House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, like the member for Wetaskiwin, I was shocked to hear the Liberals bragging about their sorry record. Let us look at their record with raising taxes. Between 1993 and 2000, Liberal governments increased taxes 63 times. Personal income taxes were increased 27 times. Business taxes were increased 23 times. CPP premiums were increased seven times.

After witnessing all of this from overseas, no wonder the self-described tax and spend Liberal leader wanted to come to Canada and raise taxes further. When he wanted to search for a team that could raise taxes—

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Guelph.

Automotive Industry
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian taxpayers loaned $10.5 billion to General Motors last year and yet GM closed approximately 250 Canadian dealerships that add little to the cost of GM operations.

Robinson Pontiac Buick, a GM dealership in Guelph, is one of those across the country that together provide thousands of jobs at the dealerships and with their suppliers and contractors.

Congress pressed GM to re-open more than half of the closed American dealerships and GM complied. Why is the Conservative government idly standing by while thousands of Canadians lose their livelihood?

Automotive Industry
Oral Questions

Noon

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is not always in the House but I wonder if he knows that we created 108,000 jobs last month alone.

We put $145 million over five years into the automotive partnership fund, $200 million into the automotive innovation fund, $700 million into accounts receivable, insurance and the list goes on.

One thing is absolutely sure. Under the guidance of the Conservative government, the automotive sector in Ontario has fully rebounded and we are very proud of that record. Why would the opposition not support that?

Firearms Registry
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the presidents of the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal and the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec have reiterated their support for the firearms registry. For them, it is all about safety. They say that the $4 million cost associated with the long gun registry pales in comparison to the costs associated with firearm-related injuries and deaths.

Why do the Conservatives reject the opinion of police officers, who say that the firearms registry is an important tool in the fight against crime?

Firearms Registry
Oral Questions

Noon

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we have always said that we would dismantle the long gun registry, and not the entire firearms registry. The long gun registry has been very costly and ineffective, and it criminalizes honest citizens, hunters and farmers.

The member should ask his colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, who wants to criminalize his own constituents. Now that is what makes no sense.

Victoria Harbour
Oral Questions

May 14th, 2010 / noon

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have approved a mega-yacht marina for Victoria's inner harbour against the wishes of the majority of people who live there. One of the proponents of this plan is the 2006 Conservative campaign co-chair. He is also on the fundraising committee for the minister who represents Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Why is the government too busy meeting with its lobbyist friends to listen to the families who actually live there?

Victoria Harbour
Oral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, if the member from Vancouver Island had talked to her colleague, the New Democratic member for Victoria, she would know that I have worked with her very closely on this issue.

In fact, it is not the Government of Canada that makes this determination. It is both the city and the province. The one narrow area where the federal government is involved is with respect to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and it is a very limited approval.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians were outraged when they learned that sex offender, Graham James, received a pardon, and they are understandably concerned that other notorious criminals may also get rubber-stamped if Parliament does not act quickly.

Yet, the Liberal member for Ajax—Pickering will not commit to moving this important piece of legislation forward in a timely manner.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety inform the House why speedy passage is needed for this very important legislation?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

Noon

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank that member for his hard work on this very important file.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Public Safety announced legislation to ensure that sexual offenders against children do not receive pardons. Canadians and victims advocates have been overwhelming in their support for this urgently needed legislation.

We call upon the Liberals, and in particular the member for Ajax—Pickering, to stop playing games and start listening to victims. We ask that they support the passage of Bill C-23 at all stages quickly.

Provision of Information to Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You will remember in your ruling of April 27, which was your decision on a question of privilege, that you were confident that members of Parliament of all parties could come to an agreement. I just want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that that confidence was not misplaced because I am very pleased to tell the House today that an agreement has been reached with all the political parties.

It is an agreement that complies with Canadian law, it does not compromise national security and it does not jeopardize the lives of the men and women who serve in uniform, which of course was the concern of the government in recognizing your ruling. Again, this was put together with the agreement of all political parties and I am very pleased and honoured at this time to inform the House of the details of that agreement.

The agreement in principle is the creation of an ad hoc committee of parliamentarians composed of one member of Parliament and an alternate from each political party. Each member of the ad hoc committee will be required to take an oath of confidentiality and sign a confidentiality agreement and will be required to obtain the appropriate security clearances. Access to documents will take place in a secure location. Appropriate security procedures will apply. Committee members will have access to all documents in both redacted and unredacted form. Committee members will have access to government officials from appropriate departments to provide briefings and contextual information and reasons for protecting information.

With respect to every unredacted document examined by the committee, the committee will determine whether the information in the document is relevant to matters of importance to members of Parliament, particularly as it relates to the ongoing study on the transfer of Afghan detainees currently under way at the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, and whether the use of such information is necessary for the purpose of holding the government to account. The decisions of the committee related to the relevance shall be final and unreviewable.

Where the committee determines that such information is relevant and necessary, or upon the request of any member of the committee, it will refer the document to a panel of arbiters who will determine how that relevant and necessary information will be made available to members of Parliament and the public without compromising national security, either by redaction or the writing of summaries or such techniques as the panel finds appropriate, bearing in mind the base objectives of maximizing disclosure and transparency.

The panel of arbiters should regularly consult with the members of the committee to better understand what information the MPs believe to be relevant and the reason why. The decision of the panel of arbiters with respect to disclosure shall be final and unreviewable. The panel of arbiters will be composed of three eminent jurists. The composition of the panel must be agreed upon by the government and the opposition.

All parties agree that the details of this proposal will be further outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed by all party leaders.

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to table that, in both official languages, and indicate to you that it is the agreement between the members that the memorandum of understanding would be in place by May 31, 2010.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good day for parliamentarians. It is a good day for all those who have respect for the rule of law in this country. Again, I commend all members and thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the ruling and the opportunity that you have given us to bring together this agreement. Again, your confidence was not misplaced.

Provision of Information to Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the statement that he has made and the document that he has just tabled.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking you for the landmark ruling that you made on April 27 about the rights of Parliament and the rights of Canadians to transparency, and specifically the right to all of the documents pertaining to detainees in Afghanistan. The parties have been hard at work, and I believe at work in good faith, over the last two and a half weeks to fulfill your expectations. We have been and will continue to be vigilant to ensure that the spirit and intent of your ruling is properly fulfilled.

In your ruling you said that Parliament has an absolute right to see the documents and that the government must comply. Why? So that members of Parliament are equipped with the information necessary to hold the government to account.

Mr. Speaker, you also said strongly and properly that national security is of vital importance to all of us, government and opposition alike, and that we need to find the appropriate means to distinguish between information which is relevant and should be disclosed and national security which must not be compromised. We believe that we have found the way in the document that the minister just tabled.

There remains, of course, work to be done to translate today's agreement in principle into a formal and comprehensive memorandum of understanding among all parties in the House. We expect that detailed work will be done accurately and faithfully, respecting the spirit and intent of your ruling and the gist of the work that has gone on over the course of the last two and a half weeks.

Let me make one key point in that regard. The participants in the process that we are setting up, the MPs and the others who are involved, must be, and must be seen to be, of the highest calibre integrity and intent. They are being assigned a profoundly serious responsibility on behalf of 308 members of this House and, more importantly, on behalf of millions of Canadians. They must be selected carefully and they must not fail.

On behalf of my colleague, the hon. member for Beauséjour, and the opposition whip, who participated with me in the discussions that have gone on, I close by thanking all of the participants in the talks over the last two and a half weeks who have all tried, I believe, to get it right on this most important topic. We still have important work to do, but so far so good. I think we have tried to fulfill the expectations that you have placed on us.

Provision of Information to Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you once again for your ruling, which included a number of elements that enabled the political parties to reach this agreement. I would also like to emphasize that, overall, the discussions were carried out candidly and in good faith. I believe that this process should serve as a model for the future.

This agreement respects your ruling because parliamentarians will have access to the documents in unredacted form, and will be able to provide the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan with the information it needs to carry out its inquiry into allegations of torture of Afghan detainees transferred by Canada to Afghan authorities.

This agreement also includes a mechanism to protect national security. I believe that this is a victory for democracy. I hope that the government has learned one thing from this exercise: Parliament takes precedence over the executive branch and must ensure that the government is accountable to parliamentarians. I hope that this agreement will lead to a much-needed restoration of the balance between the legislative and executive branches.

Provision of Information to Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for rising on a point of order and bringing forward this agreement into the House so that all members can be aware. It is very important that we report this back to the House.

On behalf of the NDP, I would like to say that we believe this is a very important step forward that has been taken. It was five years ago that the NDP first started raising the issue of what was happening to Afghan detainees in terms of what happened with the previous Liberal government and now the current Conservative government.

The important issue here has always been, and remains, to tell Canadians the truth about the handling of Afghan detainees. We believe that this agreement is a critical step in holding the government to account, following the historic ruling that you made, Mr. Speaker.

I would note that part of the agreement in our discussions is for the committee that has been outlined today by the Minister of Justice to periodically report to the House. That is a very important element of keeping this within Parliament and making sure that all members of the House are advised.

We in the NDP will work very diligently on this issue to ensure that relevant information is released while respecting security concerns. We see today as an important victory for parliamentary democracy and for upholding the public interest.

I would like to thank the members of our negotiating team, the member for St. John's East, the member for Windsor--Tecumseh and the member for Acadie--Bathurst for their very hard work in helping negotiate this agreement.

I would like to reference one small error, as details are important. With respect to the fifth bullet on page one, we did agree that committee members will have access to all documents. I think that is something that we put in. We got down to the wire, so in the written form that needs to be reflected.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. We look forward to working in good faith with other members of the House who are on the committee in making sure that this job is done and that the public has the information that is required.

Provision of Information to Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I congratulate all of the hon. members who participated in the negotiations.

I hope the accord that members have reached is reflected in the results that will happen over the next period of time. I congratulate all for your work. Thank you very much.

The hon. member for Saint Boniface is rising on a point of order.