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House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Research And DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, of course we take very seriously the timing considerations and the magnitude of this particular science proposal. That will all be considered very carefully.

In the context of the due diligence that the opposition would want us to give in the economic choppy waters to which the Leader of the Opposition refers, we have to be very careful about spending decisions that could total $500 million in this one case.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the minister of agriculture will know that potato producers in Prince Edward Island affected by the illegal blockade of potatoes by the U.S. are very frustrated with the time it has taken Agriculture Canada to put an assistance package together.

Could the minister now inform the House what assistance will be available to alleviate this financial hurt? Further, how will these potatoes be disposed of in an environmental way?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to announce earlier today up to $12.6 million for the province of Prince Edward Island to assist with its environmental proposal, as well as $1.5 million to buy potatoes and transport them for food aid to other parts of Canada.

When we put this together with the existing farm income programs that are there at the present time, this makes up to possibly $50 million available to assist Prince Edward Island potato farmers.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, last month a forest company in my riding was having a community meeting to discuss forest management planning with residents in the High Level area.

However, like a scene out of a Clint Eastwood western, in walked two Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials outfitted with flak jackets and sidearms. They pulled aside the forestry officials and the official from the Alberta government and notified them of a cease and desist order.

Why did the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans think that it was necessary to have a dramatic show of force in this matter rather than meet in their offices in a civilized way?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, it is important to make sure that we take our responsibilities seriously in protecting fish habitat. There are times when department officials do take enforcement action. That is part of their job, which they do every single day, and they do a tremendous job.

In this particular case, I will certainly look into all the facts because usually members opposite have their facts all wrong. We will look at it and review it.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would call that a pretty dramatic show, flak jackets and guns at a public meeting.

What is interesting here is that the government and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have mismanaged the fishery on both the east and west coasts. Now they have had to move inland to landlocked Alberta to ply their trade. In fact, 70 DFO officials have been transferred to Alberta. Heaven help us.

I would like to ask the minister of fisheries, or maybe the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs can answer it better, whether he thinks this heavyhanded, guns ablazing approach of DFO is better than negotiating with the Alberta government in a civilized manner?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, what is really dramatic is the opposition leader coming to do a press conference in his wetsuit. That is what is really dramatic.

It is the Alliance Party members who stand up in the House all the time talking about providing guns and providing protection for our enforcement people. They cannot make up their minds what they want. One day they want them to get guns and flak jackets and the next day they are not interested in giving them all those protections.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice tells us she cannot intervene publicly on the matter of extradition. I can accept that. However, a discussion with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is not public any more than Cabinet information is public, so far as I know.

If she informed Cabinet or the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, why did the latter not take action immediately. That would have prevented the office of her colleague the Minister of Public Works and Government Services from being involved.

If she did not inform the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, since it was not public, could she tell us why? She could have done so, as it was not a public matter. Could she give us an answer that holds water, if there is any logic there?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, first, the individual is not a landed immigrant or permanent resident of Canada.

Second, there were no inappropriate interventions made on his behalf. My department receives over 6,000 requests from members of this House annually.

Third, it was the RCMP that did the investigation. As soon as it had the evidence it gave it to my department. Within three weeks that individual was detained and is now awaiting a deportation hearing. That is the way the job is done.

Amateur SportOral Question Period

March 13th, 2001 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, knowing how important the Toronto bid is for the 2008 Olympics and knowing that the technical evaluation has just been completed, could the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport enlighten the House and tell us what the Canadian government has done to make sure we win the 2008 Paralympics and Olympics bids?

Amateur SportOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalSecretary of State (Amateur Sport)

Mr. Speaker, finally a serious question. I think the first thing I should do is pay tribute to the organizing company that did a tremendous job. I want to pay tribute to the Toronto bid because it was the only bid that focused on the athletes, which is the most important thing.

Finally, I want to express my pride in this government, because we did more than our homework, we are investing $500 million in the waterfront and we are putting all our efforts into finally winning this bid.

Amateur SportOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would like to inform all members that there is a technical problem with the bells. Work is ongoing to rectify this situation.

As today's opposition motion is votable, the proceedings will be interrupted at 5.15 p.m. to put the question to the House. Should a recorded division be demanded, the bells will ring for 15 minutes.

Should the bells not work, the vote will be held at the end of a period of at least 15 minutes and after the arrival of the whips. I therefore encourage the members to act accordingly. I regret any inconvenience this may cause the hon. members.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising out of today's question period. There was an announcement made by the minister of agriculture on a very important issue involving a package of aid to Prince Edward Island potato farmers. This was essentially a duplication of effort since the announcement had already been made at the press gallery earlier today.

This is a practice that the government has undertaken time and time again. It has been put on record that the government House leader intends to address the situation and remedy it, but it has not happened yet. In fact, the minister responsible for amateur sport similarly chose question period as the forum to make his ministerial announcement.

The Speaker would be well aware that there is a place in time to do so. There is a designated period during routine business in which a minister of the crown can rise to make an announcement, honour the House with his or her presence, and display an important respect for the Chamber in making these announcements through the Chamber to the Canadian people. Instead the government repeatedly, for reasons that cannot be explained, chooses to honour the media as its forum.

I say with the greatest respect that the media will be here. If there are important announcements that are to be made and relayed to the Canadian people, it can be done more effectively and purposefully through the Chamber.

In his efforts to modernize and to put more relevance and importance in the Chamber, the government House leader mouths those words. Yet the evidence is clear. The government chooses to use the press gallery rather than the Parliament of Canada to make these important announcements.

We would like some direction from the Chair because this is becoming a repeated problem. I respectfully suggest that it further undermines the importance of the Chamber, it adds to this level of cynicism and marginalizes us again.

I urge the Chair to send at least some admonition of this practice so that the government will heed these words, respect the Chamber and put greater emphasis on this practice of making announcements outside the Chamber.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the House leader of the Conservative Party, for raising the matter. I was of a mind to raise it myself because today we have had a couple examples.

I was thinking particularly of the announcement made by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. This is the kind of announcement that at one time would have been made in the House, at all times should be made in the House and today should have been made in the House so that members of the opposition could have had a chance to comment.

The member said that this is nothing new. It has been a growing problem but it is new to this extent. There was a time when governments would make much more use of the Chamber.

Given all the talk coming from the government about parliamentary reform, it would seem to me that one of the ways in which opposition members can be inspired to think that the talk about parliamentary reform and restoring dignity to parliament and to this Chamber is serious, is for the government to prevail upon its colleagues and cabinet ministers to not do this sort of thing, but come into the House and make announcements.

This is the place where decisions are made. This is the place where announcements are made. This is the place where the nation's business is supposed to go on, not over in the press gallery. That is why we have these things up here, so the press can come in and see what is going on, not so we can be somewhere else while the business of the nation is being conducted in the press gallery. It just shows a contempt for this place and undermines everything the government might say about parliamentary reform.

I can remember responding to ministerial statements. I am sitting beside a former prime minister. When he was the minister of External Affairs, I was his critic. I will give him the credit because he used to make many government policy statements in the House. That was not true of all his cabinet colleagues. It was during that time that others started to do what this government now does as a matter of routine.

We need to get back to taking the House seriously. That is what we are here for. As long as we have a situation where anything that is really important gets announced somewhere else, and anything that is really important legislatively cannot be debated for more than a day and a half, then what the heck is the point of being here if the government is going to treat this place they way the are treating it?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like just to agree briefly with the hon. members who have just spoken. I would ask the Speaker to check back on Speaker Parent's ruling in the start of the last parliament.

He was confronted with the same sort of a problem where the government consistently made announcements outside this place instead of using ministerial statements. Speaker Parent at that time said he was disturbed by the trend. He urged the government to change its policy and to start treating the House with the respect it deserved. The error, if I can say, was not in the ruling of Speaker Parent. The error was in the lack of follow-up.

What happened was that although the Speaker chastized the government for what was done, and although many people on the government side kind of nodded that they should do that, nothing changed. The Speaker did not intervene at successive times to say that he had enough and that he wanted this place treated with the respect it deserved.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to review the ruling of Speaker Parent where he urged the government to change its ways. I urge you to do the same, only this time say that there will be follow-up on it, that there will be teeth to your ruling, that you will not only agree with the suggestions of the opposition parties, but that you insist that the House be treated with respect.

Even earlier today we could take our pick of subjects. I listened to the Minister of Canadian Heritage talk about a blue ribbon panel that she was going to strike to talk about the future of the CRTC. What is going on? There is a blue ribbon panel, chosen by the minister, with people who she is comfortable with. The decision is probably already cooked up and made, instead of referring the future of broadcasting in Canada to a parliamentary committee where it should be discussed and debated by parliamentarians.

What is going on? Why is it that whenever the government wants something in a certain manner, preordained or in a controlled press release fashion, it does not come to the House and involve members of parliament. It does it by fiat. It is time that the government change that. No wonder its own backbenchers cannot even see reason to show up for work when the work is all done by ministers at an executive level somewhere else outside of this place.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to prolong this debate, but still I would like to join my colleagues in saying how damaging this practice is for the institution of which we are a part.

Increasingly, we are seeing the public lose interest in politics, a trend about which, unfortunately, it appears nothing can be done. We are seeing a growing cynicism with respect to political institutions, and this chamber in particular.

I think that one explanation for such an attitude on the part of the public is the cynicism shown by the government when it trivializes this institution as it does when it makes announcements outside the House that have a direct impact on the conduct of the government's affairs.

I urge the Chair to give very serious thought to this matter, which has quite rightly been submitted to it by the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to contribute only briefly to this debate. As you know, Standing Order 33 refers to the fact that the government may make short factual announcements or statements in the House under the provision of that particular standing order. That does not say that government announcements of any kind must be made in the House, although I agree that more announcements should be made on the floor of the House of Commons.

If we are successful in undertaking a program of reviewing our standing orders, together with colleagues of other parties, I certainly would be willing to do my share to ensure that we increase the number of announcements that are made on the floor of the House.

That being said, I am sure the Chair has probably already thought of this because it cuts both ways. Today we are debating an opposition motion on a very important subject. I learned of this opposition motion because a press conference was held. It was not because the motion was tabled on the order paper or that it was made aware to the House in any other way. It was because a press conference was called in the same room where it is now denounced that the cabinet minister made his announcement several days before the debate even took place in the House.

Therefore, although I agree in principle with what is said, it is not something that applies only unidimensional in this place. The amount of usage of the facility of this place to make things known, if it is to increase, and I am one of those who thinks it should, it has to increase on all sides of the House. Calling press conferences about a private member's bill not yet released on the floor of the House and making it available to the public when a government bill for instance cannot even get that treatment right now, is not something that I particularly enjoy either.

It works both ways. I am willing to do my share should we be able to get that committee started. I hope hon. members from other political parties will go at it with the same attitude to see what we can do to increase those kinds of statements, announcements, motions being introduced and so on on the floor of the House as opposed to elsewhere first.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I think the Chair has heard enough on this point to be able to bring the matter to a conclusion. I appreciate the intervention of all hon. members on this very important point.

When the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough began his remarks, I thought he would quote me on this point, because I clearly remember raising the same point from time to time in the House when I was in opposition.

Having done so, I have to say that the points of order I raised at that time were unsuccessful, as his are today, because there is now a series of precedents that in my view are quite binding on the Chair on this point. I refer all hon. members to that wonderful work, Marleau and Montpetit, at page 379. It states:

A Minister is under no obligation to make a statement in the House. The decision of a Minister to make an announcement outside of the House instead of making a statement in the House during Routine Proceedings has been raised as a question of privilege, but the Chair has consistently found there to be no grounds to support a claim that any privilege has been breached.

The learned authors of this work cite a series of examples starting in the Debates of November 1, 1974, and in March 2, 1977, February 17, 1978, February 8, 1982, December 2, 1985, October 4, 1989, February 18, 1998, and December 3, 1998.

I would urge all hon. members interested in this point to look at these precedents that are referred to in footnote 145 on page 379 of Marleau and Montpetit, to examine the words that were used then and to examine the rulings of the Chair in each case. I am afraid I have to agree with those rulings, however reluctantly today, having made, as I say, the same argument myself when I sat in a position similar to that of the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. I think the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona and I probably argued the same point at one time as well.

I am very sympathetic to the point raised and I think the government House leader has shown some sympathy, but I hope that in discussions between the parties suitable arrangements can be made. Those are beyond the control of the Speaker.

I thank all hon. members for their interventions on this point.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I will make a final point with respect to the DNA registry which was created in the last parliament.

Canadians need to know that in the last parliament there was a DNA registry created. DNA can be obtained by two methods. One is under section 487.05, which has an ex parte application. Canadians need to know that when an ex parte application is made by a police officer to a judge or by a crown attorney to a judge, he or she has to be satisfied that it is in the best interests of the administration of justice to issue a warrant.

Then it goes to a schedule of offences for which a warrant can be issued for a DNA analysis. They include a number of the offences that members opposite are most interested in with respect to their motion, namely: section 151, sexual interference; section 152, sexual touching; section 272, sexual assault with a weapon, et cetera. There is an ability on the part of the police and the crown to get evidence of a DNA nature available to them in order for them to be able to compare their crime scene index with the analysis.

In the last parliament we also passed a bill which is in some respects quite radical and to my knowledge has not been tested before the courts at this point but likely will be, and that is the ability on the part of the crown to obtain DNA from people who are convicted and not necessarily make the linkage between one crime scene index and another. This would apply to people under section 487.055, before the coming into force. Before the coming into force of this section, one may make an ex parte application for someone who has committed a murder, more than one murder at different times, or who before the coming into force of this subsection is convicted of more than one sexual offence within the meaning of subsection 487.05(3).

These are the kinds of applications that members opposite are most interested in. They give the police a tremendous tool to compare what they have on their crime scene index with a convicted pedophile. They can compare those two and in fact link individuals in prison with DNA analysis.

In summary, the past parliament passed Bill C-7, which tags pedophiles for pardon applications. Bill C-753 is a long term offender designation so that people who are convicted of these kinds of crimes can be required to report for up to 10 years after they have served their sentences. There is also the DNA section.

I am quite supportive of the motion and if it means that the registry needs to be expanded or the computer system needs to be upgraded, I cannot see how I would mount any argument against the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the comments of the member opposite. I think we are getting closer to an understanding.

There is no question that with an upgrade of the 30 year old CPIC system it is possible to integrate it with a sex offender registry. I hope that is the intent of the government.

However, a couple of things are missing. For a sex offender registry to be current it is necessary to have an obligation on behalf of the offender to report all changes where they occur, at the time they occur and to reconfirm at least once a year. That puts the onus on the individual to keep the system upgraded. That is what we are talking about.

The Canadian Police Association said very recently that CPIC does not provide police agencies with adequate information and notification concerning the release or arrival of sex offenders into their communities. That is what we have been talking about all day. The difficulty we are having on this side is that government members are saying they agree with the sex offender registry, as I think we all do, but they are saying that what is, is okay. However, the rest of the country is saying that what is, is not okay, including the police, who ought to know.

I would like to ask my colleague how on earth it is possible to just plain use what is currently in CPIC without the mandate for the offender showing up in person to update the record and for providing a penalty if the offender does not. Let us not debate about what the penalty is. However, there must be a penalty if the offender does not show up. That is how we get the mandate. I would like the hon. member to answer that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that we are changing the focus of the debate. The initial debate as I had understood it was that the opposition wished to have the government create a separate offender registry for sexual offences. Now the debate seems to be focusing on whether an individual can be forced to report his or her whereabouts on a certain schedule of offences.

In principle I cannot argue with that point, except that I would then ask the member opposite if it is more important that a community have sex offenders report to a registry or would one include additional criminal code offences as well, such as murder or manslaughter. If the member still wishes to limit it to a certain schedule of sexual offences, I would like to know why those offences are of more critical importance to the community than the knowledge with respect to other kinds of criminal code offences. I am happy to debate that point, but I think that is the essence of it. If we are going to open it up for these kinds of offences, why not for all other criminal code offences as well?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, certainly this would be an issue where we would want to examine the very point the member makes: the protection of our children and the protection of our communities. That is the point we are attempting to make in the House today. Perhaps that is lost on my colleague. I do not expect it is, because he is a knowledgeable individual.

I am going to ask him a very direct question. Will he support this motion, and not only that, will he also, in his capacity and his influence with the government, move forward to ensure that legislation is put in place which will be put into effect to implement this registry? Rather than simply saying yes, the government agrees with the motion, will he take the steps necessary within his own group to move this forward and put it in place as legislation in order to protect our children?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I have spoken for the last 20 minutes in support of the generalized motion. What the hon. member is asking is how to get down to the specifics.

The issue is that the index would have to be expanded. If it is within the context of CPIC, then I cannot see what the argument is. If in fact we get the co-operation of all police forces and all attorneys general, then I cannot see what the argument is. If in fact there is a funding formula that would be available to this kind of issue, then I cannot see what the argument is.

I can see some debate as to why it would be this kind of set of convictions as opposed to a more expanded set of convictions. That is somewhat more problematic, because we are running into the fundamental principle of law that once someone has served a sentence he or she has paid their debt to society and it is over with. If we can get past that intellectual point, then I can see how members on this side could actually be much more aggressive in their support of the motion that is put forward.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what we are hearing today from the hon. member across the way is just absolutely unbelievable. He is suggesting that we should get concurrence from all the attorneys general and all the police forces across the country—I do not know whether he is going to take the time to ask every single police dog what it thinks too—before the government gets off its hind end and actually thinks about passing some legislation to protect our children.

It absolutely confounds me that the government has no problem imposing upon every legal law abiding gun owner in the country that he or she must register their firearm. When that was brought forward it was supposedly because if one life was saved it would be worth the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost, worth all the inconvenience it would impose and worth the attack on the privacy of our citizens. The government said it was fine if it saved one life, but when it comes to bringing forward meaningful legislation to initiate a sexual predator registry, suddenly we have to get all the provinces, all the police forces and everybody else in line. That did not seem to be a problem when it imposed upon the provinces the so called national firearms registration.

Why is it that the government can pick and choose? It can bring in something very quickly when it wants to, like the registration for firearms, but it has to have everybody singing from the same song sheet when it comes to something as fundamental as protecting the lives and welfare of our children.