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House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transport.

Topics

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 we are chasing headlines, we are chasing the truth. It would be just slick if we could find it as soon as possible in the House.

Yesterday the minister claimed in the House and in her press release that she had dismantled the big brother database. She also claimed that she would respond to the thousands of requests from Canadians to see their personal files. On the one hand she said that she had destroyed that database, and on the other hand she said that she will provide copies of it to Canadians.

It is pretty simple: Does she have access to that information or does she not?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, maybe the hon. member should review Hansard from yesterday where I said that indeed the system had been dismantled and that we would ensure that those Canadians who want their information will get it. We will help them facilitate getting that information from agencies like the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency which now has its information that was in our consolidated files back in its hands.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, now you see it, now you don't. The minister's track record proves that she simply cannot be trusted and yet she does have access to all Canadians' most private information. Her own press release said that access to the big brother database would still be granted on a case by case basis. Not only is the information still there somewhere buried in a computer, I bet she can find it, but it also will still be used.

The question is this: Is it not true that the only thing this minister has really dismantled is her own credibility?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I think the opposite is quite true. It is the hon. member opposite who continues to bring fear into the hearts of Canadians. She should pay attention to what happened yesterday, look at the response of the privacy commissioner and actually accept that we are in the process of dismantling the file. The privacy commissioner is overseeing its dismantling. She can go to him and ensure that the job is done.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, talking about yesterday, the minister said that she acted quickly to deal with concerns about the big brother database.

It turns out that what really happened was that the privacy commissioner spent months trying to get the government to dismantle the database and only when he hit roadblocks with the minister did he go public.

Why did the minister give the impression that she acted quickly when in fact her hand had to be forced?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me just quote what the privacy commissioner said yesterday. He said “I think it is fair to say that from the outset the department recognized that major changes had to be made and I did not have to persuade them at all”.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will quote from yesterday's Hansard where the minister said “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”. This gives the clear impression that the minister acted very quickly. That in fact is not the case, is it?

The privacy commissioner has been urging this minister for months to get rid of this big brother database file and she refused. Only after the public found out about it did she act. Why did it have to take public disclosure to force her hand?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have been consistent on my views on this issues right from the start. I continue to believe that good information is required to build good public policy. I continue to believe that the privacy of Canadians is paramount. I have said in the House that I will work with the privacy commissioner to ensure that we continue to have the balance, and that is exactly we have done.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has been gathering personal information on members of the public unbeknownst to them since 1979, with some information dating as far back as 1971. Human Resources Development Canada has announced it will dismantle the megafile.

The link may be dismantled, but the data will be kept. What guarantee can the Prime Minister give us that all this information will not be combined again one day, and unbeknownst once again to the public?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again I would direct the hon. member to look at the commentary from the privacy commissioner, the officer of the House that we trust to safeguard the privacy of Canadians. He has identified that he is in full support of the undertakings that we announced yesterday.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for two years the privacy commissioner had been telling the department to intervene, and nothing was done.

Action was taken because the matter became public. The Prime Minister even told us last week that the megafile was legal, necessary and useful. Those were his words. This same government is today guaranteeing that the file will not be rebuilt in some other way.

Are we to understand that our only guarantee of protection of people's privacy is the word of this minister, who, just last week, said that the megafile was legal and necessary to government administration? These are her words.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the system that we had in place was completely compliant with the Privacy Act. Indeed, as the privacy commissioner indicated, there were no breaches of information. What is important to look forward to is the future. With the actions we took yesterday, in full compliance, recognition and support of the privacy commissioner, we have a system that will take us in secure privacy into the 21st century.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said in the House “Everyone knows that the department has had this information for a long time, since well before we took office”.

Why is the Prime Minister trying to shift his responsibilities onto the backs of others, when the file came about between 1971 and 1979, during the term of a Liberal government, of which he was a cabinet member? He was therefore perfectly aware of the existence of this file and cannot pass the buck this time.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems so concerned about databases and about personal information. I wonder if he is aware that the PQ in the province of Quebec have recently tabled bill 122. In that bill, the Institut de la statistique will be gathering and consolidating personal data from different provincial departments for research purposes. I wonder if the hon. member will be asking headquarters back in Quebec City about this.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister should know that it was because of Quebec, and that it was Quebec that wanted nothing to do with the sort of situation she is describing today.

Furthermore, the only guarantee we have that this will not happen again is the government's word. It is frightening.

Would she not agree that the only real guarantee for the public that it will not again be taken advantage of by the government would be for the Privacy Act to be reviewed as soon as possible, immediately?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does not have to take my word for it. On May 29 the privacy commissioner's office, in its press release, said:

The Commissioner sees the department's decision as a recognition that departments can discharge their responsibilities and do the necessary research for the benefit of Canadians without sacrificing their privacy. In the Commissioner's view, the measures outlined by the Minister balance Canadians' right to privacy and the government's need for information on which to base policy decisions.

It is, I say again, the officer of this House responsible for privacy who supports this undertaking.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

According to the final report of a water issues case study in March 1998 by Environment Canada:

—water responsibilities have become disbursed within the federal government and water monitoring budgets have been significantly reduced. This is of concern to those outside the federal government seeking federal input for water issues, as they can not easily find out who is responsible for water.

Given the concern about water safety that we all have understandably had in the last few days, is the minister's department now reviewing these cutbacks to see what can be done to make sure that the federal government is never complicit in any tragedy like we have experienced?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report to the hon. member and to the House that in the two years that has passed since the report that the hon. member has quoted, there has been more of a consolidation within the Department of the Environment. We have increased budget contributions substantially to the Department of the Environment. We are working closely with the provinces on the accord on water.

In answer to his very general question, he will in fact have much better success at finding where responsibilities actually lie today than two years ago.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is now 15 years since the Pearse report called for a comprehensive water policy by this government. I can remember a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the member for Davenport and members of the NDP were calling for a national safe drinking water act. Pearse himself said that if nothing was done, that the federal government should show leadership in this. It is clear that whatever policy we have in place at all levels is not working now.

Is the federal government prepared to take some initiative in this area and make sure that this kind of thing never happens again?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the first question related to a report two years ago. The next question related to a report 15 years ago.

If the hon. member would persuade the NDP provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to sign on to the national accord on water, we would be substantially better off. I expect they will.

AirportsOral Question Period

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

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, this morning the Minister of Transport made some questionable remarks about the airports at Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John.

In those remarks he said “I come from Toronto. We have one airport that serves eight million people. If someone wants to come there it takes a three hour drive. We are used to that kind of sacrifice, and I hope that people in New Brunswick could make some accommodations”.

Is the minister trying to get the people of New Brunswick ready for news about Saint John, Fredericton or Moncton airports? Where does the government stand on the future of those airports?

AirportsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it would be better to pursue this line of questioning in debate after 3 o'clock. I will be pleased to participate in that debate.

The point I made is that the marketplace will determine under the local airport authorities those airports that have the best means of serving the public.

The point I raised was that while a lot of people had talked about how far it is to drive to and from the various airports in New Brunswick, I was contrasting that with the numbers of people who have to drive to Pearson airport. These are accommodations that people make on a daily basis. I assume they make them in Ontario and they make them in New Brunswick.

AirportsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is a nice long answer, but the only conclusion I can draw is that he is getting the people of New Brunswick ready for some bad news.

Will the minister just stand and say that Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton will keep their airports as they have for decades and decades and decades?

AirportsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there is no pretence at all that those airports should disappear. In fact there is the Moncton Airport Authority and the Saint John Airport Authority which have 60 year leases with Transport Canada. We are now in the process of Fredericton having the same.

How can the hon. member stand in the House and talk about those airports going or being closed when we have entered into deals with two and we want to enter into a deal with the third?

Canada Customs And Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the revenue minister's track record in abusing the privacy of Canadians is just as bad as that of the HRD minister.

Just ask Suzanne Thiessen of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Revenue Canada turned over her confidential tax information to the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation without her authorization. Why can the government not be trusted with the confidential information of Canadians?