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House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghanistan.

Topics

FinanceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the events the minister has just mentioned. What we want are targeted investments to support the economy.

Will the minister drop his strategy of deliberately underestimating his surplus, give us the real figures, and adopt a balanced approach, which includes targeted investments to support the economy?

FinanceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, a balanced approach is the very approach the government is taking. Now, if the member has any suggestions to make, perhaps he could speak to his colleague, the finance critic, or attend the meetings of the Standing Committee on Finance. I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to the report of the Standing Committee on Finance. Perhaps the member should attend the odd meeting.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, this weekend the immigration minister revealed that fully 40% of refugee claimants are from the United States.

Signing a safe third country agreement with the United States would allow immigration officials to focus on the other 60% who are not from the United States. When asked if an agreement of this nature was a top priority, the minister said on the weekend that she did not think so.

Why will the minister not take this important step and make the security of Canadians a top priority?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the security of Canadians is a top priority for the government. That is why we are working very closely with out neighbour, the United States, to ensure that we do everything we can to speed legitimate traffic at the borders and stop those who have no legitimate reason to enter either Canada or the United States.

I want to assure the member opposite that there are a number of things we are discussing to achieve that goal.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, why will this minister not really work with the United States and sign a safe third country agreement with it? It is needed. This would prevent people who should claim in the United States from having to claim in Canada instead where the system is much more lax. Still, this weekend the immigration minister said it was not a priority with her government.

Why will the minister not make this a priority to ensure the security of Canadians and their jobs?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is once again equating refugee claimants with security threats and that is simply wrong.

There are many things we are discussing with the United States. However, the number one top priority is to discuss security issues. That is what we are doing.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is currently in the Middle East, with a visit to Iran. Given the events of the past six and a half weeks, could the parliamentary secretary to the minister please inform us of the purpose of this trip?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs aims at seeking the widest possible coalition in the effort to fight terrorism and to increase world security. The best way to do that is by direct engagement of key middle eastern regional states such as Iran. This is the first time a Canadian minister of foreign affairs has visited Iran in almost a decade.

As an important regional country, Iran will be key as a major contributor to the effort to combat terrorism.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. The United States is dropping cluster bombs in Afghanistan from B-52 bombers, despite the fact that the Red Cross has called for the banning of cluster bombs which cause so many casualties among innocent civilians, especially among children. There are 10 million live landmines in Afghanistan today after 20 years of war.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Will Canada, as a member of the U.S. led military coalition, condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of cluster bombs in the United States led bombing campaign in Afghanistan?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that what the hon. member is alleging is accurate. I will check into it.

As I said to another hon. member earlier in question period, it is not the purpose or intent of the coalition to target civilians. This continues to be the policy for Canada, and as far as I am aware, the United States and the entire military coalition.

International AidOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, we just heard that Canada has given $16 million for refugee aid to Afghanistan. However, in reality the UNHCR has received $1.19 million, less than what Angelina Jolie has personally donated, by the way.

Canada has now dropped from 10th to 17th place in overseas aid, a pretty dismal record. The Canadian Council for International Cooperation said that Canada needs to increase its aid by at least $400 million for four years.

Will the Minister of Finance make that commitment for an increase as part of Canada's international obligation to people desperately in need?

International AidOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to state that Canada in 2000-01 spent over $3 billion Canadian in official development assistance. This is a significant increase from the 1990s or even 1989-90 where we only spent $2.8 billion.

I also want to state that the government increased the budget for official international assistance by $434 million in the last budget over three years. Just this year in our throne speech we committed to increase our international assistance.

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, since 1999 the Prime Minister has run up a hefty legal tab of over $150,000 fighting a request from his own information commissioner to review his agenda books. This dispute has its origins in the Prime Minister's well documented interference at the APEC summit.

Since forming a government, the Prime Minister no longer likes accountability or transparency. Neither the information commissioner nor the privacy commissioner can order material be released. Why is the Prime Minister using taxpayers' money to hide behind the powers of his office and subvert the law of access?

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this is not the Prime Minister's private lawsuit. This involves serious questions of interpretation of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The decisions in these matters would not only affect this government but future governments. We owe it to the public at large to have these matters looked at by the courts.

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is not a private lawsuit. The taxpayers are footing the bill.

Time and time again the government has turned its back on concepts of openness and accountability. In Bill C-36 the justice minister's sweeping new powers will indefinitely, if not permanently, hide information from Canadians while sidestepping government watchdogs. Powers of arrest and intercept are expanded, rights are suspended and safeguards against excessive use are minimal.

Given the sense of alarm, will the minister accept sunset clause amendments for intrusive sections of the bill to protect Canadian rights from a cabinet information clampdown?

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, as I have made plain on numerous occasions here in the House, I understand the concerns expressed by the hon. member and others in terms of certain provisions of the bill. We on the government side believe that everything in this legislation comports with the charter of rights and freedoms and Canadian values.

However, as I have indicated, I look forward to the advice and recommendations from both the House and Senate committees.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, whether it is through lack of skill or lack of will, the foot-dragging government is losing the battle to maintain an open border with our greatest trading partner. The United States is moving quickly to place the security of Americans ahead of trade with this country.

The vice-president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance said yesterday that the government has been too slow to engage the United States in border talks. Will the government immediately initiate bilateral talks on this crucial issue?

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is quite wrong in the premise of his question.

I have personally been involved in the last two weeks in talks in Washington on these matters. My talks have been followed up by very vigorous talks by the foreign minister.This is something very important to us.

At the recent APEC summit it was stated that Canada, the United States and Mexico would be undertaking talks specifically on these matters not only involving the Canada-U.S. border but the U.S.-Mexican border as well.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps it is the wrong people doing the talking.

The Canadian people who have the enthusiasm and the motivation to resolve the border issue are not currently engaged in the process. Three-quarters of Canadian CEOs say that Canada and the United States must agree on common security measures. They understand that unless Canada convinces the United States that our own borders are secure, the United States perimeter becomes its border with us.

The government's approach is failing Canadians. Will the Prime Minister immediately immobilize a team Canada open borders delegation of business leaders and provincial representatives to go to Washington and address this issue?

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the hon. member has been for the last couple of months but our Prime Minister has already been to Washington and raised this matter with President Bush. They both agreed publicly that addressing the issues of the border is a common and joint priority.

I want to point out as well that to deal with these matters requires a lot more than a one shot mission to Washington by business people, members of parliament or ministers. It involves continued ongoing efforts by all the stakeholders and will require very extensive legislative changes, whatever we agree on. That is the reality.

FinanceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, at their meeting this past weekend, all of the provincial ministers of finance were in agreement that they should call upon the federal government for more funding for health and education to enable them to fulfill their responsibilities properly.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that a fair assessment of the surplus would enable him not only to meet his objectives of a balanced budget and to foot the bill for security and defence, but also to meet the demands of the provinces as far as health and education are concerned?

FinanceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we had an excellent discussion at yesterday's meeting. We agreed to get together as early in the new year as possible.

As you are aware, we base our projections on estimates from private sector economists. These projections will certainly be tabled in the House at the time of the December budget.

FinanceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only does everyone agree that health and education are total priorities, but there is even more agreement on the significant multiplier effect additional investment would have in this area.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that, if he were to comply with the request of the provincial ministers of finance, he would manage to kill two birds with one stone, that is sustaining the economy, while at the same time meeting the needs of citizens?

FinanceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that health and education are priorities for Canadians, and they certainly are as well for the Canadian government.

That is why, since we balanced the budget and put public finances on a healthy footing, in excess of 70% of all our new expenditures have been in the areas of health and knowledge.

At the same time, one year ago, the Prime Minister agreed with the provinces on the largest transfer for health funding in Canadian history.

Anti-terrorism LegislationOral Question Period

October 29th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, in the anti-terrorism bill the government has decided that one's political, ideological and religious motivations are essential elements of the act of terrorism.

Why does the government want to hinder prosecutions and assist terrorists by requiring the crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the motives of terrorists?