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House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, farmers are exasperated because for a year and a half now they have been suffering the effects of the U.S. border being closed to Canadian beef.

Why has the federal government not realized that its aid package for farmers with cull is inadequate and that setting a floor price would be much better and cost the federal government absolutely nothing?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, as I said in answer to an earlier question, some $366 million has been directed in business risk management to the province of Quebec. In terms of establishing a floor price, the province of Quebec has the ability to establish a floor price within the province of Quebec. It does not need the federal government's assistance in doing that.

However, they are right. There is an issue with cull cows. There is an issue for producers. There is work to be done, and we are determined to assist them. That is why we are working with the producers and with the Government of Quebec.

HousingOral Question Period

November 22nd, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Until the Prime Minister literally abolished the affordable housing program, Canada stood as a world leader in the construction of affordable housing. Since the Prime Minister took over the reins, when he was finance minister, we have seen nothing but a growth of homelessness from coast to coast to coast, and people dying in the streets.

My question for the finance minister is this. How can Canada be the only G-8 country that does not even have a housing program?

HousingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada provides some $2 billion in ongoing support programs for social housing in cooperation with the provinces across the country. At the moment, we have a $1 billion allotment for the new construction of affordable housing. The housing minister and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation are very actively pursuing options in the future. Members will know that it was part of our election campaign platform and our throne speech, that we plan to move on this in this Parliament.

HousingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, how dare the finance minister include in his numbers money to build shelters for homeless people as though it is some kind of housing program. The government is constantly portraying itself as the great saviour of people who are homeless. If that were the case, why would it not establish some goals for affordable housing construction? Why would it not establish some goals for reducing homelessness in the country?

The only goal the finance minister cares about is his debt to GDP ratio. Where will that leave people who are in the streets? Will the--

HousingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Labour and Housing.

HousingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would know that I was in Toronto on the weekend. I met with leaders of homelessness in Toronto and in this province, Mr. Shapcott and Ms. Cathy Crowe. They have indicated that they appreciate the leadership that has been given by the government since 1999: $1 billion on the homelessness initiative, $1 billion on affordable housing and $2 billion on social housing. We are leading the world in many ways. We will continue to work with the provinces and communities to deliver more in terms of social housing.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government now faces a serious situation. Allegations pointing to abuse of power by the immigration minister have come from Liberal insiders and public servants. In one example, the minister, just three days before the election, rushed through a residency and work permit for a campaign volunteer, boosting her over the heads of thousands of others waiting in the queue.

Why is the minister being allowed to continue to make decisions affecting the lives of immigrants and refugees with this ethical cloud hanging over her?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as I have mentioned before in the House, the minister has referred this matter to the Ethics Commissioner. The Ethics Commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament. He will investigate this matter. He will report fully. That report will be made public. Let us not prejudge the work of the Ethics Commissioner. He is independent. Let us let him do his work.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the sad truth is the minister just asked for confidential advice on one narrow matter, not a thorough investigation as the government tries to make out.

Troubling questions have come out as to whether the immigration minister has abused her position to offer political favours. To preserve confidence in our system and until these matters are cleared up, will the minister be asked to step aside?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that an expanded review has been asked for by the Ethics Commissioner. It is also my understanding that the Ethics Commissioner has agreed to that expanded review. I again repeat that it is important we let the Ethics Commissioner do his work and that we not prejudge the work of this independent officer of Parliament.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was wrong not only in giving preferential treatment to the detriment of honest immigrants, but also for having created a system of corruption in her riding. First she gets rid of officials in her election headquarters, then she attracts volunteers by promising favours and, finally, she gives preference to applicants who do not deserve it.

Will the Prime Minister put an end to these schemes?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, there are outrageous assertions and allegations being made by certain members of the House. I think we all know full well that they are only making these allegations in here, where they are protected from the consequences of these outrageous, unproven allegations. The Ethics Commissioner is an independent officer of this Parliament. This matter has been referred to him. Let us not prejudge the outcome of the Ethics Commissioner's work.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, these allegations are coming from Liberal insiders and public servants. The minister should listen to what is happening on her own side.

Under the stewardship of this government, Canada's immigration system has become known for more cronyism and unethical treatment than helping legitimate immigrants and refugees. The minister has engaged in shady practices throughout her campaign. She has rewarded her election workers by allowing one to queue jump and another to escape deportation.

When will the Prime Minister demand better of his cabinet and ask the minister to step aside?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, those are the most outrageous and unproven assertions and allegations.

It is incumbent upon all of us in the House not to abuse the immunity and privilege of the House but to act as responsible parliamentarians. That is what the minister has done. The minister has referred this matter to the Ethics Commissioner. The government will cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner in his inquiry. The report by the commissioner will be made public. Let him do his work.

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Bloc Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, since 1994, the Liberal government has not invested in the construction of social housing. Since 2001, it has merely invested in affordable housing. However, it does not meet the same needs and does not help the same people. Today, FRAPRU, the popular front for urban redevelopment, held a major rally and asked the federal government to take a new direction and invest in social housing.

Will the government change direction and invest massively in social housing to make up for the ill-advised decisions that it has made repeatedly, year after year, since 1994?

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I attended the meeting with FRAPRU this morning. We share FRAPRU's objective which is to ensure that people in this country can find affordable housing. That is why the government has committed $2 billion on an annual basis for 636,000 social housing units and an additional $1 billion in affordable housing. We will continue to invest in people.

Housing is much more than bricks and mortar. It is about building people's lives. We will continue to do more, especially in the province of Quebec.

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Bloc Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, intention is not enough, the government must take action.

Last week, the CMHC announced a $2.4 billion operating surplus. In order to give new hope to those who are directly affected by the massive cuts made in social housing since 1994, should the government not force the CMHC to now invest its surpluses in the construction of social housing?

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I believe I answered the same question by the same member last week indicating that I am looking at all of the options that are available to the government with regard to additional investments in social housing.

During the election we committed an additional $1.5 billion to what we have already committed. We are committed to making sure that people can find affordable housing. I want to applaud the Government of Quebec and the communities of Quebec for partnering with the Government of Canada for delivering those affordable housing units and social housing units in Quebec.

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Boire Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is currently a major housing crisis in several major cities. Vacancy rates are at their lowest and there is no indication that the situation is improving.

Considering that it refused to invest in social housing between 1994 and 2001, will the government recognize that it contributed considerably to this housing crisis and that the best way to solve this problem is to agree to allocate 1% of its expenditures to the construction of social housing?

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the fact that the BQ is finally recognizing the federal government's help to the provinces in delivering housing, that it welcomes that, and that it applauds the federal government. I want to indicate to the BQ that we will continue to work with the provinces and communities to ensure that we deliver more affordable housing and social housing in this country.

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Boire Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, strangely, this year the CMHC recorded a $2.4 billion surplus, while there are glaring needs in social housing.

Why would the government not take advantage of the CMHC surplus to make up for its past mistake in social housing, when it refused to invest any money, between 1994 and 2001?

HousingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, the government is looking at a number of options available to it, including the retained earnings in CMHC. We are looking at more flexible tools. We are looking at working with communities and provinces to look at innovative, creative solutions. We are looking at working with the private sector and big labour to provide the funding available to ensure that all communities and the people there get affordable housing as one of their main objectives.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is clear the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is caught in a web of her own making.

From May 21 to June 29, staff members claimed more than $11,000 in travel expenses. Her staff claimed these expenses for work done in her riding during the campaign. This is wrong. The minister just does not get it and she clearly does not care. Now, taxpayers are on the hook for thousands of dollars that essentially funded her campaign.

When will the minister do the honourable thing and step aside?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, let me assure members that the Ethics Commissioner will be looking at all of the issues that have been raised. I have great confidence in my integrity and in all of the decisions that I have taken. I will await the Ethics Commissioner and will not prejudge him.