House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, vulnerable migrants are being ripped off because the immigration system is dysfunctional.

In a pathetic attempt to address the problem, the Minister Immigration had to launch a PR campaign to combat fraud, but it does not address the real problem of unregulated immigration consultants. The minister is ignoring crimes committed by fake consultants who take advantage of innocent people wanting to make Canada their new home.

When will the government implement the immigration committee's comprehensive recommendations to control immigration consultants?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the member's concern about this issue, it is an issue that, of course, the NDP will never be able to do anything about because it is a party of permanent opposition.

Having said that, I have taken into serious consideration the committee's recommendations.

When I was in India recently, I raised this matter of people being exploited by unscrupulous consultants and document vendors in parts of India and I got a commitment from the first minister of Punjab to dedicate a specific police task force to crack down on this kind of exploitation.

We intend to take further action here in Canada to improve the regulation of immigration consultants to protect newcomers to this country.

Paralympic Games
Oral Questions

March 12th, 2009 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, today marks the one year countdown to the Canada's Paralympic Games.

Our venues are built on time and on budget. Our athletes are ready and are gearing up for the games. They are winning medals on the world stage and are making Canada proud.

Would theMinister of State for Sport update the House on how Canada is ready to host the world at our Paralympic Games.

Paralympic Games
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands
B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Minister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, in exactly one year from now, the Olympic torch will enter BC Place Stadium and the cauldron will be lit in front of 55,000 people.

Our Paralympic athletes are absolutely doing amazingly. I watched our sledge hockey team a few weeks ago with Hervé Lord, who is here, go on and win the gold medal.

Ina Forrest and her team won the gold medal for wheelchair curling.

This afternoon, in Whistler, Lauren Wolstoncroft from North Vancouver and Viviane Forest from Edmonton--

Paralympic Games
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, in my prebudget submission to the Minister of Finance, I highlighted the Colchester Civic Centre as a priority by the province and the municipality as an infrastructure project that is shovel-ready. In fact, the province has already committed $10 million to the project, the municipality $11 million and the community $4 million.

Both the mayors of Truro and the municipality of Colchester wrote to the minister in December asking for federal participation.

I wonder if the minister could indicate when a positive answer might be forthcoming?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for actually responding to the request that the finance minister put out in late November, early December, asking for all parliamentarians to put forward ideas. That hon. member put forward a good idea. However, I do not make those decisions so I passed it on.

We need to know that the Liberal Party of Canada put forward no suggestions in our prebudget consultation, nor did members of the NDP. In fact, they voted against any one that was put forward.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

As part of marking the celebration of the one year countdown to our 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the ladies gallery of four individuals: Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee; Carla Qualtrough, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee; Ina Forrest, a gold medalist in wheelchair curling; and Hervé Lord, hockeyeur sur luge médaillé d'or.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the usual Thursday question about House procedure for the next couple of weeks. We all know that next week is scheduled to be a week to work in constituencies.

Therefore, I would like to ask the government House leader specifically what he has in mind for tomorrow and then the week following the constituency work week. Specifically in that week, which day will he officially designate as the final allotted day in this supply period? That would be the day not just to deal with an opposition motion, but also the supplementary estimates and the appropriations act, dealing with interim supply. It is very important for the House to know in advance which day that will be.

Second, I would ask the hon. gentleman, again, if there would be a mood in the House, apropos some of the subjects dealt with in question period, to move expeditiously on Bills C-14 and C-15. It was over a week ago that the official opposition offered co-operation to expedite those two pieces of legislation dealing with gangs and drugs. We renew that offer today in order to move those items forward quickly.

Finally, with respect to Bill C-10, which is in the other place, as we understand the developments as of today, it is possible that the other place will today finish its deliberations with respect to the bill, at the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition. I would ask the government House leader if he could indicate when there will be royal assent arranged for Bill C-10. Would he expect that to happen tonight or tomorrow?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. House leader for the official opposition has many questions for the Thursday question and I will try to get to all of them.

Today we will continue debate on Bill C-14 on organized crime, which he mentioned. Following Bill C-14, we will consider Bill C-15, drug offences, and Bill C-16, the environmental enforcement act in that order.

Tonight we will complete the debate on the first report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Tomorrow we will begin debate at third reading of Bill C-2, the Canada-European free trade agreement and continue with any unfinished business that carried over from today.

When the House returns from the constituency week, we will continue with the business from this week, with the addition of Bill C-9, transportation of dangerous goods, which was reported back from committee.

You can add to the list for the week we return, Mr. Speaker, Bill C-7, marine liability, Bill S-3, energy efficiency, and Bill C-13, Canada grains, which are all at second reading and any bills that have been reported back from committee by then.

As to one of the questions that the member specifically mentioned, the last day in this supply period shall be on Tuesday, March 24, when the House will vote on supplementary estimates C, interim supply and the interim supply bill. As he noted, it is a very important day as these are the resources necessary to provide the stimulus to which we have all been looking forward and which Canadians are greatly anticipating.

Hopefully, the Senate will have passed the budget bill, Bill C-10 by then. In fact, as my colleague mentioned, my understanding is the opposition has suddenly discovered the parts of the budget bill that pertain specifically to the extension of employment insurance benefits, which will come into effect immediately upon royal assent of Bill C-10, the budget implementation act. Therefore, rather belatedly, the Liberal senators have decided to work with the Conservative senators in the other place and get the bill passed expeditiously. I hope that takes place this afternoon. It would be therefore my hope as well that royal assent could take place as early as this evening and we would see that bill enacted as quickly as possible.

As to the reiteration of my colleague's support for Bill C-14 and Bill C-15, our two latest justice bills, I welcome his support and I appreciate that. We are open to moving these bills through all stages as quickly as possible. Failing that, we would look to put up a minimum number of speakers, as we have done on many pieces of legislation already in this session, to move legislation through as quickly as possible. The problem, as my hon. colleague well knows, is not with the official opposition on or of the Conservative Party, the Conservative government, but with the other two parties, which are unwilling to do so.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with regard to the issue of statements by members, also known as S.O. 31. As you will be aware, both myself and the member for Beauport—Limoilou were cut off during our one minute statements by the Chair.

I am aware of a ruling you made earlier today, Mr. Speaker, with regard to decorum in this chamber, and I agree that ensuring the decorum of the House is extremely important. However, I draw your attention to the debate of May 31, 2006, when the former Liberal member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Ken Boshcoff, rose and virulently attacked the current Prime Minister during statements by members.

The former Liberal member for Brant, Lloyd St. Amand, also attacked the government and former staff members of the Prime Minister's office in statements by members on June 7, 2006, which you could find in Hansard.

Members of the Liberal Party continued these attacks throughout statements by members that day and on subsequent days, which I am sure you could review in Hansard.

There are numerous other examples from the Liberal Party over the past months and years, attacking members on this side of the House, members of their staff, and many others to which you did not intervene or rule were out of order.

I am only asking that the rules be applied equally to all members.

I believe if you review the blues from today's statements by members, Mr. Speaker, specifically my intervention and the intervention by the member for Beauport—Limoilou, you will find only quotations from past members' statements published in the public domain, such as yesterday's Edmonton Journal, which quotes the leader of the official opposition. Even taking into account the ruling made by yourself earlier today, I do not believe that my statement or that of the member for Beauport—Limoilou, come close to the line of what you set out earlier today.

Expressing opinions on quotations from the national media is what we do in the House every day and constitutes robust debate. We may not like to be reminded of what we have said in the past, but Canadians who elected us to sit in the House have every right to hear our statements and opinions on the issues of the day.

If we cannot quote each other in this chamber, if we cannot express our opinions, then what is this chamber for?

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you take the time to review the blues and come back to the House with perhaps more clarification for members on what can or cannot be said, since I do not believe that my statement or that of my colleague have gone beyond the standard you set out this morning.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park for his remarks.

I gave a ruling this morning because, in my view, the tone was so consistently negative in Standing Order 31 statements that I felt it was appropriate to change the way it is happening in the House, because there are so many of these statements. That is why I made the ruling I made this morning.

It is fine to quote other members, but then there were additional comments suggesting that the member was unfit to lead or unfit to do something because he had made these statements before, which, in my view, are personal attacks. Those are things that are prohibited under our rules.

I read once again the citation I read this morning in my ruling, House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 364:

The Speaker has cut off an individual statement and asked the Member to resume his or her seat when

offensive language has been used;

a Senator has been attacked;

the actions of the Senate have been criticized;

a ruling of a court has been denounced; and

the character of a judge has been attacked.

The Speaker has also cautioned Members not to use this period to make defamatory comments about non-Members, nor to use the verbatim remarks of a private citizen as a statement, nor to make statements of a commercial nature.

In my view, if we keep doing personal attacks on members in the House, then we will have them go on in almost every Standing Order 31 statement, and in my view, I will not be able to maintain order in this chamber, which is my job.

I think it is time to have a shift in these statements, which I hope will happen as a result of this morning's ruling. I urge hon. members to have a look at the ruling and the wording in Marleau and Montpetit and amend their statements accordingly to avoid attacks on one another in the course of their debates in this chamber, particularly in S.O. 31s, because there is no reply.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I think it is important for the integrity of your chair to be seen as applying the rules equally, right across the board. It is very important that people in this chamber conduct themselves in a way that make their constituents proud. At the same time, it is also important that members have the right to criticize the ideas of other members.

Part of a democracy is promoting ideas. The other part of a democracy is pointing out the flaws in some of those ideas. In fact, we have an entire section in the Standing Orders dedicated to question period, in which opposition members are rightly encouraged and perform their duty admirably to point out flaws in any government during any era. That is the right of members of the opposition to do that. We invite that sort of accountability.

At the same time, members of the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats have to be prepared, when they come into this chamber, that some of their ideas will be criticized as well. I do not think any of them would want you, Mr. Speaker, to build an umbrella protection over them to shield them from any criticism. Hopefully the leader of the Liberal Party is not so fragile that he would require such an umbrella to be built.

As such, Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to show the kind of respect to the Leader of the Opposition that he believes he is entitled to receive and allow him to defend himself rather than to step in and act as his protector during member's statements earlier on.

As such, Mr. Speaker, I would encourage you also to have respect for the voters who put us here in the first place. They, after all, have the ability, in an unvarnished manner, to watch the statements we make and judge us accordingly at election time.

What is key in our democracy is that the people are sovereign. When they listen to the statements, the people have the right to judge whether they agree with the way in which we comport ourselves and the content of our utterances.

It is not your role, with respect, Sir, to block the people from making that decision and to decide for them. I would encourage you to show due respect for the people in allowing them to make judgments upon us and our words, rather than making that judgment for them.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate you on your ruling. I do not want to be difficult, but this is nothing new. You sent the parties a letter last week warning them of your intention to ensure that decorum was maintained in the House, especially in regard to members’ statements.

The Conservative Party was the first to be affected. So what? Next time, it will be someone else. We should feel responsible for conducting ourselves properly in the House of Commons and showing respect for one another as individuals. We can have different ideas and policies, but when we start to attack each other personally, it is your job to stop it, Mr. Speaker, and I can only congratulate you on that. I even think not enough is being done.

I am disappointed to see the Conservative Party trying to defend the idea that we should be able to come to the House of Commons and personally insult one another. We can fight over policies and ideas but should not attack one another personally. Members who do so should be prepared to pay the price. It is your job, Mr. Speaker, to assume this responsibility and conduct the House of Commons in a proper way. We receive letters from schools—from students and teachers—saying they do not want to bring anyone to the House of Commons any more because of all the disrespect shown there.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, you are not going far enough. It is your duty to ensure reasonable decorum in the House, but it is also the responsibility of the various parties. We are not better than other people. It is the responsibility of all of us members to ensure that the House of Commons, where we represent the people of Canada, remains a respectable place.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, thank you for your ruling.