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House of Commons Hansard #137 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-48.

Topics

Business Development Bank of CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister should stop insisting that he cannot do anything to protect the citizens' money.

Will he admit that he could act if he wanted to, and that if he refuses to do so, it is because he does not want us to find out more about the internal administration of the bank, whose president the government has changed whenever it sw fit to do so?

Business Development Bank of CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, of which my hon. friend is a member, has recently completed an indepth study of the BDC's performance, according to its mandate. The hon. member is entitled to ask questions on this subject. While the president appears before the committee, the Auditor General does have the power to examine all accounts. It is an independent crown corporation, but it is accountable in that respect.

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, three years ago the industry minister gave 80 million tax dollars to buy out BioChem Pharma, a company in Quebec. Since then, BioChem was bought out by a British multinational that is now shutting down its Quebec plant and laying off hundreds of workers.

However, according to documents that we have obtained, no payments have been made on Industry Canada's loan to BioChem; not one red cent.

How can the minister justify giving $80 million in corporate welfare to a company that is now laying off hundreds of skilled workers? Is this the minister's idea of a successful investment?

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we reject the philosophy of the Alliance Party that says the Government of Canada should not be investing in innovation in this country. We believe we should be investing in innovation.

With respect to BioChem Pharma, we are watching very closely the developments with that company. We expect the purchaser of that company to honour its obligations to the people of Canada, including the terms of repayment of that investment.

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the plot thickens because it turns out that BioChem and the company that then bought it gave $120,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2000 and 2001, making it the fourth largest donor in the country.

I am sure it is a mere coincidence that those donations were made at the same time that BioChem received its $80 million loan and that the government negotiated its multi-billion dollar sale to a foreign multinational.

Now Canadian labs are being closed, scientists are being laid off and Canadian taxpayers are left holding an $80 million bag. Is that the minister's idea of a--

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Minister of Industry.

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the TPC investment in that company was made after due diligence by professional officials who decided it was a good investment for innovation in this country.

Let me assure the member that we will take all steps necessary, divestment or not, to ensure that our position is protected in relation to the repayment of that investment.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming increasingly difficult to learn with any certainty the RCMP's true role in Maher Arar's deportation to Syria by the U.S. authorities. We know that the RCMP Public Complaints Commission is currently evaluating various scenarios so it can get to the bottom of this affair.

Since RCMP obstruction of the commission's work is not beyond the realm of possibility, does the Solicitor General intend to change his mind and order a public inquiry, which we feel is the only way to shed light on this whole affair, which is getting cloudier by the minute?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question so many times in the House that I think the member could almost memorize the answer. The facts are the facts and I have stated them. The facts are that the RCMP did not disclose to the American authorities on this issue. It was not part of the decision. It is that simple. Those are the facts.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the more the Solicitor General says, the less we understand. It is becoming increasingly cloudy.

Since it is becoming increasingly clear that the Solicitor General is trying to cover up the RCMP's actions, what will it take for the government to show transparency and order a public inquiry, as Amnesty International has suggested, this very day?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. I have tried to be very transparent on this issue. I went before the foreign affairs committee. I answered questions this morning at the justice committee on this issue. The answer remains the same as I have stated in this House several times. The member knows what that answer is. Those are the facts. The RCMP was not involved in the decision to arrest and deport Mr. Arar. That is how simple it is.

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, here comes another due diligence problem.

Yesterday the Minister of Industry admitted that last year he received only $19 million in Technology Partnerships Canada repayments. That is a mere fraction of the billion-plus dollars that have been doled out.

Corporate welfare is alive and well in Canada, is it not?

What is the minister doing to accelerate the TPC repayments, or is it true that he does not really expect any of these repayments to occur anyway?

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, they are all repayable.

These investments are often made in emerging sectors of the economy. However time is required to bring products to market to produce revenue so they can be repaid. Some of these in the biotechnology field need a 10 or 12 year period of investment before there is a return.

We are investing in pre-competitive research that will enable companies in the future to put products and services on the market to create economic growth and jobs. That is what this is all about.

However all of these are repayable.

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, he forgot to mention the investment in the Liberal Party of Canada.

Let us review the situation. Western Star Trucks will likely not repay a thing. Shire and BioChem Pharma will likely not repay a thing. Bombardier, no repayments and Pratt & Whitney, no repayments.

Less than 2% of the billions of dollars given away through TPC have been repaid.

Will the minister table a schedule of repayments owed to TPC and be a little more responsible for a change?

Government LoansOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, what I will do is tell the member that in every case the repayment schedule is calculated to reflect the nature of the investment.

In other words, if the money is being used to develop a new jet engine or to develop new biotechnology, then the repayment occurs after that has been developed, produced and is on the market so there is revenue to provide the repayment.

However some of these repayment schedules do take time because there is a lag period before the research is completed and the product is on the market.

However they are all repayable and repayment schedules are negotiated in relation to the nature of the product.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the current EI economic regions came into effect on July 9, 2000. These regions reflected changes in the labour market and ensured that people living in areas with high unemployment received the assistance they need from the EI program.

HRDC also recognized at that time that the impact of the changes was greater than expected in the regions and introduced transitional measures.

Recently, we have heard that workers in these regions will require additional time to adjust.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development tell the House what the government is doing to help workers in the affected regions in Quebec and New Brunswick?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that we have extended the transitional period for employment insurance in the economic regions by one year. This is the case in the Madawaska-Charlotte region of New Brunswick and the Lower St. Lawrence and North Shore regions of Quebec.

We understand that seasonal work forms an important part of the social and economic fabric of Canada, which is why I am pleased that the Prime Minister will be establishing a task force on seasonal work that will examine the range of issues that affect the industries, the workforce and the communities that are dependent on these activities.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I just received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that says that Maher Arar was only in Jordan while he was “in transit” on his way to Syria.

The Syrians confirmed yesterday that he was not in transit but he was incarcerated and being interrogated while he was in Jordan.

Why would the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell me that this Canadian was in transit when he was really in jail and being questioned?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Arar was deported by the American authorities from New York to Syria. He passed through Jordan; he was in transit in Jordan. He was taken to Syria through Jordan.

The letter is absolutely accurate. The hon. member knows that. That is exactly what we said and that is the truth.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, being interrogated and in jail is not in transit.

The Syrians confirmed yesterday that Mr. Arar was in jail and not in transit at all. Now that we know Mr. Arar was in Jordan, where was he in Jordan? Who had him in custody while he was in Jordan? Did the minister ever ask any of these questions?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, of course, we asked those questions.

However, Mr. Arar has returned to Canada. I think it is important to allow Mr. Arar to have an opportunity to tell his story as to what happened to him. We are respectful of that and we will allow that to happen.

We will respect the case of Mr. Arar as we respect the cases of all citizens. We will not prejudge what they will say about their rights, which we intend to support in defending them.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

October 9th, 2003 / 2:40 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Industry.

I will allow for the fact that perhaps his first answer to my question might have been based on not knowing what the situation was. Some time has passed.

Could the minister tell us whether or not such a contract has been awarded to Lockheed-Martin for the census. If it has, could he tell us in which wing of the Pentagon all this information on Canadians will be stored?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as with any other such crown agency, contracts awarded by Statistics Canada are awarded after a full bidding process where value for money and the contract price is evaluated.

I have every confidence Statistics Canada used that process in its entirety in this and every other case.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Solicitor General.

Today the Solicitor General reaffirmed that there was no contact between Canadian and American officials prior to the deportation of Mahar Arar to Syria.

However, today in the Toronto Star there is a quote from an American official which says that Canadian security informed them that Arar was under surveillance by Canada because he had travelled to Afghanistan.

How can the minister continue to deny that there was an exchange of information between his government and the Americans that may have led to the deportation of Arar to Syria? If he continues to deny that, why does he not just resign?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have tried to make it clear all along that I cannot confirm or deny any investigation of any individual or any matter involving the RCMP.

That would be irresponsible of me, including in terms of any exchange of information. To do so would violate the privileges of individuals and could impinge the integrity of investigations.