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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

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, let me reassure the hon. member that the justice committee is charged with the obligation of reviewing recommendation 73. I look forward to its report.

As far as my department doing nothing, let me reassure the hon. member that federal, provincial and territorial officials and ministers have discussed this issue. We await the review of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. At that time, hopefully we will have heard from all relevant parties and, if necessary, we will move forward.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal government disbanded the ports police in 1997 numerous organized crime investigations were abandoned and files destroyed. Former ports officials were investigating alleged connections between the Hell's Angels and ports authorities in Vancouver and Halifax. Now that evidence may be lost.

Shutting down these investigations is appalling and is reminiscent of operation sidewinder, another investigation which was shut down without explanation.

Will the minister tell Canadians why these active investigations were not forwarded to other police agencies? Why have these files gone missing or been destroyed?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times in the House, the number one law enforcement priority of this government is to fight organized crime. In fact, that is why this government gave an extra $59 million to the RCMP to be sure that we can fight organized crime.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think the solicitor general is mixing up his lines. I thought public safety was his number one priority.

The minister's supposed commitment to public safety runs contrary to this government's disbanding of the ports police and the continued underfunding of law enforcement agencies in Canada. Despite the minister's hollow assurances, we know that our overworked RCMP and CSIS officers already compete for scarce resources and are now being tasked to take on illegal activities in Canada's six major ports.

Will the minister admit that during his government's seven years in office Canada's ports have become a welcome mat to organized crime? Would he tell us what he is going to do about it?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member what we will not do. We will not run a deficit, as my hon. colleague's government did to make sure that there would be no funds to put anywhere.

Under the direction of the Prime Minister we were able to put $810 million of new money into the solicitor general's department so that we could fight organized crime. If we were to believe my hon. colleague, there would be no funds left to do anything.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

May 29th, 2000 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's department has said that the privacy commissioner will monitor the dismantling of its big brother database. This is an extremely important step given that the existence of such a database was kept secret from the privacy commissioner for years.

Canadians deserve to know what specific powers the privacy commissioner will be given to ensure that HRDC's newest action plan is really implemented.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, first let me clarify that the database was never kept secret. In fact it was part of the InfoSource information that was provided and available to all Canadians, and the privacy commissioner made a reference in that regard.

Let us also look at what he said, however, and I want to quote again:

I want to take particular note of the spirit in which our discussions have taken place and the clear demonstration of your determination to improve the supervision and management of your information systems in ways that strengthen the privacy rights of Canadians. I have no doubt that the public will welcome these measures.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, nobody knew about it. In her news release the HRDC minister said that there would be a new structure for future social and labour market research. It will be modelled on the practices used at Statistics Canada and be based on input by officials from that department.

With its abysmal track record on data gathering, why does HRDC not simply get out of the market policy research business and leave it to the experts at Statistics Canada?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong again. I point to the words of the privacy commissioner who said that the database as it existed matched the laws of the land and that there had been no breaches of information.

In looking to the future we agreed with the privacy commissioner that the prudent thing to do would be to dismantle this file and implement a new regime that would allow us access to information in an appropriate fashion while respecting the paramountcy of the privacy of Canadians and their information.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development recently said in this House that the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service do not have direct access to her department's megafile.

Could the minister tell us whether or not the RCMP and CSIS have had access, directly or indirectly, to Human Resources Development Canada's megafile?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we have had no requests from the RCMP or CSIS for access to this file. As I mentioned before, and the hon. member is right, they have had no direct access to this file.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister recognize that today's show looks more and more like what could be called a cover-up operation?

If it is not known, the principle of no evil seen, no evil done applies, and there is no problem. But as soon as it becomes public, the government opposite does its utmost to cover up its inaction and its management of the megafile.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again I point to the fact that the file as managed to date has been managed appropriately, that the privacy commissioner commended the department for ensuring that there were no breaches of information.

As is the interest of the privacy commissioner, we are looking to the future. We recognize the changing and rapid changes in technology. We appreciate the concerns that Canadians have about information and the chances that others have to receive it.

From our point of view what we want to ensure is that we take the prudent road. That is why we have dismantled this program. That is why we have returned the files to the Canadian customs agency. That is why we will be—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Canada Customs And Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, guess who is coming to dinner? It is the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

The CCRA wanted airlines to collect private information on their customers like their incomes and their travel agents. It even wanted to know what people were having for dinner. Thank goodness the privacy commissioner told the agency that it was out to lunch.

How can the customs and revenue department justify proposing a plan that is such an obvious invasion of privacy?

Canada Customs And Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 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, again the hon. member is wrong and I guess that the assertion in his question is part of his dream.

I thank the member for his question because I am pleased to report that the government has decided to move ahead with a huge modernization plan for Canada customs over the next five years.

We will invest something like $100 million in order to make sure that our community will be safer and to facilitate travel for business across the border and in other countries. This will make it easier within the global marketplace. I am pleased to report that at the end of the process we will have a much better risk assessment and increased security for all Canadians.

Canada Customs And Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering why that does not give me any comfort at all. There is something inherently offensive about a government that wants to know what we had for dinner last night. That is what the government is up to.

It is simple common sense that sort of information should remain private. Why does it take an intervention from the privacy commissioner to shut down the government's attempt to spy on its own citizens?

Canada Customs And Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 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, basically the information with which we will be provided by the airline company is information that we are asking of the people when they show up at the border.

In conclusion, if the hon. member would have dinner more often with the Minister of National Revenue he would know that actually his question is premature.

Preventative WithdrawalOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the unions consulted, certain senior officials of Health Canada and Human Resources Development Canada, and academics from Quebec and Canadian universities have signed a document calling upon all governments in Canada to follow Quebec's example and allow preventative withdrawal from work, with pay, for pregnant women.

Can the Minister of Labour explain to us why she is refusing to make such a provision part of her Bill C-12, thus going against a consensus that has come from a vast number of Quebecers and Canadians?

Preventative WithdrawalOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Moncton New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, this is available to pregnant and nursing women under section 132 of the Canada Labour Code Part II. It was negotiated for seven years with employees and employers. The Bloc Quebecois amendment concerning the definition of hazard is addressed by part III of the labour code, and this will be discussed by employees and employers.

Preventative WithdrawalOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that women's issues are of no interest to the federal government. It has abolished the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and now it is reducing funding to the women's program.

How can the minister responsible for the status of women defend her government when it has all the leeway it needs and yet refuses to raise the women's program from $8.2 million to $30 million, which represents barely more than $2 per woman?

Preventative WithdrawalOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalSecretary of State (Multiculturalism)(Status of Women)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the hon. member that there is no lessening in grants for women. In fact over the next three years there will be an additional $10.5 million put into grants and contributions.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, leaked documents show that the foreign affairs minister personally signed off on black market payments in Algeria. The minister renewed a so-called “unconventional lease” for the payment of 32,000 French francs per month for a Canadian staff quarters in Algeria.

The problem is that the currency in Algeria is dinar, not French francs, and it is illegal to pay rent in a foreign currency in Algeria. How is it that the Liberal government could possibly justify making these under the table payments in another country?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would say that if the hon. member wants to provide me with information on which he bases what he alleges to be a question, I would be prepared to provide a response without any formal notice.

The reality is that Algeria, a very close partner of Canada, is also subject to a number of very serious security questions. As a result arrangements have to be made to protect our staff and to do so in a way that ensures their security.

I would like to urge the hon. member to present information before he makes the kind of scurrilous allegations he has just made.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the minister is not aware of what he personally signs off on. The minister personally signed off on a document from which I will quote that said “unconventional leasing agreements for staff accommodation in Algeria”.

In addition, a 1997 departmental memo explained that “the unconventional portion of the lease consists of a foreign currency payment of 32,000 French francs per month”.

Why does the Minister of Foreign Affairs sanction breaking the law in another country by personally approving black market—