House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.

Topics

Offshore Drilling
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources said that there are currently no authorizations to drill in the Beaufort Sea. Yesterday the minister gave an even worse answer saying there are no permits for drilling in the Beaufort or the Arctic.

Boundaries do not stop oil spills. Shell Oil has a lease to drill in the Beaufort. A Scottish company has a licence to drill this summer off Greenland. Ocean currents endanger Canadian waters.

For the third time in question period I ask, why does the Conservative government have no plan to deal with foreign oil spills in the Beaufort Sea and Davis Strait when they drift into Canadian waters?

Offshore Drilling
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that Canada has issued no permits to drill in the Beaufort Sea and that no projects will be undertaken unless and until the government is convinced that worker safety and the environment will be protected. My colleague should be happy that this government is taking the lead in negotiations on Arctic development. This will ensure that our neighbouring countries have high standards for oil drilling. That is why we are in talks with Greenland, whose regulations are similar to Canada's.

One thing is clear: Canada has the highest standards in the world.

Offshore Drilling
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my third time asking and the third answer with no Canadian plan for a cleanup.

Reacting to oil spills like the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Prime Minister said that there are relief wells, but relief wells in the gulf will not be ready until August, five months too late. Is that all the protection the Conservative government offers Canadians, five months of oil spilled into our pristine waters? Is that the best it can do?

Offshore Drilling
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, if my colleague is so concerned about what is going on down there, he should talk to the American authorities about the Gulf of Mexico. I am telling him what is going on here in Canada. We have the highest standards in the world. The National Energy Board requires companies to file emergency preparedness and response plans and to use the best available technology. No drilling permits have been issued for the Arctic or for the Beaufort Sea, and no projects will be undertaken unless and until the government is convinced that the environment and worker health and safety will be protected. That is a pretty clear plan.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

May 26th, 2010 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of torture of Afghan detainees, you ruled as Speaker that:

The Senate and House of Commons have the right...to summon and compel the attendance of all persons, within the limits of their jurisdiction, as witnesses, and to order them to bring with them such papers and records as may be required for the purpose of an inquiry.

Yet less than a month later, the government is again trying to restrict committees' power of inquiry by gagging ministers' political staff.

Is the government aware that it is once again running the risk of being found in contempt of Parliament?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what we have seen increasingly over the last number of days, weeks and months is our political staff subjected to bullying and intimidation at committees. Quite frankly, we find this completely unacceptable.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, despite the heckling from the other side, this is completely unacceptable.

It is ministers who are responsible for the actions of their staff and for the actions of their departments. It will be ministers who will be appearing at committee from now on to answer any and all questions. I would think that the opposition would support seeing our ministers more often at those committees.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the power to compel witnesses stems from the preamble and section 18 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which give Parliament the right to require witnesses to appear.

Does the government realize that if its approach were to be adopted, it would create two classes of people: Conservative political staff, who would not be required to testify, and everyone else, who would have no choice?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what the opposition coalition does not have the right to do is to bully and intimidate hard-working political staff appearing at those committees. We tried that route. They would not treat people respectfully. From now on the ministers themselves will appear at committee to defend the actions of this government and to defend their staff.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages is refuting the Conservatives' arguments regarding bilingual judges. He reminds us that when the Official Languages Act was passed 40 years ago, people claimed that bilingualism requirements would prevent people from western Canada from getting jobs. Yet the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is from Alberta, the most senior federal public servant is from Saskatchewan and one of the highest ranking soldiers in the armed forces is from Manitoba.

Instead of setting us back by 40 years, why does the government not insist that judges appointed to the Supreme Court understand French?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, our position on this issue is very clear and has not changed. Our government will continue to adhere to the principles of merit and legal excellence when selecting Supreme Court justices.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for official languages tried to justify the government's inaction by saying that the bilingualism requirement for judges will divide Canadians.

Can the minister elaborate on this? Is he telling us that he cannot enforce a bilingual requirement for Supreme Court justices because he is afraid of offending Conservative extremists?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is false. Once again, our government will continue to adhere to the principles of merit and legal excellence when selecting Supreme Court justices.

The Supreme Court has worked well for over 130 years in this country. It has been respectful of the linguistic duality of this country. This should not come under attack by the Bloc or anybody else who believes in federal institutions. The Supreme Court should be celebrated by all Canadians.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, your ruling on the supremacy of Parliament was applauded by all sides of this chamber and beyond, but just a month later the Conservatives are trying to do an end run around the power of Parliament by blocking senior staffers from appearing before committee.

This new, out of the blue Conservative policy is yet another direct affront to the powers of Parliament; it is censorship and blocking of information.

When will the Prime Minister read the Speaker's ruling and understand that it is Parliament that is supreme, not him and not his government?