House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lenses.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, Six Nations, in my riding of Brant, has 12,000 residents. Many of those residents boil their water because it is unsafe.

In October 2005, the Liberal government committed $10 million to refurbish the water treatment plant in order to address this deplorable situation. The Conservative government, 25 months later, has not honoured the commitment and those residents continue to boil their water.

We all know that aboriginal issues are not a priority for the government, but surely providing people with safe drinking water is the government's minimum obligation. When will Six Nations receive the necessary $10 million?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, when our government first took office, we had a situation wherein 193 first nations communities across the country had water that was not drinkable. We have brought that number down to 83.

The member feels our government has not taken aboriginal issues seriously. Would members of his party extend matrimonial real property rights to first nations women on reserve? I do not believe they will support it.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the report issued yesterday by the environment commissioner puts a number to the Conservatives' inaction. Progress has been made in only a small minority of the 14 areas studied, and nine were described as unsatisfactory. Nothing about this Conservative government's attitude inspires hope for any political will to remedy the situation.

How can the Minister of the Environment explain his government's poor results when it has been in power for over two years now?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the environment commissioner's report emphasizes that it is very important to do more to clean up Canada's Great Lakes. We have to work harder on resolving the problems that were created by the previous government.

There is nothing the Bloc Québécois can do. The only thing it can do is talk. The only thing it has to offer to Quebeckers is a national conversation on the environment.

This party, this government, is getting things done.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, over 100 Canadian scientists were asked to write a crucial report on the state of climate change in Canada, which the government has tried to bury for more than a year. The report will say that Canada is in for far more droughts, landslides, extreme heat and smog and more violent and damaging storms. Communities are in deep jeopardy if the government does not act.

The Minister of the Environment must explain why he has stalled on the release of this report and what his government plans to do about it. Why should Parliament have any confidence in the government and its inaction on the environment?

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to read the report from the Department of Natural Resources. It was scheduled to go out today. I understand someone got enthusiastic and put it out the night before. We welcome a discussion on the report in the future.

The member wants to bring down the government for our policies on the environment. That is wrong and it is misguided.

At times in my life, I have suffered from self-confidence issues, and it means so much to me to have the support of members of Liberal Party of Canada. They like me. They really like me.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

March 7th, 2008 / noon

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade.

Considering the Conservative government yesterday would not allow a take note debate on fisheries issues at the WTO, a very important fisheries issue, would the minister now ensure that the government changes its tack and starts supporting the fishermen at the WTO? If not, the fishermen could lose their employment insurance and their capital gains tax exemption. Even the port repair and the gas tax card are on the table.

Will the government change its tack and start to support the inshore fishermen?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

Noon

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

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, in the last two years the hon. member has seen us clean up overfishing on the east and west coasts, ensure that we have a solid owner-operator policy, put millions of extra dollars into infrastructure and open up the north. Does he think, for one minute, that we would stand by and let anything like that happen to our inshore fishermen? Not a chance.

Response to Oral Question by Committee Vice-Chair
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, today during question period, a question was asked by the member for Churchill of the chair or the vice-chair of the procedure and House affairs committee of the House of Commons. The answer from the vice-chair, who is the member for Hull—Aylmer, was an entirely inappropriate answer.

I direct you, Mr. Speaker, to pages 827 to 828 of Marleau and Montpetit where it says:

During the Oral Question Period...a committee Chair may respond to questions, provided they deal with the proceedings or schedule of the committee and not the substance of its work.

The nature of the response was one that was very substantive and partisan in nature, very much betraying the legitimate role of a chair or vice-chair of the committee in responding to these questions.

The reason for that rule is they are in a role similar to yours, Mr. Speaker, of being neutral and even-handed. On the issue in question, what we are seeking is even-handedness so the issues they study are issues that deal with both sides and all parties equally. However, setting aside that debate on substance and the need for fairness, what we have had here is a serious breach. What makes it worse is it was clearly a pre-calculated breach.

The opposition House leader and I have canvassed this issue before the Speaker after previous question periods. He is fully aware of the rules. Yet the question was prepared, the answer was prepared, it was done so knowingly and it was knowingly a breach of the rules of the House of Commons, and this is a matter that requires your attention, Mr. Speaker.

Response to Oral Question by Committee Vice-Chair
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, this issue was, indeed, raised a few days ago by me, in a point of order with the Speaker. The Speaker at that time indicated that he had allowed the government House leader to answer on behalf of a committee chair because no one else on the committee, like the vice-chair, rose to address the question that had been put before the House.

Today, a question was asked of a committee chair. The committee chair was unable to answer, so the vice-chair rose to provide the answer. The question was about the agenda of the committee. The questioner referred explicitly to the agenda for the next meetings of the committee and the vice-chair spoke of asking for a new spirit of cooperation among committee members and the timeliness of dealing with the committee's agenda.

The question and the entire answer were entirely within the rules of the House.

Response to Oral Question by Committee Vice-Chair
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I invite you to review the Hansard because you will find that is not at all the case. The response that came from the vice-chair of the committee, the member for Hull—Aylmer, was one that was quite substantive, quite partisan and expressed comments and opinions on the issue, which is entirely inappropriate for the chair to do while playing the role of chair.

The situation in which I rose to respond to a question when no one else in the House did, including the vice-chair who was here, is entirely different. I, as a minister, am not limited by the restrictions that are clearly set out in the rules that apply to a chair when asked in that role and to answer in that role.

Therefore, there is obviously a nice diversion there by the member, but the material fact remains that the vice-chair has clearly overstepped his bounds. I know the people on that committee feel strongly about the appropriate role of a chair, and we have had the unfortunate situation of a recent removal of a chair. I will leave it to members of that committee on how they wish to deal with this very serious matter.

However, in terms of a spirit of cooperation, it is not a good start. I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you seek a form of an apology and a retraction from the vice-chair of the committee.

Response to Oral Question by Committee Vice-Chair
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, we were just treated to hearing the government House leader say that if no one else rises in the House to address a question put to a committee chair, that the government House leader is entitled to respond to that question, and he can be as partisan as he wants, but that there are tougher strictures that apply to everybody else in the House. This is a matter of the government wanting one set of rules for it and another set of rules for everyone else.

The fact is the question was in order and the answer dealt with the agenda of the committee. It called for a spirit of cooperation and it asked for timeliness in moving the agenda forward. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that answer.

Response to Oral Question by Committee Vice-Chair
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The government House leader has suggested that the Chair take this matter under advisement, review the blues and the answer that was given by the vice-chair of the committee. That is good advice. It will be taken and at some point the Chair will get back to the House with respect to the point of order raised by the government House leader.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 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 one petition.

Railway Safety Act Review Advisory Panel
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Railway Safety Act Review Advisory Panel, entitled “Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety”.