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House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the health minister regarding the SARS outbreak in Ontario and in other parts of the country. The Ontario government has declared a health emergency and a quarantine has been invoked in at least one hospital.

Although the extent of the risk is unknown, under what conditions would the federal Quarantine Act be invoked to deal with the SARS outbreak?

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in fact, as the hon. member is probably aware, provinces have legislation like that invoked by the province of Ontario to deal with medical emergencies that come about in relation to the residents of their province.

The Quarantine Act, as I indicated in response to the hon. member's question yesterday, permits us, when we have suspicion in relation to a threat to the health or safety of Canadians as it relates to individuals, products or conveyances, to quarantine those things.

Our legislation relates to those things coming into our country and ensuring that those things are not released into our country in a way that would harm--

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Yellowhead.

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is only partially true. It also extends to those going outside of our country.

Today, the World Health Organization recommended that all travellers boarding international flights from Toronto be screened for symptoms of SARS to ensure that the condition is not exported to other countries. What specific steps is the government taking to respond to that recommendation?

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the WHO has provided a number of draft recommendations, including the one referred to. We have implemented most of them. We are in the process of discussing with the WHO the one to which the hon. member refers, but I want to remind everybody in the House that Health Canada officials have reminded air carriers of the existing policy to screen and not board seriously ill passengers and refer those identified passengers to local health authorities.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, since 1995, egg producers have been asking the federal government to terminate the bilateral agreement with the United States and to apply WTO rules instead.

When will the Minister of Agriculture decide to take this action, which he can take, which does not involve any costs and which would give a great boost to Canada's poultry industry?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I believe what the hon. member is referring to is a request from the broiler hatching egg producers in Canada. We have an agreement with the United States but before any agreement can be changed in any way we must look at all the trade implications as well as the economic implications of that. That has been and continues to be looked at by both the Minister for International Trade and my officials.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

March 27th, 2003 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

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

I have been informed that the leader of the Conservative Party yesterday was sharply critical of the President of the United States, George Bush.

Could the Prime Minister say if he agrees with the leader of the Conservative Party and the comments he made yesterday?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Obviously no, Mr. Speaker, because yesterday the leader of the Tory Party said:

U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration could have done a better job of lining up allies before launching a war on Iraq.

He went on to say that in those situations we needed extreme care and that we must be very sensitive. He said that had not characterized what happened in the approach to potential allies taken by some members of the Bush administration, most noticeably, of course, Secretary Rumsfeld.

None of my ministers would have said that.

BilingualismOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, former Prime Minister Pearson's pledge that forced bilingualism would not ruin public servants' careers was a lie and a fraud.

On March 31, certain public servants who do not meet artificial bilingual restrictions will be transferred, demoted or replaced.

Why is the Minister of the Treasury Board expanding a discriminatory, divisive and costly bilingualism scheme that unfairly restricts employment and promotion in the public service?

BilingualismOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would suggest that the hon. member listen to Canadians, who place a high value on linguistic duality.

This is why it is perfectly normal that the public service of Canada would promote this linguistic duality. I should point out that close to two thirds of all positions in the public service are unilingual.

The federal public service is open to all citizens of this country.

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, farmers are criticizing the Minister for International Trade for his lack of firmness regarding supply management, for letting too many products come in.

However, at the Liberal caucus held in Chicoutimi, the minister pledged to farmers that he would take action to settle this issue. We know that a study was conducted and recently submitted to the minister, at the end of February.

Can the minister tell us when he intends to table the findings of that study here in the House?

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, indeed, when we were in Chicoutimi, the Minister of Agriculture and I set up a working group with dairy producers and supply management officials.

Our officials worked together and, last week, they submitted to the Minister of Agriculture and myself a report which we have reviewed. A number of possibilities are being examined. These are rather complex issues, and we have to look at the legal impact of any scenario that we may adopt.

Therefore, we will follow up on this request in the coming weeks.

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Vancouver East.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege with respect to contempt of Parliament.

As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, on March 20 the House voted on the following supply motion moved by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and seconded by the member for Laurentides:

That this House call upon the government not to participate in the military intervention initiated by the United States in Iraq.

That question was debated, put and passed on the following division: yeas, 153; nays, 50.

On many occasions leading up to and after the motion was passed, members have asserted that Canada will not and is not participating in the war. On March 20, for instance, the Prime Minister said “We don't have any troops and there will be no troops”. However, since then it is clear from the Prime Minister's statements in the House that this is not the case.

I would cite the following comment made by the Prime Minister in Hansard on March 26:

--of course we have ships in the ocean there....

He went on to say:

The people who are involved in flying in AWACS planes are covering many countries in their surveillance, not only one country. They are doing the job today that they have been doing for many months.

The AWACS to which the Prime Minister referred helped coordinate the bombing in Iraq. The ships he referred to are escorting American and British ships into war and which are now permitted to travel as far north as Kuwait for that purpose.

On March 25 the Prime Minister said:

They have been on loan for some time with the British and American armies.

Canadians are with British tank brigades outside Basra. Clearly this is combat.

On March 17 the Prime Minister said:

If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate.

As we know, there has been no second resolution to the Security Council, but there was a motion in this House that clearly compels Canada not to participate. The motion does not distinguish between participation in combat or non-combat. It simply deals with participation.

Nevertheless, not being in combat is being cited as an acceptable reason to be there, as the Minister of Defence has indicated. He does not deny participation, he merely tries to explain the type of participation. In his comments on March 18 he said:

As for these 31 persons, they are not in positions that involve direct combat.

On March 19 the Minister of Defence stated:

The reason there is a small number, some 30 personnel, in non-combat roles....

Yesterday, March 26, the Department of National Defence confirmed that Canadian troops were helping in the war on Iraq, that Canadians were aboard American AWACS radar planes flying command missions over Iraq, and that 31 soldiers were serving on exchange assignments with U.S. and British armies.

Today in question period in terms of the question I raised and the response from the government, clearly there was confirmation that our presence and our participation was there.

This is clearly participation but Parliament has explicitly said no participation.

As well, it is being reported today that six members of the Armed Forces are serving in logistical or support positions with combat troops on the ground.

I would say that there is a strong inconsistency between the claims that the government has made in the House and the vote that took place on March 20 which called upon the government not to participate in the war. I believe this has misled the House and that it is a contempt of this Parliament.

I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to consider these facts and the issues and if you find a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament against the government, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion to have this referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 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 normal process around here, when one is dissatisfied with the answer to a question, is to fill out one of the forms that we have in our desk which says that we want to debate the item further during the adjournment at the end of the day. That is when we put the proposition again, give the government a second opportunity to respond, and that process was even improved under the first modernization committee report. In essence that is how we debate items of that nature.

The hon. member refers in her argument to the fact that there was a motion in the House which, in her view, because it called upon the government to take a specific course of action, specifically forbade any other course of action.

First, what she says was called upon did not exclude what our military is doing now; and second, even if it did, which clearly of course it does not, it does not specifically prevent the government from having that course of action in any case. However, as I indicated, it does not apply

More important perhaps, there was a motion from the Bloc Quebecois, as was very clearly outlined by my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, under which, if adopted, not that it was binding either, was calling for the repatriating of those some 30-some soldiers in question, and that was clearly defeated by some three-quarters of the members of the House.

Either way, this sounds more like a point of debate. I am sure if the hon. member files the appropriate adjournment motion someone on our side will respond enthusiastically to what she has just referred.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I agree with my colleague, the government House leader. This is really a matter for the adjournment debate and, for my hon. colleague, I think, it is more a point of letting off steam than anything else. I think we should get on with the business of the House.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver East has raised what she suggests is a question of privilege with respect to the involvement, whatever it may be, of Canadian troops in activities in or about the gulf, and has referred to the motion of the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie that was put to the House which read:

That this House call upon the government not to participate in the military intervention initiated by the United States in Iraq.

She notes that the motion was carried. I note that it was a motion that called upon the government to do certain things. It was not a directive. Therefore it is very difficult, in my view, for her to suggest that it would be a contempt of Parliament if the government proceeded to do something other than not participate, since it was called upon to do this, and particularly so since decisions of declarations of war or involvement in conflict are executive matters under the Constitution of our country.

I also refer her to the amendment that was moved by the hon. member for Saint-Jean which suggested amending the original motion, which I read, by adding after the word “Iraq” the following:

and, consequently the government repatriate all soldiers and military material in the region that could be used in a war effort in the conflict in Iraq.

That particular amendment was defeated and it was also part of the call. Therefore, having been defeated, it is hard to imagine how there could be contempt of the House in respect of either given the wording of the motion and given the wording of the amendment that was defeated.

Accordingly, I must find there is no breach of privilege in the circumstances and I am unable to accede to her request that I find such a breach of privilege which would allow her to make the necessary.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order arising out of question period wherein the right hon. Prime Minister implied that I had misled the House in a question I had put to him yesterday regarding statements attributed to the hon. Senator Laurier LaPierre yesterday in the Senate.

Yesterday, at page 4713 of volume 138, number 078 of the official report of Hansard of the House of Commons debates I said:

...Hansard recorded that Liberal Senator LaPierre shouted “Screw the Americans” in the Senate yesterday.

This is the statement I made. I attributed it simply to the Senate Hansard . I have here the relevant Senate Hansard which confirms the absolute veracity of my remark in the House yesterday. I would be prepared to table that if there is unanimous consent. I wanted to clarify that.

Secondly, the Prime Minister indicated to the House that he would no longer accept questions from me given his misunderstanding of this matter. I believe that would be a breach of my privileges as a member and a violation of the convention of prime ministerial responsibility in question period.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 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 may be correct in citing the preamble to his question of yesterday. However, beyond the preamble of course there was the question itself.

I do believe that when the Prime Minister states that a direct accusation against the senator was made in the question, that is not factually inaccurate. That is in fact quite accurate given what the hon. member has just said. He might be quite correct in saying that he did in a preamble to a question yesterday make his statement, but when he referred to continued anti-American slurs on the part of which the hon. senator was, in his view, guilty, that is not correct and that should be withdrawn. Everyone recognizes now that the senator, and we all know him for being a man of unimpeachable integrity, made no such statement and that has now been confirmed. I do think it would be appropriate to withdraw that remark now as the right hon. Prime Minister suggested.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that since yesterday when the question was asked and the Prime Minister made an answer that he agreed it was put wrong that the senator in the other place has corrected the version of Hansard. We all accept his change without any debate in this House at all as we normally do. I do not think anybody has to apologize any further. We accept what the senator said, and there is no question about that.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I think hon. members see we have a debate about what was said or not said. Things obviously have changed and are changing as time goes on. I do not think there is a need for intervention on the part of the Chair in respect of this matter. While the hon. member for Calgary Southeast feels he has a grievance, I am not sure that the Chair can do anything to compel any minister or even the Prime Minister to answer questions despite my considerable powers.

I thank the hon. member for Calgary Southeast for raising the matter, but I can only wish him well as he continues his quest for the truth and the accuracy in all respects that I know he likes to pursue in the House.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I would like to give you notice that at the earliest possible opportunity I will be raising a question of privilege based on comments made today by the Prime Minister. I maintain that the Prime Minister gave deceiving information to the House and had it done in an underhanded way. When we get a chance to research Hansard, I will be raising the appropriate question of privilege.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for St. John's West is very experienced and knows the rules of the House. He can send a written notice to the Speaker as required by the rules. Naturally, the Speaker will be delighted to hear the hon. member's point of order in due course.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the modernization committee we will get some new rules about the Thursday question and make sure it is first on Thursday after question period. We thought it was already, but we will make sure it gets in the rules anyway.

I wonder if the government House leader could tell us the business for the rest of this week and for next week. We noticed at the House leader's meeting that Bill C-10A is on the agenda again. I wonder if he could tell us whether, on the day it is put on the agenda, he will use the time allocation motion that is sitting on the Order Paper right now.