House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was literacy.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

At least say the word “veteran” once in a while.

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thanks for that assistance. Indeed, I am sure veterans have said that they, too, received telephone calls on election night. When they received these calls, they obviously did not take note.

The point is that these calls were received. One woman told me that she and her husband had already voted and after supper received a call from so-called Elections Canada—

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I really think it is a stretch that the speech somehow relates to the topic we are debating today. By his smile, I think the member recognizes the fact that this is not relevant to our debate.

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. We are debating veterans services today and I think the member knows his remarks are not relevant to the discussion we are having. I would ask the Speaker to call him to order and that his remarks be relevant to the debate.

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Members will know that it is important to ensure their comments remain pertinent to the question before the House. At the same time, members are given an abundance of freedom to express their points with the view that they will eventually become pertinent to the question that is in front of the House. I am sure the member was coming around to how his comments would be relevant to the motion.

The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that caution, but I would point out that had my hon. colleagues, who chose to intervene, listened to what I was saying, they would have realized the vote that we as citizens have is because veterans paid the sacrifice for that. Any interference with that vote is an interference with our democracy and nothing could be more offensive than the suppression of that vote by any means.

I want to finish with the anecdote, which seemed to get hon. members upset, but I am about to get them a little more upset because this woman did describe the situation where she had voted. She and her husband came home, received a so-called Elections Canada call and paid no attention to it whatsoever. Nine months later, with all of the publicity that has recently been generated, she realized that she too was almost a victim. Then she contacted my office, as I am sure other members have also been contacted. She was very irate.

I exchanged correspondence with her and asked whether I could use her story. She initially said “yes” and then 24 hours later, she said “no”. The reason was that her heritage was from a Soviet country and this was the kind of stuff that went on in the country from which she originated. She was very concerned that somehow this information would be used against her.

We can all say that is just paranoia, and let us hope it is, but on the other hand, it is from these kinds of small things that if we do not protect democracy, it will in some manner or another disappear. Our veterans have made the strongest sacrifice they can possibly make in order to protect that vote, that democracy and that way of life.

I have the great honour to be the Liberal Party's defence critic and, as such, I have had quite a number of opportunities to meet senior military officials, junior officers and enlisted people in a whole variety of settings. This summer I was on a frigate and spent some time with officers and the enlisted on the frigate. Indeed, I have even ridden on a helicopter at CFB Greenwood, as the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore well knows. I took that flight from CFB Greenwood, not from a fishing camp. I have ridden on search and rescue planes, the Aurora, the Hercules, at Camp Wainwright, RMC and a variety of other settings at formal and informal events.

Without doubt, we are served by some of the finest people I have ever had the honour to know. No military is without its flaws, but the personnel I have had the honour to meet is truly exceptional.

It is regrettable that I have to move to the end of my speech because there are a number of points I wanted to raise even from today's correspondence, one of which was from Michel Estey, a retired sergeant, who said, “The New Veterans Charter, seriously, is a bureaucratic nightmare, laden with red-tape and hoops, I genuinely feel sorry for my brother and sisters in arms who are being nickeled and dimed under this new charter...[the Minister], [the Prime Minister], VA doesn’t need cuts, it needs restructuring, use priority hiring to hire your injured and released Vets”.

I apologize that I was not able to get to the meat of the speech.

Opposition Motion—Veterans Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 6:35 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, March 6 at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

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

The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to pursue a question that I put to the Minister of the Environment in November of last year and it has only now come forward for adjournment proceedings. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue the matter that I raised at the time, although some time has passed.

The matter relates to the composition of government delegations to international conferences, in particular to the 17th conference of the Parties that took place in Durban, South Africa at the close of 2011 under the framework convention on climate change. Members may recall that there was a change in government policy and a decision was made to exclude members of the opposition from the delegation that took part in COP 17 in Durban.

Given the passage of time, I am hoping that I will be able to determine from the parliamentary secretary what the position of the government will be in relation to the composition of the delegation to COP 18 when it occurs in Doha. I am particularly interested to know whether, at this point, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment can confirm whether Canada plans to participate in COP 18 which will also include negotiations relating to the Kyoto protocol.

The reason for this question will be obvious to those who have been attentive to this issue. On return from Durban, the hon. Minister of the Environment announced that Canada had no intention of participating in the second phase of Kyoto and that we also intended to legally withdraw.

There has not been sufficient attention to the fact that when the Minister of the Environment made this announcement he did not legally withdraw Canada from Kyoto. That is not possible In one fell swoop, so he sent a letter to the UN secretariat on climate change. The effect of that letter was to give a one year notice of Canada's intent to withdraw. This creates an interesting dynamic for the Privy Council in that the legal withdrawal from Kyoto will not take place until after the conclusion of COP 18 which is taking place in Qatar in the city of Doha.

I want to explore a couple of future prospects that I am hoping the government has considered. Will we participate in negotiations relating to the second phase of the Kyoto protocol, as we did in Durban, undermining the progress that other nations intend to make in that second commitment period? Will we stay home from Doha? If we attend Doha at COP 18, will we return to the practice of decades, not merely of a previous Liberal government or a previous majority government or a previous minority government, but going back in time, at least as far as the government under former Prime Minister Trudeau, certainly the practice of former Prime Minister Mulroney and so on through the decades, until we find ourselves in a situation where opposition members for the first time were excluded by the current government?

Will Canada be participating in COP 18? Will members of opposition parties be included? If we participate in COP 18, will we have the effrontery to participate in negotiations under the Kyoto protocol when we have already signalled our legal intention to withdraw?

The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

March 5th, 2012 / 6:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be able to speak to my colleague opposite's questions this evening, because there are a lot of mistruths in her statement.

First, I will address her question with regard to the composition of the delegation leading into Durban. Our government has been quite clear in our approach to priorities, that we have a strong mandate to ensure that our economy continues to thrive and that we see job growth in this country. From that, I think in the lead-up to Durban, we felt it was very important for our government to speak with one voice at Durban, because of the varying positions that would be in violation of, or in a dichotomy with, that initial principle.

When we look at the NDP, they actually have worked against the interest of the country by going to the United States and lobbying against our jobs in the energy sector. The Liberals have a track record of complete inaction when it comes to climate change. The former Liberal government signed on to Kyoto with no plan to implement it. We also saw greenhouse gas emissions rise under its tenure. My colleague opposite's party has been varied in its policy stance on how to approach environmental stewardship while balancing the need for economic growth.

By contrast our government has been very clear. We have said that we need to ensure that we take real action with regard to greenhouse gas emission reduction, but we also need to do that in a pragmatic way to ensure that our economy retains a competitive advantage.

That said, we felt it was very important to have our country speak with one united voice at Durban, including a recognition of the fact that we are taking strong action here at home domestically. We are leaders. The International Institute for Sustainable Development said in a recent report that our government's policy is a good start. We are making actual progress with our sector by sector regulatory approach. We have seen regulations come into place in the transportation sector. We are now looking at the coal-fired sector. We have plans for other sector reductions and regulations as well.

Thus, number one, we have had a strong domestic approach. Number two, our government has said that the Kyoto protocol is not something we should just be standing still on with regard to an international approach to greenhouse gas emission reductions. We need to see all major emitters come to the table.

My colleague opposite has to acknowledge that the Kyoto protocol now includes less than 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions at present. Therefore, we need a new agreement. We need to have all of these countries come to the table and sign on to an agreement with binding targets.

We did not feel that the opposition parties had that stance. As such, because we are proud of the approach we are taking and because we want to see real action, our government was proud to go to Durban and take that message forward.

With regard to some of the other questions the member asked, we do have a very clear position. We have been very transparent. We withdrew from the Kyoto protocol because it does not work. The international community needs a new agreement to see real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, we will continue on the good work that was started in Copenhagen and continued in Cancun and in Durban this year toward that new agreement, but we will also continue with our pragmatic, balanced action-focused approach, a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while ensuring that our economy is not competitively disadvantaged while we do that.

The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to confess that although I have great personal regard for the hon. parliamentary secretary, I am disappointed that she did not answer any of the questions I put forward in my initial statement.

Certainly there were no mistruths, as she characterized them, in my statement. We still do not know from her statement if Canada plans to go to Doha, and what the composition of the delegation will be.

I do need to correct a few things she said. The idea that a delegation of the Canadian government can only include members of Parliament who agree with the government position is absurd. In the past I can recall that the Liberal government took along a terrific guy, Bob Mills, a former member of Parliament for both the Reform and Conservative parties. Bob did not happen to agree with the Liberal Party policies, but he was part of government delegations because in international fora we are a country. We are international and not just one party.

The Liberal climate plans were late, but they were good. They were cancelled by the Conservatives. We do need to have more countries in Kyoto, and the way to do that is to participate in the second phase of Kyoto.

The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, to address my colleague's comments, first of all, it is important to speak with one voice. That is not necessarily one party's voice, but it is one unified voice on something as important as climate change.

Our government feels quite strongly that the approach we are taking to global greenhouse gas reductions is an action-focused one. It is one from which we will see real results over the next few years. I certainly hope that we can work together to refine that approach, because I also have regard for the hon. member.

That said, it is important to note the following about the Kyoto protocol as it stands right now. The hon. member just stated that if we signed onto it or signed on for a second commitment period, we would see action. We would not. Major emitting countries do not have binding targets under this agreement.

Contrary to what the hon. member says, we do have as a country the legal right to withdraw from this, and we also have an obligation as a country to ensure that we have an agreement where all major emitters come to the table to see real action.

The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before we proceed to the next question, I just remind hon. members that during adjournment proceedings members are invited to sit wherever in the chamber they wish to be, in close proximity perhaps, to the parliamentary secretary or minister whom they may be questioning.

The hon. member for Trinity—Spadina.

Airline Safety
The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, without a doubt, air travel is an important means of travel for Canadians to bridge the vast distances in our country and to connect us to the rest of the world. The rising number of passengers shows the central role that aviation plays in connecting family members and business partners alike. In rural areas, air services provide crucial links to isolated communities. Airports are there to enable transport and mobility, for example, for people to see doctors or access jobs. A number of strategically located airports also increasingly serve as hubs for intercontinental connections.

Sadly enough, the commercial importance of air travel for Canadian citizens and companies is not reflected in the policies of the Conservative government. Like their Liberal predecessors, the Conservatives have been dragging their feet in implementing vital safety measures and in ensuring that air carriers are properly certified and monitored in their contributions in order to make plane travel safe.

Let me give three examples. First, the Canadian Federal Pilots Association has urged Transport Canada to hire more inspectors to check more aircraft for their airworthiness. What did the ministry do? It actually reduced those inspectors by 10%.

The Auditor General, in her 2008 report, pointed out severe flaws in the way deregulated air safety was being handled and that it was being offloaded to the air carriers under the name of the safety management system.

Over the years, the Transport Safety Board has heavily criticized Transport Canada, and I will give the House one concrete example of that. The terrain awareness and warning system has been recommended since 1995. Unfortunately, for 13 years the Liberals did nothing and for six years three Conservative cabinet ministers also have not done much.

We have seen a study showing that terrain warning systems prevents close to 100% of accidents. The U.S. and the EU required all planes to have these warning systems years ago, and since 1997, 35 planes have been flown into the ground, leading to the death of 100 people and 46 serious injuries. Many of these lives could have been saved.

To give another example, in 1998 the U.S. made installation of this system mandatory. In 2003, the International Civil Aviation Organization recommended that all its members do the right thing. Unfortunately, even though the current government made an announcement recently, it is asking for new rules to give airlines five full years to implement the change requiring them to have TAWS in their planes.

My question is what will happen in the five years before these regulations are enforced? I ask because we know that with the terrain awareness warning system, lives can be saved. After all these years of waiting, it should be implemented immediately.

Airline Safety
The Environment
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by pointing out that the government, through Transport Canada, NAV Canada, and the system of airports large and small, national airports and regional airports, has collaborated to instill the highest safety standards and the best methods of protecting passenger, crew and pilot safety of any country in the world. We continue to build upon that success throughout the operation of our program.

The member's original question, from which this intervention today emanates, was regarding the fleet that we operate as Transport Canada. Our fleet is maintained by the department and its maintenance engineers. It is operated by the department's inspectors, who provide safety oversight for the civilian aviation industry in Canada.

Transport Canada has a robust program in place to verify the safety of air transport companies. We dedicate more than 80% of civil aviation safety resources to oversight activities like inspections. Our surveillance procedures include planned and unplanned inspections to verify compliance with our aviation regulations. These inspections involve on-site interviews with staff in order to review the company's safety practices.

The reason pilot inspectors use the Transport Canada fleet is to conduct inspections in the following two ways. First, this allows transportation support for oversight activities to occur in certain locations, for example the Arctic, where there is no direct commercial route or daily service. Without the existing aircraft within our fleet, this would result in extended travel times, which would be an inefficient use of resources.

Second, the government has contractual agreements with its pilot inspector union to maintain its current pilots' operating hours. Inspectors are required to maintain their qualifications, which in the case of pilots, means maintaining their pilot licence and instrument rating. Flying these aircraft also provides departmental inspectors with exposure to the national civil aviation transportation system. This is important. If someone wants to be an inspector of the system, he or she should know how it works and have some practical, hands-on experience with its operation. Additionally, the aircraft fleet may be used under certain circumstances to carry government officials.

The hon. member's original question criticized the expenditure on this fleet. It should be pointed out that following an expenditure review, Transport Canada is reducing the aircraft fleet from 42 to 27 aircraft. In the process it will save millions of dollars in both capital and operating costs. This is an example of how, while we continue to believe in the necessity to have a Transport Canada air fleet, we also work to reduce the burden that that fleet imposes on the Canadian taxpayers who fund it.