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House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-16.

Topics

The Late Maurice RichardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a great hockey player, Canadian and Quebecer.

In Canada there is a game Where there is one that lit the flame

He played right wing and wore number 9 In the post-war era the greatest of his time.

He skated with his brother the fans called “the pocket” The world knew him as the one we called “Rocket”

He played every shift with pride and desire With the game on the line and his eyes on fire.

Untouchable he was from blue line to crease And when he would score we would all shout “Maurice”.

There were only six teams in the old NHL To future generations his legend will tell

Of how he could skate and never let up So his beloved Habs could drink from the Cup.

He is now in Montreal in the province of Quebec Where the fans will line up and pay their respects

To many of us Richard was the best For now in God's hands we lay him to rest.

The Late Maurice RichardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Maurice Richard was a talented sportsman who thrilled hockey fans for years. Now he has gone.

He not only led on his team, he inspired an entire game. He was a symbol for an entire people. He was a man of Herculean strength who became a legend in his own lifetime.

With Maurice Richard's death goes something of all of us. A page of our history has been written. This is a tragedy for all of us. All of Quebec is grieving. A giant has died, but his strength of character, his exceptional talent and his unfailing determination will long inspire us yet.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, I would like to offer my condolences to his family and his friends and to the people of Quebec.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the HRDC minister's big brother database has collected Canadians' most private details. It has information on family status, employment history, social assistance information, immigration records. You name it, Mr. Speaker, the minister's got it.

Today, after a cross-country uproar from the opposition and Canadians, this minister has now turned tail and announced she will dismantle her database.

Why does it take constant hounding from Canadians before this minister will do the right thing?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, earlier today I announced the dismantling of the longitudinal labour force file. It comes less than two weeks after the privacy commissioner tabled his last advice on this file. At that time I indicated that I wanted to work with him co-operatively to deal with our shared concerns. The announcement today is an outcome of this very co-operative working relationship and I would note that he fully supports our undertakings.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would say it is an outcome of getting caught. Day after day in the House the minister has stood to assure Canadians that the big brother database was just fine and dandy. In fact, she said it was totally legitimate. In fact, she said it was encrypted. Now, after enormous public outrage, she has decided to scrap the whole thing, and the minister gives her little hand for it.

Why was her database essential last week but it is a security risk this week?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again the opposition is just fearmongering. Let us remember what the privacy commissioner said last week. He indicated that all laws had been abided. He indicated that there had been no breaches of information, but he identified a concern for the future. With the changing technology and with the rapid advancements, I too am concerned about that. That is why we have taken the prudent measure of dismantling the longitudinal labour force file.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I do not think anyone buys that. In fact, I do not think they trust the minister.

Her news release says that her department has returned the big brother database information to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and that department will maintain all the information in the future. However, the news release says “authorization of future linkages with HRDC held data will be considered case by case”.

That begs the question, just what kind of cases will trigger the recreation of the big brother database?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us look at what the privacy commissioner said. He said in a letter to the deputy minister on May 27: “We accept and support these measures. They satisfy all the recommendations and observations that were outlined in my 1999-2000 Annual Report”.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Reform Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians were rightly outraged when they learned of this government's big brother database. In the last week, because of a lack of trust in this HRDC minister, over 30,000 Canadians have written asking for their own personal files, files which they have every legal right to see.

Does the dismantling of the minister's database affect those 30,000 requests for Canadians' personal information?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we will respond to the requests of Canadians who have asked for this information. Clearly the file has been dismantled, but we will facilitate the gathering of that information from its separate sources so that Canadians who wish it can have it.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Reform Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Human Resources Development admitted last week that it had no way of verifying whether the 30,000 requests for information were legitimate. How will the minister ensure that highly sensitive and personal information about every single Canadian will not end up in the wrong hands?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, clearly, this is a very important question. We have been working with the privacy commissioner to identify a process by which individual Canadians can receive this information, but do it with the confidence that it will be their information.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, again last week the government was staunchly defending its megafile, explaining to us that its existence was essential to the administration of government records.

The Prime Minister himself had rejected the idea of dismantling this file, yet today, unexpectedly, it is no more.

What went on between last week and today's decision that would explain this about-turn by the government?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, along with the privacy commissioner, we understand the importance of good information so that we can create good public policy. Along with the privacy commissioner we understand that the privacy of Canadians has to be paramount. Together we looked at the future of this file. We saw it coming to its limit. Rather than add more information, the prudent thing was to take it apart and create a regime of protocol so that we can continue to access the information as needed, as defined and as reviewed. This includes a review by the privacy commissioner, so that we can not only continue to have effective management of files, but also ensure the privacy of information.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in other words, the minister is telling us that, when requests were made confidentially, this was of no importance. Now that it has become public, it has become very important. Now we understand it better.

In future, does the minister commit, before gathering any information on any citizen, before using any information of any kind on any citizen, to obtain permission, as is done on our income tax returns, when we are asked for permission to use our names for the voters' list? Does she commit to asking permission before acting?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, without question, having good information is part and parcel of building good public policy. We believe that, the privacy commissioner believes that and I believe that Canadians believe it.

In the context of issues around visibility, we will continue to work with the privacy commissioner to determine the most appropriate way to ensure that Canadians are comfortable with the information they provide and the way it is used.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Revenue and the government House leader gave section 241(3) as their excuse for being unable to share tax information about CINAR with the RCMP.

Now that we have learned about the direct link that existed between Revenue Canada and HRDC, how could the Minister of National Revenue and the government House leader stand up repeatedly in the House and make grand speeches about the confidentiality of tax files, when quite the opposite was true?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I have said repeatedly in the House that one of the cornerstones of the Income Tax Act, one of the fundamental principles that the government will always defend, is the element of confidentiality.

I have also said repeatedly that when information was shared—specific information, not all the information on any one taxpayer—this was done in accordance with the Income Tax Act, section 241 in particular.

I would simply like to remind the opposition that the much-discussed press release that we tabled today quotes the privacy commissioner as saying that there was never any breach of confidentiality in the past.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the RCMP was complaining that it could not pursue its investigation of CINAR because of the lack of co-operation from CCRA, it seems that, when it came to the average member of the public, information went directly from CCRA to HRDC.

How can the minister defend the fact that information is available on individual citizens, while companies that commit fraud are apparently protected?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, the opposition question strikes me as rather odd right now.

On the one hand, there has been an exchange of information concerning the element of confidentiality when the Income Tax Act allows it, more specifically section 241.

I said that this government is going to protect the principle of confidentiality as long as the Liberal Party forms the government.

It strikes me as odd that, while my colleague is providing the public with excellent service and increasing confidentiality, the opposition wants us to share information and make it available publicly. There is no question of doing any such thing. We will protect the confidentiality of taxpayers for a good long while.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

May 29th, 2000 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians were horrified when 26 miners were killed in the Westray mining disaster. They were even more horrified to learn that, in spite of overwhelming evidence of gross negligence, the crown prosecutors had to drop charges because under the Criminal Code of Canada they could not make those charges stick. The Westray officials got away with murder. In fact, they got away with 26 murders.

Will the Minister of Justice assure this House that within this parliament she will amend the Criminal Code of Canada to make it a criminal offence to kill workers on the job?

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is probably referring to recommendation 73 of the Westray inquiry. Let me reassure the hon. member that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is considering recommendation 73. I look forward to receiving its report.

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the justice committee is not dealing with recommendation 73, nor is it dealing with Motion No. 79 which passed in this House. It has been three years since Justice Richard of the Westray inquiry made recommendations to amend the criminal code so that senior management would be held personally accountable in cases of gross negligence causing death. In those three years this government has done absolutely nothing.

The justice committee is not seized of the issue. We doubt the justice committee will be dealing with the issue within this parliament, unless the Minister of Justice takes action.

Will the minister act within this session of this parliament to make recommendations to amend the criminal code along the line of recommendation 73?