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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was municipalities.

Topics

Search and Rescue OperationsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Georges Farrah Liberal Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok, QC

Mr. Speaker, this past Monday morning, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of National Defence were jointly involved in a search and rescue operation in response to a distress signal from a vessel foundering off Anticosti Island.

Their intervention on September 29 was prompt and effective. Three Coast Guard vessels, the Wilfred Templeman , the Louisbourg and the Québécois were dispatched to the area. The first Canadian Forces plane reached the site at 8:30 a.m. to take part in the operation, followed by the first Canadian Forces helicopter at 10:55 a.m. The captain of the ship in distress was located on shore by the helicopter at 11:25 a.m. Regrettably, the other two crew members could not be found.

Those are the facts. Yesterday, the hon. member for Delta—South Richmond stated that the distress call went unanswered. In reality, rescue operations were set in motion in less than four minutes.

You can see, Mr. Speaker, that Canadian Coast Guard resources were available in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and were put to good use.

It would be a good thing if the hon. member for Delta—South Richmond would look at the facts before using a member's statement to criticize the excellent work being done by the Coast Guard in Quebec.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

October 2nd, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government is busy naming institutions and landmarks after Pierre Trudeau. I recommend that the Liberal government officially consider naming the firearms registry after Pierre Trudeau. In so many ways it represents the Trudeau legacy.

Here is a short list. The gun registry is a symbol of arrogance. The gun registry is a symbol of elitism. The gun registry is a symbol of incompetence. The gun registry is a symbol of big government and wasteful spending. The gun registry is a major interference in the day-to-day lives of ordinary Canadians.

If the Liberal government were to name the firearms registry after Pierre Elliott Trudeau, I am sure it would find much support among opposition members. Unfortunately, the legacy will be short lived because the Canadian Alliance, upon forming the government, will repeal the gun registry.

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on November 14 the new Liberal leader will officially take his office. Two days later he will hold his first ministers' meeting.

This continues the pattern that he has had of running a phantom government, being a leader when it is convenient, being a peekaboo Prime Minister, not accountable to Canadians, and not accountable to this House.

My question for the government is really quite simple. Is the government still committed to being here in the House in November after the new Liberal leader is selected?

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think all of the House is preoccupied today with the death and injury of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. That will undoubtedly be on our minds for the rest of today.

The government is committed to first of all, tending properly to the affairs of state and ensuring that Canadians receive the government that they deserve and expect; and second, ensuring that the transition to a new government is done smoothly and appropriately.

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the House will note that the Deputy Prime Minister did not answer my question.

The new Liberal leader is hard at work running his parallel government, planning first ministers' meetings, working on the next budget, touring disaster sites and promising funds, and making all kinds of promises to other groups.

In other words, he is taking all of the power of the Prime Minister while refusing any accountability for the powers that go with that office.

I will give the Deputy Prime Minister another chance to answer my question. Is it true that the government will prorogue the House after the new Liberal leader is chosen so that he can continue to avoid questions on his policies?

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is a little silly. There is only one government at a time.

The member for LaSalle--Émard may well become the Prime Minister at some point after November 15 at which time he will appear before the Governor General and be sworn in as Prime Minister with a government.

He will appear before the House of Commons where he will need to have the confidence of the House. I have little doubt that will be achieved. He will be available as will members of his government to answer questions in the appropriate fashion.

In the meantime, does he have any questions to ask this government?

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is pretty clear. It is whether this government will make its new leader accountable to the Canadian people. That is the question it will not answer.

The new Liberal leader is promising to spend taxpayers' money and to change legislation. He will have the power, as Prime Minister, but no accountability.

How will Canadians be able to hold the new Liberal leader accountable for all these promises and actions?

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when there is a new Prime Minister, he will come to this House and answer questions. For now, there is another government and that is how it will be until the transition takes place.

If the member has questions for this government, he can ask away. Apparently everything is going so well that he has no questions.

Voyageur Colonial Pension FundOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question and I hope I get an answer.

The new Liberal leader remains unaccountable to Canadians, to the House, and to his former employees. His Voyageur bus drivers watched in horror as their pensions shrank 30% after OSFI terminated their pension plan.

Yesterday, six years after the Voyageur disaster, OSFI's annual report said it was going to change regulations to require pension plan sponsors to “fully fund promised benefits ontermination of the plan”. It is a little late for Voyageur employees.

Does this not mean that OSFI is acknowledging that what the new Liberal leader let happen to his bus drivers should have been illegal?

Voyageur Colonial Pension FundOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate when members use the privileges of this House to say things in the depth and extent of their allegations that would clearly be actionable if said outside the House.

The member has engaged in correspondence with OSFI. He has clear responses to the questions that he has posed to OSFI. It is an overseer, and is independent from the government. It has responded fully to the questions that he has put to it.

Voyageur Colonial Pension FundOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have already said these things outside the House. I want some answers. The minister said he was going to give us answers. Where are they?

OSFI kept silent on this for years, much to the relief of the new Liberal leader. He got $82.5 million out of his OSFI-controlled pension while his Voyageur bus drivers watched their pensions drop 30%. Now, after all of this has come to light, OSFI is saying, oh well, it should have been illegal.

My question to the finance minister is this. Why was this not illegal six years ago when Voyageur employees were getting stiffed by the new Liberal leader?

Voyageur Colonial Pension FundOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I know we can never presume that a member would mislead the House, so I can only assume that the growth in the length of the member's nose is a surgical implant, because what he says is quite simply untrue.

There were two pension plans. They were overseen by OSFI in accordance with the law. They were entered into as contracts between companies and their employees and they were operated fully in accordance with the agreements and with the law.

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, on behalf of the members of the Bloc Quebecois, I want to offer our condolences to the families of the two soldiers who died under tragic circumstances today in Afghanistan.

That said, the government cannot deny that George Radwanski's working conditions were negotiated by Eddie Goldenberg, at the Prime Minister's Office. The Prime Minister's Office, the Treasury Board and the Privy Council did not want to disclose who recommended that George Radwanski maintain two principal residences over three years, at a cost of $85,000, when the initial agreement was for one year.

Can the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada tell us if he recommended that George Radwanski be allowed to shuttle back and forth between Ottawa and Toronto for three years, at the taxpayers' expense, thereby signalling that all kinds of abuses—

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member doubtless knows, since it was already stated in this House only yesterday, there is a measure to provide accommodation in Ottawa to senior government officials, particularly those appointed by an order in council for a relatively short period and who live in another city in Canada.

Other officers of Parliament had received similar benefits previously. The hon. member is well aware of this. It is in Hansard .

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would appreciate it if the government House leader could tell us who else has received the same privileges and the same excessive privileges, for three years. He said that there are others. He should give us the list. We would be interested in knowing the names.

Someone made this decision and allowed George Radwanski to do something for three years that he should have done for just one. I am asking again if the President of the Privy Council was the one who made that recommendation?

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is still talking about excess. Of course, when it comes to excess, the government does not associate with anyone who might improperly use the benefits of his post. Furthermore, the Auditor General has already tabled her report on this, after being asked to investigate by a committee of this House. This Parliament was responsible for initially approving the hiring of that individual.

I have already told the hon. member that this was not a new housing practice and that it has existed for quite some time.

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though he is not allowed to answer, the President of the Privy Council is shaking his head to indicate that he was not the one who made this decision or gave such authorizations.

There must certainly be someone in the government who made a decision about extending these privileges. The first excess concerned housing and travel between Ottawa and Toronto.

It is not complicated: we are asking who, in the government, decided that George Radwanski would have special benefits?

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member, with all his worries, did not hear the answer I gave to his leader a few minutes ago. In any case, I will be pleased to repeat it.

Such benefits have been granted in the past to heads of government agencies who did not live in Ottawa. I have been told that this benefit is available to any man or woman in this type of position, and that it can extend up to three years. I indicated that other cases have been raised in this House in the past.

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of those who are listening at home, and who realize that Mr. Radwanski has unacceptably wasted tax dollars, and on behalf of the members of this House, what we want to know today is this: if it was not the President of the Treasury Board, and not a cabinet minister, then who, in the Prime Minister's Office, made this decision? That is clear enough.

Former Privacy CommissionerOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, once again, it is important to add that this is not about a senior official of the government but a senior officer of Parliament, an employee of this House and the Senate as well.

I told the hon. member that the benefit in question, a housing allowance, is not without precedent. That does not mean that if there were excesses in other areas we would approve of them. Of course we would disapprove of them; we have all done so.

Government AssistanceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, hurricane Juan may be the worst storm to ever hit Nova Scotia. Will the Prime Minister commit to an advance disaster assistance payment from the federal government to the province of Nova Scotia and will he commit to the immediate payment of the four outstanding claims for previous disasters dating back to 1999?

Government AssistanceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that this is an extremely serious problem. I was there yesterday and I also saw the fine work that was being done by more than 800 sailors and soldiers in the area. I spoke to the premier of the province and he and I both agreed that now is not the time to be dealing with money.

The province is eligible for DFAA assistance, but the immediate priority is to get the power back and to get the roads running. After that, we will deal with the money.

Government AssistanceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, going back to 1999 and five disasters later, there has never been a good time for this government to pay its bills or to deal with money. It is about time that this government pays its commitments to the province of Nova Scotia. The federal disaster financial assistance program does not currently cover claims related to agriculture or the fishery. Both these sectors have sustained incredible losses due to hurricane Juan.

Will the government commit to including both agriculture and the fishery under the disaster assistance program?

Government AssistanceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the hon. member just said, this government has worked in an extremely productive way with the premiers and ministers of provinces where disasters have struck.

I know this first-hand from the very positive comments received from the premier of British Columbia during the forest fires, from the premier of Nova Scotia yesterday when it came to the hurricane, and also from Premier Eves, still today the premier of Ontario, in terms of the power failure.

We have done our job. Our military has done a fantastic job. We will be there with the money for Nova Scotia and for Prince Edward Island.