House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentences.

Topics

Access to Information
Oral Questions

May 3rd, 2010 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this World Press Freedom Day, it is important to remember just how secretive the Conservative government is. It was elected on a promise of greater transparency, but the fact is that that was just smoke and mirrors. The Conservative government puts more energy into blocking access to information requests from the media than answering them.

Will the Prime Minister admit that in an attempt to control everything, he has made opaqueness, not transparency, his hallmark?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the fact is that more agencies have access to information than ever before and more documents are available. In a recent report, we noted that responses to access to information requests sometimes took too long, and we are prepared to improve that situation.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is why the government just got an “F” in this subject.

For example, the affair involving the former status of women minister and her husband, Rahim Jaffer, is a prime example of lack of transparency. It has been weeks since the former minister was fired and kicked out of the Conservative caucus, yet we still do not know what was behind the Prime Minister's decision. If the Prime Minister is serious about wanting to silence rumours about this affair, why does he not make the reasons for his decision public?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this has nothing to do with government business. All the information has been passed on to the authorities. That was the transparent thing to do, the right thing to do, and that is what the government did.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's determination to circumvent the Access to Information Act has earned it an “F” from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. There is a general lack of transparency in the Conservative government. Throughout the Jaffer affair, ministers have waited for their names to appear in the papers before making public the documents reporting their contacts with this unregistered Conservative lobbyist.

Once and for all, can we have the names of all ministers and parliamentary secretaries who were lobbied by Rahim Jaffer?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the reason we are having this debate in the House of Commons is that this government has handed over all information to the lobbying commissioner and the parliamentary committee. That is true transparency.

We received allegations about the former minister and the Prime Minister did his part by providing the information to independent authorities. If the Bloc member has information, she should follow the government's good example.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised to be more honest and transparent than the Liberal government. He has failed. He promised to give teeth to the Access to Information Act. He has not done so. He promised to require ministers to disclose their contacts with lobbyists. He has not done this either.

Why is the government acting as though it were under siege? What does it have to hide?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, according to the report on access to information, it is clear that we respond to most requests within 30 days. However, in almost 12% of cases, it takes more than 120 days. In our opinion, this is not acceptable and we will improve that.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we look on with horror as the oil spill slowly but surely makes it way towards the Louisiana coast, and Canadians are wondering whether this catastrophe could happen here, in Canada. Millions of litres of oil are pouring into the ocean, killing animals, ravaging plant life, destroying the fishing industry and devastating entire communities.

What assurances can the Prime Minister give us that this cannot happen here, in Canada?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I agree; it truly is horrific, an environmental nightmare. The behaviour of the companies involved was completely unacceptable. Fortunately, we have much stricter rules in Canada to prevent such a disaster.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the impact of this environmental catastrophe in the gulf is going to have an impact for decades to come. People all around the world are very concerned.

The Prime Minister should call a meeting of the environment ministers of the G8 prior to the June meetings of the G8 and put this issue on the agenda.

In addition, in the wake of this disaster, Nunavut Tunngavik, Nunavut's land claim organization, has quite naturally asked for a conference on marine safety issues, including the whole question of oil spill response capacity off our Arctic communities.

Will the Prime Minister show some leadership and call these two conferences?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the situation truly is horrific. It is an environmental catastrophe unlike anything we have seen in quite a long time. The behaviour of the companies in question is completely unacceptable and would be completely unacceptable in this country.

There are strong rules in Canada. There are rules for relief wells. The National Energy Board does not allow drilling unless it is convinced that the safety of the environment and the safety of workers can be assured. Let me assure all members of the House that we will continue to enforce stronger environmental standards in this country.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, British Petroleum operates the oil rig that is causing this catastrophe. BP also recently acquired three licences in the Beaufort Sea for more than 6,000 square kilometres of drilling rights. At the same time, it is applying right now to weaken the environmental standards regarding drilling.

BP failed to prevent the worst ecological disaster we have seen since the Exxon Valdez and now it wants to have its way with our Arctic.

Will the Prime Minister state clearly here today that there will be no weakening of the environmental standards as requested by BP?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since coming to office, this government has toughened environmental enforcement in our Arctic. We will do no such thing in terms of weakening environmental standards.

As we have said before, the National Energy Board is clear. There is no drilling unless the environment is protected and unless workers are protected. That is the bottom line, and this government will not tolerate the kind of situation we see in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ethics
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's guide for ministers is very clear. It says that ministers may delegate policy development initiatives to a parliamentary secretary, but that only a minister, and I quote, “has authority to initiate departmental actions”. However, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities does not think these rules apply to him.

Can he confirm that the person who wrote “From Rahim – submit to dept.” on the Dragon Power proposal from GPG was none other his parliamentary secretary's assistant, Kimberley Michelutti?