House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Curling
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, in Saskatoon, we witnessed one of the most exciting finishes in Canadian men's championship curling in recent years. The final, on Sunday, had fans glued to their TVs and iPods as Glenn Howard's Ontario rink fought off a late surge by Kevin Koe's Alberta rink to capture the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier. It was another proud achievement for Glenn, his fourth Brier win and his second as skip.

The Howard team heralds from the Coldwater Curling Club in the centre of my riding. I know that all the members there and our entire community are immensely proud of Glenn and his Ontario team.

Congratulations to skip Glenn Howard, lead Craig Savill, second Brent Laing, and third, veteran Wayne Middaugh for taking the Brier last weekend. They will have thousands of Canadian sports fans cheering them on as they take on the world championship next month in Switzerland.

Uranium Exploration
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to draw the attention of the House to the efforts of the people of Manicouagan, who have created “Minganie sans uranium”, an organization trying to stop uranium exploration north of Baie-Johan-Beetz and Aguanish.

To that end, the organization planned two grassroots events on the ground during the month of February. The theme was “radioactive performance”, and I attended both events. Artists Florent Vollant and Claude McKenzie, from the duo Kashtin, gave a wonderful performance and reiterated their support for this kind of community mobilization. Several other artists from the region were also in attendance.

Lastly, the group opposed to the uranium mining project received some unparalleled exposure when the spokesperson for the coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure MINE, Ugo Lapointe, went to the Uracan head office in Vancouver to deliver a letter expressing the group's opposition to the project. I am pleased to reiterate my support for this grassroots opposition movement.

Chalk River Laboratories
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the safety of Canadians is the top priority for employees at the Chalk River nuclear laboratories of AECL. In 2011, we witnessed first-hand the importance of safety in the nuclear industry after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Our homegrown nuclear industry is a world leader when it comes to developing cutting-edge technologies to mitigate risks.

The people of Chalk River Laboratories have developed a technology to absorb hydrogen gas. This gas represents a hazard in events such as occurred in Japan. The devices, known as passive autocatalytic recombiners, have successfully sold across Canada and to nuclear operators in Europe and Asia. Canada was only able to develop this technology as a result of the testing facilities at Chalk River Laboratories.

The nuclear industry is a vital part of Canada's economy. Over 50 companies and 70,000 full-time jobs help fuel our knowledge economy. Congratulations to everyone who works at Chalk River Laboratories for making it one of the world's leading centres of nuclear science and research.

Irving Layton
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute and celebrate the centenary of Irving Layton, a great teacher, poet, literati, wordsmith and architect of language; indeed, a poetic genius with an abiding jeremiad against injustice. He internalized in his psyche, as well as in his poetry, the romanticism of Shelley, the pantheism of Wordsworth, the dialectics of Hegel and the questioning of Socrates, being also the voice of the voiceless.

Irving Layton was my teacher, mentor and inspiration, who also became my close colleague and friend. He taught me how to think, how to advocate, how to struggle against injustice and, in Leonard Cohen's words, how to live.

May this centenary serve as an occasion for our youth to discover this poetic genius, as well as to inspire us all in the struggle against injustice.

Mississauga South
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to inform the House about what residents of Mississauga South are doing to contribute to conservation in an urban setting.

Now in extensive consultations including the Lakeview Ratepayers Association, beautiful Mississauga South will be made even more picturesque with a revitalized waterfront on Lake Ontario. This project will see newly created wetlands as well as parks which will be enjoyed by Mississauga families and seniors. The waterfront development will leverage environmentally friendly landfill to offset costs and to recycle what might otherwise be wasted.

The Lakeview project is a prime example of what can be achieved with an approach to conservation that takes into account both the people who live in a community, as well as nature and wildlife. As a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which begins its study on a national conservation plan, I am delighted to take part in developing a conservation plan that connects even more urban Canadians to nature.

I thank councillor Jim Tovey of the City of Mississauga for his leadership and the Lakeview Corridor volunteers for improving the quality of life in Mississauga South.

Shale Gas
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate two grandmothers in my riding. All on their own, Luce Cloutier and France Mercille of Mont-Saint-Hilaire produced an excellent documentary, 20 000 puits sous les terres, l'impact sur les gens vivant près des gaz de schiste, about the impact of shale gas development on nearby residents.

This moving documentary focuses on the industry's impact on the people of Montérégie and the St. Lawrence River valley.

Ms. Cloutier and Ms. Mercille interviewed some 20 residents of my region who are living with shale gas wells in their backyards. They showed just how helpless people feel when big companies show up without warning to dig wells that are practically in people's backyards.

The filmmakers remind us that people are not powerless against the shale gas industry. Together, we can challenge the arrogant and lawless industry and raise awareness of the difficult situation people in my region are facing.

Once again, congratulations to Luce Cloutier and France Mercille on their excellent documentary. I am very proud of their work.

Defence Industries Limited
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to 9,000 Canadians, mostly women, who toiled at Defence Industries Limited in Ajax to win the war. With over 100 kilometres of rail and road, it was the largest munitions factory in the Empire. Its workers filled 40 million shells for the Allies. They came from across Canada, changing assumptions about women in the workplace and tilting the balance toward victory. They were Canadian optimists, naming their town for the first victory of the war in 1939 when HMS Ajax triumphed over a larger foe.

Canadians now are rediscovering this chapter in our history thanks to Bomb Girls, the Global Television series from Maureen Jennings and Debbie Drennan. Through shift matron Lorna or Betty and Kate, the girls of Blue Shift, wartime Canada has been brought vividly to life.

For five dangerous years at DIL, hard-working women like Louise Johnson left their jewellery at the door to fill 40 millimetre casings with cordite. On behalf of millions of Canadians, I wish to salute these unsung heroes, congratulate the creators of Bomb Girls on their amazing success and support the new Ajax bomb girls, Pat Brown, Pat Clark, Colleen Jordan and others, in their efforts to build a lasting memorial to the women of DIL. Please join me in paying tribute to Canada's bomb girls.

Central Africa
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the students of Chinook High School joined their voices with thousands across the country and around the world to condemn the heinous war criminal, Joseph Kony. Kony and his LRA fighters regularly rape and pillage and mutilate and massacre civilian populations in central Africa. They kidnap children to force girls to be sex slaves and boys to kill their own parents and mutilate their friends, as child soldiers.

These students are shocked and appalled at these atrocities. I am inspired that they have responded with this spirit of optimism, convinced that their resolve to make a difference will make a difference. One student said, “I saw my peers... inspired and full of empathy and passion. I saw hope that justice would be served and the innate goodness of humankind would prevail”.

Their hope is not in vain. Canada will continue to support and contribute to the international community's resolve to stop the LRA, save the child soldiers and bring Joseph Kony to justice.

Service Canada
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the employees at the Service Canada call centre in my riding of Hamilton Centre and my constituents who rely on these services recently received the bad news that our local office was being closed no later than March 2014 and possibly as early as this Christmas.

This office plays a critical role in providing support to thousands of people in my hometown of Hamilton who need assistance with employment insurance, old age security and Canada pension plan applications. The closure means the loss of good paying jobs in our community. More importantly, my constituents who use these services, many of whom have literacy issues or language barriers, or do not have access to the Internet, are now at risk of being left behind. This is completely unacceptable.

The move to close the Hamilton office is part of a continuing trend by the Conservative government to save money at the expense of providing quality and timely services that Canadians expect and deserve from their public institutions. The Conservative government continues to fail my constituents just as it continues to fail Canadians across the country.

Public Safety
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, marijuana grow ops harm our communities. There are unacceptable risks to those living where marijuana plants are being illegally cultivated. Wherever they exist, there is a real potential for an increase in criminal activity.

I would like to congratulate the RCMP for taking action to shut down a 5,200 plant marijuana grow op near Nelson, B.C. While searching the premises, the RCMP found two young children who were living in the home and were exposed to all the dangers of the operation. Situations like these are putting children at risk. Any time children are exposed to chemicals, unsafe wiring and drugs there is a real chance that they could be seriously hurt. That is why we have taken action and passed the safe streets and communities act. This bill will seriously and appropriately punish those who produce and traffic illegal drugs.

The member for St. John's East says that people like those responsible for grow ops such as this are just misunderstood individuals who have simply run afoul of the law. On this side of the House—

Public Safety
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Gatineau.

Status of Women in Afghanistan
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the past 10 years, incredible progress has been made in Afghanistan, but women in that country are still not benefiting fully from that progress. A young woman from Gatineau, Ahura Homayun, talked to my team to raise awareness about this issue. Despite all the work that has been accomplished, Afghanistan is still one of the worst places for women: the maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world; 87% of women are illiterate; only 30% of young girls have access to education; one woman in three suffers physical or sexual abuse; and 70% to 80% of women are in forced marriages.

President Karzai has supported a voluntary code of conduct developed by a religious advisory committee to reduce the rights gained by women and legitimize violence against them. We cannot tolerate this step backward. I am calling on the government to immediately engage in dialogue about this with the Afghan authorities and to appeal to them to respect women's rights because doing so is essential to peace and security in their country.

John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, I have the great privilege of emceeing the second annual John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award ceremony here in Ottawa.

The Diefenbaker award is named in honour of Canada's 13th prime minister, one of this country's greatest champions of human rights. It honours individuals or groups who show exceptional courage and leadership in defending human rights and freedoms in their communities and all around the world.

I know that all members of the House will join me in congratulating this year's recipients who will be announced later today.

As Canadians, we enjoy the rights and privileges that come with living in a free and democratic society in which human rights are respected. However, we also are keenly aware of the struggles faced elsewhere.

Canada will continue to stand with the defenders of human rights for all people who courageously seek to promote and protect fundamental freedoms around the world.

Tony Silipo
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada lost a fine public servant this week when Tony Silipo lost his long battle with brain cancer.

I first knew Tony well through his work in the Italian community in the west end of the city of Toronto. Elected to the legislature of Ontario in 1990, Tony served with me in the Government of Ontario as a cabinet minister with great ability and integrity in the busy and difficult portfolios of education and community and social services and went on to serve as a valued member of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal.

He was a man of great intelligence and dedication with a quiet but determined manner, which earned him the admiration of his opponents as well as his loyal supporters. A proud son of Calabria, he could laugh at himself and was always a source of advice and friendship to his colleagues and to the wider community. Much of his work went unheralded since self-promotion was never his trademark.

We send our deepest condolences to his wife and family and hope that the memories of better times and the support of loved ones and friends will make this terrible loss more bearable.

[Member spoke in Italian as follows]

Vai in pace fratello.

Member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hands an advertisement that proves that the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup thinks he is Detective Columbo. Instead of using his House of Commons budget to do his job, he is using it to do the work of Elections Canada, despite the agency's instructions.

I urge the member to use the resources of the House of Commons to do his job as an MP and not to conduct investigations that are Elections Canada's responsibility. Will the member pay for his ads in community newspapers out of his own pocket? Will the member use his budget to pay for expenses pertaining to his work as an MP and follow Elections Canada's instructions?

Leader of the Official Opposition
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us work together.

Those are Jack Layton's now famous words embodied by my leader, the leader of the official opposition.

She has worked tirelessly to put Canadian families first.

And she has achieved results.

As Conservative policies saw jobs shipped down south, under her leadership, the NDP plan on jobs and the economy passed unanimously. She fought for aboriginal families and, under her leadership, the Shannen's Dream motion passed unanimously.

While other leaders argued about whose dirty tricks were worse, she unanimously passed a motion to give Elections Canada the tools to clean up this mess. Canadians sent us here to get results.

And my leader has done so.

She is the longest serving woman leader of the opposition, a committed Canadian and a shining example for all members of the House.

Thank you to my leader. Thank you, Nycole.

Research In Motion
Statements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Research In Motion's BlackBerry is a Canadian success story. This homegrown success story has contributed to making the Waterloo region one of the high-tech hubs of the world.

I know my BlackBerry is a reliable device. It helps me to keep informed of the news and concerns of my constituents back home. It allows me to respond to people in real time and it does not keep me at my desk. It helps me work from anywhere.

I wish RIM the best under the leadership of new executive, Thorsten Heins. I hope we will be using its new innovations for decades to come.

However, our friend from Papineau likes to blame its product for his Twitter problems. I am pretty sure it is the thumb typer holding the device who is to blame for highlighting smears against the Minister of Public Safety and other mis-tweets.

That member would like to see RIM flat on its back. I think a few Canadians are hoping to see him like that at the charity boxing fundraiser in a couple of weeks.

Health
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, a drug shortage such as the one we are currently experiencing should not have happened in Canada had the Minister of Health, at the very least, acted to quickly resolve the problem, which she did not do.

As a result of the Conservatives' short-sightedness, the crisis could last a year. People are really worried. Can the Prime Minister tell us what he is going to do to prevent this type of drug shortage?

Health
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as we noted on a number of occasions, this drug shortage is a direct result of the fact that some provinces decided to use a single supplier for certain vital drugs. Clearly, the Minister of Health has been working with the provinces for a long time now to resolve this problem. This is a serious situation but we are trying to work together to mitigate the effects.

Health
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the NDP proposed a concrete plan to manage the current drug shortage and adopt a pan-Canadian strategy to prevent shortages from happening again. That is what the health experts and the provinces are calling for.

Canadians need a federal government with a system in place to avoid drug shortages. We must work together to protect patients.

Will the Prime Minister support the NDP motion to put an end to drug shortages?

Health
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the so-called NDP plan in the motion contains exactly the steps the government has already been following for some time.

As we all know, the provinces are responsible for purchasing their drugs and, in this case, they purchased some drugs on a sole source basis and that source has come under stress. Obviously, this is a difficult problem, one that is not easily dealt with, but the Minister of Health has been working collaboratively with the provinces to look at options and to facilitate those options.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I must say, the answers we are getting are not very reassuring for families or people who are sick. Quite frankly, it does not look as though the Prime Minister is taking this crisis seriously.

Another matter the Prime Minister is not taking seriously is the issue of fraudulent calls during the election. At the time of the sponsorship scandal, an RCMP investigation and a public inquiry were conducted simultaneously. One does not preclude the other. Elections Canada can conduct an investigation at the same time as a public inquiry.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for to launch a public inquiry?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, an investigation is already under way and producing results. I would like to point out that illegal calls made by the opposition have also been discovered. I would also note that every time the NDP makes allegations outside the House, it has to apologize. It is time the NDP acted responsibly and gave all of its true information to Elections Canada.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want to get to the bottom of the Conservative electoral fraud investigation. We now understand that the Conservative Party leaked the name of a 23-year-old staffer and tried to finger him as the mastermind behind this corruption. Mr. Sona has had to hire a lawyer to defend himself against this Conservative hatchet job.

Why are the Conservatives so desperate to throw this kid under the bus? Who are they hiding and why are they using him as their victim to protect the party?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that the late night last night has not prevented the hon. member from having his tinfoil hat firmly attached.

Everything the member just indicated is completely false. What we know is that the NDP has had to apologize for a number of outrageous allegations and smears that it has made recently. We know that the opposition in fact placed illegal calls in the last election. We call on opposition members to co-operate and participate with Elections Canada so it can get to the bottom of this.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the party that promised to come to Ottawa and clean things up. Instead, it is so morally adrift it believes it will sell Canadians that all politicians are as corrupt as the tactics it uses, which is simply not true.

Now the Conservatives are trying to stick a 23-year-old with the blame for a nationwide robofraud scandal.

Nobody believes it. So, who was behind this scam? Why are the Conservatives trying to stick Mr. Sona with it? When will they come clean? When will they call a public inquiry?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our party is doing no such thing. Again, that is the member's wild imagination at work.

The member has suggested that we are trying to paint other parties. We are not doing any such thing. We are stating the facts, like the NDP siphoning money off to the Broadbent Institute, contravening the Canada Election Act; accepting illegal donations for its AGMs from unions and so forth, contravening the Canada Election Act; tens of thousands of dollars of illegal donations. That is what the NDP members have done. We call on them to assist Elections Canada.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, every day, new allegations are made about the election and election fraud. There have been reports of voter suppression and of people who voted without even having the required identification. It is a type of ballot box stuffing.

Why does the Prime Minister not see the need to order a public inquiry and create a royal commission that would have the power to get to the bottom of this matter?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is true that new allegations are being made every day, but now, every day, evidence of the Liberal Party's illegal behaviour is coming to light. I am telling the Liberal Party the same thing that I told the other parties in the House: the Liberals must provide all of their information in order to assist Elections Canada in its investigation.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the subject of electoral fraud, the Prime Minister, on April 8, 2011, in the middle of the election campaign, talked about the F-35 contract. He said, “the contract we've signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs. We're very confident of our cost estimates”. His ministers are telling us now that there is no contract, that there is no assurance with respect to cost and, in fact, that signing a contract is a matter of if and when.

Was the Prime Minister telling the truth when he spoke to the people of Canada on April 8, 2011, about a so-called contract, yes or no?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of public record. At the time, I was referring to a memorandum of understanding. It has not been a secret that the government has not signed a contract. The fact is our country does not pay any increase on the development cost. That is the arrangement. It is also a fact that we have provisioned in our budget funds for future aircraft and we are prepared to live within that budget.

Health
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the subject of the drug shortage issue, I would again like to ask the Prime Minister a very clear question.

The Prime Minister has stated on a number of occasions, and he did it again today, that it is essentially the responsibility, indeed the fault, of the provinces as to why there is a shortage of drugs.

This view is not widely shared. A drug shortage around the world is affecting every country. Why is it that of the countries dealing with this crisis, whether it is the Europeans, the Americans or us, we are the only ones who do not have mandatory regulations? We are the only ones who do not have prior notification. Why is our regulatory system so pathetically weak?

Health
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have the same system as when he was in office.

It is true that some of these problems are being felt in other countries. The reality of the situation in our system is that the provinces administer the health care system and they are the buyers of most of these medications. In some cases, they sole sourced these purchases from a firm that is now having some difficulty. However, we are working with them to try and address this problem.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' confusing and clumsy explanations for the fraud that occurred in the riding of Guelph are so far-fetched that we get the impression we are listening to Réjean on La Petite Vie. From the beginning, they have been trying to lead us to believe that a single activist orchestrated an election fraud of this magnitude without any help, as though Michael Sona had the money, computer resources or access to the lists he would require to organize thousands of fraudulent calls. It does not make any sense.

Do the Conservatives really believe in this ridiculous theory that a single volunteer transformed into an election super villain? If not, who on the other side of the House are they trying to protect?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I humbly suggest that it is time for the party to apologize for its actions. I have here a document from the Commissioner of Canada Elections that says:

The Contracting Party acknowledged acts that contravene section 405.21 and constitute an offence under paragraph 497(3)(f.162) of the Canada Elections Act...

The contracting party in question is the New Democratic Party. That party broke the law. I urge the hon. member to rise and apologize to Canadians.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people who should be apologizing are those who pled guilty to using the in and out scheme in 2006 and who stole from Canadians.

When Michael Sona submitted his resignation to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, she initially refused to accept it. That makes sense, because it is ridiculous to believe that a single employee engineered massive electoral fraud, but according to the Globe and Mail, Jenni Byrne, the Conservative Party's director of political operations, called the parliamentary secretary shortly thereafter. She must have been very persuasive, because the resignation was suddenly accepted.

Can anyone on the government side tell us what Jenni Byrne knows but is refusing to disclose at this time?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I just told him that his party admitted to contravening the Canada Elections Act by trying to send money to the Broadbent Institute and force taxpayers to foot the bill with the tax credit.

The New Democrats have already had to apologize for the false allegations made by the hon. member for Winnipeg. Now I think the New Democrats should rise in the House to apologize for breaking the law and breaching Canadians' trust.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

They love to try to change the channel, Mr. Speaker, but only the Conservatives are being questioned for coordinated voter fraud.

The Conservatives paid RMG and RackNine millions in the last election. The Conservatives, and no other parties, are being forced to show their vote database to Elections Canada. It is the Conservatives who are trying to throw a 23 year old under the bus for a scheme affecting dozens of ridings across Canada.

When will the Conservatives stop trying to find scapegoats and tell us who wrote the scripts, who paid the bills and who is responsible?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Once again I urge members to have a link between their questions and the administrative responsibility of the government.

I see the parliamentary secretary rise to answer the question, so I will give him the floor.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, virtually all of the statements made by the member are entirely false. However, we know the NDP has had to apologize for the very smears that the member has just made in the House. NDP members have had to apologize publicly, and I think there are more apologies to come for some of the smears they have made to legitimate Canadians and legitimate businesses in our country.

We know that illegal calls were in fact placed by the opposition. We have made Elections Canada and the CRTC aware of it. We want them to investigate this. We hope the opposition parties will assist Elections Canada and the CRTC in these investigations.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Despite the spin, Mr. Speaker, the facts do not lie. Only the Conservatives are being questioned for coordinated voter fraud, no other party.

Elections Canada is looking at the Conservative database right now. Conservative sources are saying that Michael Sona never even accessed the database. Someone else did. Someone wrote a script, someone blasted it across the country, someone paid thousands and someone had access to CIMS.

Only the Conservatives know who it is. When will they tell Canadians?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the allegations made are entirely false. The Conservative Party is not under any investigation. What we are doing and what the NDP is not doing is assisting Elections Canada. We are providing assistance.

However, let us be clear about the motivations of the NDP members, trying to cover up the fact that they are under investigation from Elections Canada from both 2009 and 2011 AGMs, where they accepted illegal donations from unions that contravened the Elections Act. Let us not forget that they also syphoned money off and had to plead guilty to syphoning off tax dollars, trying to put it into the Broadbent Institute. It is deplorable.

Purchase of Office Supplies
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 200,000 sheets of paper ordered by the offices of the former Conservative MP, Bernard Généreux, which he had delivered to the party in April 2010, were paid for only at the end of 2011, by Mr. Généreux himself. Yesterday, we were told the matter is closed.

On the contrary: 56,000 sheets of paper were used, but where were they printed? What were they used for? Was it a contribution in kind to the party?

Mr. Généreux has since been appointed to the board of directors of the Quebec Port Authority. Therefore it is a question of public interest. The thousands of Quebeckers who will have to play detective deserve some answers.

Purchase of Office Supplies
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I ask the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup to use the resources of the House of Commons to do his job and not to conduct investigations that are Elections Canada's responsibility. Will the member pay for his ads in community newspapers out of his own pocket? Will the member follow Elections Canada's instructions and use his budget to carry out his duties as an MP?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, for over 18 months we have raised issues about the procurement process, about production delays and about the ever-rising price of the F-35. In response the Conservatives have had the audacity to question our love of our country and our support for our troops, all the while sharing the very same concerns.

Would the minister now admit that this is not about who loves our country the most, but is about responsible management of what might be the largest procurement project in Canadian history?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to answer the member opposite.

The Royal Canadian Air Force plays a vital role in protecting our sovereignty and defending our interests at home and abroad. Canada's CF-18s are nearing the end of their usable lives. Canada is one of nine partner nations in the F-35 program, and has been so for 15 years.

However, a contract has not been signed for replacement aircraft. We have set a budget for replacement aircraft. We have been clear that we will operate within that budget.

We will continue to ensure our men and women receive the tools they need to carry out the jobs we ask of them.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. The government finally admitted yesterday what everyone has been saying for quite some time: the F-35 program has problems. Apparently, in the backrooms of National Defence, a team is examining alternatives to the F-35 jet. However, there were more questions than answers when the Associate Minister of National Defence appeared before the committee yesterday.

Now that the government has admitted that it has doubts about the F-35s, where is plan B?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there was a time when a whole lot of noise was coming from the member opposite about there not being any other plan. Now that we have one, we are being criticized. That is the no defence party attitude.

Our position has not changed. We remain committed to the joint strike fighter program, as have the other partners. A budget has been allocated. We have not as yet signed an order for any aircraft.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are no tenders, no transparency, no guarantees of industrial spinoffs, a flawed process, and they want to lecture the opposition. That is ridiculous.

Time is passing, but doubts remains about the F-35 jets. The Conservatives' crusade for the F-35s has hit the wall. We have been warning them for months, and now they are panicking and trying to pick up the pieces.

When will this government make a clear decision? Which planes, how many, at what price and when will we receive them?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I have been clear in the past and I will repeat. When the current aircraft come to the end of their useful lives, we will ensure that our men and women in uniform have the best equipment necessary to do the important job we ask of them.

However, a contract for replacement aircraft has not as yet been signed.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, for over 18 months the Conservatives characterized their support for the F-35 as a crusade as “holy and decent”. That is their words, not ours. We have had our own words for this obsession. Although likely unparliamentary, our words appear to be a more accurate description as yesterday the Conservatives admitted to backing out of this crusade.

Now that the religious fervour for the F-35 has subsided, will the minister finally do the right thing and put this contract out to tender?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, stating comments by the member opposite does not make them true. The member opposite criticizes but demonstrates very little knowledge about the intricacies of this particular program. Yesterday he expressed surprise that we had not signed a contract, saying it was astounding.

Canada has been involved in this project since 1997. We are not backing out. We are being careful about spending taxpayers' money, making sure we do the absolute right thing for our men and women in the military, as well as for all Canadians.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the most important responsibility of any government is to ensure the integrity of its democratic system. Extremely troubling reports of thousands of ineligible voters casting ballots has surfaced in several ridings: Etobicoke Centre, Eglington--Lawrence, Nipissing—Timiskaming, and now Scarborough—Rouge River.

Voter suppression, ineligible voters, allegations of secret Conservative bank accounts in Vaughan, when will the Prime Minister do what 80% of Canadians are demanding and call for a public inquiry or royal commission?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park
Alberta

Conservative

Tim Uppal Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that voter registration is the responsibility of Elections Canada, not political parties. Any concerns can be raised with Elections Canada.

Employment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

According to Statistics Canada's latest report, only 54% of young Canadians have a job. That is the worst number in over 10 years. It is worse than at any point during the recession. A generation of Canadians is being left behind with no job experience and no hope.

Will the minister admit that Canada faces a youth jobs crisis, and will he put a real jobs plan for young Canadians in his budget?

Employment
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we want to help young Canadians get jobs. That is why we expanded the Canada summer jobs program, so that they can get the experience and skills they need for full-time jobs.

Beyond that, we have invested unprecedented amounts in training, in skills, in infrastructure in the colleges and universities, so that students can get the training, the education and the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Right across the country there are labour and skills shortages. We are trying to prepare our young people to fill those jobs.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for 18 months now, the Liberals have been telling the Minister of National Defence that there must be a tendering process to replace the CF-18. But the minister insists that the F-35 is the only aircraft capable of doing the job. We are talking about tens of billions of dollars here.

The minister likes to spring to his feet 10 seconds before the end of the question in order to give the impression that he knows his files. I am asking him to spring to his feet today and tell us that the F-35 is the only aircraft capable of replacing the CF-18.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals initiated Canada's involvement in the joint strike fighter program in 1997, and in so doing committed over $100 million to get things started. Now they are turning their backs on the program. They have cold feet and they are flip-flopping. We are not. We remain committed to making sure our men and women in the military have the absolutely right tools to do their jobs and do so for the good of Canadians.

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government has no use for common sense. We need only think of its bill on sentencing.

However, the government may be in for some little surprises, and some big ones. Quebec refuses to budge. It will continue to focus on the rehabilitation of young offenders rather than on repression. Rehabilitation works. Quebec has had one of the lowest youth crime rates in North America for 25 years.

Why do the Conservatives stubbornly insist on denying the facts?

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to be absolutely clear. There is absolutely nothing in the act that would require Quebec to change anything about its rehabilitation program with regard to young offenders.

That being said, the bill goes after those individuals who are trafficking in drugs, and those individuals who sexually exploit children, who are into child pornography. Everybody has a stake in fighting that.

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not at all what the Quebec justice minister was suggesting yesterday. He had to hold a press conference to explain how Quebec was going to distance itself from Bill C-10.

The government's repressive model is particularly harmful to aboriginal offenders, who are already overrepresented in our prisons. For example, in the prairie provinces, aboriginal people make up almost 60% of the prison population.

In 1999, the Supreme Court recognized the principle of restorative justice and the need for rehabilitation services. So why does this government want to divert the funding dedicated to the rehabilitation of aboriginal offenders? Why does it want to put even more pressure on—

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. minister said, there is absolutely nothing in Bill C-10 that would prevent Quebec from adapting its rehabilitation system however it likes. In fact, some initial guidelines have been given to the courts to protect the public. A balance must be struck between rehabilitation and protecting the public in order to protect Canadians and Quebeckers.

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was speaking French and he still did not understand. I was talking about the aboriginal population, which makes up nearly 60% of the prison population in the prairie provinces. As for Quebec, I understood the minister's response, although it does not make sense in terms of the facts.

Let us talk about the astronomical costs associated with his prison program. It is scary. Bill C-10 will cost Quebec and Ontario $1 billion each over five years. There will be fewer police officers on our streets and more criminals out of prison without proper preparation. Who is going to pay for all that? Taxpayers will, even though they are already being squeezed. How can the Conservatives justify such recklessness?

Justice
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, we cannot put a price on protecting the public. Every government, be it the Government of Quebec or of any other province, must set priorities. This government's priority is to protect Canadians and put victims' rights first. That is what we promised to do and that is what we are doing.

Justice
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, diversions and stalling tactics do not enhance public safety. Let us be serious for a moment. Police budgets have dropped close to the critical threshold. That is not my opinion. That is a fact according to the president of the Canadian Police Association.

How will reduced police services help enhance safety and protection in our communities?

Justice
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, obviously none of those statements are entirely true. Public protection is essential to Quebec and Canadian society, and we know that police officers have the resources they need. That is one of the reasons we introduced Bill C-10.

International Trade
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is committed to opening new markets for Canadian businesses to create jobs and prosperity for workers and their families in every region of our country. We are pursuing an ambitious broad-based plan with the aim of deepening our trade and investment tied with large, dynamic and high growth markets around the world, such as India.

Would the hard-working and passionate Minister of International Trade please share with the House how Canada's trade strategy is strengthening this important relationship with India?

International Trade
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Abbotsford
B.C.

Conservative

Ed Fast Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Calgary Northeast for his excellent work on the trade committee.

A free trade agreement with India is a key part of this government's job creating pro-trade plan. I led a trade mission to India a few months ago, and just yesterday spoke at the Brand India Expo.

With more than one million Canadians of Indian origin, our growing trade relationship shows how our people-to-people ties are building the Canada-India partnership. I am more convinced than ever that an exciting future awaits both of our countries. That is something all of us can celebrate.

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier in response to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister claimed that the plan in the NDP motion on drug shortages is already being done. If that were the case, why are the provinces, the territories and health professionals all calling for federal action and leadership? The NDP motion explicitly calls for leadership.

I ask the minister very directly, will the government support the NDP motion and will it take the immediate action prescribed in the motion, yes or no?

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that patients and doctors have access to the information about potential drug shortages. However, the truth is there is no mandatory reporting requirements that could predict a fire that would shut down the production of critical drugs.

If Health Canada inspectors needed to shut down a plant for a violation, we can keep it open 90 days to meet the mandatory reporting requirements. Mandatory reporting is not a silver bullet for drug shortages. As long as there is one sole-source drug provider for all the provinces and territories, we remain at risk of shortages. We are going to support the provinces and territories in addressing the issue.

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why a long-term plan by the federal government is needed.

The Minister of Health wants to dump her responsibilities on the provinces. She is acting as if the federal government had no role to play in this. However, as the minister knows, the federal government gives generous tax benefits every year to the pharmaceutical companies to help them boost their profits. What are those tax benefits worth?

In exchange for those gifts, can the Conservatives have the decency to put pressure on these pharmaceutical companies to have a sufficient inventory of drugs at all times and thus protect the health of Canadians?

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, I trust that the NDP members are in the process of ironing out their differences of opinion regarding this issue. This is a serious matter.

Our government respects the role each jurisdiction plays. We are not in the business of stepping into provincial and territorial jurisdictions. I hope hon. members will join in this important debate this afternoon and work with us, not against us.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, a leaked document has revealed a new Conservative plan to attack the Fisheries Act. It shines light on the government's plan to gut important environmental protection.

Eliminating habitat protection will set us back decades, making it easier to ram through big industrial projects, like the Enbridge pipeline which we know will have a devastating impact on the environment.

I ask the minister again, is the Conservative government planning to gut the habitat fisheries, yes or no?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, current fisheries policies go well beyond what is required to protect fish and fish habitat. I can give some examples of that.

Last year in Saskatchewan, a long-running country jamboree was nearly cancelled after newly flooded fields were deemed fish habitat by fisheries officials. In Richelieu, the application of rules blocked a farmer from draining his flooded field.

We are looking at the policies, but there has been no decision made.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, those are empty words. Canadians know full well that they cannot count on the Conservatives to protect the environment.

We know that the industry started lobbying the Conservatives in 2006. The government is supposed to protect our fishery, not roll out the red carpet for disastrous mega-projects.

Are the Conservatives going to do their job or are they going to keep giving their lobbyist friends special treatment? When are they finally going to meet the needs of the fishers?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, it is more like empty questions. The member opposite obviously has a crystal ball that I do not have.

What we are looking at is policies. I can tell the member that we have not made any policy changes. We are currently looking at the policies that are in place and how we can improve them to make it better for fish habitat and the fisheries.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us give the minister another chance.

First, the Conservative government smeared B.C.'s first nations, whom it has a duty to properly consult, by calling them radicals and adversaries.

Now we have learned that the government plans to relinquish its role in protecting vital salmon and other fish habitat. This is a cynical attempt to shortcut the northern gateway pipeline approval process at the expense of local communities and the environment.

Will the government commit here and now to drop its plan to gut fish habitat protection?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, these are policies that we are looking at.

There is ample evidence that the policies we have in place are inhibiting the everyday activities of Canadian landowners. We have a responsibility to Canada and the Canadian public to ensure that we protect our habitat. At the same time the policies have to be reasonable and do not infringe on the everyday way of life of Canadians.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, last year purse seiners were unable to catch all of the remaining herring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Now we are hearing that the minister has cut a deal to allow massive corporate mid-water trawlers to fish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Will the government, knowing that these massive corporate trawlers will destroy the species, inform the House and Canadians that it will not allow this type of trawler in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which will destroy the herring species?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting question from the member opposite. Days ago he was criticizing me for listening to fishermen and seeking ideas and input from fishermen.

Obviously, those members probably would not be way down there in the House if they had listened to Canadians and Canadian fishermen.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have transformed a crucial report from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development into Conservative talking points. The report contains no proof and does not take the points of view of key stakeholders into account. Since no one can support their plan to phase out environmental assessments, they wrote a phony report that supports their case.

When will they stop producing reports based on their fantasy world?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not true at all.

The standing committee has completed its review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and has made some constructive suggestions for improvements to the act that will allow for continued rigorous protection of the environment while at the same time protecting Canadian jobs and the economy.

Our consideration of legislative change will certainly benefit from the recommendations of the standing committee.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, here is the Conservative plan to study environmental assessments: One, ignore important evidence; two, fail to consult key stakeholders; and three, write a phony report full of holes that serves no one but the Conservatives.

That is not good enough. We are talking about important safeguards here to protect our health, communities and environment. Conservatives are turning environmental assessments into a farce.

Will the Conservatives put off any changes to the Environmental Assessment Act until a credible review can be done?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if the NDP spent a little less time lobbying against Canadian jobs and a responsibly regulated industry, the member would have a better chance of helping to protect the environment.

The Environmental Assessment Act and the good work of the agency are very much front of mind. We are well aware of where improvements to the act can be made. That said, we do appreciate the recommendations made by the standing committee.

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, with the third largest oil reserves in the world, Canada has a historic opportunity to develop these resources to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic growth right across our country.

We are an energy superpower with the resources the world needs to fulfill growing global energy demands. Furthermore, we are seen as a reliable as well as an environmentally and socially responsible supplier.

Could the parliamentary secretary please update this House on how we are fighting for our resource sector?

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his excellent work on natural resources.

When we go abroad, we defend Canadian interests, not betray them. Today the Minister of Natural Resources is in Kuwait doing excellent work as usual in telling the world that Canada stands ready to supply its oil and energy.

We are a strong stable democracy, we are a reliable trading partner and we are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across this country. Unlike the opposition, when we travel abroad we support Canadian interests and Canadian workers.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I recently returned from South Africa where the leaders of the African National Congress, the legendary anti-Apartheid movement that is now celebrating its centenary, reported to me how they were denied visas to Canada on security grounds and felt it painful if not insulting to have to apply for an exceptional waiver.

My question for the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is this: What steps will the Government of Canada take to ensure that these anti-Apartheid heroes are not treated as presumed inadmissibles or terrorists with respect to their visa applications to Canada?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I have worked with the member on this matter.

When the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was adopted in 2002, it had very strict provisions for inadmissibility that have long been established in Canadian immigration law and are basically endlessly retrospective. Therefore, anyone who belongs to an organization that may have been inadmissible in the past is still technically inadmissible.

Having said that, we have issued an operational bulletin to our visa officers and CBSA agents indicating that the African National Congress is an organization that has undergone substantial change and, therefore, membership in it should no longer be considered grounds for inadmissibility.

I think we have found a technical solution, but we are also looking at amendments to IRPA to correct this problem of the retrospective inadmissibility provisions of that statute.

Cultural Heritage
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, three years ago, the great actress Rita Lafontaine donated 29 boxes of archives to Library and Archives Canada. Among the treasures was the original version of Michel Tremblay's play, Les Belles-Soeurs, with the author's handwritten notes. This week we learned that it will be another three years before these items are processed. Is this a joke? Incidentally, people still flock to see that masterpiece in Paris, performed by our best actresses.

Can the minister explain this paralysis at Library and Archives Canada? Have they been instructed to ensure there is less interest in Quebec culture?

Cultural Heritage
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we work with Library and Archives Canada constantly in order to protect our heritage and the artists across Canada who want to get involved in it. We are aware of the situation and discussions are under way.

Air Canada
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, a work stoppage at Air Canada would be damaging to Canada's fragile economy and would strand over a million Canadians this week alone.

Early this morning our government passed back to work legislation to keep Air Canada in the air. As expected, the opposition put the interests of its big union bosses ahead of the Canadian economy and the public interest.

Could the Minister of Transport please update the House on the status of this important piece of legislation?

Air Canada
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we understand that a disruption at Air Canada would damage Canada's fragile economic recovery. That is why earlier this morning the Conservative government put Canadian travellers and the Canadian economy first by passing legislation to keep Air Canada planes flying.

That is why the Conservatives passed legislation earlier this morning to protect travellers and the Canadian economy. The NDP demonstrated once again that the interests of large unions are more important than the interests of Canadians and our economy. This Conservative government will continue to put the interests of Canadians first and protect the Canadian economy.

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's edition of La Facture confirmed what we already know: the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities abandoned the people of Neuville. A news report accurately described the distress of residents and the city's firm opposition to the construction of an airport, regardless of the existence of a signed agreement. If the minister did not see the report, I strongly recommend that he watch it. Maybe then he would better understand the issue. The provinces and municipalities must have a say when it comes to the construction of an airport in their area.

Will the Minister of Transport finally recognize that there are responsibilities that come with his title? Will he finally listen to the people?

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I was a mayor for seven years. What the hon. member just said demonstrates her total lack of knowledge of the role of a municipal council. I have in my hands—and I can table it—a six-page agreement signed on November 1, 2011. When a mayor signs such an agreement, it is because he has received the authorization to do so from his city council. If he has not, then he is in trouble. The mayor signed six pages of notes indicating that the developer wants to build an airport and that it was agreed that the city wants to regulate it operations The hon. member is saying that an agreement is not important, but it is a legal document.

That being said, Transport Canada's role is to regulate the transportation safety aspect of this issue and that is what we are going to do—

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Ahuntsic.

Justice
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, after making comments about the death penalty and inciting inmates to hang themselves, Senator Boisvenu has done it again. He has criticized Quebec's justice minister for not caring about victims. It is clear that this Conservative senator does not understand that rehabilitation and prevention will protect victims. Once again, he has missed an opportunity to keep quiet.

Does the Prime Minister condone his senator's unacceptable remarks? If he does not, will he ask the senator to apologize to Quebec's justice minister?

Justice
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the senator has nothing to apologize for. He has been an outstanding spokesperson for victims in this country.

That said, there is nothing in the bill that would prohibit or in any way restrict Quebec or any other province's ability to rehabilitate and work with young people. We all have a stake in that. However, we all have a stake in going after drug dealers and those who would sexually abuse our children. We all have a stake in that, all 10 provinces, including Quebec.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Doug Horner, Deputy Premier of Alberta and President of Treasury Board and Enterprise.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Statements by Members
Point of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, had my colleague from Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière had the decency to speak to me, he would have known that we took the initiative to protect democracy in our riding several days before Elections Canada issued any public instructions.

I would be glad to accept his apology today and I would ask that, in future, he speak to me before making such statements.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 25 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following report of the Canadian-NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the 77th Rose-Roth Seminar held in Tromso, Norway from June 21 to 24, 2011.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada–United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation in the following two meetings: the National Governors Association annual meeting that was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 15 to 17, 2011; and the 77th annual meeting of the Southern Governors' Association that was held in Asheville, North Carolina, August 19 to 21, 2011.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to the main estimates 2012-13.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Health. I am pleased to report that the committee has considered the votes of the main estimates 2012-13 under health, and reports the same.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We have been busy. In accordance with its order of reference on Tuesday, February 28, the committee considered votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 under environment in the main estimates for the fiscal year 2012-13, and reports the same.

National Defence
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two reports, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on National Defence.

I am pleased to inform the House that the Standing Committee on National Defence has considered the votes in the supplementary estimates (C) 2011-12, and reports the same.

As well, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on National Defence. I am pleased to report that the committee has considered the votes in the main estimates 2012-13 under national defence, and reports the same.

Toxic Substances Labelling Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-408, An Act to ensure that warning labels are affixed to products containing toxic substances.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Jeanne-Le Ber for seconding this bill.

The act, in ensuring that warning labels are affixed to products containing toxic substances, ensures that when Canadian families are buying products containing toxic substances they know what kinds of toxic substances are in those products. We would think that would be a very simple proposition. Of course many other countries, including European ones and the United States, have already adopted this type of legislation, but in Canada we do not have this protection for Canadian families.

The bill takes very simple lists of toxic substances established by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the California EPA, the United States' National Toxicology Program, and the European Chemicals Agency and ensures that these substances are put on the labels of products available in Canada.

It is very simple. It is a fact. Canadians have the right to know when toxic ingredients are in the products they buy.

I would like to conclude by saying that both Toxic Free Canada and Option consommateurs in Quebec have endorsed this particular bill.

We hope it will get support from both sides of the House so that Canadians will finally know what substances are in the products they buy.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today on behalf of my constituents of Portage—Lisgar.

Both petitions state that Canada is the only western nation, along with North Korea, to have no laws protecting unborn children.

The petitioners call on the House of Commons to enact legislation that would extend protection to unborn children in Canada.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition signed by literally tens of thousands of Canadians who call upon the House of Commons and Parliament to assemble to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. They say that more Canadians now die from asbestos than from all other industrial and occupational causes combined and yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. They also point out that Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners pray that Parliament bans asbestos in all of its forms and institutes a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities in which they live, end all government subsidies of asbestos both in Canada and abroad and stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from residents of Guelph and across southwestern Ontario who are deeply concerned with climate change.

The petitioners call on Parliament to sign and implement a binding international agreement committing nations to reduce carbon emissions and set fair and clear targets to keep global average temperatures below a 2°C increase.

Furthermore, in making this rightfully a national responsibility, the petitioners are calling on Parliament to implement climate justice and to assist internationally in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from 25 people in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, a community in my riding.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian laws as human by amending section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise as official opposition heritage critic to add another petition from people who want to protect the CBC.

The petitioners wish to bring to the attention of the Canadian government that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, be it radio, television or Internet, is part of our lives. We only have to think of Mr. Dress-Up, Anne of Green Gables, Friendly Giant, Hockey Night in Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Marketplace, Da Vinci's Inquest, The Nature of Things, The National, Little Mosque on the Prairie, George Stroumboulopoulos, Tonight, Bye Bye at the end of the year and many others to realize that the CBC/Radio-Canada is practically a member of this family.

Justice
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have hundreds of petitions that were sent to my office in support of Bill C-310, my private member's bill. I will be presenting my bill in the justice committee tomorrow. I would like to submit these petitions to the House of Commons.

Search and Rescue
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition from a large number of residents of St. John's and other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador who are opposed to the decision to close the marine rescue coordination centre in St. John's. They are concerned that the government needs to understand and acknowledge that the closure of the centre will mean the service will suffer and lives will be put at risk.

As I was looking through the list of names, I noted that one of the petitioners was actually a survivor of a marine rescue at sea and also appeared before the defence committee when it visited St. John's last year.

This search and rescue centre in St. John's is responsible for 900,000 square kilometres of ocean and 28,000 kilometres of coastline, and that is just in the Newfoundland and Labrador region. This is a big and important country and we need to protect our citizens. These rescue coordinators have local knowledge of the coastlines, of the people involved and of the dialect and language that has been spoken. It is very important that this rescue centre be kept open. The petitioners so ask this honourable House.

Search and Rescue
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I see there are several members rising for petitions and there is a limited amount of time so I would urge all members to provide a very brief summary of the petition they are presenting so we can accommodate all the members.

The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

Canada Post Corporation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to add verbal support for the petition just presented by the hon. member for St. John's East about the rescue centre in St. John's.

My petition is about post offices. Established in 1994, a Liberal government imposed a moratorium on post office closures. The presence of the federal government, I fear, is not as prevalent as what it used to be across the country in the smallest of communities for legions or other branches of organizations regarding the Canadian military, but there is one institution that certainly is present and that would be the Canadian post office. I present this petition signed by a lot of people from the community of Loon Bay about the protection of their post office in their community.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people from all over Canada who are concerned about the megaquarry in Melancthon township in Dufferin county, which would be the largest open pit quarry in Canada at over 2,300 acres. They are concerned about a number of things, one of which is that the proposed megaquarry would put at risk the drinking water of over one million Canadians.

The petitioners are asking that the Government of Canada conduct an environmental assessment on the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on the proposed Highland Companies' megaquarry development.

Foreign Investment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

My first petition is signed by dozens of people from the community of Nickel Belt who would like the facts made public when Vale took over Inco and when Xstrata took over Falconbridge. As we know, these conditions were kept secret and the people would like to know under what conditions these two companies were purchased. They ask the Minister of Industry to make these conditions public.

Service Canada
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from hundreds of people in the Sturgeon Falls area. It concerns the closing of the Service Canada office in Sturgeon Falls. Unfortunately, when bureaucrats make decisions involving Service Canada in northern Ontario, they do not take into consideration the fact that these places do not have public transportation and that this office being moved to North Bay will limit the number of people who can go to the office. This particularly affects seniors and young people looking for employment.

Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have six petitions to present from my constituents asking the House of Commons to determine when a fetus becomes a human being.

Radio-Canada and CBC
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to present two petitions.

The first petition is signed by many voters in my riding, who are calling on the Government of Canada to protect Radio-Canada and CBC from budget cuts.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from residents of British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, all banding together to urge the House to press Conservative ministers involved to cease and desist from promoting the so-called northern gateway pipeline, what I now refer to as the great pipeline of China, bringing supertankers into unsafe waters. They ask the government to stand back and stop acting as a public relations arm of the oil industry.

Nuclear Disarmament
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am submitting a petition signed by members of my constituency of Leeds—Grenville who call on the Government of Canada to host a conference on nuclear disarmament.

Woodland Caribou
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, requesting that the Minister of the Environment move quickly to protect boreal woodland caribou in Canada by adopting a strong boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy that includes adequate habitat protection measures to ensure their long-term survival.

Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, this petition asks Parliament to update Canada's 400-year-old definition of a human being and to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian law as human.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 411 and 417.

Question No. 411
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

With regard to the Government of Canada’s dealings with US Steel: (a) what was the government’s last claim for monetary damages relating to US Steel and the Investment Canada Act; (b) what are the terms of the settlement with US Steel; (c) to what extent will the settlement cover lost wages and pension benefits of current and former US Steel employees; (d) what job guarantees are included in the settlement mentioned in (b); (e) how much will each current and former employee of US Steel receive under the settlement; and (f) what costs have been recovered from US Steel for court costs?

Question No. 411
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the government's dealings with U.S. Steel and in response to (a) specifically, the Government of Canada, in its application to the Federal Court, sought remedies directing U.S. Steel to comply with certain written undertakings as well as imposing a penalty of $10,000 per day, per breach of the relevant undertakings, which is one of the possible remedies listed in section 40 of the act. The application did not include any claim for monetary damages.

In response to (b), the Minister of Industry made a statement on December 12, 2011, (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ic1.nsf/eng/07011.html, indicating that under the settlement, U.S. Steel committed to continue to produce steel in Canada; operate at both Lake Erie and Hamilton until 2015, generating continued economic activity; make at least $50 million in capital investments to maintain the Canadian facilities by December 2015, over and above its original undertaking to invest $200 million by October 2012; and make financial contributions of $3 million toward community and educational programs in Hamilton and Nanticoke.

With regard to (c), see the response to question (b) above for the terms of the settlement. With respect to pensions, U.S. Steel will continue to carry out its original undertaking to guarantee pension funding obligations for the pensions of some 15,000 current and retired employees. Since it acquired Stelco, U.S. Steel indicates that it has made contributions of $368 million to its Canadian employees’ pension plans.

In response to (d), the settlement provides for steel production in Canada; operations at both Lake Erie and Hamilton until 2015, generating continued economic activity; and at least $50 million in capital investments to maintain the Canadian facilities by December 2015, over and above the original undertakings to invest $200 million by October 31, 2012.

With regard to (e), see the response to question (b) above.

In response to (f), this information is confidential.

Question No. 417
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

With regard to government funding allocated within the constituency of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles since fiscal year 2004-2005, up to and including the current fiscal year, what are the total budget cuts, both in dollars and as a percentage of the total budget, by (i) department, (ii) agency, (iii) other government entity, (iv) program?

Question No. 417
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the government response to Q-416 reports funding from departments, agencies and crown corporations sent to the constituency of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles from April 1, 2004 to January 26, 2012.

Information regarding program funding and any changes in funding profiles by organization can be found in the departmental performance reports on departmental websites as well as on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s website, http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/index-eng.asp. Information regarding funding and budget profiles of crown corporations can be found in the organizations’ corporate plan summaries, which may be posted on their individual websites.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 413, 416 and 418 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 413
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) response to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): (a) according to the government’s analysis, do the FATCA provisions comply with the provisions of the Convention Between Canada and the United States of America With Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital and its amending Protocol (2007); (b) how many citizens from the United States of America will be affected by FATCA, (ii) are there specific Canadian exemptions to FATCA; (c) has Canada negotiated with United States Treasury officials or the IRS following the announcement of FATCA provisions, (i) at what time was the government made aware of these provisions, (ii) how long did it take Canada to respond to the initial creation of FATCA and its implementation, (iii) are there ongoing negotiations in this regard; (d) will Canada inform dual citizens about FATCA and, if so, (i) how, (ii) at what time, (iii) what department or agencies will be responsible; (e) has the government conducted any studies or mandated a task force to look into how much FATCA will cost Canadians and, if so, what are the cost implications resulting from the additional regulations and demands, (i) for the government, (ii) for the CRA, (iii) for Canadian banks, (iv) who will absorb these costs, (v) are there other types of non-financial costs such as efficiency or fairness reductions; (f) which Canadian civil liberties associations or other types of association has the government met with to discuss the privacy implications of FATCA and what actions will the government undertake to protect the fundamental civil liberties of all Canadians in this regard; (g) according to the government’s analysis, do the FATCA provisions comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and if so, which department undertook this assesment; (h) in order to discuss the implications of FATCA, who within the government has met with (i) Canadian banks, (ii) other financial institutions, (iii) insurance companies; (i) how many complaints has the CRA received regarding FATCA, (i) what are the main complaints, (ii) what has the CRA done concerning these complaints, (iii) what department at the CRA is in charge of dealing with complaints of this nature, (iv) will the CRA cut Full-Time Equivalents from that department or reduce its funding, (v) has the office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman looked into the matter; (j) has Canada ever studied the development or implementation of a process similar to FATCA to improve tax compliance involving foreign financial assets and offshore accounts; (k) who will be most affected by FATCA and have concerns been raised by entities such as, but not limited to, (i) interests groups, (ii) stakeholder groups, (iii) hedge funds; and (l) will FATCA affect different saving vehicles such as, but not limited to, (i) Registered Retirement Savings Plans, (ii) Registered Education Savings Plans, (iii) Registered Disability Savings Plans, (iv) Tax-Free Savings Accounts?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 416
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

With regard to government funding allocated within the constituency of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles since fiscal year 2004-2005, up to and including the current fiscal year: (a) what is the total amount of funding by (i) department, (ii) agency, (iii) other government entity, (iv) program; and (b) how many (i) full-time, (ii) part-time jobs were created as a direct result of this funding?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 418
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

With regard to social and environmental security in the Canadian Arctic and following such environmental disasters as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig: (a) how many emergency response or contingency plans are currently in effect, (i) which departments are responsible for these plans, (ii) in the event that several departments are responsible for certain plans, what coordination measures have been introduced to implement them, (iii) have these plans been adapted to meet the conditions in the Canadian Arctic; (b) what is the total amount spent by the government on social and environmental security in the Canadian Arctic from 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year; (c) what facilities exist and are currently available in Canada to deal with an environmental catastrophe such as an Arctic oil spill; (d) how many infrastructures such as roadways, airfields, staging areas, supply areas, medical facilities, ships, aircraft and kilometres of booms are currently available and ready for use in Canada; (e) what are the estimated response times for oil spills in the Canadian Arctic given the geographic isolation of the area; and (f) what is the total labour force that Canada can call on to take action in this region in the event of a disaster like an oil spill, (i) how many people in Canada are currently trained for this type of response and where is this training offered, (ii) how many search and rescue personnel are currently north of the 60th parallel?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Before I can agree that all questions be allowed to stand, I rise on a point of order. I submitted a question that I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to answer.

On page 468 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, it states:

It is at this time that Members raise any concerns they have about their questions and request information about the status of the reply.

I have concerns about the answer to my question Q-410. The answer was tabled this Monday, March 12. In my question, I asked for specifics. Who was consulted regarding the creation of the office of religious freedom? When did the consultations take place? What are the names of those who were consulted in October 2011? What discussions were held at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade about inviting Amnesty International? Why was that organization not invited? Who are the employees responsible for the development of the office of religious freedom within the Prime Minister's Office, the Minister of Foreign Affairs's office and other ministers' offices? And so on.

All these questions were very specific, very concrete. The answer I was given was, “The government expects to have more to say about this important initiative shortly”. They say “shortly”, Mr. Speaker.

The rules tell us that members may also request that the government respond within 45 calendar days, by so indicating when submitting the question. That is what I did. I asked for an answer within 45 days.

I have specific questions about what has been done so far. The 45th day will be this Friday, March 16. The government has two days left to provide a full answer to my question. I am asking the parliamentary secretary to tell me if and when the government will provide an acceptable answer to my question.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think it is a matter of definition what is considered acceptable.

What the government has done is respond to the member's question within the 45-day time limit. I think the answer is self-explanatory, which is that there will be further information coming in a short period of time. We expect that should satisfy the member's concerns.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very sensitive to what it is the member is actually proposing.

When a notice or a question is given to the government through the order paper, we expect that we will receive full and transparent answers to those questions. Suffice to say that it is not good enough for the government to say, “Here is some portion and then we will get back to you at some time in the future”. That is not appropriate. We would expect that the response to questions that are submitted to the government in this format is within that 45-day timeframe and that it is a complete response within that 45 days.

I would ask the government to recognize that it should be standard process in terms of responding, that the questions be responded to with full and complete answers within that 45-day time period, which is plenty of time for the government to respond to a written question.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his comments.

Indeed, contrary to what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons says, my question has not been answered. It is simple. Given that the deadline is this Friday, my question for the government is the following: when will it answer my question?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, as members know, and as I have already indicated, the government has made a response within the 45-day time period. Further information will be forthcoming and it should be done soon in an appropriate period of time.

However, I want to take this opportunity to answer one of the questions from a Liberal colleague. I should also point out questions, according to the Standing Orders, have to be concise. It is a fond and, quite frankly, more frequent practice of members of the opposition, particularly from the Liberal Party, to ask questions that are literally, in some cases, tens of thousands of words long. That I do not believe suits anybody's definition of the word “concise”. It is that reason why some questions answered by this government, in response to the opposition's queries, have cost over a quarter of a million dollars, what I consider to be an enormous amount of money to answer questions that many times are done for frivolous or partisan purposes, rather than a general enquiry.

I would encourage my hon. colleagues on both sides of the opposition benches to take into account all of the provisions in the Standing Orders and ensure that they try to conform to those as well.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I think questions like the one about how experts and invited guests at a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs were selected are concise questions.

The hon. member keeps saying that a response has been made, but unfortunately, the response does not answer the question. In 2004 or 2005, the Auditor General investigated a similar situation and said that responses to members' written questions were an integral part of our parliamentary system and should be respected.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Shall the remaining questions be allowed to stand?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should: (a) in cooperation with provinces, territories and industry, develop a nationwide strategy to anticipate, identify, and manage shortages of essential medications; (b) require drug manufacturers to report promptly to Health Canada any planned disruption or discontinuation in production; and (c) expedite the review of regulatory submissions in order to make safe and effective medications available to the Canadian public.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2012, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to begin the debate on the NDP motion dealing with the current very difficult situation with drug shortages. I will be sharing my time with the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

As members know, this motion follows an emergency debate on Monday. I would like to thank the Speaker for allowing that debate to take place. It was a very important opportunity for members of the House to express their concerns and perspectives on the issue of the current crisis of drug shortages and, more important, to put forward suggestions and ideas about what we should do to deal with that shortage. The fact that we had the debate on Monday was a very good first step.

I am very pleased today that the NDP is presenting the motion, which will be voted on later. We are very much hoping that all members in the House from all sides will come together. As the Leader of the Opposition said today in question period, we must work together to protect patients in our country. That is certainly the intent and the belief contained within the motion.

The motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should: (a) in cooperation with provinces, territories and industry, develop a nationwide strategy to anticipate, identify, and manage shortages of essential medications; (b) require drug manufacturers to report promptly to Health Canada any planned disruption or discontinuation in production; and (c) expedite the review of regulatory submissions in order to make safe and effective medications available to the Canadian public.

We have had an enormous amount of information in the media. I also know we have all been receiving emails and phone calls about the impact of what the drug shortage is doing in Canada. We know that the crisis we face today specifically was triggered by the shutdown of the Sandoz drug production facility in Quebec.

What really concerns us, and the reason we wanted to bring this forward, is we believe this production shutdown and this crisis could have been prevented. If there had been an adequate plan in place by the federal government, we would not be here today debating the motion. Nor would we have had the emergency debate on Monday.

We know that Sandoz supplies 90% of all the injectable medications in Canada, and 100% of the narcotic painkillers and sedatives. This is obviously a very important facility and its shutdown had a very immediate impact.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about that impact. We know that the shortage is having the most serious impact on patients who are in intensive care units and those who are dying and are in need of pain management. We can only begin to imagine the stress and anxiety that places on patients who are in very difficult circumstances, but also on their families and loved ones. This is something that is very compelling.

We also know that injectable opioids are the main method for pain control for surgery, post-operative care and for any hospital admission. With the hospitals running low on these drugs, they are now being forced to cancel elective surgeries in order to save these medications for severely ill patients. We can see the domino effect that is beginning to take place in hospitals across the country.

We have also heard from nurses who work in palliative care. These people are on the front line. They have noted that for many people in palliative care, they are dependent on injectable opioids since they cannot take medications orally.

One of the things I was just horrified to hear was the reports from the Canadian Pain Society. It has told us that it has seen an increase in people who are putting out calls for help because they feel suicidal. They are very concerned that they will be unable to manage their chronic pain without the necessary medications.

We have also heard that people dealing with epilepsy are facing shortages and are very concerned about whether they will be able to have access to drugs. As well, individuals going through transgender surgery are also facing very difficult circumstances.

Although this immediate crisis was triggered by the shutdown of the Sandoz plant, I want to make it very clear that this, unfortunately, is not a new situation. As far back as September 2010, there were many reports across the country about drug shortages. In fact, the Canadian Pharmacists Association did a survey of its members and astoundingly 93.7% indicated they had trouble locating medications to fill a prescription in a week and 89% of the pharmacists surveyed indicated that drug shortages had greatly increased in the previous year. Already we were seeing a very difficult situation.

It seems pretty incredible that people can go to a pharmacy thinking they will get their prescription refilled only to find out the drug is not available and everyone is put into a scramble. Just imagine the time and resources that takes.

I want to make the point that although we have had a particular situation right now with Sandoz, this has been a more structural and systemic problem in Canada, and indeed globally. Unfortunately, it has been a problem, and now a crisis, to which the federal government has not responded.

We know the federal government set up a working group in 2010. It has eight organizations in it, largely made up of industry. There is no patient representative organization on the group. However, the big problem is it was to come up with suggestions for a voluntary system. As we know, that has been completely ineffective. If it were effective, we would not have had an emergency debate on Monday and we would not have this debate today.

I know there are different perspectives, and I will get into the jurisdiction question, but the fact is the measures that the federal government put in place have simply not worked. They have failed and we have pointed that out repeatedly every day in question period and in the debates that we have had.

What happened was the provincial jurisdictions, in the absence of effective federal leadership, took it upon themselves to try to solve the problem. I applaud them for that, but they are left scrambling to try to figure out what to do. We know that health ministers from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have been working together, through calls, working groups and so on, to determine how they can share the current supply and obtain a new sustainable supply. The health minister from Alberta, Mr. Fred Horne, put it best when he said, “We're not going to stand by and simply wait to hear from Sandoz or the federal government”. They could not. They had to jump in and do something in the absence of any plan or action.

We need to reflect and acknowledge that the responses the federal government gave, particularly from the Minister of Health, have been absolutely inadequate and have fallen far short of what needs to be done.

Umpteen times now in the House, in question period and in committee, I have heard the Minister of Health deal with the jurisdiction question. It seemed like the Conservatives were blaming everyone else for the problem, rather than looking at what they could proactively do.

I do not believe this debate is about jurisdiction. It is not about the federal government delivering health care services or treading on provincial jurisdiction. It is about the federal government's responsibility, under the Canada Health Act, to deal with this crisis. Therefore, let us get off the jurisdiction thing and figure out what we will actually do about it.

We have put forward some very concrete proposals in our motion that we believe will deal with both the short-term immediate crisis as well as long term. We want to see a nationwide strategy, in co-operation with provinces and territories and industry. We want to have reporting required. This is a key point. The voluntary reporting has not worked, so many people are now calling for mandatory reporting. That is very important.

In closing, I appeal to all members and all parties in the House to work together on this issue. I am very hopeful that this motion will pass. We will be voting on it tonight, so it is very immediate. We can show the goodwill of the House to deal with this problem in a non-partisan way and also that we can take action at the federal level, working with our provincial and territorial counterparts and with industry as well both on the short-term immediate crisis and on a plan for the longer term. If we have that commitment, we will restore some credibility and faith with the Canadian public that we can deal with this crisis.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech by my colleague who sits on the health committee. One of the biggest problems we are having here is misinformation. The member for Vancouver East said that elective surgeries were being cancelled in Vancouver. This is based on an inaccurate story in the media. Hospital officials corrected the record and confirmed that the surgeries are happening today.

My concern is that members are blowing things up without checking the facts. Why does the member not check her facts?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, we do our utmost to ensure that all the information we are presenting is accurate. Certainly the media is one source of information, but it is not the only source. We have had many emails from people in the field, front-line health care workers, including from Vancouver. Obviously this is something I want to pay attention to because it is my hometown.

I am puzzled by the member's question. It does not deal with the substance. Is he saying there is not a problem? If he is saying that, come on. The fact is that all of the information tells us that we have a really serious problem. I would much prefer if the parliamentary secretary would tell us what he and his government are going to do to deal with the current situation rather than focusing on one small point. Let us get to the substance of this and get some remedies.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a few facts in which the member opposite may be interested. We had the emergency debate on Monday and we talked about this issue. One of my constituents, a veterinary physician at an emergency animal hospital in my riding, sent me a note to say that it not only affects humans, but it also affects animals. Veterinarians are having problems. They have to come up with new protocols. They are trying to figure out how to treat the animals in their care because they are the last ones to get the medications after humans. It is putting a great deal of stress and pressure on their practices and their ability to serve their clients.

Does the member share my concern that there are more Canadians who are being affected by this problem than the government is prepared to admit?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, something I was not aware of was how the shortages affect veterinarians and their treatment of animals and people's pets. We can see how this situation is widening and it is only going to deepen unless we come to grips with the situation internationally and certainly here in Canada.

I am very concerned that the U.S. has taken much stronger action. In Monday's debate I read into the record some of the information about President Obama's response to this crisis and the fact that Congress is taking very strong action.

Clearly, the federal government has an enormous amount of power to deal with this situation which affects humans first and foremost, but which spreads throughout our society.

I thank the member for bringing forward this information. It tells us just how wide this crisis is.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for talking about the effects on Canadians of the shutdown at Sandoz. This problem has been going on for almost two years now. Another aspect of this problem is that it affects generic drugs more than brand name drugs.

In that case, it does not get noticed by certain groups of people, for example, people who are covered by drug plans. This happened to my father. He was taking a generic drug and then had his prescription changed. He asked why his prescription had changed. There is a creeping change. People on drug plans do not notice because the costs are taken care of by the drug plan, but there could be costs that are increasing which we do not know about. Would my hon. colleague agree that some study is needed to look at how this is affecting the overall cost of our health care system?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member made an important comment. Further examination is required as to what has taken place within the industry. Suggestions have been made that some of the shortages have to do with the fact that companies are downplaying the cheaper generics or putting them out of production in favour of much more expensive newer drugs under the generic cover. This could be exacerbated through the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, CETA, that is being negotiated with the European Union. There are many concerns that it would raise the cost of generic drugs. It is a complex issue and it does require examination.

Let us deal with the crisis right now. Let us also examine how to get control over what is happening in this very powerful market to make sure that the needs of Canadians for pain medications and medications in general come first.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver East for her very pointed speech. She has a great deal of compassion, and she quickly realizes what needs to be done and what action the government should take to effectively ensure Canadians' health and safety.

I am very proud to speak today about the proposals in the opposition motion to find a permanent solution for and to resolve the current drug shortage, which has also occurred on a number of occasions in the past. Canadians, health experts and patients are asking the federal government to take action to ensure the safety of the health system. A federal plan is needed and is long overdue. At present, there is no plan, hence the crisis at the Sandoz plant and Monday night's emergency debate.

Falling ill or waiting for surgery already creates a great deal of stress. Imagine how patients across the country feel as they wonder whether their hospital will have the drugs needed for their surgery. Not to mention that patients in Gatineau, Quebec, will have to wait longer for surgery because of the Canada-wide shortage of injectable drugs. It is unbelievable that the shutdown of production at a single plant, the Sandoz plant in Quebec, could affect all Canadian provinces and territories.How has it come to this?

The provinces of Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan recently established a plan to manage the current shortage. They are working with the hospitals to verify drug inventories and identify alternative products. Some injectable drugs can be replaced by tablets or other products. However, changes in medications always pose risks. We do not know how the patient will react or if there will be any adverse effects. In short, it is truly a temporary solution.

At this time, Sandoz has resumed partial production of medications. However, the shortage could last months, or even a year, before supply is able to meet demand.

What is the federal government doing? It is reacting to the crisis instead of being proactive, and it is reacting too late. Yesterday, in a CBC interview, the director general of Health Canada's Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate confirmed that the agency was speeding up the licensing process to import essential drugs quickly. Health Canada must nevertheless ensure that these products comply with Canadian quality and safety standards. How will Health Canada inspect drugs and factories? Will it have enough people to do that?

Let us not forget that, in his fall 2011 report, the Auditor General found that in 2009 and 2010 the department was not proceeding with regulatory activities quickly enough and that it could take up to two years for new drugs to get through the review process. When the federal government is slow to approve new drugs, that has an impact on the entire supply chain.

Our motion calls on the government to expedite the review of regulatory submissions in order to make safe and effective medications available to the Canadian public. We are asking the federal government to play its part and ensure that, going forward, all Canadians have access to essential medications. This is particularly important for individuals waiting for cancer drugs; their lives are on the line.

These drug shortages occur regularly. In Quebec alone, in 2008, 38 drugs were out of stock; 63 were out of stock in 2009, and 116 in 2010. It makes no sense. It is only increasing; the situation is getting worse year after year. Contrary to what the government has said since the beginning of the crisis, it is responsible for some aspects of health care. The federal government is responsible for protection and regulation in health care, for example, the regulation of pharmaceutical products, food and medical devices. That is precisely what this crisis is about. The federal government is also responsible for consumer safety and disease surveillance and prevention.

The Canada Health Act is clear: Health Canada has a duty to regulate drugs and monitor their safety and quality. That comes under federal jurisdiction. Need I remind the House that, in our federation, both custom and the Constitution compel the federal government to co-operate with the provinces?

This government seems to have forgotten the basic principles of our country and the of Canada Health Act. Instead of blaming the provinces, it should sit down with them and with the pharmaceutical industry in order to establish a national strategy to anticipate, identify and better manage shortages of essential medications. That is exactly what we are proposing here today. And the official opposition is not the only one saying this. I would like to quote Dr. John Haggie, President of the Canadian Medical Association:

We need the federal government to use all of its leverage with pharmaceutical manufacturers, including economic inducements, to ensure Canadian patients get medicines they need.

The Canadian Cancer Society agrees:

The Canadian Cancer Society urges the federal Minister of Health to provide leadership to address this critical health care issue by:

ensuring there is mandatory listing of unavailable drugs by drug manufacturers;

developing early warning systems to identify potential drug shortages;

assisting hospitals and provinces in dealing with drug shortages.

Why does the federal government not want to legislate this? It is so quick to interfere in labour disputes, at Canada Post and at Air Canada, as it did yesterday.

Take, for example, the isotope shortage in 2007. The shutdown of the Chalk River reactor created a shortage of isotopes, products that are needed in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases such as cancer.

At the time, the Conservative government took immediate action to address the shortage. The federal government's inaction with regard to the current shortage flies in the face of the law and the government's jurisdiction, not to mention the Minister of Health's commitments. Yesterday, in the Standing Committee on Health, the minister said that sustainability will come from innovation and co-operation and that providing Canadians with the information they need is key to optimum population health.

I do not know whether she was listening to her own words, but she is not practising what she preaches. If all those principles are important to her, what is she waiting for to establish a mandatory reporting system in which pharmaceutical companies must disclose information about the supply of essential drugs. Patients' quality of life depends on it. It is all well and good for her to say that the mandatory registry is not a miracle solution—and that is true—but her current plan is completely ineffective.

Her answer therefore gives me the opportunity to say that the federal government needs to develop an effective and sustainable long-term plan to address the current shortages. The Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec is of the opinion that the federal government must also play a role to better manage drug supplies, and that this information is essential in order to prevent other shortages from happening in the future. Drugs are different from other consumer goods. No one chooses to be sick nor what the appropriate treatment will be.

In light of this crisis, it is urgent that the federal government finally demonstrate leadership to protect Canadians' health in the long term. The solutions are clear and simple. They are the three parts of our motion, which I will repeat: in co-operation with the provinces, territories and industry, develop a nationwide strategy to anticipate, identify, and manage shortages of essential medications; require drug manufacturers to report promptly to Health Canada any disruption or discontinuation in production; and expedite the review of regulatory submissions in order to make safe and effective medications available to the Canadian public.

This is the constructive, sustainable and concrete proposal being made by the NDP to eliminate the problem of drug shortages. I hope that the government will listen to reason and support this motion today.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to listen to the speech by my colleague from the health committee. My question for her is really a question of jurisdiction. The NDP has often had no problem intruding in areas of provincial jurisdiction, but that was before the composition of that party changed in the election.

Certainly, we have heard at health committee concerns about stepping on the provinces' toes. We have heard a lot about mandatory regulations and regulatory changes needed.

Is the member advocating that Ottawa should step in and tell the provinces how to purchase their pharmaceuticals and intrude on that area of provincial jurisdiction? How will that go over with the Government of Quebec?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the question is pathetic given that the provinces are demanding that the federal government take action and we are proposing that it co-operate with the provinces to find solutions. The Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Medical Association, the pharmacists, everyone is asking the federal government to take action to help prevent future shortages.

What does the federal government not understand? It is washing its hands and passing the buck. It says it can do nothing because this is a provincial jurisdiction, even though the Canada Health Act states that the federal government must legislate on all matters pertaining to drug safety, that is, the effectiveness and quality of medications.

At present, patients are suffering as they wait for drugs. And all that the government says is that it cannot intervene and it is up to the provinces.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree that it is deplorable for this government to not assume responsibility for this international problem.

My question to my hon. colleague is about the voluntary system of reporting.

I think that over the last year, if we talked to doctors and pharmacists, we knew that the system was not working. The websites that listed the drug shortages and potential drug shortages did not match what they were seeing on the ground in the pharmacies, hospitals and doctors' offices. We knew that from a Liberal Party round table that was organized last year to discuss the issue of drug shortages. I do not think we need the Sandoz closure to tell us this.

Is my hon. colleague confident that, with this mandatory system of reporting in place, the government will check to make sure that it is working?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Liberal member for his question.

Of course, I truly hope that the government will listen to the pleas from the provinces, experts in the health care field and patients who all want a mandatory system that requires pharmaceutical companies to inform people—hospitals and the federal and provincial governments, at least—about the available supply of essential drugs. That is a start. The President of the United States has called for such measures. We do not have anything like that in Canada.

The current crisis is proof that the voluntary system does not work. If it worked, we would not be here talking about it. Instead of trying to point fingers, we are proposing solutions and proactive ways to eradicate the problem of shortages so that this never happens again and so that patients do not have to worry about whether they will get the treatment they need.

Everyone wants to work together: ourselves, patients, doctors and hospitals. We hope that the Conservative government will get on board and vote in favour of this motion.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, much debate has taken place in the House this week regarding drug supply issues. It is a very important debate not only to members but many Canadians and those who care for them. The current supply issues we are facing arose from a business decision made by Sandoz Canada that, unfortunately, lacked planning early on. It created a decrease in supply that we are all working together to fix.

Last November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified Sandoz of concerns it had about one product at its Boucherville plant in Quebec that was not produced for the Canadian market. Similar FDA findings were also made about two Sandoz plants in the United States. It is important to note that at no time did the FDA find that its concerns were of such gravity to require Sandoz to stop producing at any of the facilities. The FDA simply warned Sandoz about concerns and wanted to know what plans Sandoz had for addressing those concerns.

Following up on the FDA findings, my department inspected the plant and found it to be compliant with our rules for safe quality production for the product it was providing to the Canadian market. My officials held discussions with the company about how it planned to address the FDA findings. The size and scope of the company's production cutbacks were never fully revealed until last month. Its officials informed my department and its customers that it was cutting some production, including products that were medically necessary. Sandoz made this decision without first finding alternative sources for its customers who need these drugs. To make things worse, a couple of weeks ago my officials became aware of a fire at the Boucherville plant.

Sandoz made a business decision, but its impacts are far reaching. We know that our health system relies on safe, secure and reliable supply chains for drugs. Access to medications involves many people. It only works when all work together to ensure the right drugs are available at the right time, when patients need them.

Health Canada is this country's regulator with regard to the safety, quality and effectiveness of the drugs available in Canada. Doctors prescribe the drugs and pharmacists dispense the drugs. Provinces and territories are responsible for the delivery of health care. They know the needs of the Canadians they serve, they know what drugs are consumed and in what quantities. They know what to order when entering into contracts with the pharmaceutical industry. They are also responsible for the terms of these contracts. They make the decisions to enter into sole-source contracts and should be aware of the consequences. Finally, it is the drug companies that manufacture and supply the drugs to their customers, namely, the provinces and territories, as per the contract they have negotiated.

In order for the system to work, each player must do its part. We all must work together. Canadians can rest assured that our government is doing its part. We are doing everything within our power to help minimize the supply issue for hospitals and patients. We have been working around the clock to provide support to the provinces and territories as they manage their drug supplies for their jurisdictions. Let me take a moment to highlight some of those activities.

We are bringing the provinces, territories and federal care providers together on a regular basis with Sandoz Canada. This is to ensure they have critical updates on information. We are making sure they have the information they need to help make informed choices about supply decisions. We have provided the provinces and territories access to information on those companies that are already licensed to produce drugs identified as being in shortage. This information is also on Health Canada's website and is open and accessible to all Canadians.

I have been in contact with some of my provincial counterparts to discuss the challenges we are facing and met with some members of industry to discuss their role in resolving this current situation and a long-term solution. We have contacted our regulatory partners in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as in Europe. They have provided us with a list of potential suppliers. We have shared this information with the provinces and territories in an effort to help them secure alternative supply arrangements.

We offer 24-7 emergency service to help facilitate access to critical medicines so that physicians are able to provide the care and treatment patients need as soon as possible. This is what Canadians want and we are delivering.

However, we have not stopped there. We are fast-tracking approvals for products, including those produced abroad and approved by trusted counterparts. We are working with our international partners to share safety data to help speed up our reviews. While we are quickly authorizing these approvals, Canadians can rest assured that Health Canada is not taking any shortcuts when it comes to protecting their health and safety. Alternative products and alternative suppliers of these critical drugs must meet our safety standards. Drugs we approve must be effective and meet quality and safety standards.

We have been in constant contact with Sandoz, working with it to ensure company officials appropriately and safely resolve any concerns. In addition, I wrote to Sandoz urging it to improve the information it is making publicly available on drug shortages. Sandoz has responded. I information on current and projected supply is being communicated. Canadians and the health system they rely upon are getting the information needed to plan for and adjust accordingly.

These efforts are paying off. Sandoz is working to come up with a plan to solve problems that interrupted production and created the supply issue. The company is also working to find alternative suppliers to make up for the shortfall from its production line.

My department is currently reviewing approximately 15 submissions that could create an alternate supply. My officials are fast-tracking these reviews so we have solutions for the weeks and months ahead.

Under normal circumstances, we usually complete authorizations for similar generic drugs within six months. However, to help health care providers get access to replacement supplies of drugs that they normally get from Sandoz Canada's plant, we have committed to expediting all phases of the drug review process as much as possible. We anticipate being able to make decisions on some of those applications within a matter of a few weeks.

We are doing our part. By working within our regulatory framework, we believe that we have the tools that can help ease the shortages as they arise.

Industry, the provinces and the territories also have tools at their disposal that can help deal with the current supply situation. They need to step up and fulfill their roles and responsibilities so patients get the care they need.

While these actions respond to the current situations, Canadians should know that we are not stopping there. Drug supply interruptions are seen worldwide. However, our health system is resilient. It has some of the most creative, passionate and caring professionals working to provide the highest level of care to Canadians. We must not take that for granted. The health system needs information in advance so that it can plan and adjust. Given time and information, our incredible health care professionals can adapt.

That is why I initiated a process with industry early last year to provide a long-term solution for adequate drug supply. I wrote to industry with a request to find an efficient way to inform those who are purchasing drugs of current and potential supply interruptions and to work to reduce the number of shortages.

Through this process, we continue to work with industry to ensure that the health system gets enough advanced notice so that treatment plans can be smoothly adjusted. On this point, notification is essential for planning. Advance warning in the system can help pharmacists and hospitals use measures to prepare for upcoming periods of tight supply.

Without notification, we all recognize that this creates a challenging situation for all. Patients may not get the drugs they need and health care professionals may have to adjust treatment plans. Without question, lack of planning and notification creates a difficult situation for many.

Industry and health care professional associations have come together and responded to my call for action. The plan they tabled provided for a phased approach to responding to this complex issue. The first phase, which was completed this past fall, was the posting of drug shortages on two public websites. These websites provide the health system with the information provinces, territories and the health care system need to plan for and respond to impending supply issues. However, these sites are only effective if used properly.

I expect nothing less than timely, accurate and comprehensive reporting of all supply shortages. That is why I have continued to meet with industry and I have insisted that it speed up the implementation of the plan it has tabled with me. Canada needs one website, not two. In addition, I have conveyed my expectations that it must contain timely information on current and anticipated drug supply issues, along with information on alternatives and more information to help the health system plan for and cope with disruptions in supply.

I am pleased to report progress. In response to my calls for increased transparency and acceleration of the tools to inform the health system, industry has responded positively.

Sandoz has committed in writing to improve its transparency. In fact, Sandoz officials responded to my letter for advance notification of shortages in a very positive manner. They agreed to post information about the current drug shortages online on the public website and to give 90 days notice of any drug shortages that arises in the future. They also have resumed partial production. This is encouraging and I expect they will live up to their commitment.

With proper notice, we are able to use our tools to help reduce the consequences of drug supply interruptions for patients, their families and health care professionals. As I said earlier, that is exactly what we are doing.

I am pleased to announce that last Monday two industry organizations, the Rx&D and the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association have made a commitment to support the long-term solution. These two industry associations, representing both the brand and generic manufacturers, have also made a public commitment on behalf of all their members to using the public website to post information on drugs that are currently or anticipated to be in shortage. They have also committed resources to accelerate the development of the website.

Given that it is industry that not only makes but profits off the sale of these drugs, I believe it is appropriate that it contributes to the long-term solution. I am pleased to report that it now has made that commitment.

This work will bring industry and professional health care associations closer to doing their part and continue to work on information sharing. It will bring the transparency needed to ensure they create stability in their supply chain to prevent drug shortages from occurring in the first place.

As members can see, In just a short time there is already proof that by working together, industry, provinces, territories and health care professionals, we have already made a difference. Members can rest assured that as we work our way through this, the well-being of every patient will always be our priority.

I will now address an issue that the opposition has repeatedly raised in the House over the past few weeks. In fact, both the NDP and the Liberal Party put up members who repeatedly asked for mandatory reporting by regulation.

Our top priority is getting the information into the hands of the doctors and patients so they can make informed decisions. The quickest and easiest way to do that is if industry and governments can agree on what information is needed and simply make it public in a voluntary way. Giving advance notice, whether it is a voluntary or mandatory activity, only really helps when a drug company plans to shut down production of a drug. No regulation can provide 90 days' notice of a fire in a plant that halts production.

If a drug company is caught making drugs in a plant that compromises the health and safety of Canadians, we cannot let it continue making drugs in that facility for 90 days. A mandatory system of reporting will not change the fact that there is only one company providing over 95% of these drugs to the entire country. It will not solve the root cause of the drug shortages we are currently facing.

The NDP, led by the member for Vancouver East, said on CBC yesterday that the NDP wanted to let the provinces and territories continue to sole source purchasing but then, in the committee, her colleague, the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, said that the federal government should interfere with provincial operations and pass laws that protect the provinces.

Is the NDP calling on the federal government to pass regulations or laws that would interfere with the provincial jurisdiction for health care? Does it want Ottawa to pass laws that tell provinces and territories how to purchase their drugs?

Our government does not believe that provinces and territories need protection. We have confidence in them. They are the ones that understand the health care needs of their jurisdictions the best.

I am encouraged by the commitment and the willingness of all governments, as well as industry and health care professionals, to work together to improve our current supply issue. I would like to stress that our government will use every tool at our disposal to help minimize the impact of any shortages. As such, we will work to help get access to high quality, safe and effective drugs.

We have obtained a commitment from industry to be more transparent and forthcoming about shortages. We have obtained industry commitment to contribute to the funding of a long-term solution. We will continue working with Sandoz to keep on top of the supply levels at the Boucherville plant so that we can have a better sense of the impact any change might have on the Canadian supply chain.

As I have said, the federal government has acted in the interests of Canadians and it is working. We will continue to provide ways to help the provinces and territories create a drug supply system that does not leave Canadians vulnerable to changes on a single production line. In fact, all of the players in our drug approval supply system have to be sure they are thinking and their planning is always in the best interests of their patients and their needs. We are keeping all options open. Canadians deserve nothing less.

At this time, I would like to move an amendment, seconded by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. I move:

That the motion be amended by inserting after the words “report promptly to Health Canada” in section (b) the words “and the provinces and territories”.

This would more accurately reflect the important role of the provinces and territories, not only regarding drug supply but to honour their responsibility for the delivery of health care to their Canadian jurisdictions.

I look forward to the comments from the NDP health critic, the member for Vancouver East.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion. Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Vancouver East if she consents to this amendment being moved?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, we agree to the amendment.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The amendment is in order.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to what the Minister of Health had to say. I thank her for the amendment which, as I have just said, we are pleased to accept.

In listening to her comments, I want to stress that the motion talks about requiring reporting on any planned disruption or discontinuation. Obviously, if there is a fire, it is impossible to report it in advance. I believe that is covered in the motion.

I also agree we are all talking about the need for a long-term strategy and to get to the bottom of this. Part (a) of the motion talks about co-operating with other jurisdictions in developing a nationwide strategy, so I assume that with the amendment the minister and the government will be supporting the motion. I just want to make that clear.

Part (c) of the motion talks about expediting the review of regulatory submissions. In her remarks, she said there have been 15 applications that have come in. I know that the provinces, for example, Manitoba, are saying that the biggest priority right now is for the federal government to provide a quick turnaround on the licensing of alternate therapies.

When the minister says it will happen within weeks, I wonder if she could specify a little more what that will mean. Because we do know that the Auditor General, in his fall 2011 report, did raise concerns about the lack of service and process for dealing with these kinds of submissions. We do need to deal with that shortcoming. When the minister says “within a few weeks”, could she possibly spell out what that means in terms of expediting in a safe way those approvals?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, we have received about 15 applications. My officials are working 24/7 to review all those applications. In fact, we have also contacted our international counterparts to get assessment data of these various products that are approved in different countries to speed up our processes. Each time that an application is made, we have officials working through them. In the normal course, it would take about six months, but we have said to the provinces and territories to expedite that as quickly as possible. In terms of a specific timeline, dates or hours, I cannot comment on that. What I can say is that we have the mechanisms and the processes in place to review those applications and we hope to have those in the hands of the provinces and territories as soon as possible.

Also, as I stated in my comments earlier this week, we have also provided to the provinces and territories a list of approved companies that can produce these products in Canada. That information is already with the provinces and territories.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has repeated something that concerns me a little bit. She has continued to say that the drug which the FDA had complained about with regard to contamination, manufacturing quality control, strength, et cetera, was not a drug that was used in Canada. She has never explained why Health Canada, which had looked at the manufacturing capacity of Sandoz, had given it a green light.

We all know, and this is reiterated in anything coming out of the FDA, that a manufacturing company that produces drugs uses the same equipment, the same plant and the same capacity to produce all drugs, not just one drug. Therefore, any contamination, impurities and quality control problems that occurred at Sandoz which had been flagged in 2009 should have caused the Government of Canada to say that a proper quality control inspection at Sandoz is needed because it is making many drugs, not just one product.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I will again clarify the member's confusion.

We stated before that the FDA identified some concerns with one product that was sold in the United States. That particular product is not used in Canada. However, in taking steps to make sure that other drugs produced by Sandoz were not compromised, Health Canada did its due diligence by inspecting the plant here in Canada to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of the drugs that were produced in that factory. We did our part to ensure that products produced by Sandoz Canada were not compromised

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to some of the comments, questions and speeches today. It is unbelievable that even after the emergency debate the other night the opposition seems to still not understand the Canadian health care system. There is a lot of mixing up of federal and provincial jurisdictions. In the original motion that was put forward, the provinces and territories were left out. As the minister said, we are working with the provinces and territories to come up with a solution. They are an integral part of what we do here.

We even heard the opposition compare the American system with the Canadian system. On this side of the House, we support the Canadian system. It is like comparing apples and oranges. Opposition MPs are very quick to point fingers rather than come up with solutions.

Could the minister explain to the House what Health Canada has been doing to find solutions to this shortage?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, drug shortages, as we know, are a global problem. There are multiple roles and responsibilities involving industry, the provinces and territories, and Health Canada. Industry supplies and controls what drugs are produced and how much is being produced. The provinces and territories are responsible for managing their respective roles in the delivery of health care. Health Canada is a regulator and authorizes the sale of drugs in Canada after a review of their quality, safety and efficacy.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very closely to the speech by our Minister of Health, who is prepared to say that patients are currently not receiving the drugs they need and who admits that the shortages have been happening for years. The Conservative government seems to want to confuse Canadians by talking about matters of jurisdiction. Health Canada has a duty to regulate essential drugs and that is what we are talking about here.

Our motion seeks precisely to find a Canada-wide solution to anticipate, identify and manage essential drug shortages. Before being elected, I was a high school teacher and when a student came to tell me he did not understand something, I would ask him to tell me what it was that he did not understand.

Can the minister tell me what it is that she does not understand?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I will explain it again.

The provinces and territories deliver health care. The provinces and territories purchase their drug supply. The provinces and territories dispense the drugs to their patients.

Health Canada regulates and approves products for the market. We are doing our part to support the provinces and territories that are experiencing drug shortages because of the situation that occurred. Sandoz experienced a fire in its plant which resulted in drug shortages across the country.

Health Canada is doing its part to support the provinces and territories by identifying approved companies in Canada that can produce the drugs that are now in shortage. We have provided this information to the provinces and territories. It is also our responsibility to approve drugs. We have put in place mechanisms to approve alternate drugs to be made available. We have that mechanism in place to respond and support the provinces and territories.

We are also working with the provinces, territories, pharmacists and industry to come up with a one-stop shop to report drug supply shortages or anticipated drug supply shortages. That work has been going on. The process started last year, and we are accelerating it.

The challenge in this particular situation is a drug supply shortage which was the result of a fire. Obviously, we cannot anticipate a fire. The situation has caused some challenges. We are doing our part to support the provinces and territories.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, National Defence; the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, Citizenship and Immigration.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Toronto Centre.

I stand here today to support the motion brought forward by the New Democratic Party which calls for the setting up of a co-operative mechanism, “co-operative” being the operative word, with all of the provinces, territories and stakeholders requiring the manufacturer to report promptly to the government about the distribution, et cetera, of drugs and to expedite review of new drugs that could replace old ones.

This is a comprehensive motion and I support it, but I do not think it is enough. If we look at best practices in other jurisdictions, there are other things that could be done that would also help, but the motion is a good start and I support it.

I intend to move an amendment at the end of my speech to add something which I think would enhance the motion.

There has been a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about this problem. I want to talk about the scope and nature of this problem, why it is so important, and why there was an emergency debate two nights ago, and I thank the Speaker for allowing the emergency debate.

This is not a new issue. In 2006 shortages began to escalate at 400% the number of shortages there were prior to 2006. As a result, many countries immediately took steps to ramp up their ability to anticipate and track shortages, and to find substitutions and ways of ensuring there was the necessary supply of drugs.

It has been mentioned that we continue to compare ourselves to the United States. Many of us who have been around here for quite a long time actually understand the way government works. We understand provincial and territorial jurisdiction. We understand the Constitution of Canada. We also understand there are parallel systems that can be looked at with regard to best practices.

We have heard the government say that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mirrors a lot of what Health Canada is supposed to do in terms of making sure that there is a safe, reliable supply of medically necessary drugs for Canadians to use. In 2006, a drug shortage program was created within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Canadian government could easily have set up a similar program within Health Canada to anticipate shortages, to work with the provinces, territories, manufacturers, et cetera, to prevent those shortages from causing risk to the lives and health of Canadians. This is what most of us are concerned about here. It is not about being political, pointing fingers and saying the government did not do this or that. The point is that because very little has been done, every single day in this country the lives of patients are being put at risk because of drug shortages.

The Liberal Party flagged this back in the summer of 2011. We suggested that the government should take a similar approach, to anticipate and to flag shortages and to ensure that there is a supply. This did not happen and we therefore took it to the health committee to investigate. We did what we thought were the appropriate things to do. We felt there was an inappropriate response from the government. We held a round table in September last year in which we brought together the stakeholders to discuss what should be done and to determine the nature and scope of the problem.

Of course, the stakeholders told us the same thing, that there needs to be an urgent investigation into the problem and a look at best practices. We were told that the federal government has a key role to play, a leadership role, in coordinating all of the stakeholders, the provinces, the territories and the health care providers in order to anticipate and identify shortages and manage the system.

Today we heard in the news that two major hospitals that conduct open heart surgery in British Columbia, St. Paul's Hospital and Vancouver General, have actually postponed all of their elective cardiac surgery. Those are the two major centres in British Columbia. They have postponed elective cardiac surgery because they only have one week's supply left of protamine, a drug that is absolutely necessary for open heart surgery. They are holding that supply in case an emergency cardiac surgery needs to be done. Everyone is waiting.

At the heart of this problem is the fact that they do not know when there will be a supply, how long there will be a shortage, or what other drugs that are necessary for open heart surgery will be in short supply in the future. Therefore, they are concerned. It is fine for the government to say it knows that everyone will care for their patients. Yes, they can care and yes they can wish to do something, but if they do not have the required drugs for intervention, surgery, or to keep someone's chronic disease from getting worse, or to save someone's life, what will they do? Wishing will not make it happen. All the best intent in the world will not make it happen.

I have brought forward that bit of history to let members know why we are concerned about this. When other jurisdictions in other countries saw this four years ago and began taking steps, we wonder why the government continued to pretend it was not a problem.

Two years ago we found there was a rapid increase in the shortages, even from the shortages that existed four years ago. They doubled. We found that in the month of March alone there was a shortage of 250 new drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States, which has a lot of the same capability, capacity and mandate as the health department here, actually doubled the number of people working on their drug shortages program. It upped the ante in terms of making sure that it moved forward. We saw that the President of the United States and Congress were so concerned that they immediately began to bring forward three new bills to deal with the issue and to strengthen the hand of government to deal with the issue. In November 2011, we saw the president himself issue an immediate order to avert shortages and to have departments work together and do what they needed to do because, as he said, “it is the belief of this administration...that we cannot wait”.

Yet Canada's Prime Minister has shown no such leadership. Canada's Minister of Health has shown no such leadership. They waited until everything fell apart with the Sandoz problem here before paying attention. Then, instead of saying, “Let us see what other jurisdictions are doing, let us find out what we can do, let us move quickly now and say that we're sorry that we didn't pay attention earlier on, let's work with provinces and territories”—understanding that they had already got contractual obligations with other suppliers and that they could not break those contracts—“let's see what we can do to help them, let us work together with the stakeholders, and let's become very proactive”. Instead, there was blaming.

This is what bothers me. It is one thing to suggest that one now cares. It is another thing to say, “Don't look at me. It's not my fault. By the way, we're going to wait and see what we can do if something else happens”.

That is unacceptable. Canadians, physicians, and the Canadian Medical Association have all issued directives for the government to take the same kind of proactive stance in anticipation of and looking at shortages and managing them well.

There is a real problem here. If we want to talk about what the government could have done in taking a proactive stance in terms of identifying shortages really early and anticipating them, here is what jurisdictions have done within their own drug departments. I want to use the Food and Drug Administration's drug shortages program, which I think the government could have set up within Health Canada. They looked at manufacturing problems. They worked one on one with manufacturers, knowing that they could not make manufacturers make different business decisions and that they could not force manufacturers to create new jobs. Instead, what they did was to work with the manufacturers. They let other manufacturers who were making similar drugs know that they could actually speed up production, that they would help them to have the capacity to quickly produce more drugs. They looked at how some firms were only producing one drug and when they found out that the largest firm among that group was going to stop, they asked other firms, “Can you speed up production? Can you increase your capacity? What can we do?” That is called anticipation. It is a proactive management solution to a problem.

We need to look at Sandoz. The minister and the Department of Health inspect the manufacturing plant. If they had seen that the manufacturing plant was having problems with one set of drugs, they should have known that there was going to be a problem. They should have worked with Sandoz to help them deal with that.

I could go on. There are lots of incentives that could be provided to help create a proper supply chain, but at the end of the day, the problem has occurred at Sandoz. There is a crisis. There are some good ideas coming forward here from those of us in the House. We want to work with the minister. We want to make sure that patients are not harmed or hurt. If that is the bottom line and if the government agrees with us that this is in fact something we should care about, let us come together and pass this motion and move on. Let us work together to find the right kinds of solutions.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the record on the fearmongering today about cancelled surgeries. A news story said:

Nine elective cardiac surgeries were cancelled...because physicians erroneously feared they could run out of a critical drug and not have enough for emergencies.

However, Vancouver Coastal Health has said:

—the cancellations were unnecessary because there was a five-week supply of the drug protamine available in B.C. and the manufacturer Sandoz has committed to increasing its shipments of the drug to B.C. later this month.

Certainly the information and fearmongering is incorrect.

Does the member see any problems with Sandoz having 95% sole-sourced contracts to the provinces and could she perhaps explain how further regulation would have prevented the fire at that plant?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, one can be very cute and glib and try to make imaginary statements, but the point is that no one in the House has ever suggested that the government could anticipate a fire. However, knowing that there was a sole-source provider of 90% of the intravenous medications used in ICUs, ORs and emergency rooms, the government could have done what the drug shortages program of the Food and Drug Administration has been doing with these shortages in the United States. It could have asked Sandoz to report the beginning of the shortages and mandate that it do it. That is what the FDA has just done, issuing a mandatory directive for all sole-source providers to report immediately.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know that the member for Vancouver Centre has been very concerned about this issue for a long time and has raised it on numerous occasions, so I appreciate her being part of the debate today. I want to ask her about the global situation, because she has certainly made the point in the past that these shortages are a global question. She is probably aware that Canada is now negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union.

I wonder what her and her party's position is on this agreement, particularly how it would impact the cost of drugs in Canada, because that is an issue for the generic market. We know that the Conservative government is forging ahead in trade negotiations and there is an issue about whether or not generic drugs will be protected in Canada or whether the government will open up the marketplace in terms of longer patents.

What is the position of the Liberal Party on this question and is it opposing the CETA agreement, because it is a very serious issue with an impact on the cost of medications?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the things we need to remember is that Canada as a country does not have very many drug manufacturers. We are a very small producer of drugs. We are very dependent on the rest of the world, and because drug production is a private sector industry, there is very little that one can do to force companies to move their prices up or down, or to interfere in their business decisions.

However, what one can do is to look at ways in which we can assist with the buying of generic drugs, providing incentives to generic companies in Canada to help them to continue to produce drugs because we know that it is generic drugs that are actually in shorter supply.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, members will know that the member for Vancouver Centre has long experience not only in the practice of medicine in Vancouver but also in leadership positions within the medical society. I share her concern that the drug shortages will have a direct impact on the health of Canadians, but does she have an idea perhaps of what it means in smaller regional centres? She talked about Vancouver, but what about some of the smaller centres, either in her province of British Columbia or other regional hospitals where they would need access to these drugs, where the cascading effect of these shortages would be even more harmful than perhaps in a large urban centre?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that when the large centres cannot get drugs, the trickle down effect of small centres not getting them at all is going to be a big problem. We need to be worried about that.

This is why we are calling for the federal government to take a leadership role, to set up a drug shortage program and to start looking at how it can work with provinces and territories, anticipating the need for supplies, helping provinces, many of which cannot afford to buy drugs and are looking for cheaper generic drugs, which are the ones that tend to be in short supply. The government needs to look at how it can help anticipate this and help provinces to fast forward other drugs and bring in imported drugs if it needs to do so before the problem actually occurs.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Vancouver Centre for very generously sharing not only her expertise but also her time with me this afternoon.

This is an important subject. I wish the resolution had been a little stronger, and I will explain why. I do not think the resolution goes far enough in setting out what the legal requirements really are for both hospitals and insurance plans across the country and the federal government with respect to access to what are necessary health services. When we look at the drug shortage, this is the context in which we have to see it.

It is absolutely no accident that this crisis is happening on the watch of this particular government, a government whose philosophy does not include support for the Canada Health Act. It campaigned hard and long against the Canada Health Act when it was first introduced in 1984. It campaigned against medicare when it was first introduced in 1968. The Prime Minister's vision of the responsibilities and jurisdiction of the federal government is the most limited view that we have ever had in the history of the country. The members opposite repeat over and over again that the federal government has no responsibilities in health care, that the provision of insured services is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. The only problem with that is it is not true, because it ignores the clear statements in the Canada Health Act that are set out as follows. Section 3 of that act states:

It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.

The provision of medication in a hospital for the purposes of an operation is a necessary health service. The fact there is not sufficient access to medication required for anesthesia and the control of pain, because those drugs are not available due to a shortage, or for whatever reason, is as much the responsibility of the federal government as it is of the provinces.

The hon. member for Mount Royal has always told me that it is not true that the federal government has no responsibilities in the area of health. Nowhere is it written that health falls completely within the jurisdiction of the provinces. Yes, the provinces are responsible for managing hospitals and for health insurance. Yes, the provinces have a huge responsibility in the area of health. Health care represents between 35% and 60% of their budget. Yes, it is their responsibility. However, the federal government has its own responsibilities. That is why we have the legislation against which they fought. I can say this on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada. We think that the government has obligations in the area of health. It is clear and the government cannot deny it.

Section 12 says:

In order to satisfy the criterion respecting accessibility—

Which is one of the five key criteria that is set out in the Canada Health Act:

—the health care insurance plan of a province

(a) must provide for insured health services on uniform terms and conditions and on a basis that does not impede or preclude, either directly or indirectly whether by charges made to insured persons or otherwise, reasonable access to those services by insured persons...

Everyone has to understand that, yes, the provinces have a responsibility, but the federal government has a responsibility for enforcement as well. To suggest that the federal government has no responsibility in this area is the old Reform ideology. It is so deeply ingrained in the heart and mind of the Prime Minister that he is not prepared to accept responsibility. I almost feel sorry for any minister of health in his administration. He is constantly going to be asking the question, “Why are we getting involved? It is not up to us. It is all about sole suppliers. It is all about the provinces. It has nothing to do with us. It's not our problem”.

We can look at other jurisdictions around the world: the federal government in the United States, issues in the European Union, countries in Europe. This shortage issue is not simply a matter of sole suppliers. This shortage issue is caused, as much as anything, by the fact that the generic producers are constantly telling the authorities that the more the authorities negotiate tough on price, the more the generic producers are going to say, “Sorry, we are not making that drug any more”.

There are issues of collusion worth analyzing, which is why President Obama asked that it be done. This problem did not arise last week. It did not arise because of a fire in Boucherville. It did not arise because of one incident. It is a general problem that has become increasingly serious. The government's response is to simply repeat the mantra that it is all about sole-source suppliers, it is not its problem and some of the provinces were wrong. If the government believed in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 that the provinces were wrong to have sole-source contracts, why did it not say so over the last five years? Where was it? I can say where it was. It was asleep at the switch and hiding behind the fact that it did not have any responsibility. It did not want to own this problem.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

It is the problem.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

It is the problem because it is not addressing the problem. The federal government cannot hide behind its lack of jurisdiction. It has jurisdiction, but not exclusive jurisdiction because the provinces have their responsibility. Of course the provinces have responsibility. However, what does it tell us when the health minister of the Province of Ontario says, for example, “The federal government knew about a problem and did not tell us for a matter of weeks”? It tells us there is a regulatory failure. There is a regulatory issue that is not being addressed. I do not think it is good enough for the federal government to simply say it is now going to provide some kind of early warning system. It has to go further than that.

The federal government could establish a task force. It could get the provinces together and ask how to address this issue, how to solve the problem and how to deal with it more effectively. The federal government has had a long time to do all of those things. When we try to understand why it has not acted, the answer is very simple. It has not acted because the Prime Minister does not want, in any way, shape or form, to own any aspect of the health care issue.

Let us not forget the federal government is the fifth largest provider of direct health care services in our federal system. The federal government is a player, bigger than New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Manitoba. It is a big provider of services to aboriginal people, veterans and others. The government has now decided it can beat up on Sandoz because it is the one company everybody is singling out as being the problem, People might like to know that Sandoz is also a major supplier of drugs to the federal government. The company provides over 100 drugs listed on the first nations drug benefit list.

First nations people who are receiving cardiac surgery or cancer care surgery or other serious surgery, by and large, do not receive it in hospitals that are run by the federal government. They receive it in hospitals that are in the provincial jurisdictions that are then paid by the federal government for those services.

If first nations people are being denied health care services because of a drug shortage, that is the responsibility of the federal government. If it knew about this problem, as a party that is paying millions and millions of dollars to the provinces to provide health care to aboriginal people who are receiving serious surgery, that is a responsibility of the feds.

When the federal government and this minister turn around and say that it is all about sole-sourcing and provincial responsibility, that is an abdication of responsibility on the part of the administration.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I think the government actually does know its role. We know that we cannot and will not dictate to the provinces where, when and what they buy. This is a provincial and territorial responsibility. I know that. As a surgeon, I stood in a hospital. It was amazing, I actually did not phone the federal Minister of Health to ask, “Do you have this drug?” I worked with the people in my province and in my hospital to make sure that we had the things I needed to provide for my patients.

Does the member opposite understand provincial jurisdiction? Does he understand how a hospital is run? Obviously, he does not.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that is a serious question.

It is simplest just to say that in addition to some other political responsibilities I had that the member may know about, I also served for three years on the board of the University Health Network and was chairman of the quality committee of the hospital.

I have said all the way through that of course the provinces have a responsibility. If the member would stop interrupting, she might want to hear what the answer is.

Of course the provinces have a responsibility. What I take exception to, and will continue to take exception to, is the notion that the federal government has no responsibility. The federal government has a key responsibility. The drugs are traded internationally. The federal government receives the warnings from the companies with respect to shortages. The federal government approves the drugs. It has a regulatory responsibility for the drugs, and it has responsibilities under the Canada Health Act. All of those things just happen to be true.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Toronto Centre for his speech and his very clear explanations.

I would like to get his opinion on something. Right now, the federal government is boasting that it is proactive and that it is taking action, when its reaction has been to find a hasty solution to a problem that has been recurring for a number of years.

Rather than working with the provinces to find solutions that will get to the root of the problem, the Conservatives are saying that they have established a working group. However, this group has not tabled any reports since it was created. We are still waiting for long-term solutions since the ones proposed by the government are ineffective.

What does the hon. member think of these claims and the way the Conservatives are shirking their own federal responsibilities?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the situation in France and the United States, pharmaceutical companies have a legal obligation to clearly report any time there is a shortage of pharmaceutical products. It is mandatory, not voluntary. If there is a drug shortage, companies must clearly report it to governments.

In my opinion, this problem is not uniquely Canadian. It does not stop at any borders; it is a global problem. That is one more reason for this government to fulfill its responsibilities. Indeed, it will be the government that goes before the World Health Assembly to work with the UN and the international institutions in order to really try to understand this problem.

I am not saying that it is a simple problem; not at all. What I am saying is that, so far, the federal government has adopted the position that this does not come under its jurisdiction. I hope I have clearly demonstrated that, from a legal standpoint, from a constitutional standpoint, this is a shared jurisdiction and the federal government does have considerable responsibilities here.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona, I have to let her know that we will need to interrupt her at 15 minutes after the hour.

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House in support of the motion tabled by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Vancouver East. I commend her for bringing forward this motion, the only action that has come forward in response to the complete inaction by the government. I also commend her for bringing forward the emergency debate in the House, which gave elected members an opportunity to express their concerns and propose constructive action.

The supply of drugs is indeed a critical issue. I found it profoundly disturbing during the emergency debate to have our federal Minister of Health continually refer to “clients”. This is not an issue of pharmaceutical companies and supply to clients and continuing the supply and profitability of the pharmaceutical industry. This is an issue of patient care. I found the whole approach taken by the senior official in the Government of Canada, who is supposed to be upholding the protection of health care for Canadians, absolutely astounding.

The Conservative government desires to be government but it denies or ignores its duty to govern. We have seen this in environment and we now see it in health care. Canadians have been clear that it has long been the number one issue for Canadians. People are concerned about the continuance of quality public health care. Now we have, yet again, another crisis.

Was it earlier this week or last week that we had the crisis of OxyContin? Again, the federal government said it was nothing to do with the federal government and there was nothing the federal government had to do. As my colleague in the House stated, we continually hear denial from the federal government, that it is a provincial issue. We had one of the representatives of the Conservative Party again remonstrating, suggesting that it is absolutely not an area of federal jurisdiction.

I concur with my colleague who spoke before me that one of the most obvious sources is the Canada Health Act. I would like to bring to the attention of the House that it is not the only federal statute which prescribes a duty and a power for the federal government to intervene in the protection of Canadians' health. As the hon. member mentioned, section 3 of the Canada Health Act very clearly states:

It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.

Clearly, this is exactly the situation we have come into. We have a one-source supply. Regardless of whose fault it was or who signed up to provide the drugs, this is the scenario. The Government of Canada's mandate under the statute is to ensure this law is abided by and enforced. So if there is a scenario where provinces are inappropriately relying on unreliable suppliers of drugs, it is the federal government's obligation to intervene and work co-operatively with the provinces.

There is a second statute that lays out the responsibilities and mandate of the Minister of Health. As a lawyer, the first thing I do in determining whether there is a federal mandate is go to the law. I would encourage the government to actually looking at the mandate for the portfolios it delivers. In this case, that is the Department of Health Act. This is similar to the Minister of the Environment whose mandate is under the Department of the Environment Act and so on. What does the Department of Health Act say? It very clearly states:

The Minister’s powers, duties and functions relating to health include the following matters:... the promotion and preservation of the physical, mental and social well-being of the people of Canada... the protection of the people of Canada against risks to health and the spreading of diseases... cooperation with provincial authorities with a view to the coordination of efforts made or proposed for reserving and improving public health.

Very clearly, additional power is given to intervene. Section 11 of that act states:

The Governor in Council may make regulations to give effect to and carry out the objects of this Act.

There are very clear regulatory powers to ensure that Canadians across this country have equal, fair access to quality health care for an affordable cost.

I have heard from constituents. I have also heard from constituents who are oncologists and they are gravely concerned at the inaction of the government in this crisis. These oncologists have to make a choice between reducing their patients' pain or conserving medicines that might be more critically needed. It is an absolutely reprehensible scenario and the government should be stepping in.

I give full credit to the Alberta minister of health who has stepped up to the plate and said that he will lead the charge and try to find the drugs that are necessary for Canadians. Kudos for him stepping in and doing that. He has admitted that he is looking far afield and it may be difficult. He is projecting a long-term shortage and has stated that we are in a critical scenario. This is all the more reason for the government to step up to the plate and take the action specifically laid out in the motion put forward by my colleague from Vancouver East.

I would like to close with some of the statements from the doctors in my riding, who are calling on the government to take action on ensuring that the approval of alternative drugs is expedited. The Auditor General of Canada has indicated there is a problem in this area. That is a measure that is included in our motion. We call on the government to step up to the plate and take action on what the Auditor General has recommended.

On behalf of the people of Canada, could the government please be seized of its mandated responsibilities and take action on this critical matter facing the people of Canada?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 5:15 p.m., and today being the last allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2012, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Drug Shortages
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #162

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the amendment carried.

The next question is on the main motion, as amended.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent to apply the results from the previous vote to the current motion, with Conservatives voting yes.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats are voting yes.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, Liberals agree and will be voting yes.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will be voting yes.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party also concurs and votes yes.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #163

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion, as amended, carried.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board

moved:

That Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour will please say yea.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #164

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that C-34, An Act for granting to her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2012, be now read the first time.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that the bill be read the second time and referred to a committee of the whole.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you would find agreement to apply the result of the previous vote to the current motion, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

NDP members are voting no, Mr. Speaker.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

The Liberals are voting no, Mr. Speaker.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc is voting no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party is voting no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #165

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the second time and the House went into committee of the whole thereon, Ms. Savoie in the chair)

(On clause 2)

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Chair, can the President of the Treasury Board confirm to members of the House that the bill is in its usual form?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Yes, Madam Chair, the presentation of this bill is identical to the one used for the previous supply period.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

Shall clause 2 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 2 agreed to)

Shall clause 3 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 3 agreed to)

Shall clause 4 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 4 agreed to)

Shall clause 5 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 5 agreed to)

Shall clause 6 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 6 agreed to)

Shall clause 7 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 7 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1 agreed to)

Shall schedule 2 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 2 agreed to)

Shall clause 1 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Shall the preamble carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Preamble agreed to)

Shall the title carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Title agreed to)

Shall the bill carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Bill agreed to)

Shall I rise and report the bill?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Bill reported)

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find agreement to apply the results of the previous vote to the current motion, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP will vote against the motion

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals will be voting no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois members will vote against the motion.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party is voting no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #166

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find agreement to apply the results of the previous vote to the current motion, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, NDP members will be voting no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals will be voting no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc members will vote against the motion.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party votes no.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #167

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2011-12
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board

moved:

That this House do concur in Interim Supply as follows:

That a sum not exceeding $26,581,278,713.07 being composed of:

(1) three twelfths ($17,287,596,204.25) of the total of the amounts of the items set forth in the Proposed Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 which were laid upon the Table on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, except for those items below:

(2) eleven twelfths of the total of the amount of Canadian Grain Commission Vote 30, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Vote 15 and Treasury Board Vote 5 (Schedule 1.1), of the said Estimates, $785,558,389.00;

(3) ten twelfths of the total of the amount of Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Vote 15 (Schedule 1.2) of the said Estimates, $12,706,880.83;

(4) eight twelfths of the total of the amount of Justice Vote 1 (Schedule 1.3), of the said Estimates, $163,728,761.33;

(5) seven twelfths of the total of the amount of Canada Council for the Arts Vote 10, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Vote 25, Industry Vote 10 and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Vote 20 (Schedule 1.4), of the said Estimates, $548,030,846.42;

(6) six twelfths of the total of the amount of Canadian International Trade Tribunal Vote 25, Natural Resources Vote 5 and Via Rail Canada Inc. Vote 60 (Schedule 1.5), of the said Estimates, $160,992,068.00;

(7) five twelfths of the total of the amount of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Vote 15, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 Vote 40, National Arts Centre Corporation Vote 65, National Battlefields Commission Vote 70, Human Resources and Skills Development Vote 5, Indian Affairs and Northern Development Vote 10, Canadian Space Agency Vote 35, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Vote 5 and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Public Complaints Commission Vote 65 (Schedule 1.6), of the said Estimates, $3,950,338,729.58;

(8) four twelfths of the total of the amount of Canadian Heritage Vote 5, Canadian Museum of Human Rights Vote 30, Public Service Commission Vote 95, Citizenship and Immigration Vote 5, Canadian International Development Agency Vote 25, Health Vote 10, Public Health Agency of Canada Vote 60, Indian Affairs and Northern Development Vote 1, Industry Vote 1, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Vote 80, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Vote 95, Statistics Canada Vote 105, Library of Parliament Vote 10, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Vote 15, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Vote 45 and 50, Public Works and Government Services Vote 10, Shared Services Canada Vote 20 and Marine Atlantic Inc. Vote 35 (Schedule 1.7), of the said Estimates, $3,672,326,833.66;

be granted to Her Majesty on account of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #168

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board

moved that Bill C-35, An Act for granting to her majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2013, be read the first time and printed.

(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that Bill C-35, An Act for granting to her majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2013, be read the second time and referred to a committee of the whole.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you would find agreement to apply the results from the previous vote to the current motion with the Conservatives voting yes.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP members are voting no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are voting no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois votes no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party votes no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #169

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

I do now leave the chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.

(Bill read the second time and the House went into committee of the whole thereon, Ms. Savoie in the chair)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. The House will now resolve itself into committee of the whole to study Bill C-35.

The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Chair, can the President of the Treasury Board confirm to members of the House that the bill is in its usual form?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Madam Chair, I can tell you that the proportions requested in the bill are intended to provide for all necessary requirements of the federal public administration up to the second supply period of fiscal 2012-13.

The bill does not release the full amount of any of the items. The presentation of this bill is identical to the one used for the previous supply period.

The passing of the bill will not prejudice the rights and privileges of members to criticize any item in the estimates when it comes up for consideration in committee, and the usual undertaking is hereby given that such rights and privileges will be respected and will not be curtailed or restricted in any way as a result of the passing of this measure.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

Shall clause 2 carry?

(On Clause 2)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 2 agreed to)

Shall clause 3 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 3 agreed to)

Shall clause 4 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 4 agreed to)

Shall clause 5 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 5 agreed to)

Shall clause 6 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 6 agreed to)

Shall clause 7 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 7 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.1 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.1 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.2 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.2 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.3 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.3 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.4 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.4 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.5 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.5 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.6 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.6 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1.7 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 1.7 agreed to)

Shall schedule 2 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Schedule 2 agreed to)

Shall clause 1 carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Shall the preamble carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Preamble agreed to)

Shall the title carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Title agreed to)

Shall the bill carry?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Bill agreed to)

Shall I rise and report the bill?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

(Bill reported)

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find agreement to apply the vote from the previous motion to the current motion with the Conservatives voting yes.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP will vote no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals will vote no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois vote no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party also votes no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #170

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find agreement to apply the vote from the previous motion to the current motion with the Conservatives voting yes.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP will vote no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals will be voting no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois vote no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party votes no.

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #171

Interim Supply
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from March 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-267, An Act respecting the preservation of Canada’s water resources, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Water Preservation Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #172

Canada Water Preservation Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion defeated.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-314, An Act respecting the awareness of screening among women with dense breast tissue, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of Motion No. 1.

Breast Density Awareness Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the report stage of the bill. The question is on Motion No. 1.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #173

Breast Density Awareness Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare Motion No. 1 rejected.

Breast Density Awareness Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Breast Density Awareness Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Breast Density Awareness Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Breast Density Awareness Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from March 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-377 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #174

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 6:59 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-288, An Act respecting the National Flag of Canada, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

There being no motions at report stage on this bill, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to take the floor today to speak to my Bill C-288, An Act respecting the National Flag of Canada.

I would first like to say that the bill reflects my interest in an issue that is dear to all of us, that goes beyond merely displaying our flag. This is an issue that appeals to our sense of pride and especially how we choose to express it.

The bill affirms the right of every Canada to display their patriotism wherever and whenever they wish. From Vancouver Island in the west to Newfoundland in the east, from Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon in the north, to other Canadian provinces in the south, Canadians must feel free to display their national flag. This is a symbolic gesture that we must encourage, a patriotic act that helps shape our identity and create a sense of belonging to our country. It is often the symbolic gestures and strong images that remain in people's collective memories.

Since its tabling on September 27, 2011, Bill C-288 has been the subject of numerous comments by members of Parliament in the House. These comments are proof that this issue strikes a sensitive chord, which goes to the heart of our identity. Indeed, the flag is a symbol of our identity, of who we are. It reminds us of what it means to be Canadian.

Whether at home or abroad, the Canadian flag represents us and embodies our values. Whether sewn onto a backpack, carried by one of our athletes, painted on the cheek of a child or saluted by a veteran, it is viewed around the world as a symbol of freedom and democracy. The flag expresses the pride that we feel and everything that we believe in and cherish as Canadians.

We have heard the comments made by the members of Parliament in the House. Some expressed their concerns about the restrictive nature of the bill. We have heard these comments and these responses and the members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage took them into consideration during their study of the bill. It was agreed to make amendments to the bill in order to reflect the feedback received. These amendments will perhaps help alleviate these concerns and, I hope, win the support of the majority.

The proposed amendments are aimed primarily at encouraging Canadians to display the flag wherever they want and as often as they wish. For example, one of the amendments encourages the managers of multiple unit residential buildings to allow the maple leaf flag to be displayed. Whether renters or property owners, Canadian citizens will therefore be encouraged to show their patriotism and express their pride, wherever and whenever they consider it fitting to do so.

The simple act of flying the flag helps reinforce our attachment to Canada. It is a unifying act that helps bring together Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life. It also connects us to our history, which is a fundamental element of our common identity that must be able to unite us in its inclusive reality.

On February 15, we marked the 47th anniversary of the maple leaf flag. This day was an opportunity to pay homage to this important symbol of our country. The history of the maple leaf dates back to 1965, when it was raised for the first time at exactly 12 noon on Parliament Hill, right after the Canadian red ensign had been lowered. At every Canadian diplomatic mission in the world, from the lush tropics to Canadian missions in frigid climates, a similar ceremony took place simultaneously to mark the event. It was also raised at the same time in communities across the country.

Few Canadians expected the new flag to achieve immediate renown, yet it was the only flag in history to consist of a single maple leaf and it came to be recognized instantly by its simplicity wherever it was flown. As our most precious national symbol, our flag continues to instill pride in our history and to inspire us with confidence in the future.

In the last few years, we have had multiple opportunities to feel a great sense of pride as Canadian throughout the land. Indeed, who can forget the joyous and festive mood that reigned across the country when the Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, honoured us with their visit in the summer of 2011. The maple leaf flew proudly in every city, town and village they visited as a salute to our vast country.

At the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, we felt a tremendous sense of pride in watching our athletes parade by. From one end of the country to the other, many Canadians proudly displayed the flag in honour of our sports heroes and we all took pride in seeing the flag raised 26 times to celebrate our medallists.

The red and white maple leaf will fly again at the upcoming London Olympic Games to be held in a few months from now. How many of us will once again be proud to see our athletes carry the national flag? How many of us, as a sign of solidarity and encouragement, will be moved to display the flag in front of our house, or business or on the balcony of our apartment? How many of us will truly feel free to do so?

The desire of Canadians to express their attachment to their country is something that we should not only applaud but encourage. This is precisely what the bill respecting the national flag hopes to achieve. It encourages and supports the expression of our pride. It allows every Canadian to display his or her patriotism in red and white. It brings us closer together.

Across this great land, our government is preparing major celebrations to give Canadians an opportunity to commemorate events that have forged the Canada of today. I am thinking in particular of the preparations to mark the War of 1812, the Queen's Jubilee and the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Our government recently unveiled it program of events to mark these two anniversaries, which culminate in a major celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada.

I would like to say a few additional words about these celebrations.

First, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 highlights an important event in our history. This conflict helped define what we are today: an independent country with its own parliamentary system. Part of being an independent country is to adopt symbols and ceremonies particular to a new nation.

This year is also the year of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The 60th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty to the throne reminds us of the central role that the Crown plays, and has played, in the evolution of our nation. Her Majesty has a special relationship to Canada and she embodies the values of the nation. When we fly our flag, we showcase these values, regardless of whether we speak them aloud or describe them in detail. The flag speaks for us.

I would like to draw attention to a very particular time of year in Canada: the end of June and the beginning of July. For school children, this is exciting because summer vacation begins. For parents, this time of year means summer camps and family vacations. For all Canadians, this time of year means warmer weather and sunshine. However, there is also a very real sense of anticipation because it is a distinctly Canadian time of year as we approach Canada Day.

Every year Canadians and visitors are invited to take part in an 11-day lead up celebration called “Celebrate Canada”, which takes place from June 21 to July 1. This is a unique national undertaking that gives everyone across the country an opportunity to organize events together. Families and friends, social and cultural groups, communities, towns and cities, at every level come together to discover and appreciate the wealth and diversity of Canadian society. At these events, it is the flag that waves proudly.

In the week and a half before Canada Day, citizens from every part of this nation focus on celebrating the best of what it means to be in community. The flag is omnipresent at the end of June and beginning of July because of Canada Day, because of street parties and barbecues that engage Canadians of every age. Whether each citizen realizes it or not, the increase in the use of the flag at this time of year creates an attachment not only to the flag itself, but to the communities in which we all live and thrive. Canadians show their love of Canada and pride in being Canadian throughout the year, but in the ramp-up to Canada Day, as the flag is displayed at celebrations, we all respond with excitement and anticipation.

These events provide numerous opportunities to celebrate our history and display our patriotism. The events that we are talking about are widespread and diverse. The flag is not simply flown from municipal buildings or at official events, but at all manner of gatherings organized by ordinary and proud Canadian citizens. From neighbourhood block parties to sporting events, garden parties to Canada Day rallies, bonfire parties and community beautification projects, celebrating Canada is taken seriously and this is intimately related to our national display of the flag. Such celebrations help awaken the pride of all Canadians.

This bill encourages Canadians to mark the unique nature of these celebrations by flying the maple leaf in every community. It also invites all Canadians to take advantage of these festivities to learn more about the history of our flag and what it represents. Canadians all develop a sense of excitement at the end of June that probably goes largely undiscussed because it has become so normal, so expected, so Canadian to look forward to the excitement and parties that we enjoy as a nation.

In taking the time to celebrate, we realize how privileged we are to live in a country as wonderful as Canada. Many Canadians demonstrate their pride and joy by raising the national flag. This bill encourages them to do just that.

I rose today to talk of the flag, to talk of what it means to be Canadian, of the momentous occasions in our history that have given us a shared sense of community, despite geographical and historical differences. I hope all members of the House have found themselves reminiscing about a celebration they have attended over the years, of meeting with neighbours and friends or watching fireworks with thousands of others on Canada Day. I hope my hon. colleagues have heard stories from their constituents about how much they value the flag and how much they desire to feel free to fly the flag wherever they live.

I am confident that the flag will continue to unite us, to move us, to be the symbol that we reach for in moments of sadness and great joy. I am proud to support this bill and count myself among those Canadians who will fly a flag again this year.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my hon. colleague from Don Valley West as a fellow Toronto colleague. I am thankful for the opportunity to talk about the excitement that largely goes undiscussed, although I did not realize it went undiscussed.

This bill is significantly different from the one that came before this place at second reading. The other bill sought to criminalize those who, for a variety of reasons out of their control, would not be allowed to fly the flag and the government side voted for it, including the Prime Minister. I feel a little bad for my colleague over there. It seems his bill has been neutered.

He was going for the jugular in that bill. What happened?

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, when the bill was first developed, many individuals said that it is already the right of any Canadian to fly the flag any time they wanted. However, as I developed the bill, it became very apparent that it is not the right of every Canadian. If people live in an environment where there is a ratepayers' association, a condominium board or any other type of jurisdiction that will not allow it, then those Canadians cannot freely fly the flag.

When we developed the bill, yes there were some harsh penalties for those who would not allow someone to fly a flag, for example, a condominium board or ratepayers' association. I still believe, quite frankly, that it should be a Canadian's right to do that. However, as we discussed this at committee and as we heard from Canadians, the penalties were far too harsh and so two amendments--

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I would like to give the opportunity for a few more questions.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I would like the member to continue what he was saying about the amendments that he brought in regarding this bill.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, we heard from Canadians on the initial reading of the bill. It became apparent very quickly, and at amendment time I agreed, that this bill was far too strict in its penalties. We had a reasonable discussion with my colleagues, particularly at committee. We agreed that those amendments were appropriate and that this bill, which would establish law making every Canadian free to fly the flag, was the right thing to do regardless of the penalty.

Do I feel neutered? No, to my colleague, I do not.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for the bill, for working with Canadians and listening to Canadians with respect to changing the bill.

I have a fond respect for the flag. My father was in the Second World War. I remember learning how to fold the flag and raise it on the flagpole in our backyard in every home we had. I wonder what the member's earliest memories are in relation to his attachment to the flag. What brings him here today to honour Canadians, our troops and all of Canada with this bill?

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, my earliest memories were always having a flagpole in our yard at my parents' home. Absolutely, it was something we had pride in as a family. My parents taught me pride in our flag which was the genesis of my pride in the nation and in the flag that represents us.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague across the way. I respect his very eloquent and descriptive presentation. There is very little I could disagree with in terms of the images he conjured up. That said, I will go back to what I said in the last debate about this flag. Patriotism cannot be legislated. Countries that legislate patriotism are the type of countries where we are in process of ousting their leaders.

I appreciate the fact that our amendment to get rid of the most onerous aspect of this bill in its original form was accepted by the other side. However the bill, as presented, is an aspirational bill. I wonder why it is a bill and not a motion.

The stories that my hon. colleague from Don Valley West shared with us are the types of things more Canadians need to hear in order to encourage them to fly the flag. This should be a motion, an activity that is brought about by a desire to share, a desire to express as opposed to a fear of being put in jail. Now that those elements have been taken out, one has to wonder what the purpose of the bill is.

The bill has its heart in the right place. However, one has to wonder why we need a bill to tell people to fly the flag as opposed to creating an awareness program or a sense, as the hon. member's speech did, of pride in the flag.

We have a situation in our committee very often about the fact that little is taught in our schools about our own Canadian history. Programs should be developed that help young people in particular, and even us older folks who may have become disconnected with our heritage and our connection this country.

I am an immigrant, born in England. I have great pride in what this country has helped me to accomplish and what I have been able to contribute. When I look at the flag, I feel that pride. I celebrate Canada Day. It is something which is encouraged. It is something that is done out of joy, connection to the people and the country that we live in, not because of a mandated law or the threat of incarceration or other punitive elements.

I share the member's joy for what the flag represents. It is one of the symbols of this very great nation. I do not share the need to tell people that they have to raise the flag as opposed to encouraging them to.

My hon. colleague said that he feels that individual Canadians do not have the right to fly the flag. They do, and they can exercise that right through the Canadian Charter of Rights. People may come and say “Take that flag down.” However, people can say “I am sorry. Under the Charter of Rights, I can fly this flag as much as I want and where I want.”

There needs to be an education process for condo associations and other organizations that have a tendency to go overboard with esthetics. I understand that dynamic very well. I live in a condo in Montreal where some of the rules are a bit annoying.

An awareness program could be developed that would allow Canadians to reconnect with the flag, that would encourage condo associations to think twice especially around Canada Day, Remembrance Day and other celebrations where the flag is flown.

Remembrance Day is one of those days when we remember the men and women who fought, who died for the freedoms that we enjoy today. One of those freedoms is to either fly the flag or not fly the flag. That is a fundamental freedom that the flag ironically represents. It is counterproductive and goes against the sacrifices of these brave men and women to try to legislate patriotism. For those who legislate patriotism, it is the beginning of a dictatorship. If a government feels it can dictate how to celebrate, how to express connection, then that is a problem.

I feel that encouragement, stories that help us connect and an environment of inclusion and support would encourage people to fly the flag as opposed to bills that would mandate it. In its current form without punitive measures, what is the point of the bill because it has no teeth, thus, what can it do?

I would ask my hon. colleague to possibly look at turning the bill into a motion which I think everyone in the House would support, that says Canadians should exercise the right that they already have to fly the flag and create scenarios like the stories he shared that help us feel pride. These stories help us reconnect to those moments as children and our first encounter with the flag. My first encounter with the Canadian flag was as a young Sea Scout in Montreal.

Like the stories the member shared with us, we can help Canadians connect with the flag, this country, what this country means to them and the symbol in front of them. I encourage and applaud the efforts of my hon. colleague. I hope we can find a way to take the positive message that he is putting forward and turn it into something that encourages as opposed to penalizes.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, the preceding speaker spoke of his past as a sea scout. From a sea scout to an air cadet, all of us are displaying the pride we exhibit each and every day here as proud Canadians.

I had a speech that illustrated exactly what the flag means to all of us and its history. As a member of the Liberal Party, I feel that I should talk about the flag's history because we played a big role in that, as all parties did at the time. From the 1920s and straight through to the 1960s, several options were put out. There was always a desire to create a flag that was distinctively ours. We did not want it to contain the ensign of the Union Jack. We wanted it to stand alone, to be a unique measure of who we are as Canadians.

I think it necessary to talk about what has happened with Bill C-288 and the provisions contained therein.

When we started debate on the bill, we were incredibly trepidatious about it because of the penalties it contained. Clause 3 under enforcement referred to granting a temporary restraining order and ordering any person to comply with a provision of the act.

As I said during second reading debate, measuring the intent of the hon. member from Ontario, the sponsor of the bill, I could see where he was coming from. I could see why he had such a great passion for this. I remember him telling the story about how this started. There had been a situation at a condominium which he learned of while campaigning throughout his riding.

The enforcement measures caused great concern within our caucus and we voted against the bill at the time. At committee the sponsor of the bill came forward with substantial amendments. He has included the word “encourage”. People would be encouraged to fly the flag. People would be encouraged not to diminish the rights of others to fly the flag.

Clause 3 was taken out of the bill completely. Quite frankly, it was pretty much a carbon copy of what we had wanted to do within committee. There was some worry whether this would go beyond the scope and the principle of the bill. I guess that is not the case as we are going forward with it.

I can honestly say that in my seven plus years of being here, I have not seen that kind of interaction on a bill at committee in a minority government, but here I see it in a majority. Perhaps that is small irony.

When I talked to the sponsor of the bill in committee, I felt that he actually listened. He felt passionate enough about this that he did not want it tarnished in any way, shape or form. He wanted to keep the ultimate principle of the bill, which is for us to fly our beautiful flag freely and with a great deal of pride.

I would like to congratulate the member. I am recommending to our Liberal caucus that we support the bill. I say that with all sincerity, not just because it is about the bill but because of the sincerity the member showed to be able to change it.

In the world of politics we play here we get into situations where we make one small decision and we stick to it. We bear down with that decision and we listen to nobody else. To the exclusion of all others we will stick to our opinion even though somebody else may have a contrary opinion that might make sense.

Before I get into the bill and before I talk about the flag, I want to talk about the member who sponsored the bill and who I felt listened. My hon. colleague from the NDP said it should have been a motion, and to a great degree I agree, but it is not. We have been presented with a bill that was put forward with the best of intentions. As flawed as it may have been, the member actually listened and he agreed. We got through this in committee, or at least from our perspective we got through it.

When I asked him questions at committee, he was forthright and very humble. He brought forward amendments which I thought was a brave thing to do. That is not bad for a brand new member. I congratulate him on that.

Let us go back to the flag's history. On Parliament Hill there was a huge ceremony on February 15, 1965, with Governor General Georges Vanier and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. The Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the Shield of the Royal Arms of Canada, was lowered and at the stroke of noon our new Maple Leaf flag was raised.

The following words were spoken on that momentous day by the Hon. Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate:

The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all of the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.

We illustrated that in committee, an exchange of opinion which I believe was to the benefit of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The search for a new Canadian flag actually started back in the 1920s, I believe it was in 1921, when it was designated that our official colours were red and white by King George V. In 1946, a select parliamentary committee was appointed with a similar mandate, but things got bogged down in arguments and the machinations of politics. In 1964 when Prime Minister Pearson informed the House of Commons that the government wished to adopt a distinctive national flag. It wanted to do it in advance of 1967, the celebration of 100 years. Go figure. Perhaps history is repeating itself, because now we have discussed the hon. member's bill in the lead-up to the 150-year celebration to take place in 2017, which we are also studying at committee.

In 1964, after eliminating various proposals, the committee was left with three possible designs: a Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lys; the Union Jack, and a design incorporating three maple leafs; and of course the stylized red Maple Leaf on a white square.

I want to talk about that for just a moment. I met the gentlemen of whom I speak. Their names are John Matheson and Dr. George Stanley. I met Dr. Stanley many years ago at Mount Allison University. He is well known in the story of the evolution of the new Canadian flag. Mr. Matheson was a member of Parliament, perhaps one of the strongest supporters of a new flag, and Dr. Stanley was dean of the arts at the Royal Military College.

Dr. Stanley's design was based on a strong sense of Canadian history, which he spoke about many years ago at Mount Allison. The combination of red and white first appeared in the general service medal issued by Queen Victoria. As I mentioned, red and white were subsequently proclaimed Canada's national colours by King George V in 1921.

The committee eventually decided to recommend the single leaf design, which was approved by resolution of the House of Commons on December 15, 1964, followed by the Senate on December 17, 1964 and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, to take effect February 15, 1965.

I had to mention Dr. Stanley because I was quite inspired by the gentleman when I met him. He is from the area of New Brunswick where I went to university. I remember thinking to myself that I had met the man who designed the flag, and how about that.

I also talked about the pride of the flag, as many of the members in the House have done, from glorious moments such as the Olympics to moments of extreme lows which we have experienced throughout many wars, such as, World War I and World War II. We had our ensigns, and of course we raise our flag proudly around the world, whether it be for the London Olympics coming up or whether it be in places like Afghanistan and other areas of great strife where we are involved. We do it for all the right reasons.

I will leave it at that. I do want to congratulate my colleague on the exchange that took place, the debates that we had and the understanding that he brought not only to this House, but to committee. I will personally recommend that we support his initiative.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of Bill C-288, an act respecting the National Flag of Canada, a bill brought forward by my colleague from Don Valley West, someone we have been waiting for a while to be elected to the House. We are happy to have him here.

I was also very pleased to hear my colleague from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor compliment the member. His comments with respect to how committees have worked in a majority government as opposed to how they sometimes did not work in a minority government speak volumes about the quality of the people on both sides of the House who are willing to make these things happen.

All of us have huge pride as Canadians. As my colleague has already said, beginning in 1965 when it was designated as Canada's national flag, the red and white maple leaf is identified around the world as a symbol of peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity. I do not think there are many of us who have not travelled around the world with a pocketful of flag pins. We are very pleased to hand them out to people we meet. We feel proud when they recognize the pins as Canadian. The way Canadians are respected around the world is a great thing. The pin designating the flag is a huge symbol of Canada's pride around the world.

The Canadian flag is flown from Afghanistan to Brazil, from China to Dubai. Canada's brand is instantly recognized on the backpacks of travellers and on the uniforms of the brave men and women who serve as peacekeepers or members of the armed forces. The flag flies from the tops of buildings and from the rafters of hockey arenas in every community. Canadians wave the flag on Canada Day to the latest hits of musicians, showcasing the amazing talent this country has to offer.

We are debating a bill that proposes to enshrine in law the respect we all share for our greatest national symbol, a symbol of freedom, a symbol of hope. The purpose of this debate is that wherever Canadians live across this great country, they should be able to fly the flag and celebrate what brings us together, from Canada Day to new year's day, from citizenship ceremonies to backyard barbecues.

Canadians already have much to celebrate and over the next few years will be brought together as never before. In 2012, we join the rest of the Commonwealth in wishing Her Majesty the Queen all the best for her diamond jubilee. In June, we will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812, a war that shaped the country Canada would become. Later in the summer, the flag will take its proud place among the flags of the world in London for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Sooner than we imagine, Canada will celebrate its 150th anniversary as a nation, when the flag will have been part of our shared history for more than 50 years. For every important event over those 50 years, the flag has been present.

Over the last few weeks I have been struck by the fact that hon. members on both sides of the chamber agree on its importance and the good intentions of the hon. member for Don Valley West. My friend across the aisle mentioned that. It is important that we all have the ability to show our attachment to the flag that symbolizes so much for every Canadian. This bill would ensure that all of us will be able to do so no matter where we live. Practically speaking, this bill would encourage a discussion between homeowners, tenants, boards, management companies and condominium associations regarding the best way for Canadians to display their patriotism and not prevent anyone from expressing their attachment.

In spite of many differences, we are all Canadians and the flag unites us. We are all responsible for ensuring the flag endures for many more anniversaries. Canadians should never feel restricted from respectfully displaying their patriotism. When we celebrate Canada's birthday every July 1, we show our pride by waving the flag. When we sing our national anthem, the flag is there. When we send brave serving men and women into danger, they wear a flag that protects them more than any suit of armour. When Canada receives its newest citizens, it welcomes them with the flag. The flag is proudly flown from the Parliament buildings all day, every day.

As the lawmakers for this great country, we should support this bill to encourage that the flag continues to fly on buildings, in backyards and beyond.

I am proud to speak today in support of this bill and to encourage the flying of flags by all Canadians. I would just like to go back to one little thing. We are going to fly that flag in London, England during the Olympics and I feel confident that flag will fly high as Canadian athletes are recognized for the expertise and excellence they will display. I know that the pride of Canadians will show through. I think this is a fantastic bill.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place on behalf of the good people in the riding of Davenport in Toronto and speak to this bill.

As I said once before while speaking to this bill, the flag, flying of the flag and displaying the flag in my riding is something that people take very seriously. They love to display the flag. They put the flag on their front doors and off their eavestroughs. They use the flag as a drape and occasionally a scarf. I have seen it as a headband. People love to use the flag in all manner of ways to show their love for this country.

I think my hon. colleague across the way wanted to underline that in this bill. He wanted to celebrate the fact that Canadians and many people who live in Canada who have not yet gone that next step to become Canadian citizens love this great symbol of our country. We on this side of the House are in full agreement with that, as could be imagined.

We have spoken a little tonight about the history of the bill. My hon. colleague from the Liberal Party said that there was some irony in the fact that this bill was altered in a majority Parliament in a way that he had not seen bills altered in minority Parliaments.

I want to clarify a couple of things. First, this is a private member's bill. It is not a government bill. Second, we could not even be talking about some of the ways in which this bill has been change had it not been for the fact that the committee work was done out of camera. In other words, it was not done in camera and therefore we could talk about it. That was one of the rare occasions on the heritage committee that we have not been in camera to talk about substantive issues. I wanted to make that point.

Now it is true that our amendments pulled out the egregious penalties that were attached to the original bill, and thank goodness for that. It was a bit of a head-scratcher and a concerning moment to watch the entire government side get up on second reading on a bill that would put people in jail if they adhered to municipal bylaws and ruled that condo owners or apartment dwellers could not hang a flag on their balcony. We pulled that out.

Now we are just looking at a bill that essentially encourages Canadians to fly the flag. It encourages Canadians to fly the national flag of Canada in accordance with flag protocol. We asked the government side during committee what flag protocol meant.

Flag protocol lists a number of ways in which the flag should be displayed in order to give it its due, as we are trying to do in this bill. When we read the flag protocol and consider the way Canadians show their love of this country through the flag, we find that the flag protocol is extremely restrictive. My concern is that this runs counter to the way in which my hon. colleague intended this bill to be used.

I know my hon. colleague a decent man and I think what he was trying to do with this bill was to celebrate the Canadian flag. I also think the government side was trying to play some f divisive politics here and was trying to use the flag to do that which I think is a shame on the government side.

The list in the flag protocol states:

Nothing should be pinned to or sewn on the National Flag....

The upper part of the leaf should face the north in an east-west street...and face east in a north-south street...thus being on the left of the observer facing east or south respectively.

If one simply wishes to create a decorative effect...it is preferable to use pennants or coloured buntings and not flags.

The National Flag of Canada should not be signed or marked in any way....

Those are some of the excerpts from the national flag protocol.

The bill states:

All Canadians are encouraged to proudly display the National Flag of Canada in accordance with flag protocol.

If the government were serious about the bill and wanted to encourage Canadians to fly the national flag of Canada in accordance with flag protocol, it would greatly restrict the way in which the flag is flown in this country. Of course we wants the flag flown in a respectful manner. Everyone in the House knows that, by and large, Canadians do fly the flag in a respectful manner. However, what happened in the bill is that the government tossed in the wording “national flag protocol” and, when we look at the national flag protocol, we see that it would do exactly the opposite. It would dissuade Canadians from flying the flag because the national flag protocol is too complicated and too restrictive.

The hon. gentleman across the way laughed but I can tell him that I was knocking on doors in Toronto on the weekend and I saw a flag draped in a window. In accordance with the national flag protocol, that would not fly, pardon the pun.

There are other issues I want to draw the attention of members to because they raise some profound questions. Part of the national flag protocol states that flags should not be signed. There are many examples but I have an article with a picture of the Canadian Forces health services team posing with a signed Canadian flag for a photo to send to a school in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, which was to be flown by the school on Remembrance Day last year. If we go by the national flag protocol, this practice just would not happen. Those kids would not get that flag. Those soldiers in Afghanistan would not have had that communal experience of sharing with those kids their experience and their love for Canada through the flag.

I have another example of a speed skating fan who had all of the members of the Canadian National Speed Skating Team sign her flag. That does not fly according to the national flag protocol.

I have one that I find particularly moving and concerning if we are serious about what we are doing here. I hope we are serious about what we are doing here and i f we are serious about encouraging Canadians to fly the flag, then we need to consider this. I will read from an article published in December 2010:

Dear Soldier, how are you? I hope you are not too sad. Thank you for keeping us safe….

Those were the sentiments of 40 postcards bearing messages of peace that made their way along with a signed Canadian flag and a box of Canada Day goodies to Afghanistan from St. Mary's Catholic School's grade two class last June, who are now in grade three. Little did they know how much of a difference that could make to the spirit of a platoon.

On December 15, Sergeant Kris Carter visited the school located at Bank and Mitch Owens in Ottawa to return the flag, complete with a certificate signifying that the flag did indeed go on a mission in the cockpit of a British Tornado airplane as it undertook an unknown assignment. Before returning the flag to the school--

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order please. I must interrupt the hon. member. His time has elapsed.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Don Valley West for his right of reply.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, as we all know, this is a private member's bill and I am delighted and privileged to have been able to present it to the House of Commons.

This began in September and here we are today with the final stage of bringing this bill to conclusion. I want to begin by thanking all of my colleagues on this side for their support, endorsement and continued encouragement as we have walked this path.

I also want to the thank the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor for his support and that of his party, and his intention tonight. It was very generous of him and I appreciate his support.

In wrapping up my position on the bill, I will address a couple of things.

First, the member for Davenport addressed the issue of signed flags. I have been an athlete and have sent many flags overseas to the Olympics. I have attended many Olympic Games and the flag is a source of pride for all athletes when they compete at Olympic Games. Yes, it may contravene national flag protocol but what a sense of pride.

How about in schools? As members of Parliament, we have all had the opportunity to go to schools, to address children in junior schools and, without exception, they crave the flag. They encourage us to provide them with flags and we do just that.

This bill was designed for more than that. As I did my research in the summer, I came across many individuals who were being dealt with unfairly because they were simply not allowed to fly the flag. They did not have the privilege or the freedom to fly the flag, and that is what this bill is all about. We have changed the wording to encourage Canadians to fly the flag, but the reality is that there are Canadians today, without this bill completed, who do not have the right to fly the Canadian flag, and that is wrong.

Veterans such as Fred Norman of Ottawa and Guy Vachon, who I talked about before, are both Korean veterans who are simply not allowed to fly the flag in their apartment building. Brian and Linda-Lee Cassidy in southern Ontario, who live in an environment controlled through a ratepayers association, were told to take down their flag or they would be put in bad standing, and they subsequently were. Rose Wittemann from Mississauga sought to fly the flag in honour of a brother fighting in Afghanistan. I do not think any of us would restrict her from being able to that but today the avails of those, whether condominium boards, ratepayers associations, et cetera, can disallow people from being able to demonstrate their freedom.

All of us attend new citizenship meetings and we see the range of emotions from people who swear an oath to this great country as they are handed their flag. It ranges from tears to joy, varied emotions, as people are able to demonstrate their loyalty and swear their allegiance to Canada. The Canadian flag is the symbol of their new-found love and support for this great country.

I had the opportunity, as I hope all members have had at some point, of driving the Highway of Heroes. My business happens to be very near a bridge that crosses the Don Valley Parkway. Whenever we have lost one of our fighting forces overseas and they are brought home from Trenton, the motorcade is brought along Highway 401 and down south on the Don Valley Parkway. Invariably, when that happens, hundreds of Canadians will turn out to pay their respects to the family and the one who was lost. They do that with flags big and small. They are up on fire engines, on ambulances, on cars and hanging from the bridges.

Beyond that, I had the opportunity one particular day to drive along Highway 401 and, as the motorcade was coming the other way, I pulled over as did probably 150 other vehicles to pay our respects. This is the flag that we all supported.

I am thrilled tonight to have the opportunity to present the bill.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

National Flag of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

8 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 28, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

8 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to come back to one of my questions concerning the contract awarded to the company Xe Services. When I asked the minister for an explanation of this contract, he replied that Xe Services specializes in preparing for dangerous missions and that this service is operationally essential to our Canadian Forces. I quote, “We give our Canadian Forces the best possible training to prepare them for mission success.”

I was not satisfied with that response. Apparently, I was not the only one. In fact, I received an email from a Canadian that I would like to read.

“I live in the riding of Whitby—Oshawa. I watch question period every day. Over the past few months I have become increasingly concerned about the government paying Blackwater to train our troops. I would like to thank you for your questions in the House of Commons on the issue”.

I want to point out that this person, Joseph Uranowski, lives in a Conservative riding, the Minister of Finance's riding. He is asking the very question I asked myself. Why is the government hiring American mercenaries to train our troops?

This issue is troubling Canadians, not just those in NDP ridings, but also those in Conservative ridings. I believe that an explanation is warranted.

I would like to clarify that I am talking about Xe Services, but I could also have used the names Academi or Blackwater. This company has changed its name three times in the past three years because of its reputation. Personally, the fact that a company changes its name every year for reasons that are not obvious does not really inspire confidence. Apparently, this does not bother anyone in the government.

Xe Services—or Academi, its most recent name—is a private American security group which has been at the centre of some very serious controversies. This company was accused of being involved in a shooting in Iraq that killed 17 civilians, including women and children, and injured 20 others.

People working for this company have been accused of killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan. In October 2007, a report prepared by the U.S. House of Representatives revealed that Blackwater was involved in 195 shootings in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 85% of these shootings, Blackwater guards opened fire first.

Because of the Baghdad incident in 2007, the U.S. Department of State refused to renew Blackwater's international contract for the protection of American diplomats in Iraq. The Iraqi government revoked Blackwater's licence to operate on its soil.

Again, we have to be suspicious when talking about these things. But once again, the Department of National Defence is not asking questions.

Then five former Blackwater security guards were charged with 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of aggravated assault relating to their actions in Iraq.

Before hiring this kind of company for the Canadian Forces, I would ask some serious questions. But the minister does not seem to think there is a problem.

It may well be that Canada does not possess all the infrastructure required to train our Canadian Forces and that we have to call on outside agents from time to time. My question is simple. To train our Canadian Forces, has the government been unable to find any company other than the one accused of shooting civilians and violating human rights? How can Xe Services or Academi or Blackwater be the best choice to train our troops? How can the minister let a bunch of American mercenaries who believe they are above the law train our troops?

8:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, first, I commend the translator for being able to keep up with that. That was about a six minute speech in a four minute time span, so kudos for the translator for being able to keep up.

First, the government is committed to implementing the Canada first defence strategy, which ensures that Canadian Forces have the people, equipment, infrastructure and readiness required to defend Canada and Canadian interests, now and well into the future.

The Canadian Forces' most valuable resource is its trained personnel. The CF recognized that there must be a strong focus on updating training and equipment in order to conduct operations and maintain their ability to deploy on short notice within Canada, in North America and abroad. The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces are taking all necessary steps to ensure that the men and women of the CF have access to the best training facilities available.

When considering the location of troop training and preparation, it is important to choose a location that offers the best training value for the standards that are needed to be achieved. Academi, formerly Xe Services, or Blackwater, has facilities in North Carolina that offer a number of technical ranges and specialized defensive driving circuits. While CF personnel received training primarily in precision shooting and defensive driving, some CF personnel also received training in very important person escort requirements and close quarter combat techniques as part of a close protection course.

Canadian Forces personnel typically provide their own expertise to conduct the training at Academi facilities, with the facilities' instructors providing technical training when CF personnel are not available due to a high operational tempo. The training conducted at these U.S. facilities is highly specialized and operationally essential for a wide range of CF members deploying on international missions, including military police, special forces and army operational support.

The Canadian Forces uses Academi facilities for a number of reasons: either the facilities do not exist in Canada; Canadian facilities exist but cannot accommodate the required volume of training; or adverse weather conditions, especially in the winter months, prevent CF facilities from being used. Contracting facilities for short periods of time is also the most cost effective alternative to investing in expensive infrastructure that will be used only a few times a year to meet unique training requirements.

The CF first began using Academi, or Blackwater's U.S. training centre in 1997 and a standing offer arrangement was awarded to the company in 2008 because it was the only facility capable of meeting the operational requirements for the specialized training of CF personnel.

Recently, more private companies have emerged and established similar facilities. With a wider range of options to meet future training requirements, the CF will continue to explore all opportunities to provide our troops with the best training possible.

The issues raised surrounding the conduct of Blackwater personnel, while providing close protection in Iraq in 2007, did not involve the type of training that the CF received at the time, and continue to receive today.

I would also like to emphasize that the Canadian Forces conduct their operations in accordance with applicable international and domestic law. The Canadian Forces stand ready to fulfill the government's vision as a modern first class military, and this government is committed to providing the military with the support it needs so that our troops can continue to do the important work that is asked of them.

At the same time, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces are committed to making the best use of tax dollars and will focus resources in order to deliver on commitments made in the Canada first defence strategy and to establish the most capable and sustainable defence organization possible.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, in addition to hiring a company known for having killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan to train our troops, the government did so without a tendering process. Between 2005 and 2010, the Department of National Defence spent $7.7 million on contracts with this company. Over $5.4 million was spent on this company after the massacre in Baghdad in 2007. The government does not seem to have asked any questions after 17 innocent civilians were killed. Why did it not hold a tendering process? When I asked my question, the Minister of National Defence answered that our Canadian Forces deserved to receive the best training possible.

Does he consider that having our forces trained by mercenaries who do not respect international laws and who are accused of war crimes is the best training possible? Does he not believe that being associated with Blackwater, Xe Services or Academi tarnishes the reputation of our Canadian Forces?

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces endeavour to provide our men and women in uniform with access to state-of-the-art training facilities. Access to these facilities has a direct impact on the ability of the troops to carry out their missions and tasks. This training is operationally essential. It contributes to the safety and security of CF personnel operating in potentially hostile environments, such as Afghanistan where roughly 950 Canadian Forces trainers and support personnel are contributing to the NATO training mission.

The government is committed to implementing the Canada first defence strategy to ensure that the Canadian Forces have the people, equipment infrastructure and readiness necessary to defend Canada and Canadian interests now and well into the future. Canadians can take pride in having one of the most professional and best-trained militaries in the world.

8:10 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, in November we learned from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism that the government was cutting $31.5 million for immigration settlement services in Ontario. These cuts have been made without giving settlement service agencies the fair warning that they deserve. Settlement service agencies across the province are already struggling due to similar cuts by the Conservative government last year.

These services have a track record of producing results for newcomers, helping to ease their transition to life in Canada. They provide language training, assistance with finding housing, employment services, counselling services, community programming to help newcomers integrate into their communities, skills training and generally form a support network for those who have left everything behind in their home countries.

Despite these invaluable benefits, the government is cutting 5% of the funding to the settlement and immigration funding envelope. That works out to approximately $53 million in 2011-12 and an additional $6 million to be cut in 2012-13. Eighty per cent of the cuts for 2011-12 came out of the Ontario allocation. With the implementation of the new settlement allocation model in Ontario, an additional $20 million in cuts is anticipated in 2012 if the 2009 landing numbers are used. Yet the government claims that no cuts are being made, but rather that funds are just being reshuffled.

Even with the shuffling of funds, we are still looking at an overall cut of $6 million and $45 million in cuts from just two years ago. This shuffling is removing a disproportionate amount of money from Ontario and pitting province against province. This comes at a time when the number of newcomers is at an all-time high. Ontario still receives over 50% of these newcomers, the greater Toronto area being the final destination for the majority of these newcomers to Canada. Rather than respond to the needs of the provinces and these newcomers, the government has decided to balance the books on the backs of those new to our country.

Once again, consistently pitting province against province is not going to solve the deficit. Abandoning these programs is not going to solve the deficit. Newcomers are hard-working people who contribute greatly to our communities and to our economy.

At the federal level, we should be looking for ways to help ease the transition and help these newcomers better integrate into our society. We should not be abandoning programs that have a track record of producing results when the number of newcomers is at an all-time high. We need to ask more from our government. We need to ensure that it is not neglecting the needs of the hundreds of thousands of newcomers in Ontario and across the country.

Why is the government making it harder for newcomers to access the services they need? Will the minister maintain the key supports and services that newcomers need to thrive in our country?

8:15 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the effort the member for Scarborough—Rouge River has put into making her presentation this evening. It is a lot of work preparing for a late show. At the same time, a little history is important to understand why the member is off-track in terms of her statement and her understanding of the commitment that this government has made to settlement services in this country and, specifically, in Ontario.

The previous administration spent 13 years talking about settlement services. It increased investment in settlement services by zero dollars and 0% for the entire time Liberals were the government. When we took office in 2006, we tripled settlement services across the country. In particular, this had a significant impact in Ontario, going from $111 million in 2004-05, to $345 million in 2011-12.

Some would suggest that the increase by this government in 2006 was too aggressive and too quick for communities across Canada and especially in Ontario, because we deal directly with the service delivery agents, those who deliver the settlement services for us. We gave too much money too quickly. Had we spaced that out over a period of time, it probably would have been a more appropriate way to move forward. However, because of the lack of investment of the previous administration, we moved much more quickly. We did so based on percentages. At the time in 2006, close to 64% of the immigrants who came to this country settled in Ontario.

Today, there has been a significant reduction in the number of people who choose Ontario as a place to settle. If the member would like to become a defender of the Liberal premier in Ontario, I would submit that is not necessarily the right thing to do. When we look at where dollars should go, I do not think there is a member in the House of Commons who does not think that revenue and the supply of services and the direct delivery of those services is not done in a fair and appropriate way. It is done on a per capita basis.

We have seen a 12% reduction in the number of immigrants who have come to Ontario. That is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, from the perspective of the overall strength of our country, it is a very good thing. People are determining when they come to this country that Ontario does not have to be their first choice. There are so many other communities in province after province and territory where we see immigrants choosing to settle.

The settlement service funding that the member speaks so strongly about in terms of what it needs to do and where it needs to go has to follow the immigrant. It has to follow those who are settling here. It just does not get dumped into Ontario because she is a member of Parliament from Ontario. It needs to go where the services are needed, where we see individuals and families settling so they can do as she suggested and that is to settle quickly, efficiently, effectively and in a way that means a lot to them in terms of understanding our country.

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, the government likes to talk about how it is spending more than its Liberal predecessor. Conservatives like to point out time and time again that they are doing better than bad. That is not a lofty goal to set for themselves.

At the end of the day, the federal government is not doing enough for settlement services across this country. Rather than making drastic cuts to these very important services that support successful integration, we should be funding these organizations to continue the work they are doing. We should continue to support them.

Newcomers continue to help build our country. As a nation, we should be doing all that we can to assist these groups in getting their feet firmly planted so that they can achieve their goals of contributing to their local communities and to our country, their country.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that the member for Scarborough—Rouge River has moved from her position that Ontario has been underfunded to the position that she is just not happy with settlement services and the funding it receives from the federal government across the country.

Let us focus on Ontario. Ontario received 66% of the funding while only receiving 55% of the immigrants. If she is suggesting that Ontario needs to be favoured over every other province and territory in this country, I do not understand the premise of her argument. If she is suggesting that settlement services need to be fair across this country, as a member of Parliament from the province of Ontario, I use every opportunity I have to defend and ensure that settlement services are fair in Ontario. I submit, however, that when it receives 55% of the immigrants who come to this country on a yearly basis and 66% of the funding, that is an inequity, an imbalance and unfair.

On this side of the House, we are about fairness and ensuring that the delivery of services by whatever department or ministry we are talking about is the same in Ontario as in Quebec or any other province in this country.

8:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:24 p.m.)