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House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorism.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the programs are there. Through EI part 1 income support is there. When employees lose their jobs what they need to know is they have access to income. It is there.

We transfer almost half a billion to the province of Quebec every year for it to use to assist workers as they move from one point of employment to another. I would hope the hon. member is talking to his colleagues there to ensure that the money is being used wisely at this time in support of his constituents.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, on September 21 in Washington the Minister of Foreign Affairs said court decisions based on the charter of rights need to be reviewed because these decisions have contributed to a refugee claimant problem. Those are his words. After years of denial has the minister now changed his government's position?

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important for members to know that in fact most Geneva receiving countries, those that have signed the Geneva convention and receive refugee claimants, have processes which provide an oral hearing at some point in due process.

We are proud of the fact that we offer humanitarian and compassionate assistance to those who are fleeing persecution. I believe that all Canadians would want us to continue to do that.

To those who do not need the protection of Canada, we want to have a refugee system that identifies quickly they are not in need of protection and be able to remove them as quickly as possible.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about terrorists, not legitimate refugee claimants, and the minister has done nothing.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that Canadians must put away their rose coloured glasses when dealing with security matters. After years of ineffective laws and insufficient programming resources, the minister now blames ordinary Canadians.

Instead of blaming everybody else, why will the minister not admit that it is his government's lack of leadership and his government's lack of vision that have created the problem of national security? It has nothing to do with the vision of Canadians.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Let us make something clear, Mr. Speaker, and I will be surprised if the hon. member disputes it. Things changed on September 11. They did not change for the better; they changed for the worse.

In saying that we need to review our policies and practices in whatever department, including my own, that is not to say that everything was on its way to hell in a hand basket before September 11. Things have changed, so let us take that into account.

I will say this to the hon. member. It would be much more useful if he were to work with us in considering the effects of September 11 instead of trying to create the impression south of the border that things are much worse than they really are.

Canadian Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Minister of Transport announced $160 million in aid to the airline industry following the shutdown of Canadian airspace between September 11 and 16.

Will the minister tell us whether he intends to announce other measures to help air carriers?

Canadian Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that the airlines be compensated for the losses resulting from the shutdown of their airspace after September 11.

As I already pointed out in the press conference, we are prepared to work on the industry's future, and on restructuring the industry. We will work with all companies and with all members of the House.

Canadian Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister also spoke about restructuring the industry. He said that he was prepared to raise the ceiling on foreign ownership in our airlines.

Is he not worried that this would be handing Air Canada over with its hands tied to American interests, which will be receiving massive aid from Washington to help them weather the crisis in which the U.S. aviation industry finds itself?

Canadian Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

An hon. member

That's right.

Canadian Airline IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, in the first instance we reimbursed the companies for the losses they incurred through no fault of their own. It was the governments of the United States and Canada that ordered for good security reasons the airspace to be closed. They suffered those losses and we have compensated the companies.

As we go forward we will examine every aspect of our airline policy, our air policy, to ensure that in the future we do not continue to have these problems and that we have a viable industry that serves all Canadians.

Human ResourcesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House would be co-operating with the government if we had something concrete with which to co-operate.

The auditor general says there is a flagrant abuse of social insurance numbers across Canada. Yet HRDC is still considering offering social insurance numbers on the world wide web. This means anyone, including international terrorists, could apply for a basic building block of Canadian identity online. Will the minister today simply drop this frightening idea?

Human ResourcesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect a high degree of integrity in this social insurance number program. That is why we continue to invest and increase strategies to protect the integrity of the system. That is why we tripled the number of investigations into fraud and abuse of the social insurance number.

The auditor general has reviewed our approach and concurs with the strategies that we have in place.

Human ResourcesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, obviously that is not the case. An audit on HRDC's Internet development completed in May said the following:

There is uncertainty around the protection of data, personal information, secure channel, privacy and access.

The minister must know it is absurd to allow anyone, anywhere, to apply anonymously for a social insurance number.

Would the minister today put our national security first and stop pushing the offer of social insurance numbers on the World Wide Web?

Human ResourcesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we do not want individuals to apply for social insurance numbers anonymously. We want a system so that Canadians can be assured of integrity in the system.

We have a plan of action, which I outlined previously in the House, and the committee is dealing with that. The auditor general reviewed it and supported our approach.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Great Lakes hold about 20% of the surface freshwater in the world and the entire drainage basin measures over 750,000 square kilometres on both sides of the border.

In 1971 the Canada-Ontario agreement respecting the Great Lakes basin ecosystem was signed to stem the tide of environmental degradation within the Great Lakes and to restore the ecosystem's health.

Would the Minister of the Environment update the House on the status of the agreement, how it is working and what the government is doing to reduce pollution and restore areas harmed by pollution in the Great Lakes basin?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the negotiations with the province of Ontario have been successfully concluded and I expect shortly to be signing the Canada-Ontario agreement.

We invested some $40 million in last year's budget and the state of the Great Lakes report suggests that the ecosystem of the lakes is now cleaner than it has been since the second world war.

We will continue to work with the American, Ontario and Quebec governments to clean up some of the problems that yet remain.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year's report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which was tabled today, is a scathing indictment of the government and its failure to protect our environment.

The report found that in many cases the government is failing to meet its environmental commitments, particularly with regard to the Great Lakes and climate change.

It found federal priority funding to be unstable, insufficient and declining with key commitments not being met.

When will the government step up and start meeting its environmental commitments?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if I could advise the hon. member to read my previous answer in Hansard he will get part of the response.

With respect to the overall program, I welcome the report of the commissioner. She has accepted the concept of an ecosystem approach. There are, as I mentioned earlier, things that still remain to be done but at the same time there has been measurable improvement.

With respect to financing, we have increased financing and I would refer the hon. member to the $1.1 billion made available by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for climate change measures within the last 18 months.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister should read the report in total with regard to funding.

The report also found that the information provided by most departments on the progress of meeting their sustainable development targets fell far short of the government's own guidelines and that it hampers parliament's ability to hold the departments to account.

Perhaps the Minister of Finance, who has said that a so-called green screen is a priority for him, could tell the House why his department, from which participation is considered crucial if we are to meet sustainable development objectives, has the worst grading as far as deficiency in the management of its sustainable development commitments.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister made available $1.1 billion for one area of environmental activity alone, namely the climate change file.

We have indeed moved forward on a number of other fronts. I would be happy to provide the hon. member with information on those but I would point out that when we have an issue such as the security issue after September 11, inevitably there will be a review of budgetary priorities.

TerrorismOral Question Period

October 2nd, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, there has long been the threat and presence of terrorists in Canada. However, the Prime Minister insists that no terrorist cell is operating within Canada and is acting as if these were new threats.

We now know that Montreal was a target of bin Laden in 1998, the year the two American embassies were destroyed in Africa. Two years later, surprise, surprise, Ahmed Ressam, a terrorist living in Montreal, was arrested.

Today, October 2, 2001, we still do not know what the Prime Minister wants to do. Probably he does not either. Perhaps he could tell us at least what he has done since 1998 to protect the interests of Canadians against the threats of terrorists?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the member is raising a specific issue that has been raised recently in the media. I can tell the House that the appropriate police have looked at that, but this is something that the member should know by now is extremely delicate. We always need to protect security intelligence and that kind of information.

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, our borders have been described by the U.S. attorney general as rather porous, a transit point for several individuals involved in terrorism. Unfortunately, he is correct.

Today there are numerous unmanned border crossings where the only barrier to prevent someone from entering Canada is an orange construction cone placed in the middle of the road. At night, people simply drive around the cone and enter Canada without stopping.

Does the government have any immediate plans to change this policy and, if so, when can we expect these changes?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:45 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, one should be proud that Canada customs started to reform the question of borders a year and a half ago. As a matter of fact, we have a plan in place. It is Bill S-23 which is a fantastic step ahead in the future, making sure that we will better manage the risk at the border, making sure as well that the border will remain open for trade between the two countries.

I would ask the hon. member to get involved with the team and to keep working together to ensure that we have one of the best customs systems in the world for trade, as well as for the safety of both our communities.

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, last night the premier of Ontario outlined his government's action plan to address the threat of terrorism. He called upon the federal government to co-ordinate border security with the United States to protect the openness of that border.

The premier's plan includes hiring Canada's foremost security experts to advise him on ways to co-operate with other governments and law enforcement agencies around the world.

Why are the provinces leading the federal government on matters of international co-operation?