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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-37.

Topics

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, obviously the absolute priority for me is the health security of Canadians. I want to make it clear that the emergency response officials at Health Canada acted in good faith in taking the steps they did to stockpile medications needed for health security reasons. There are different versions as to what happened. That will eventually be sorted out.

I would like to make it clear that I have directed all the interested parties to meet to resolve these issues to assure everyone that everything was done lawfully, and that is exactly what is going to be done.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, is the minister trying to tell us that the administration of his department is in such a state of chaos that he is allowing officials to violate the Patent Act without notifying him, consulting him, or without him even knowing about it? Who is running the shop in that department?

Has the minister established a contingency fund to deal with legal proceedings that may be launched by Bayer or Apotex?

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I can only reaffirm that our priority on this side of the House is to make sure that the health security of Canadians is protected. We will do that. That means, including other things, the accumulation of medications that may be necessary. I can assure the House that we are making every effort.

I have told officials to meet with the companies to resolve outstanding disputes and ensure that everything is done to protect health security within the law.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, in spite of the minister's soothing words, his credibility has suffered a serious setback. He first explained the illegal contract for anthrax medicine by saying that he could not get what he needed from the legal patent holder. He said that he had even asked them twice and they could not supply it.

It turns out that was not true at all. Now his story is he knew nothing about the illegal contract. Now let the minister explain this clear and glaring contradiction.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, there are differing versions at the moment of what happened. We know what happened and in the fullness of time so will the House.

In the meantime, I have directed officials to meet with the companies in question to try to resolve all outstanding disputes, and I am confident that that can be done.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Well, Mr. Speaker, how can the government pretend to enforce law and order when one of its own ministers gives out a story that turns out not to be true and enters into an illegal contract, breaking the patent law of the country? Is this what the Government of Canada condones in one of its ministers?

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member will see that everything that I said will be borne out. I can only assure her and the House that we are confident that the discussions which I have directed officials to undertake will be successful.

Anti-terrorism LegislationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the deputy information commissioner stated in an interview that the anti-terrorism legislation could result in what he described as a “massive contravention of the Access to Information Act”. This statement is in line with that of the privacy commissioner, who expressed similar concerns last week.

When two commissioners express reservations as serious as these, is this not enough for the minister to realize and accept the fact that her bill warrants serious review and must include sunset clauses to limit the life of it?

Anti-terrorism LegislationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, obviously I respect the views of the privacy commissioner and the access commissioner. They will have the opportunity to appear before both the House committee and the Senate committee this week. I look forward to reading their testimony to see what advice and recommendations they may have for us.

However I come back to the point on which the hon. member concluded. We made it plain that we believe a review process is more than adequate to ensure the protection of Canadian rights and freedoms. We look forward to hearing what the committees have to say in relation to this matter.

Anti-terrorism LegislationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, we all know very well there are requirements for confidentiality in the fight against terrorism. Does the minister not understand, however, that what we disagree with is her deciding alone on control of information?

Anti-terrorism LegislationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, my ability to issue a certificate is only in exceptional circumstances in relation to a limited type or category of information surrounding international relations or information in relation to national security.

However, as I said in relation to certain other matters, I know the concerns of the access and privacy commissioners. I know the concerns expressed by the Bloc. I look forward to what the committees have to recommend.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has a headache on his hands and it will likely take more than a few aspirins to clear it up.

Today he is working feverishly behind the scenes to fix the mess but to do that he may end up paying out big dollars either to break a contract or for breaking patent rights. That is money that belongs to Canadians for their health and safety. It is enough also to give each of us a headache.

Why are taxpayers on the hook for his mistake?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member should not jump to conclusions. We are stockpiling medications for health security reasons. We will continue to do that.

We will make sure that our health security needs are met. We will do that lawfully. There are disputes at the moment among companies. I have directed officials to resolve those. I am confident they will be resolved. The bottom line is that our health responsibilities will be met.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the company that was given the illegal contract said that it began production and that it will sue if the minister backs out. Will Canadians now end up paying twice for the same stockpile of medicine?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we are concerned to see that Canadians get value for their money. I am confident they will. I am confident the present disputes can be resolved. Most important of all, I am confident that we will meet our responsibilities to Canadians to ensure the security of their health needs.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has stirred up controversy by announcing that it bought drugs from Apotex so as to be ready for any possible anthrax contamination.

But Bayer already markets a drug for this purpose which is protected by the Patent Act. The announcement was made without anyone having checked with Bayer as to its capacity to deliver large stocks rapidly.

How does the Minister of Industry explain that the Minister of Health deliberately violated the Patent Act?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the security of Canadians' health, including the need to stockpile the drugs necessary to protect that health, is naturally my top priority.

Health Canada officials acted responsibly. There are certain problems between the companies. I have asked officials to resolve these problems and I am confident that an agreement will soon be reached.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the health argument does not cut it because, on the one hand, the federal government is getting ready to buy unapproved copies of a drug and, on the other, Bayer is manufacturing a drug approved by Health Canada and can respond immediately to the federal government's needs.

Only one question remains. What was the real reason behind this political decision?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member and the House of Commons that we intend to resolve this matter responsibly. More importantly, however, we also intend to fully protect the health security of Canadians.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made a big media splash about the maple leaf ID card for landed immigrants so that they could come and go in and out of Canada without a passport.

In typical Liberal half measure style, the proposed card is not state of the art and is in fact a low tech, easily duplicated piece of plastic that may cause more trouble than it attempts to solve.

Why did the minister not insist that the card be tamper proof?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite that the new maple leaf card is state of the art, that it does have capabilities to ensure that it is fraud resistant and tamper resistant and further that it has biometric capacity as well as compatibility with U.S. technology.

However I want to discuss with the privacy commissioner before we move on any of those features.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the so-called smart card is really a dumb card. Credit card fraud and the production of fake charge cards have been around for years. The minister's card is no innovation at all; no embedded fingerprint or iris scan in the card.

Why is the minister going to give Canada a dumb card in maybe about two years rather than a smart card right now?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the new maple leaf card, which will be distributed in late spring of next year, just a few months from now, will be state of the art. It contains dozens of security features that frankly I do not want to discuss publicly because by discussing them publicly it will make it more difficult to secure the card.

The member opposite, perhaps at committee, might want to ask for a discussion of the new maple leaf card but I am not sure that members would want to have all the information about all the security features.

Communications Security EstablishmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Last week the government announced additional funding for the Communications Security Establishment. Could the minister today elaborate on this announcement?

Communications Security EstablishmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the $37 million will help to buy new equipment for the Communications Security Establishment. It is an important organization within the government. It comes under the jurisdiction of defence but it works with our allies, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

We need to be on the leading edge of technology to make sure that we get the kind of intelligence, the kind of information that we need to be able to counter terrorism. This will give us the tools to do that.