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House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should be aware that last Friday I announced $600 million in transition funding to farmers across the country. That is on top of the $312 million from the federal government, plus the provincial money, as far as the BSE recovery program is concerned.

The hon. member also knows from his experience, legal and otherwise, that there has to be agreements and signatures before money can be moved. Three or four provinces have refused to sign federal-provincial agreements which would allow us to move hundreds of millions of dollars to those provinces.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is blackmail. That is blaming the provinces again. His government's inability to strike compromise with provinces and other nations is legendary. When will the minister give up on this stubborn refusal to work with the agriculture sector on this critical file?

I ask the minister, I ask the Prime Minister and I ask his understudy, when will they get fully engaged on this file? What discussions does the Minister of Agriculture currently have under way with his counterpart in the United States? When will he come forward with a comprehensive plan to get the US border open to Canadian cattle? When will he do that?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, in the last number of months, we have had directly and indirectly, because I have kept track of them, close to 100 interventions with the United States. We have had face to face meetings, phone calls of diplomats, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, my colleague the trade minister, the industry, the food inspection agency and I can go on.

As far as working with the provinces, I have had signing authority since May. The provinces just need to sign the papers so we can flow the money to the farmers. We know they need money. Those provinces are not even committing their 40%--

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

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

Yesterday, we know who did his Mr. Democracy shtick again. It is a very unique brand: take over a party; stifle debate; and excite people so much that a whopping 11% of Liberal members bother to vote.

What is the big democracy plan? It is let Liberal MPs change their system before voters get a chance to change our system. Why should democracy work only for those who are elected and not those who do the electing?

I would like to ask government members, will they support real democracy by voting for the NDP motion for a national vote on proportional representation? That is democracy.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, that was a convoluted way of getting at the question of changing our electoral system. Need I remind the House that we have a bill before it now about modernizing our electoral system, about giving effect to the future electoral redistribution?

I thank the official opposition, which has even supported the bill. I hope all members of the House vote for it later this afternoon.

Let us do the modernization that is before us now before thinking of any new ones, particularly some that do not even work.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

To the same minister, Mr. Speaker. I have been a member of Parliament for longer than the incoming prime minister and I know the House needs some change and reforms.

I think it is also elitist to change the parliamentary system for 301 MPs and not change the voting system for 31 million people. People are tuning out of politics because this House does not mirror how people vote.

I ask the minister this. Does the government not think that the Canadian people deserve to be asked in a national referendum whether they would like to change the voting system in favour of one based on proportional representation?

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:30 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 is asking about proportional representation in a federation, something that exists virtually nowhere except one country in western Europe. I ask him to consider, aside from that, that all other western democracies which are federations have a system like ours.

If he is asking me if a party that barely wins any seats should have losing candidates win instead of winning candidates represent the people they were elected to represent, I do not think that is the way to go.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we would think the Liberal Party of Canada would have some shame but apparently not. The latest tax dollars for my buddies plan is being floated by the Liberal House leader to a $30 million slush fund so that MPs can hand out cash in their own ridings. That is lolly from heaven for Liberals trying to buy a little influence in their ridings, and conveniently, miraculously perhaps, it would be in place in time for the next election.

Why does the minister not simply acknowledge that dollars left in the hands of the taxpayer are more productive and more appreciated than dollars sucked out of their pockets?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 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 has a few facts out of sequence here.

The House has already voted against one motion in that regard. I understand that one Liberal member wants a parliamentary committee to review it. It is of course a free vote because it is private members' hour.

We on this side of the House are in favour of free votes. We practise it quite often. Perhaps the hon. member should engage in that from time to time.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it may be a free vote but it is pretty expensive for taxpayers.

Remember the HRDC grants that had to be vetted by the local party officials or the Liberal Party fundraiser who was convicted of influencing peddling in a cheque-swapping scheme, and we cannot forget the current ongoing RCMP investigation into the Liberal Party of Canada for its political donation scheme. It is about priorities.

We have been asking the government to find some money for the widows of veterans for ages. Instead of spending $30 million for a Liberal slush fund, does the minister not realize that same money would top up widows' pensions for 12,000 widows in the country?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, no one has mentioned any amount at all. The initiative in question is a private member's initiative that we vote on by a free vote in the House.

Insofar as improving benefits to our veterans is concerned, I ask the hon. member to support the excellent bill proposed by my colleague, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Bill C-50, which hopefully will be before the House either today or the day after. We hope the Alliance will finally vote for something that will help veterans for a change.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Health Canada uses the services of young teenagers, paid $10 per hour, to entrap corner stores that sell cigarettes to minors, in violation of the Tobacco Act. A Saint-Jovite school council objected to this shocking practice.

How can the Minister of Health endorse a Health Canada practice that encourages young teenagers to become stool pigeons and pays them to entrap small business owners by encouraging them to commit an offence under the Tobacco Act?

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have a rigorous monitoring and inspection regime in relation to our tobacco control legislation. In fact it has been a longstanding practice. It is nothing new.

We do employ young people to ensure that those who sell tobacco products in their stores are obeying the law. This is only done after consultation with the parents of these young people.

It is quite amazing that the hon. member should suggest that we should not effectively monitor the enforcement of our tobacco control laws.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Denis Choinière, a Health Canada employee, stated, “In Quebec, there are six thousand compliance checks each year by adolescents enrolled in school or a youth centre”.

Will the minister agree that it is shameful, unacceptable and intolerable, and that she is encouraging young people to act as stool pigeons? That is not the role of Health Canada. That is our opinion.

Health CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the role of Health Canada is to monitor and ensure the enforcement of our tobacco control laws. We are not encouraging young people to take up tobacco smoking. In fact one will find out that the young people we employ and their parents are some of the most vigilant in terms of being opposed to tobacco smoke.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, critics gave the original HRDC boondoggle scandal a big thumb's down and now Canadian taxpayers are being subjected to a painful sequel. Despite the minister's assertions that the problems in her department are confined to a few bad apples, it looks like we have a rotten barrel on our hands.

Now the police probe into federal job training projects is sweeping southern Ontario, I would like the minister to confirm that the infectious wrongdoing in her department is way beyond her control.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I will confirm is that the Auditor General herself, and himself before, came in and looked at our plan and said that we were on track. We continue to ensure it is implemented.

I would also remind the hon. member that the point in question is about individual wrongdoing and that the department has already taken swift and severe disciplinary action up to and including firing. He would not want to engage in continued speculation because I am sure he wants the police to complete its investigation and get all the facts.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would also like the minister to accept some measure of personal responsibility for the problems in her department.

Political pressure by her Liberal colleagues has been pointed out as a factor in this issue. I am curious as to why the minister has failed to disclose whether her department's approval process was manipulated as a result of political string pulling.

Why has the minister still made zero attempt to depoliticize her $800 million grants and contributions program after all this time?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I prefer the hon. member depoliticize his questions and listen to the facts here.

Again, this is an issue of individual wrongdoing. We have already acted up to and including firing. The hon. member can go on the website and look at all the grants and contributions made by the Department of Human Resources Development Canada in his riding and in the ridings of all members of the House.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

September 23rd, 2003 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the preamble to the Oceans Act says, and I quote, “Canada promotes the wide application of the precautionary approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of marine resources in order to protect these resources and preserve the marine environment”. Thus, the minister has all he requires in order to act at Belledune.

By refusing to act on this issue, is the minister not proving his unacceptable cowardice to all the people of the Gaspé?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the application that has been referred to in Belledune comes under the New Brunswick environmental assessment act.

There is no trigger under section 46, as was pointed out before, that would require any action by the federal department at this time.

We take this very seriously but if there is any further action required it will be reviewed as necessary.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a double standard operating here. When such things happen in Quebec, it is not the same.

The minister demonstrated much more caution and concern in northern Quebec, exactly where the risks were nearly nil, than in the case of Belledune, where there are highly toxic materials with a much higher potential for posing a threat.

What other reason but fear could explain the government's current hesitations in bringing New Brunswick into line?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this is a case in federal-provincial relations where “You're damned when you do and damned when you don't”.

There was an exhaustive provincial hearing. There were 36 qualifications in the application and that is presently in the hands of the New Brunswick assessment authorities. If they cannot meet the provisions that have been required they will not get a licence to operate the facility. That is where it stands right now.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, back to the Royal LePage scandal.

André Ouellet, the president of Canada Post, called the public works minister to inform him of wrongdoing in the tendering of the $1 billion Royal LePage contract. Of course that would have nothing to do with the fact that Ouellet has close family connections to one of the losing bidders. It would have nothing to do with that.

The public works minister keeps bragging about how he has taken control of corruption in his department. Why did it take a call from the president of Canada Post to bring this scandal to light?