize him now.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I need to respond because when I am critical of what Conservative members have said at committee, it is only because they were using their comments to try and limit the freedom of expression.

They were trying to say that certain film and video productions should not be happening in Canada because they did not meet their personal standards of acceptability. That is my defence of the freedom of expression in Canada.

I have never criticized a particular production in Canada saying that it was inappropriate to be made here. However, other members have implied, or said directly, that those productions should not have been made and should not have received assistance from taxpayers. They may not like it, but many other Canadian taxpayers will.

I am a little confused by the parliamentary secretary's statement because, as he pointed out, there are guidelines that exist now for the application of the Canadian film and video production tax credit program. They are there. They were produced by the Liberals, but that does not necessarily mean that they are right and that does not necessarily mean that now that a problem has been identified with them, it should not be fixed. That is what we are here to do.

We are here to respond to the kinds of concerns that are raised by Canadians, and certainly people in the arts community have raised very serious concerns about the breadth of this particular guideline and the fact that the Conservatives are now enshrining it in law, not just in a set of guidelines. That is even more concerning.

That is why we are here. That is what we are discussing. Just because it is there, does not mean it should not be fixed.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order. It being 5:15 p.m., 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—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
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—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Income Tax Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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

Vote #48

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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 Official Languages.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 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 apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion presently before the House with Conservative members present this evening voting no.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is it agreed to proceed in this way?

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals in the House will be voting in favour.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 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.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

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

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am voting against this motion.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

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

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour.

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if my microphone was still on, but I would like the member for Malpeque to be added to the Liberal votes.

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

Vote #49

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from February 28 consideration of the motion.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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 Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 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 present this evening voting in favour.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour of this motion.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

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

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

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP are voting yes to this motion.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

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

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

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

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 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 #50

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from March 4 consideration of the motion.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

The hon. chief government whip.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Once again, 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 in attendance tonight voting in favour.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals will be voting in favour of this motion.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

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

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

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP will vote in favour of this motion.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Independent

André Arthur Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

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

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

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

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, I vote in favour.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be recorded as being opposed to this motion.

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

Vote #51

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from February 28 consideration of Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions), as reported with amendment from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-253 under private members' business.

The question is on Motion No. 1.

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

Vote #52

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare Motion No. 1 carried.

The next question is on the amendment to Motion No. 2.

(The House divided on the amendment to Motion No. 2, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #53

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the amendment to Motion No. 2 carried.

The next question is on Motion No. 2, as amended.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, while I realize that this is somewhat unusual, it is not unprecedented in the House for private members' bills. With the agreement of the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, I would seek the unanimous consent of the House to apply the results of the vote just taken to the vote now before the House.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt Motion No. 2, as amended?

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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 #54

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare Motion No. 2, as amended, carried.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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

The hon. member for Kitchener Centre on a point of order.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, I would ask that you would seek unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the vote now before the House.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

Vote #55

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

moved that the bill, as amended, be read the third time and passed.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent to have the results on the motion before us deemed adopted similar to the last vote.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

Vote #56

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from February 29, 2008, consideration of the motion that Bill C-394, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (sponsorship of relative), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading of Bill C-394, under private members' business.

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

Vote #57

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from March 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-484, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-484 under private members' business.

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

Vote #58

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from March 4, consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to Motion No. 383 under private members' business.

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

Vote #59

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the amendment carried.

The next question is on the main motion as amended.

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques on a point of order.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, since it is already 7:00 p.m., if my colleagues agree—very seldom do I seek unanimous consent—would it be possible to apply the result of the vote just taken to the next motion? I will be happy to do so.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent of the House?

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

Vote #60

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek the unanimous consent of the House to see the clock as 6:59 p.m.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Before I hear the point of order from the hon. member, I did want to inform the House that because of the delay there will be no private members' business hour today.

Accordingly, the order will be rescheduled for another sitting and we will proceed to the adjournment debate. I did not want the House to consider the hon. member's point of order in a vacuum, shall we say.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the circumstances, where the rule is that when 7 o'clock is reached this decision would be taken, since we are so close to it I wonder if we could seek unanimous consent to see the clock as 6:59 and deal with this private member's item tonight.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent?

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Old Age Security Program
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

There is no unanimous consent.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak further to a question I posed during question period on February 7. The day prior, on February 6, the government voted unanimously against the motion reaffirming what had been Canada's traditional abolitionist policy on the death penalty.

In particular, the motion adopted by the House reaffirmed that there is no death penalty in Canada; that it is the policy of the government to seek clemency, on humanitarian grounds, for Canadians sentenced to death in foreign countries; and that Canada will continue its leadership role in promoting the abolition of the death penalty internationally.

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.

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

Thirty years ago, the abolition of capital punishment became the law of the land, anchored in principle and precedent and manifested in policy and practice. It found expression in our extradition policy prohibiting the extradition of Canadian nationals to a death penalty state in the U.S.

It is anchored in decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada characterizing the death penalty as a violation of the charter's prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment”. It extended to our seeking clemency on behalf of Canadian citizens sentenced to the death penalty abroad, including the United States.

It resonated in our international leadership in this matter, as in our ratification of the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, wherein Canada stated that it was “desirous to undertake an international commitment to abolish the death penalty”.

It has found evidentiary support in the recent comprehensive report by the American Bar Association, which shows that, in death penalty states, there is a disproportionate and prejudicial impact on minorities, on the indigent and those unrepresented by counsel or represented by ineffective counsel.

Regrettably, the Canadian government reversed 30 years of law and policy, principle and precedent, in announcing that it would not seek clemency for the only Canadian, Ronald Smith, now sentenced to death by lethal injection in the state of Montana. Moreover, it has done so even though the United States supreme court is reviewing the constitutionality of that practice.

I am pleased that the government has announced that it will seek clemency for a Canadian citizen, Mohamed Kohail, under threat of the death penalty of decapitation in Saudi Arabia.

The government 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 at variance with principles of equality and due process.

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

This exposes just one of the many problems with the government's case-by-case policy and the need to have a consistent standard regarding the death penalty, such as that outlined in the motion adopted by the House.

In short, the government made a decision that goes against laws and policies that have been in effect for a long time. In addition, the reasons the government gave for its decision indicate that it is motivated by ideological and political considerations and not based on case law, evidence or precedents.

7:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I think this is the third time the hon. member has requested a late show on this very issue. I know I have risen to speak to it three or four times.

It would be nice, just for once, for a Liberal member to bring up an issue involving victims of crime. That would be refreshing for me, but I think Canadians overall are seeing that time and time again there is only one party that is actually standing up for the victims of crime and it is our party and our government.

Let me illustrate that. We have just passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act. We have introduced a strategy on drugs to protect young people, the most vulnerable, but it would be nice and I think refreshing if individuals on all sides of the House were interested in victims' issues.

The member raises this issue of capital punishment. The Minister of Justice has said several times, and we have all heard him, that there are no plans to change the laws in Canada with respect to the death penalty, but it seems that no matter how many times the minister says this, the hon. member cannot accept it.

The issue of capital punishment, as the hon. member knows, was addressed during the winter of 1975-76, when the government presented Parliament with a legislative package that, among other things, proposed the abolition of the death penalty. On July 14, 1976, after a series of lengthy debates, and in a free vote, the House of Commons passed Bill C-84, which took effect upon receiving royal assent on July 26, 1976.

Although capital punishment was not abolished until 1976, no one has been subjected to it in Canada since 1962, when two offenders were executed at the Don Jail in Toronto. Thus, the current state of the criminal law in Canada, as it has been since 1976, is that we do not impose the death penalty for any offence. The government's position on this issue, as confirmed by the Minister of Justice several times, is also equally clear. There is no intention to change this law.

Canada's position on the international level as well has been made very clear. As a matter of fact, it was reflected as recently as November 15, 2007, when Canada voted in support of the EU resolution at the United Nations General Assembly.

It is important, however, to recognize that the death penalty is not unlawful in international law. States that have not adhered to the second optional protocol can continue to employ the death penalty as the ultimate punishment within their criminal justice systems.

The government recognizes the sovereign decision of each state to determine its own laws. However, the government also continues to advocate for full respect for international safeguards where the death penalty is still in use.

As the Speech from the Throne stated, there is no greater responsibility for a government than to protect Canadians' right to safety and their right to security. This government will continue to fight for Canadians and ensure that our families are safe.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not a matter relating to support for victims of crime. We have no difference between us on that issue. I introduced a proposal with respect to protection of victims of crime when I was justice minister.

What is at issue here is the death penalty. Apart from the assault by the government's policy on principle, precedent, policy and practice of 30 years, it ignores the rights of the wrongfully accused. It ignores those who are victims of wrongful conviction. I would hope that the member opposite would take that into account as well.

And if there is no intent to change government law and policy, why is it that the government voted against a motion adopted by the House to reaffirm Canadian law and policy, principle and precedent?

With regard to illegality, the death penalty is unconstitutional in Canadian law and we were supporting a similar policy and practice internationally.

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the subject matter of the hon. member's question. I was merely stating that it would be refreshing to hear members on the other side raise victims' issues as our members of Parliament on this side constantly do.

I have already said several times that our government has no intention to change the law in this regard. I should mention in regard to the hon. member raising the issue of human rights that not only is our government fighting for human rights here in Canada, and we have raised several issues even this week, but we are also fighting for human rights abroad.

We continue to raise human rights issue internationally. I would say that no government in the world has stood up more strongly for basic human rights than our government has been doing as of late. I think it has been refreshing for Canadians to see a government that is willing to take a strong stand, not only here in Canada but internationally, in advocating--

7:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Malpeque.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the government has a duty to demonstrate that it is prepared to assist our struggling farm community and to date it has refused to do so.

Let me make two points in the beginning. One, the income of Canadian farmers is crucial in sustaining Canadian food sovereignty, and two, Canadians want truth in labelling of food on grocery store shelves.

I raised a number of questions related to the crisis facing our hog and beef producers and the crisis the government is intent upon inflicting upon our western Canadian grain farmers through its illegitimate efforts to undermine the Wheat Board.

As I stated in my question on January 31:

The minister talks about programs, raising expectations, but never delivers real cash.

The response I received then from the minister was:

I advise the member for Malpeque to hang onto his chair, quit sitting on his hands and support the budget when it comes up and more cash flow for Canadian farmers.

Now we know that statement by the minister was a falsehood, because there was no cash flow in the budget for farmers. There was no new money, with one small exception, and that is the $50 million cull sow program which is designed to get farmers out of business.

In fact, the action by Bill C-44 to allow the December 19 money to flow to farmers came about as a result of Liberal suggestions released at a press conference in Charlottetown about 10 days before the announcement by the government. Those suggestions were also tabled in this House in the emergency debate on the livestock crisis. However, the government failed to implement all of our suggestions.

I heard the parliamentary secretary heckle, but I would say to him to live and learn and go back to the emergency debate and look at the recommendations put forward by myself with the strong support and efforts of Cindy Duncan McMillan. Those suggestions are there. The government has picked a couple of them and with our assistance the government managed to get them through the House last Monday so that farmers could gain some money. The government is still failing to deal with the crisis.

The minister told this House on January 31:

We delivered more for Canadian farmers in the last short term than the Liberal government did over 13 years, $4.5 billion and climbing.

The parliamentary secretary repeated those statements on February 13.

The minister has obviously not read his own department's farm income forecast report of February 8, which states in part that program payments reached a “record level of $4.9 billion in 2005”. To refresh the minister's memory, the government of the day in 2005 was Liberal.

The report from Agriculture Canada contained some additional information which Canadians should be made aware of, considering the minister has used program spending as the criteria of success. In aggregate program payments for 2008 in Canada, they are expected to fall by 6% to $3.8 billion.

The translation of that for the members opposite is that the Conservative government, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has effectively reduced agriculture program spending by $1.1 billion. It is time they acted.

7:15 p.m.

Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry
Ontario

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative government is committed to supporting our beef and pork producers.

As all members of this House are well aware, this Conservative government puts farmers first. That bedrock principle governs everything that the Minister of Agriculture and our department does. I am proud to serve as the parliamentary secretary to a minister who is so committed to putting farmers first.

After 13 years in which the Liberal Party chose not to act, and 18 years in which our friends the Bloc could never act and still can never act, Canadian farmers are thrilled with the strong action being taken by our Conservative government.

As many members of this House well know, Canada's livestock sector has been through some very difficult times in the last few months. That is why this Conservative government has acted to provide relief for this sector.

Let me review what we have delivered for Canadian farmers.

First, the assistance payments for 2006 are under way.

Second, all producers can obtain a form to apply for an interim payment from the AgriStability program for 2007.

Third, targeted advances are being offered to pork producers in Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Fourth, financial assistance to kick-start the AgriInvest program is now available.

We have also made $3.3 billion available to farmers in the form of loans. Furthermore, just last week the minister provided additional relief to our livestock sector.

In only a few days, the Minister of Agriculture passed legislation through the House and through the Senate. That legislation provided hog producers with a $50 million program to help rationalize the hog population in Canada. It also made changes to the Agricultural Marketing Products Act that made it easier for producers to access the funding that we have made available.

Those changes highlight another key principle of the Conservative government, which is the importance of consultation with farmers.

Unlike previous Liberal governments that think they know best when it comes to designing farm programs, we sat down with farmers and designed programs based on their needs and their concerns.

The recent changes made to AMPA were requested by industry and delivered by this Conservative government.

The $50 million hog program will be delivered by the Canadian Pork Council.

Talk about a strong working relationship with industry.

The member opposite will stand over there and continue his political grandstanding no doubt. Unfortunately for the member opposite, that is all that he can do these days. Some may say that is all he ever did while his party was in government.

Canadian farmers are not fooled by his talk because they see the action that is happening over here. After 13 years of Liberal neglect and 18 years of Bloc irrelevance, Canadian agriculture is back on the map.

Let me tell the House what happens when a government understands agriculture.

In just two short years, we have delivered $4.5 billion for program payments in 2006; $600 million for the AgriInvest Kickstart program; $400 million to cover farmers' increased input costs; $76 million to help farmers combat hog disease; $130 million to help with the disposal of SRM; $50 million to rationalize the hog population in Canada; and $3.3 billion available in loans. What an accomplishment in just two short years.

Canadian farmers appreciate our action on agriculture. Whenever the member opposite decides to show up and vote, then he will find out first-hand.

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about program spending.

In 2005, program spending by the Government of Canada for agriculture in Prince Edward Island was $45.9 million. In 2007, it was down to $30.6 million, a loss of $15.3 million to Prince Edward Island farmers over two years. That is not putting farmers first.

Providing less support for farmers is not putting farmers first. Introducing a bill in the House that would take power away from western grain producers and an elected board of farm directors and turning control over to the multinational grain sector is not putting farmers first.

The Conservative government is a disaster for agriculture producers in this country. It fails to act. It provides false messaging but the facts are clear. By their own department program, spending is less.

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us compare records: 13 years of broken promises and 2 years of loud talk and fury compared with $4.5 billion for program payments in 2006; $600 million for agri-invest kickstart; $400 million to cover farmers' increased input costs; $76 million to help farmers combat hog disease; $130 million to help the disposal of SRM; $50 million to rationalize the hog population in Canada; $3.3 billion available in loans.

That is our record and it is one we are very proud of.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to raise another aspect regarding the border. There seemed to be a blood pressure competition in the previous exchange, but I will start by laying out some of the facts and hopefully, encourage the government to take some action on a very serious issue.

In the past there were arrangements with emergency service providers in many communities on the Canada-U.S. border. Before 9/11 there was often the exchange of patients to hospitals, as well as fire and rescue services that helped each other out on the other side of the border. The city of Windsor, for example, was prevented from burning because Detroit firefighters came over to help. We have reciprocated as well during various emergencies.

There was a troubling incident on November 12 when Mr. Rick Laporte was being transported to an American hospital for heart surgery. It was a very delicate matter and he was detained for five minutes because of border procedures. An automatic system triggered which stopped him from proceeding, which was very dangerous because of Mr. Laporte's condition. Fortunately, he has recovered and is doing well. We wish him and his family the best.

What prompted my question to the minister was the pattern of behaviour that we have seen. The week before the incident with Mr. Laporte, firefighters from Quebec who were going to assist in a fire at the Anchorage Inn in New York were detained for 15 minutes and the inn burned to the ground.

We have been trying to get the government to establish a formal protocol and policy with the United States. The minister has refused, which is very perplexing.

Many mayors across the country have asked for support. In particular, Mayor Bradley from Sarnia has been doing a very good job of pushing this issue because there are protocol arrangements with firefighters in Port Huron. The minister wrote back to the mayor.

It must be understood that this is not just about Sarnia, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie or Fort Erie. There is a whole series of communities that have, or did have, these types of protocols in place and which are now endangered.

The government said that each municipality or service should negotiate its own agreement with the respective department in the United States. That is ridiculous. We need some leadership from the Minister of Public Safety on this issue. He needs to show some conviction and address this issue.

I was really concerned that the minister did not bring in Mr. Chertoff or Mr. Wilkins, the American ambassador, to discuss this issue at a high level, to get the political will from the Department of Homeland Security and other border service agencies in the United States to get their heads around this. We do not need municipal services in jurisdictions all across this country trying to do one off negotiated agreements. We need a strong set of rules in place because it is important for these services to interchange.

I live in a community on the border. Thousands of people traverse the border every single day, and I can see the heightened level of problems. For example, after we learned of Mr. Laporte's case, we discovered that in the last number of years 10 ambulances had been stopped. We know it is possible, for example, for Windsor to send information and so forth to the department to get the clearances but at the same time we do not need separate municipal agreements across this country with different services. It is not supportable.

I am asking the government to look at the situation and for the minister himself to show leadership and conviction on behalf of all municipalities to put these agreements in place.

7:25 p.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to the question put to the House by the member for Windsor West regarding the delay of Canada's first responders at the border.

I must point out that the hon. member and all of his caucus has voted against every budgetary item that has come before this House in the last three years to improve border crossings in Canada and the United States.

I would like to highlight that Canada and the United States have a longstanding tradition of helping one another in times of crises. This government takes any incident where lives are at risk very seriously and I share the hon. member's concerns about maintaining this proud tradition of cooperation.

The Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection both work with first responders to contribute to their procedures for emergency situations. This important, reciprocal commitment by our border agencies protects both Canadian and U.S. citizens living in our border communities.

As the hon. member knows, this collaboration is critical in border communities like his own. No one wishes any repeats of the ambulance service interruption that occurred last year. That is why our government took immediate action to ensure that further incidents involving emergency vehicles along our border are prevented.

The Minister of Public Safety wrote to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, on this topic and spoke with him about the concern that Canada's first responders be able to provide fast, effective emergency services to communities on both sides of the Canada-United States border.

The Minister of Public Safety received a response from Secretary Chertoff who shares his concern over this situation. The secretary assured the minister that the U.S. CBP is disseminating additional guidance on this issue to prevent further incidents. The secretary also expressed his belief that the U.S. western hemisphere travel initiative will not affect the ability of emergency personnel to respond to emergencies in either Canada or the United States.

At the Minister of Public Safety's request, the Canada Border Services Agency engaged its counterparts locally with the U.S. on this issue and meetings have taken place at the headquarters and regional levels between the border agencies and local first responders. These ongoing discussions recognize that mutual assistance contribute to the safety of communities on both sides of the border and is a top priority for both countries.

Canada's government has taken decisive action to address the question of border delays that prevent our first responders from providing critical emergency services.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that the minister himself has recently written to a number of different border operators, people in the community and so forth, one of them in particular being Mayor Bradley, and basically has said that it is up to them to figure it out for themselves.

That is unacceptable. We need to have at least some support from the minister to make sure that there is going to be the adherence of a policy for everything from emergency vehicles, as well as to fire and rescue and so forth. That reciprocal arrangement is very important from the leadership level because we have seen different departments in the United States basically run roughshod over the government.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has introduced new policies, and the American Department of Transportation and Homeland Security all at different times have introduced things without even consulting our government.

We need the Minister of Public Safety to live up to his words. He recently tabled a bill to amend the Customs Act and said, “Stopping illegal activity and protecting Canadians from threats to their health, safety and security is a key priority for this Government”.

If it is a key priority, why does the minister not show some leadership and make sure he is going to do it for all--

7:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government can reassure Canadians living in our border communities that their safety remains a top priority.

We have taken decisive action to ensure ease of movement for emergency personnel. This also extends to patients in medical emergency situations. Canada is working closely with the United States to maintain our proud tradition of cooperation during times of crisis.

The Minister of Public Safety and Secretary Chertoff have exchanged letters and spoken together directly on this subject and are taking action to ensure that any further incidents hindering first responders will be addressed.

In fact, Secretary Chertoff has assured the Canadian government that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is disseminating additional guidance on this issue. Secretary Chertoff and the Minister of Public Safety continue to maintain a strong working relationship on this issue.

Furthermore, the Canada Border Services Agency is working with its American counterparts to ensure that appropriate measures are in place that ensure the safety of communities in Canada and those of our neighbours in the United States.

I would welcome the member's support of the government's initiatives on improving Canadian border crossings.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:34 p.m.)