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House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

Air IndiaOral Question Period

June 3rd, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a well known fact that operational procedures between CSIS and the RCMP have not always been followed. It is a well known fact that the relationship and the communications between the two security agencies have at times been strained. Therefore, there is the very real possibility that CSIS did not inform the RCMP of all pertinent information regarding the Air India flight 182 bombing.

My question is for the Solicitor General. Will he initiate and inquire to assure Parliament and Canadians that all information was given to the RCMP by CSIS?

Air IndiaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in effect, that inquiry has been held. It was held in 1991-92 by the Security Intelligence Review Committee when it reviewed this matter extensively. That report stated:

We further believe that CSIS fulfilled its mandate to investigate the possible terrorist threats and that it advised the appropriate government and law enforcement agencies of the information it had in a timely and comprehensive way.

Those are the facts.

Air IndiaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, allegations that CSIS erased wiretaps and destroyed files caused the RCMP to launch an investigation, not in 1991 but in 2000, an investigation as to how CSIS was involved in the Air India flight 182 bombing.

Those allegations in 2000 were proven to be true. Why then does the Solicitor General refuse to believe that these new allegations may in fact be true? Why does he refuse to initiate an inquiry to either prove or dispel the serious allegations?

Air IndiaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the 1991-92 investigation also talks about the tapes and the comments that the member just raised. It deals with those facts.

I am concerned about the families of the victims out there who are listening to this kind of rumour and rhetoric from the other side. I think it is a bit of a travesty that they would pull those rumours out of the air and possibly jeopardize the longest running investigation and court case in history.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last October, the Minister of Natural Resources stated that if the softwood lumber crisis dragged on, the government should increase aid to businesses and workers. Eight months later, in a letter to all the members, the Minister for International Trade is finally acknowledging that the industry's situation has gotten worse.

Will the government now stop assessing the situation, as it repeats ad nauseam, and announce phase 2 of its aid plan for businesses and workers in the softwood lumber industry?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I just outlined a few minutes ago all the things that we as the federal government have done, totalling up to $350 million.

We, as a government, the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Human Resources Development, the Minister for International Trade and myself, are following this situation very closely. We want to ensure that our industry can continue to be a dynamic industry and that it can continue its operations.

We are concentrating on making sure we get an agreement but if we do not get an agreement soon, there is no doubt that we will have to do more for the industry to protect--

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, everything the minister has mentioned is for the intermediate or long-term. But, the situation is getting worse right now. That is exactly what the Minister for International Trade is telling us. Despite all the wonderful long-term measures, right now, nothing being is being done to help these businesses. This is what is serious.

I hear the minister saying, “If things get worse, aid will be forthcoming”. He has been saying for eight months now, “If things get worse, aid will be forthcoming”. But things have gotten worse and the minister has admitted this. Will he wake up and provide this aid immediately? That is what these businesses need.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Liberal

Claude Drouin LiberalSecretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, it is important not to inflame the situation. Direct aid cannot be given to the industry because the U.S. would criticize us for doing so and this would not be in the industry's interests. That is what the Bloc Quebecois must understand.

However, at the same time, we have implemented measures of $110 million to support the communities with economic diversification. We have already announced some of these measures. We will continue to work toward this goal with the stakeholders and the provinces. That is what we will do.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the minister is telling us he intends to let the industry die. Is that what he is telling us?

On the one hand, the Minister for International Trade says that all our practices relating to softwood lumber comply with the rules of international free trade yet, in his letter to us, the minister refers to a two-year transition period to allow us to modify our practices.

How can the minister plan changes to our practices in the softwood lumber industry, when these are, in his own opinion, good practices? Why change what is already compliant?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, two and a half years ago, we adopted a strategy supported by all governments in Canada, including the present and past governments of Quebec. We are determined to pursue our disputes with the Americans before the courts. We know very well that we are going to win and are already starting to do.

That said, I have also assumed the responsibility of opening up a dialogue with the Americans in order to try to find a long-term resolution to the matter at the same time. This is what led to the interpretation bulletins—

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, because of the government's inaction, the industries are showing signs of weakness in response to the difficult situation with which they are confronted.

Will the minister admit that, if the industries concerned are beginning to show signs of weakness at present, this is because the government has left them to their own devices to cope with the countervailing duties and because, while he was involved in drafting negotiating strategies, his colleagues refused to take action?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the industry. In fact, we have been consulting with the industry. I have met with the industry many times as has my colleague, the Minister for International Trade.

We are working closely with the industry to see what support we can provide them. The $15 million, which I outlined earlier, is as a result of the industry representatives. We have been responding and we will be monitoring the situation. If more needs to be done as a government we will need to consider that.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. market has been closed to Canadian cattle exports now for two weeks. The industry is losing $11 million a day.

When we add up the cost to workers on the farm, in the processing plants or driving the trucks that carry the beef across the border, that total rises to a staggering amount of over $420 million.

Could the acting Prime Minister tell the House why he is against providing much needed financial assistance to the literally thousands of Canadians whose livelihoods are at stake?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, obviously the situation is very dire for the industry. The government certainly sympathizes with all those affected, and the Minister of Agriculture has made those views well known.

We are assessing the situation. We are certainly mindful of the damage that is being done and we do not preclude any action.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am sure those sympathies are appreciated but it has come to light that an influential U.S. cattlemen's association has written to American politicians urging that the American government extend its ban on Canadian beef for up to seven years. This would have a devastating impact on the Canadian economy.

If the government can afford to waste billions of dollars on a useless long gun registry, contract cancellations and massive government mismanagement, why can it not heed the advice of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and compensate Canadian farmers for their losses as a result?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, we are working very closely with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and all those involved in the beef value chain. I met with the beef roundtable.

The hon. member needs to know that the best compensation for our industry is an open border between Canada and the United States, and that is our primary concern.

The government recognizes the situation fully and we will be there with and for our industry in every way we possibly can in order to help all of us and our economy get through this issue.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is another important aspect to this story, and that is that 1,000 packing plant workers have been laid off.

Recently the government agreed that workers quarantined as a result of SARS were immediately eligible for EI benefits. However packing plant workers have been laid off as a result of another quarantine, this one affecting beef cattle. Provincial governments and even employers are calling for the waiting period to be waived immediately.

Since the government does not put one red cent into the EI fund but simply creams off the annual surplus, when will it waive the waiting period for employees in the beef industry?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as the Ministers of Agriculture and Transport have said, the government understands the seriousness of the circumstances.

We certainly want to ensure that the border is opened as quickly as possible. However, in the interim, I want the hon. member to know that the employment insurance is there and that officials are working proactively to assist those who are laid off to ensure that they get their income supports as quickly as possible, but also to discuss the opportunities that are there through work sharing.

The hon. member makes reference to the waiving of the two week waiting period. Indeed he is correct, it was done for health measures. It was done for those who are in quarantine to stop the spread of a communicable disease. This waiving--

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, if EI is covering so much why are so many people hurting?

The Liberals are bungling softwood lumber just like they bungled SARS and mad cow. Whether it is the Atlantic Canada exemption or forest jobs from B.C. to Quebec, thousands of jobs are on the line.

Before the Liberals bungle this again, will the minister commit to sitting down with affected communities, workers and companies from across Canada so he can get input from the people who know what they are doing?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we are not sure what the question was there. There were about six questions and they were not directed toward any minister.

If the questions were directed toward softwood lumber, I can assure the hon. member that we are watching the situation closely. We have already announced $350 million.

If the hon. member is talking about employment figures, the government has created more jobs than any other government in decades. She should keep that in mind when she asks the question.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have word today that another herd has been quarantined to further guarantee that mad cow disease has been held in check. Unfortunately, quarantining a herd at this late date cannot help but set back attempts to reopen the Canada-U.S. border.

Why is it taking so long to identify and quarantine herds that have been in contact with the one and only animal to test positive for mad cow?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I believe it was explained in the technical briefing by officials at 1 o'clock today. The information just came to us that there had been co-mingling between one herd that had already been quarantined. That information just came forward. In order to complete the science and consider the necessary testing, that had to happen.