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House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was claims.

Topics

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, very clearly any initiative that blocks intersections and has a negative impact on the community has to be considered in the context of whether or not it is valid.

I can tell the House that no project has been approved that would block intersections. That message has been loud and clearly given. It is illegal to block an intersection for five minutes when there is a train standing still. The fact that the train could be moving does not make that acceptable.

I want to assure the member that all--

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Halifax.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

A deeply disturbing aspect of Maher Arar's nightmare is that Canada may have been complicit in shipping one of our citizens to Syria to be tortured and then treat confessions gained through torture as credible.

Is the government now prepared to support the foreign affairs committee's call for a comprehensive public inquiry to get to the bottom of this sordid affair, or does the government have something to hide?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, first of all the member's allegations are absolutely ridiculous.

The fact of the matter is, as I have already answered in the House several times, there is a process set up by previous parliaments to look into these kinds of issues and that is through the CPC. In fact, that process is taking place.

We are glad that Mr. Arar is back in Canada. The Government of Canada, including the Prime Minister, his envoys and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has done everything in their power to ensure that he got back here.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, within the invitation to applicants for the new ethanol expansion program, applicants are instructed to communicate to only one bureaucrat. It is quite clear if they talk to anyone else about their application, it could disqualify them from the program.

Canadians have a right to talk to their member of Parliament about their dealings with government. To disqualify someone for simply doing so is offensive.

Are members of Parliament included in this prohibition?

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, the government has been supporting ethanol. In fact, under the climate change program, we put forward $100 million to help expand the ethanol program.

The hon. member has raised an issue that I am not aware of, but I can assure the hon. member and the House that I will look into the matter if he gives me the full details to ensure that members of Parliament are fully aware of some of the things that we are doing.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the minister's colleague said a few minutes ago, if he needs help to understand the website, I can provide him with that information.

However, applicants have been told that they cannot talk to their member of Parliament. To ban communications with MPs on any government program could constitute a breach of a member's privileges.

Why are applicants being forbidden from speaking to their members of Parliament about this program?

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

November 4th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the Alliance Party is interested in cheap politics, instead of looking at the real issues.

If the hon. member were serious about this, he would take the time to raise this with me so we could look at this issue to resolve it.

However, I am sure the hon. member is not interested in resolving it but only wants to get cheap political points. That is normal for the Alliance Party. That is why it is at 12% in the polls.

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said the following in reply to a question from the member for Sherbrooke on the right to opt out, “The crux of the issue is that if the hon. member insists on believing that the social union agreement does not recognize the right to opt out, then he did not read it”.

I am asking the minister, who no doubt has read it, whether he can explain to us his understanding of this so-called right to opt out, and how it operates.

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the social union agreement, which applies to all Canadians, contains a provision whereby a province may take the funding for use in a related priority area, if it already has a program on which all the provinces have reached a decision. This is in the agreement in Canada's two official languages, English and French, and he can read it there.

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that Quebec did not sign. With this so-called right to opt out, the provinces are accountable to the federal government for their administration, and must meet Canada-wide standards dictated by Ottawa.

Will the minister acknowledge that this right to opt out is nothing but a sham, a kind of trusteeship by which the central power inexorably imposes its authority on the provinces as subordinate beings, as well as on the Quebec nation?

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is written in the Canadian Constitution that the division of powers is based on legislation. All governments have spending power. For the first time, with the social union agreement, the Government of Canada is submitting for approval of the majority of provinces the spending power for objectives on which a joint decision has been reached. If a province has already attained the objective, it can spend the money on something else.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, today Maher Arar gave chilling testimony of torture and abuse in a Syrian dungeon. He also indicated our government did not do enough to defend his interests.

He now joins William Sampson, Bruce Balfour, and Stephan Hachemi in saying that soft talk does not work with tough tyrants.

Mr. Arar's case raises so many important and urgent questions. Why will the government not spare Canadians the millions of dollars and months of delay of a public inquiry, and just give Mr. Arar the answers to his fair questions now? Why is it delaying and what is it hiding?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated a number of times, the government is not hiding anything. The fact of the matter is that we have been as transparent as we can be on this issue.

It is the law and practice in this country that the Solicitor General, or other government representatives or indeed the RCMP, does not talk about operational details. It is to protect the integrity of individuals themselves, their privacy, and to protect the integrity of other investigations. That is the practice.

On top of that, there is the CPC review under the authority granted to it by the House.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Syrian regime has one of the worst records of human rights atrocities in the world. In 1982, 25,000 civilians were massacred in Hama, Syria's third largest city after President Assad ordered the liquidation of all opposition there.

Syria has provided haven and support to terrorists and continues to defy the United Nations by maintaining its illegal occupation of Lebanon. Now we have the testimony of a Canadian being tortured.

How bad must it get before our government will go to the United Nations and ask for a vote denouncing Syria's actions against Canadians and democracy itself?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I called in the Syrian ambassador this afternoon and I asked him to review the evidence of Mr. Arar.

You must agree with me, Mr. Speaker, and every member of the House, that it is extremely troubling. This is a very preoccupying case. The government takes it very seriously. We have conveyed our concerns to the Syrian government and we will continue to convey our concerns.

We will work for Canadians who are apprehended and who are incarcerated abroad in a way to ensure their security and liberty. We will continue to do that forcefully with all the diplomacy at our command.

Sex Offender RegistryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General has finally conceded, after years of pressure from this side of the House, to make the national sex offender registry retroactive, at least sort of retroactive.

Unfortunately, the Solicitor General's legislation will likely not pass before the House recesses. Will the Solicitor General commit today to get the sex offender registry enacted before the House recesses, as widely rumoured to be November 7?

Sex Offender RegistryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the hon. member opposite has finally conceded to agree with us in terms of the legislation we are putting forward.

It is on the Order Paper for today and I believe tomorrow, as well. I hope that those members opposite will be voting for the legislation and congratulating us on putting this progressive legislation forward.

Sex Offender RegistryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the sex offender registry is not law by the beginning of next year, the Solicitor General has no one to blame other than himself and the irresponsible behaviour of the government.

The Solicitor General already promised that he would enact this legislation by the beginning of January 2002.

Why is it that the government is so unwilling to pass legislation that protects Canadians from sexual predators?

Sex Offender RegistryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the bill is on the Order Paper for today and tomorrow. We are making every effort to get the legislation through.

Indeed, I expect we will. I appreciate the support and the new consensus that we had from the provinces at the meeting in October. This consensus was necessary in order to put the legislation forward. We want to make it the most effective possible.

I welcome the opposition's support and hope it votes with us tonight.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the United States has submitted to Canada a new draft agreement on softwood lumber. While industry people have expressed their dissatisfaction by describing the agreement as a setback, the Minister for International Trade finds that the U.S. proposal is a good basis for discussion.

The minister has to wake up and realize that the draft agreement is not satisfactory. Will he, today in this House, categorically reject this proposal by the U.S.?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, last week the U.S. coalition on softwood lumber did indeed make new proposals to open a dialogue with Canada. At this time, we are examining its requests. We are consulting the Canadian industry. Some industry representatives have expressed doubts as to whether this could possibly be used as a basis for discussion. Others within the industry have a different point of view.

At this time, we are reviewing the proposal and consulting the industry and we will see what happens when the time comes. We are determined to carry on with our two track strategy.

Canada Lands CompanyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General. Last June, shortly after the Jean Charest Liberals came into power, the RCMP dropped an investigation into a case of political interference involving the Canada Lands Company, at the time when Alfonso Gagliano was the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. Robert Charest, the Quebec premier's brother, was under RCMP scrutiny.

Since, for obvious reasons, it seems like this was a botched investigation, will the Solicitor General tell us why the RCMP dropped this investigation twice?

Canada Lands CompanyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that I do not speak on operational matters of the RCMP and I do not intend to start today.

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was almost a year ago that Roy Romanow warned the government that trade deals like NAFTA and the proposed FTAA could threaten our public health care system. Their possible expansion to pharmacare and home care could limit access to affordable generic drugs.

My question is for the Minister for International Trade. At the upcoming FTAA meeting in Miami, will he listen to Romanow and the thousands of Canadians in groups like Common Frontiers and others who are telling the government to take health care off the table entirely. Will he put public health ahead of corporate profits?