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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, here are some facts about Kyoto. The United States has taken its name off the Kyoto protocol for obvious reasons. Canada still has its signature on the agreement.

Europe is gathering a coalition to ratify the protocol in Bonn in July and this can be done without the agreement of Canada, the U.S. or Australia. Finally, if it is ratified Canada is bound by the Kyoto targets, which we know we cannot live up to. Will Canada take its name off the protocol?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. The response is certainly not. We have signed the Kyoto protocol. We intend to work under the Kyoto system and we intend to meet our Kyoto targets.

We certainly want to see changes in the American position. We also have differences with the Europeans, but bargaining hard for Canadian interests is what we intend to do. We intend to meet our targets and do it the Canadian way.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, actions, not intentions, are all that really count. Canada faces international shame if we do not live up to the targets that we signed.

The Minister of the Environment continues to evade questions about ratifying Kyoto in the House but has admitted, for instance in the Hill Times recently:

We won't ratify that here—and I'll tell you why—because we can't take it to the public at the present time.

The minister is in print saying Canada will not ratify Kyoto. Again, will the government end this empty talk and remove Canada's signature from the Kyoto protocol?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, once again we do not intend to remove our signature from the Kyoto agreement. The Kyoto agreement is the best international effort to deal with a very serious issue.

The very committee appointed by President Bush of the United States, which has 11 scientists including Nobel laureates, has said we should continue to regard global warming as a major threat. It essentially endorsed the findings of the international panel on climate change.

Canada will continue to deal with this problem which is showing its effects in the Canadian north ahead of virtually every other country.

SportsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Diane St-Jacques Liberal Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, we all know that soccer is the sport played most often in Canada, with 800,000 young fans, 40% of whom are girls.

The Secretary of State for Amateur Sport made an important announcement this morning. Would he share it with the House?

SportsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalSecretary of State (Amateur Sport)

Mr. Speaker, since the MPs were defeated yesterday by the pages, I had to do something about soccer.

I have the pleasure to announce to members that we have released a feasibility study in response to the commission that bears the name of the member for Toronto-Danforth. The Government of Canada will work with the Canadian Soccer Association to hold the World Cup in soccer here in Canada in 2010.

I am also announcing a contribution of $500,000 for a world cup for girls under 19, which will be headquartered in Edmonton.

International TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

Yesterday, he announced that he would head a trade mission to India next fall.

In 1998, the Government of Canada imposed trade sanctions to isolate India and Pakistan following their nuclear testing. Three years later, they still have nuclear weapons.

Why is this government changing its policy?

International TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, our government decided to resume relations with India. I will be extremely happy to head a trade mission, in the second week of October, to a country that has undergone significant economic development.

We give priority to certain economic sectors in which Canadian businesses have significant comparative advantages. I think it will be in the interests of Canadian businesses to improve relations with India.

International TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, three years ago the official opposition said that sanctions were not the answer and to engage in positive debate was the way to deal with the nuclear threat.

The government imposed its knee-jerk reaction of sanctions on India and Pakistan in 1998. Our trade with those countries dropped dramatically. Could the minister inform the House how much the imposition of sanctions on India and Pakistan cost Canada in lost trade?

International TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, our country is re-engaging now. I can tell the member that the progress we want to make on trade front will be quite impressive. We have already formed alliances among individual companies in India and Canada which intend to good work on that front.

The mission I will be leading the second week of October will be a fresh start and will build a solid relationship with a very important country in Asia, that is India.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Péter Harrach, Minister of Social and Family Affairs of the Republic of Hungary.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the government House leader if he could advise us of the business of the House for the remainder of this week, for next week and for the following week if necessary.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, pursuant to an order made earlier, the House will conclude third reading of Bill C-28, the Parliament of Canada Act amendments. Tomorrow we will deal with third reading of Bill C-25, the Farm Credit Corporation amendments, as well as report stage of Bill C-24 with respect to organized crime. Those are the only bills I expect to deal with tomorrow.

On Monday we will then consider third reading of Bill C-24 regarding organized crime, then Bill S-16, the money laundering bill, followed by Bill C-11, the Immigration Act amendments, Bill S-11 respecting business corporations, Bill S-3 respecting motor vehicles and Bill C-6 respecting bulk water.

On Tuesday we shall deal with an allotted day for the consideration of main estimates at the end of the day. There has been consultations among political parties, and I would hope to take a few minutes on Tuesday to debate and hopefully receive the consent of everyone for a motion regarding Mr. Mandela.

Later next week, we will deal with any bills listed that are not yet complete, as well as the report of the modernization committee. I will consult my colleagues, the House leaders of official parties regarding business for Wednesday and the days beyond, should there be such dates. This ends my report.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

June 7th, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question of privilege arises from answers in the House of May 4 last and prior to that on April 30, and in the standing committee on foreign affairs May 3, concerning the alleged use of the airfields by Talisman Energy and by Sudan's military for offensive military purposes.

In putting questions to the Minister of Foreign Affairs with respect to this issue, I referred to a document which had been vetted under the provisions of the access to information legislation, a portion of which had been deleted. That was paragraph 15 of the document which specifically dealt with the issue of the use by Sudanese military of Talisman's airfields.

In questioning the minister with respect to this document and the particular serious allegations of complicity between Talisman and the Sudanese government, the minister in response indicated that the deletions to this document had been made “to protect the lives of Canadians working in the Sudan”.

Subsequently, I obtained a copy of the original document. Paragraph 15 of the original document made no reference whatsoever to the lives of Canadians. There was absolutely no information in that paragraph that could in any way jeopardize the lives of any Canadians working in Sudan. Indeed all members of the House would agree that the lives of those Canadians should be protected and respected.

However, this issue is a very serious one because as a member of parliament, as a member of the House, as a member of the foreign affairs committee, along with other members who share concern on this issue, we cannot do our job effectively as members if we are given documents which are heavily censored and whited out, allegedly under the provisions of access to information legislation. When the minister seeks to explain those deletions and gives the House and the committee information which is demonstrably inaccurate, we cannot do our job.

That surely is the essence of parliamentary privilege; our ability to question ministers, to question the government and to call them to account, in this case with respect to the position of the Government of Canada on the use by the Sudanese military, in its genocidal, scorched earth policy in South Sudan, of Talisman's airfields.

It is for that reason that I raise this question of privilege. I would like to suggest to the Speaker that this is a serious matter and should the Speaker find there is a prima facie case of privilege here, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion to have this matter reviewed by the committee.

In closing, I want to say that I have received from the minister a copy of a letter which he sent to Your Honour as Speaker, dated June 6. In this letter the minister stated: “Our principal concern in reviewing and vetting this document, pursuant to the provisions of the access to information legislation, our principal concern was that the document contains information that, if disclosed publicly, could jeopardize the security of Canadians working in Sudan”.

Paragraph 15, as I said before, makes no reference whatsoever to the security of Canadians.

In closing, I just want to make this final point. The minister then went on to suggest that another potential exemption might be respecting sensitive information about the quantity and quality of military assets of a foreign country, for example Sudan.

If this is the rationale, why was that rationale not put before the House and the committee at the time the question was asked?

I believe this raises very serious questions of privilege that go to the heart of the ability, not just of myself, but of all members of the House. I know there are members in all parties who share this concern and who may wish to speak to this to get at the truth, so we can do our job on behalf of the Canadians we have the honour of representing.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first, the issue raised by the hon. member was a matter of procedures in the wrong place.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the justification for excluding portions of a document that is made available under the Access to Information Act is appealable to the information commissioner. The hon. member has every right to do so.

As far as the answers that I gave in the House are concerned, I gave answers which stated the justification for the deletions which was used by the person preparing the response to the access to information request, and that is exactly what I said.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the document in question does address the number, location and security disposition of Canadians in the oil fields in considerable detail. That is the case, and the hon. member knows that is true.

On several occasions rebel groups in the Sudan have made threats against international oil workers. That was the reason that those preparing the response to access to information deleted those passages.

In recognizing the risk to Canadians, I think the hon. member will understand that precautions have been taken to try to ensure, as much as we can, that those individuals are safe.

In any event, I fail to see how this could be a question of privilege. There may be a difference of point of view. You have given the hon. member plenty of latitude, Mr. Speaker, to argue his policy view with respect to activities in the Sudan. That was a whole other question that we had the opportunity to discuss at some length in the committee.

However, if he has difficulty with how an access to information request was handled, I suggest to him and I suggest that the appropriate way to deal with that is by appealing to the information commissioner.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, as somebody who has made requests for access to information on a number of occasions, I am shocked to hear what the member had to say about the paragraph that was deleted in this document and his later discovery that the reasons given for the deletion were not actually fact. It raises the question as to whether the documents that I and my colleagues have received over the past few years have the same problem.

I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to take serious consideration of the complaint of the hon. member and to thoroughly investigate whether in fact there has been a question of privilege here.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has heard the points raised by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas and the member for North Vancouver. I do not see how this is a question of privilege. I do not understand from anything I have heard how the privileges of the hon. member have been affected.

Members have two recourses with respect to documents. First, they can ask the House to pass an order requiring the tabling of documents in the House, which is called a notice of motion for the production of papers. Those motions can be tabled and can demand the production of documents that might not otherwise be available under the Access to Information Act.

Under the act, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has pointed out, there is an appeal procedure available to members. The minister is perfectly correct in suggesting that the proper avenue for dealing with the matter is through appeal under the Access to Information Act and not to the Speaker. I do not think it is my obligation to rule on what kinds of documents are being produced either by government departments or members' offices except in the exceptional circumstances of there being something done by the House itself.

Clearly in this case it was not a matter for the House. It was a matter for an officer of parliament. Disclosure was made by the department under the auspices of an act of parliament. There is an officer charged with enforcement of the act and I think the matter should be dealt with there.

There is not a question of privilege raised at this time. I decline to proceed further with the matter.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given the government's newfound enthusiasm for resolutions being introduced in this place through unanimous consent, I should like to seek unanimous consent to put the following motion extracted from my private member's Bill C-297:

Whereas the people of Canada are forever grateful to the many dedicated men and women who bravely and unselfishly gave their lives for Canada in wars and in peacekeeping efforts;

Whereas their extraordinary courage and profound sacrifice must never be forgotten by us or future generations;

And Whereas, as a gesture of its respect for these men and women, the federal government wishes to honour their memory by promoting throughout Canada the observance of two minutes of silence each Remembrance Day,

Now, Therefore the people of Canada are invited to pause and observe two minutes of silence at 11.00 a.m. on each Remembrance Day to honour the men and women who died serving their country in wars and in peacekeeping efforts.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I regret to inform the member that nobody on his side of the House, his House leader or anyone else, raised the issue at the House leaders' meeting earlier this week. That is most unfortunate for him.

I respectfully suggest that he might want to do that at next week's meeting. I will do my best to endeavour to raise it with him, if his House leader does not raise it.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I take it the government House leader is refusing consent to proceed with the matter at this time. Accordingly it will not proceed now.

Parliament Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved that Bill C-28, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Salaries Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak this afternoon on the third reading of Bill C-28, the parliamentary compensation legislation.

As I indicated in this House on Tuesday, Bill C-28 is straightforward. It simply implements the report of the independent Lumley Commission, a commission created by order in council last January. The Lumley Commission submitted a report in accordance with the Parliament of Canada Act. We approved this report and we are simply trying to implement it.

The Lumley Commission stated that:

A good day's work deserves a fair wage, and there is no reason that this should not apply to those who commit to public service.

The Lumley Commission recommendations, which are reflected in Bill C-28, are in my view fair. And I am very pleased with the broad support for the Lumley report.

The House leader for the official opposition supported key elements of the Lumley report when he said that his party had called for “an independent commission to make recommendations regarding MPs' salaries” in the future and that such recommendations “be done by the people who look at the judges' salaries, which is independent”. He further stated that his party had “promoted the concept that MPs' pensions should be more in line with the private sector”.

The NDP House leader said “the process we have embarked on today is much superior to ones I have experienced in the past”.

He further stated:

What we have here, with notice being given on a Friday, the bill introduced on a Monday, second reading debate on Tuesday, committee of the whole on Wednesday and third reading and final vote on Thursday...does give Canadians time to get in touch with their MPs and give them their opinions before dealing with a fait accompli.

Those are the words of the House leader for the New Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans said, and I quote:

We in the Bloc Quebecois are of the opinion that Mr. Lumley and the other two members of his committee have carried out a serious, detailed and well researched study of the situation.

So, several representatives of the political parties in the House have commented favourably on this report.

The subject of parliamentary pensions has been noted by members of the House during consideration of Bill C-28. The Leader of the Official Opposition raised it today during question period. He of course now knows, on verification, that the numbers he quoted from the newspaper were factually incorrect, grossly exaggerated and completely off base. I am sure the hon. member knows not to refer to things that are improperly researched. They are bound to get people in trouble. He knows something about that.

I would emphasize that Bill C-28 would implement the Lumley commission's recommendation that pension provisions be adjusted to limit the cost of compensation increases. According to Bill C-28, the accrual rate would be reduced by 25%, from 4% to 3%. The reduction would result in a saving of $400,000 annually for the Canadian taxpayer, and we all know why. There are two reasons. First, the accrual rate would decrease. Second, the premiums would be paid on a larger amount.

For the average MP, the premiums would be approximately $3,000 a year more. Because people like myself and the leader of the opposition get larger salaries, we would pay even more. The leader of the opposition and myself, and I say that because our salaries are identical and much higher than those of the average MP, would pay approximately $4,000 a year more than we pay now in premiums on the pension plan.

It is interesting to note that in a Toronto Star article today an evaluation was done on MP pensions, even the one paid to the Prime Minister. They were deemed not to be overly generous given the size of the premiums.

Higher compensation levels would of course result in an increase in pension benefits but those benefits would be fully paid for by members themselves through their contributions to the parliamentary pension plan as I have just described.

During the second reading debate on Tuesday, members of parliament rose to speak about the need for fair compensation for their demanding workload. Members recognized the Lumley commission's research in comparing parliamentary compensation with other professions.

It has been clear this week that almost all members, certainly the vast majority, agree that Bill C-28 would: first, strike an appropriate balance in determining a fair level of compensation; second, reinforce our ability to attract the best and brightest to public life; and third, strengthen accountability to taxpayers on the issue of parliamentary compensation, the judges commission, which will now rule, and so on.

I would remind those who have spoken against implementing the Lumley recommendations that compensation for MPs rose 6% between 1991 and 2000. Public sector increases have amounted to 15%, private sector increases have amounted to 22% and the conference board survey puts executives at 31%. Of course 31% is not even sought in the bill.

A comparison with judges, and I described it yesterday during report stage debate, shows that a member of parliament even with this increase would not be paid nearly what federal court judges were paid 30 years ago.

A survey comparing the salaries of legislators in 12 countries ranked Canadian legislators ninth behind those of G-7 nations such as the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France and others.

Experts on compensation in the private sector have commented on parliamentary remuneration and the Lumley commission's recommendations.

Here is what the media had to say about the Lumley report. The Globe and Mail on May 30 stated:

We would do well to consider this as citizens in pursuit of good government...What job is comparable to being one of a few hundred legislators mastering difficult, complex subjects and passing laws that affect every Canadian's life? La Presse noted on May 31 that a good MP more than earns his salary, particularly when his workload and what he is paid are compared to equivalent jobs in the labour market.

I will take a minute to talk about the opting in provisions. A number of members yesterday commented about the opting in provisions. Under Bill C-28, parliamentarians would be given the right to decide whether the Lumley commission report should apply to themselves. I would say to all members that they are being given a choice and are free to do what they think.

I will say once again, if I can be so bold, that I advise all members to vote for the bill. Should they not vote for the bill they should opt in to the program anyway. I would ask all members to do this because they are all deserving of the salary that members of parliament are paid.

Opting in provisions have been used many times in the past. Some members alleged yesterday that it was unprecedented. However they were sought by members of the House only a few years ago regarding the pension program.

Parliament Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

That was an opt out.