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House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the heroic efforts of the government, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is approving minor use regulations at 150th the rate in the United States. In 2000-01, a total of 1,200 minor use registrations were approved in the U.S.A. compared to 22 in Canada.

This forces Canadian farmers to rely upon older, less environmentally friendly farm chemicals. Given that the allowable limit for de-listed farm chemicals in the United States is 0%, this means that failure to harmonize with the United States will result in de facto trade barriers against Canadian farm products.

What will the federal government do to end the regulatory mess that it has created?

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I gave that answer to the hon. member. Last year we put forward $54.5 million on top of $7 million just prior to that in order to improve our system. However, I first have to stress that the applications have to be there.

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced job creation measures to be implemented in fishing communities hard hit by the moratorium on fishing.

If the minister were prepared to guarantee a quota of 35,000 seals to a sealskin processing business, this business could begin operations right away.

Does the minister intend to give this exclusive quota to the fishers of the Lower North Shore, thereby creating immediate jobs in a community in need?

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, this winter, I announced that seal quotas would increase significantly—by 975,000 over three years. These quotas are being apportioned within the various regions through regional discussions.

I am prepared to listen, however, if the hon. member has a proposal for me, and I will consider it fully.

International AidOral Question Period

May 1st, 2003 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, three years of drought in the Horn of Africa have left more than two million people in danger of starvation.

Could the Minister for International Cooperation inform the House how her department and the Government of Canada are responding to their urgent need for food and water?

International AidOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Essex Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan LiberalMinister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, Canada recognizes that famine has caused a critical situation for the people of Eritrea. As a result, Canada has committed an additional $3 million to provide emergency assistance to help purchase and distribute food aid to drought and war affected Eritreans. As part of our contribution, $1 million will be contributed to UNICEF to undertake an emergency water supply and sanitation program to provide clean water to those affected. This brings Canada's total contribution to $4.2 million to assist those in Eritrea.

I thank the hon. member and other members on this side of the House for having raised this very serious issue.

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

For two years, the Minister of Transport has been dragging his feet so much with regard to the transfer of Saint-Hubert airport to the City of Longueuil that we are beginning to wonder if the government still intends to transfer the property.

How can the Minister of Transport explain the fact that, two years after talks began, we are still no further ahead and Saint-Hubert airport has still not been transferred to the City of Longueuil?

Saint-Hubert AirportOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Proulx LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member opposite for her question. She is aware that we have been looking into this matter for several months. Unfortunately, I must tell her that our review is not yet finished, but that it will not take much longer.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Right Hon. Donald C. McKinnon, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask the government House leader to advise us of what the business is for the rest of this week and next week. Could he also advise the House if he will be bringing forward Bill C-10A? It has been on the agenda week after week on Tuesdays and always withdrawn. Will it be on the agenda next Tuesday, and will he use his time allocation motion so that it is completed on that day?

Business of the HouseOral 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, I am pleased to note the lobby just put before us by the hon. member for Bill C-10A to be debated next week.

This afternoon, we will continue the debate on the opposition motion. Tomorrow, we will commence with Bill C-34, the long-awaited bill to amend the Parliament of Canada Act.

I have informed the House leaders of the other parties of my intention to propose, pursuant to Standing Order 73(1), that this bill be referred to committee before second reading. If this debate is completed by the end of the day, we will return to third reading of Bill C-9, which deals with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; then we will go to Bill C-13, the reproductive technologies bill, but I would be surprised if we got that far tomorrow.

On Monday and Wednesday, we will return to the two bills that I just mentioned and we will add to that Bill C-35, regarding military judges, which I think was introduced this morning. Then we will complete, I hope, Bill C-33, dealing with the transfer of offenders.

On Tuesday, and again I am responding to the request made by my colleagues opposite, we will continue consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-10, respecting the Criminal Code.

Next Thursday will be an allotted day.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

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, while I am on my feet, there has been consultation among all parties in the House and I believe you would find consent for the following travel authorization. I move:

That, in relation to its study on relations with Muslim countries, 10 members and the necessary staff of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to travel to New York, Morocco, London and Paris from May 8 to 15, 2003.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to respond to the point of order raised on April 30 by the right hon. member for Calgary Centre concerning remarks alleged to have been made by the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans during the emergency debate which took place on April 29 concerning the closure of the cod fishery.

I have reviewed the Hansard blues and the video record of the proceedings and cannot find anything in those records that violates our rules concerning the use of unparliamentary words or expressions.

That being said, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre is quite correct in pointing out that Hansard records an interjection by the hon. member for Labrador saying the minister uttered some words, but the member for Labrador did not rise at the time to seek the intervention of the Chair nor has he raised the matter with the Speaker to provide further information or to seek redress.

Under these circumstances, I do not consider that there are any grounds on which a point of order might be based and, accordingly, I consider the matter closed.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with regard to the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages and how it may relate to Standing Order 21. I also seek your opinion regarding its relevance to parliamentary privilege and whether it is a conflict of interest.

The report reads as follows:

Pursuant to Standing Order 108, the Committee adopted the following resolution:

It is resolved that the Standing Committee on Official Languages express its support for the initiative of [the member for Ottawa--Vanier] in the Quigley v. Canada case, and request the House of Commons suggest to its Board of Internal Economy to make available a maximum budget of $30,000 to cover a portion of the legal fees incurred by [the member for Ottawa--Vanier] for his role as intervener in this case.

The report is signed by the member for Ottawa--Vanier.

Standing Order 21 states that no member is entitled to vote upon any question in which he or she has a direct pecuniary interest.

Page 189 of Marleau and Montpetit states:

On being elected, Members of the House of Commons become trustees of public confidence. Members must be seen to be impartial and to derive no personal benefit or gain from their decisions.

I am not sure if the member voted for or against the motion in committee but signing off on any document is a decision. A signature is legal proof of a person's decision on the matter.

The member for Ottawa--Vanier has made a parliamentary decision that grants him personal gain to the tune of $30,000.

Page 194 of Marleau and Montpetit states:

A Member with a pecuniary interest in a matter simply refrains from voting. In the event the Member votes, the vote may be questioned and eventually disallowed.

What I am arguing today, Mr. Speaker, my be breaking new ground by introducing the notion of a signature on a report, but there is a clear relationship between the report and the member's pecuniary interest. The member's signature on the report has a parliamentary consequence almost as effective as the member's vote.

I would think that a chairman with a pecuniary interest in a committee report would refrain from signing on it, as a member should refrain from voting on such a matter.

Since the signature of the member for Ottawa--Vanier constitutes a decision, it meets the criteria on page 189 of Marleau and Montpetit:

Members must be seen to be impartial and to derive no personal benefit or gain from their decisions.

This decision by the member for Ottawa—Vanier is a clear conflict of interest and a breach of the Standing Orders and the practices of the House. The report, Mr. Speaker, should be withdrawn.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

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, I became acquainted with this issue just before question period when the Leader of the Opposition made me aware of it. There are still a number of matters that have been raised during this point of order of which there is no confirmation yet.

The first item this afternoon alleges that the member had somehow a personal gain in this. Most of us know the hon. member and we know that he is certainly not the lawyer representing himself, so he does not have a personal gain in the sense that he would personally benefit from the legal action and funding for which the committee, on which he sits and chairs, is asking the House of Commons.

Second, there is no evidence, at least not any demonstrated yet, that in fact any of these expenses have been undertaken. If it is a matter of requesting that these committee expenditures be paid, we may like it or dislike it. That is an interesting debate, but if they have not been undertaken, let alone the member having a personal gain from them, the accusation of a conflict of interest may be somewhat overstated in the case at hand. In any event, I am sure Mr. Speaker will acquaint himself with the details of the matter and report to the House in due time.

In summary, I think that it would be important to ascertain whether these accusations of a personal gain, in terms of a pecuniary interest, are in fact materially true, which would hardly be the case given that the member does not, of course, have his own law firm. He does not gain personally, he does not represent himself, and he is not a lawyer. We all know that. So certainly, that part of it is at least overstated somewhat.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Who would pay if the House did not?

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Whether or not he would have paid that himself and asked for reimbursement, as was just asked by the right hon. member, is not proven because he does not even know, nor do I, whether the expenses actually happened at this time or whether they ever would if the funding were not secure.

This goes a little beyond what is at least materially evident at this point. Nevertheless, I am sure Mr. Speaker will verify the veracity of the allegations.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair wants to thank the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast for having raised this matter and the hon. government House leader for his intervention. I will take the matter under advisement and return to the House in due course.

On a different point of order, the hon. member for St. John's West.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, today as the House leader for the government responded to the request of the House leader for the opposition regarding the business for the coming week, he mentioned a number of bills that would be dealt with today, tomorrow, and on through to Wednesday. In talking about all of them he gave the indication that there would be carry-over time and that we would go back to aforementioned business. However, when he talked about Tuesday he just said we would be doing the Senate amendment on Bill C-10A specifically, without any provision for carry-over. Would the House leader for the governing party tell us if he plans to introduce time allocation on that bill?

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

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, I am not sure whether that is a regular business statement question, but notice of time allocation has been confirmed. Anyone who reads the Order Paper could take note of that. I am sure the hon. member is aware of it. I can confirm that this notice had been served to the House some time ago. It is hardly a secret. It is in the record of the House.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to seek your guidance on a matter that came to public attention this morning. There would appear to be interference with the business of the House by officials of the Prime Minister's Office.

I refer to an article by Campbell Clark in this morning's Globe and Mail , wherein it is reported that the duly elected president of the Liberal Party of Canada, Mr. Stephen LeDrew, was prevented by the Prime Minister's Office from giving testimony to a committee of the House. The article stated:

In an unusual move that highlights a battle over the bill between the outgoing Prime Minister and his party, [the Prime Minister's] office told Liberal Party president Stephen LeDrew that it did not want him to testify on the changes to fundraising laws at a parliamentary committee yesterday.

Instead, the Prime Minister's Office asked the party's senior paid staffer, national director Terry Mercer, to give the Liberal view. Mr. Mercer said he would speak in favour of the bill. He was accompanied by Eddie Goldenberg, the Prime Minister's senior policy adviser and right-hand man, who rarely appears before Commons committees.

The article went on to say:

Mr. LeDrew said he found it unusual when [the Prime Minister's] chief of staff, Percy Downe, told him the PMO did not want him to testify at the hearing. “The Prime Minister wants Terry to give the evidence,” Mr. LeDrew said in an interview yesterday

Mr. Speaker, as an experienced parliamentarian, you know that irregularities before committees are usually dealt with in committee. However, from time to time, Speakers have implicated that in grave circumstances the Chair would be justified in intervening without a report from the committee.

It is known that there is a dispute between the Prime Minister and the president of the Liberal Party of Canada. That is not a matter for the House. What may be a matter for the House is an interference with witnesses or people who seek to be witnesses before committees of the House.

If Stephen LeDrew were prevented from giving testimony on Bill C-24, and I remind you that he seems to oppose the bill, having described it as, “dumb as a bag of hammers”, if he were prevented by the Prime Minister's agents from giving testimony to a parliamentary committee, that would seem to me to be a grave and serious matter. Therefore, I seek the guidance of the Chair.

On April 7, when dealing with irregularities in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources , Mr. Speaker stated:

That said, it is, I think, advisable, to remind the House of our usual practice with respect to procedural irregularities in a committee. Marleau and Montpetit, page 858, states: “If a committee desires that some action be taken against those disrupting its proceedings, it must report the situation to the House”.

At page 128, we read: “Speakers have consistently ruled that, except in the most extreme situations, they will only hear questions of privilege arising from committee proceedings upon presentation of a report from the committee which directly deals with the matter and not as a question of privilege raised by an individual member”.

In ruling that there are extreme cases where the Speaker would have a responsibility to hear a question of privilege on a matter that was before a committee, did the Speaker have in mind such a matter as interference with a potential witness? Or is there another avenue open to the House to ensure that the Prime Minister's agents do not stop the elected president of the Liberal Party from expressing his opposition to a measure that the Prime Minister has threatened to push through the House whether or not his party favours it?

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your courtesy in hearing me on this important issue.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

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, this is not a very good effort on the part of the right hon. member.

First, he referred to the newly elected president of the Liberal Party. I voted for the guy two years ago, so he is not a newly elected president of the Liberal Party.

Second, he referred to the fact that the president of the Liberal Party had been invited to testify before the committee. The right hon. member always asks us to table all the sundries in the House. It would be interesting for him to find such proof and make it available to the rest of us where such an incident did happen because, in fact, it did not.

Not only that, the leaders of each party were invited to appear and send a representative. Do you know who was sent on behalf of the Conservative Party, Mr. Speaker? Do you think it was the duly elected president? It was the bagman of his party who came to testify last night before the committee. The allegation made by the right hon. member is factually incorrect. He did not even do it himself which is proof of its inaccuracy.