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House of Commons Hansard #153 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parties.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the entire House knows that there are media reports and then there are facts. The facts are that the Solicitor General does not and cannot comment on RCMP activities involving national security.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Ambassador Paul Celluci have acknowledged that Canada provided them with intelligence on Canadian citizen Maher Arar.

Do these revelations alone not justify a public inquiry?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question.

It gives me an opportunity to again inform the House, as the Solicitor General has done on a number of occasions. The RCMP complaints commission is already involved in an investigation. The commissioner will review the investigation report and determine what further action is to be taken. This complaints commission was created by Parliament itself; it is impartial and independent. So, I would ask that the process be allowed to take its course.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us be serious here. The number of disturbing occurrences is increasing. First we had the death of Zahra Kazemi, then Bill Sampson's two and one-half years of torture and imprisonment, and now ten months of torture and imprisonment in the case of Maher Arar. Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs agree that it is now imperative for the government to undertake a thorough review of its policy on protecting the rights of all Canadian citizens when they are out of the country?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I agree, along with every member here, I am sure, that these are highly disturbing cases. We have a great deal of sympathy for Canadians in trouble in other countries, and have worked very hard on their behalf. There are 3,000 Canadians imprisoned in other countries for a variety of reasons. I can assure you that we are working hard to protect them.

In light of these tragic events, we will be reviewing procedures within our department in order to see how we can improve them. We will continue to act in the best interests of Canadians who are in other countries, whether in prison or not.

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, here is what Liberals pass off as sound government policy. The airport at Charlevoix, Quebec receives $5.3 million in federal grants while the airport in Red Deer gets only a used snowplow. Charlevoix has 1,500 flights per year and Red Deer has 40,000.

There is another difference. The major user at the Charlevoix airport is none other than the Desmarais family, the family that is related to the current Prime Minister and helped set up the shipping empire for the future prime minister. Is that why there is so much money for Charlevoix, Quebec, but so little money for Red Deer, Alberta?

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalSecretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Mr. Speaker, let us speak about airports in western Canada. I made an announcement last month that the airport in Prince George would receive from the WD fund $1.85 million for an expansion. We are in negotiations now, as the member for Kootenay—Columbia knows, with the airport in Cranbrook to look at expansion opportunities.

The fact is that under the Canada infrastructure program, priority was not given by the City of Red Deer to the airport expansion. It used up the allocated funds for other priorities. If it wants to apply--

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Fraser Valley.

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us do the math for the minister. The airport in Charlevoix, Quebec gets $5.3 million in federal grants. The airport in Red Deer gets a used snowplow. That works out to $3,500 for each of the 1,500 flights into Charlevoix and two handfuls of rusty bolts for every flight into Red Deer.

How can the Liberal minister stand in his place and claim he is being fair and impartial when clearly this is another case where the friends of the current and future prime ministers are the ones who get the federal help?

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalSecretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Mr. Speaker, hearing the hon. member repeat his question and his accusation, I will try to do more than just repeat the explanation I gave to him.

It is extremely important when we have infrastructure programs that we look to local municipalities to identify their priorities. This has been done in the City of Red Deer. I am sure that perhaps with the future municipal-rural infrastructure program the City of Red Deer will want to give priority to the expansion of its airport. We as a federal partner with the province and the local governments will want to pay great attention and give emphasis to its priorities.

International AidOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, unlike the johnny-come-latelies in the Canadian Alliance, from day one the NDP has been pressing for drug legislation that will provide relief to millions in Africa suffering from AIDS. We now have a bill before us that is seriously flawed and in fact is a big giveaway to big pharma.

Could the minister explain why it has taken so long to develop this bill, how these serious flaws were missed and the incompetence that has taken place? How does he explain this to people in the developing countries who are waiting for these drugs to save their lives?

International AidOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the international community on August 30 agreed that countries could provide for generic manufacture for export to Africa and other places where the need exists.

Yesterday, 68 days after that agreement, we tabled this legislation. That is a result of a deep commitment on the part of the Prime Minister and this government to make sure that we make affordable drugs available in Africa and elsewhere where they are needed.

Groups such as the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network are asking that we go through second reading and get this bill to committee right away so we can look at it carefully. That is what we want to do. If the member has constructive suggestions to make about improving the bill, I hope she will make those points at committee.

International AidOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us get the commitment right here and now from the government that it will amend this bill and deal with those serious flaws. It could go to committee on Monday. There is nothing preventing the committee from meeting on Monday. The bill can come back to the House after the week.

Let us get the political agenda out of the way. Will the government commit to getting the bill to committee and bringing it back to the House so it can be approved and we can deal with the flaws that it has created in this bill?

International AidOral Question Period

November 7th, 2003 / 11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree that the bill is flawed. I think the bill reflects exactly the intention we have on a humanitarian basis to make these affordable drugs available where they are needed.

I encourage the member to appear at committee when this bill gets there, to make her points and to take part with all parties in making this the best bill it can be. If there are improvements that can be made, so much the better.

We believe this is the right approach, but if members around the House have suggestions to make at committee, let them do so. Let us get on with this legislation. Let us get on with providing affordable drugs in Africa and elsewhere where they are needed.

Marine AtlanticOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the former pension plan of Marine Atlantic dockyard workers ended on November 30, 1996, with a substantial surplus. The surplus was to be shared among the individuals who contributed to the plan, many of whom would get upwards of $15,000 to $20,000.

On January 2, 2002, I wrote to the Minister of Transport on this matter and his response stated, “Implementation of this agreement will take place in early 2003”.

Now that 2003 is almost over, how can the Minister of Transport justify the long delay and will he inform the House of when Atlantic dockyard workers can expect to receive their pensions?

Marine AtlanticOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that I will have to check on with Marine Atlantic. It has not come to my attention lately that there is a continuing problem. I accept the fact that the hon. member has some grave concerns about this. I will try to get the answers for him.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, let me try the minister responsible for HRDC. Several seniors in my district have notified me, and I am sure it is true for others across the country, that they will not receive their old age security and Canada pension plan cheques next month until December 22.

With Christmas approaching, December is a unique month, especially for people on fixed incomes. Will the minister this year be Santa and not Scrooge and make sure that these senior citizens and others get their cheques on time to prepare for Christmas?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Shefford Québec

Liberal

Diane St-Jacques LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the department does its utmost to ensure that cheques get to people. I am sure that, once again this year, we will do our utmost to ensure that they receive them prior to the holiday season.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, current and former U.S. intelligence agents maintain that Syria is acting as a subcontractor and doing the dirty work for the U.S. when it comes to torture. The Maher Arar affair is raising troubling questions about Canada's possible complicity in this kind of deal.

In light of these unsettling revelations, does the government not realize that, in the name of fundamental freedoms, it is important to make sure that Canada is in no way associated with the U.S. approach and that only a public inquiry can give us this assurance?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General and this government want to assure this House that the intelligence services abide fully by the law.

I urge anyone who believes or has information to the effect that the intelligence services have violated the law to file a complaint with the independent commission which has the power to investigate these services.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, after William Sampson, after Maher Arar, we have proof that, as we feared, the government sacrificed freedom for so-called security. Canada put its geopolitical interests and those of its neighbours ahead of the security of its own nationals.

Does that not in itself justify a public inquiry?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member opposite, from the Bloc Quebecois, has information to the effect that one of this government's agencies violated Canadian law, I encourage and even urge him to file a complaint with the agency that has the power to investigate all intelligence service activities.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, last year the CRTC collected $92 million in broadcast licensing fees, but in return provided only $10 million in services with the rest going into government coffers.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, fees without services become taxes, and Parliament must approve all taxes. Therefore, this government is illegally taxing Canadian broadcasters to the tune of $82 million a year.

When will the government stop illegally taxing Canada's broadcasters?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:35 a.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 alleging that expenses are being incurred by a government agency or authority, with an organization that has a quasi-judiciary function, and that the services provided are either unsatisfactory or non-existent.

I think that if he obtained more information from the Treasury Board, then we could take a closer look at the issue he is bringing to our attention.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, when HRDC blunders and overpays an EI recipient, the government demands repayment. When the government makes a mistake and gives an excessive equalization payment to a province, it later insists on a refund.

When will the Minister of Finance return the millions of dollars he has wrongly stolen from Canada's broadcasters?