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House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ukrainian.

Topics

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, these are serious improprieties. There are over 679,000 immigration applications waiting to be processed. They include people who may wait up to two years and they cannot casually drop into the minister's campaign office for help.

Let us review the facts. A stripper with an expired visa, working in the minister's campaign office, is permitted to jump the queue. The minister abuses her position by allowing this campaign worker to bypass the system and move ahead of legitimate applicants, and breaches the Privacy Act along the way.

When is the minister going to do the right thing? Is her chief of staff still working for her, and when will she resign?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, as I have clearly indicated, I, not them, have asked the Ethics Commissioner to see if there were any improprieties or any breach of ethics on any of the issues that have been raised here.

Clearly, I wish that the Ethics Commissioner would report yesterday, not tomorrow. We must wait for his decision. That is why we hired an independent Ethics Commissioner. We, in this government, established an independent Ethics Commissioner to give guidance and advice to all of us in the House.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General was very clear in her report yesterday on the subject of employment insurance. The only expenditures that can be charged to the employment insurance account are benefit expenditures and administrative expenses.

In light of this stark observation by the Auditor General, how can the government continue to refuse to improve the program when, again this year, another $2 billion was diverted from the account, for a total of $46 billion?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when the rate was established for this year at $1.98, it was fully the expectation that it would provide a balance between revenues coming in and expenditures going out. Of course, when we set the rate for the coming year, we will again attempt to achieve that balance between revenues coming in and benefits going out. We expect to make that announcement in the next few days.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a joke. A mere $46 billion was diverted from the account by the government. A minor detail

In front of millions of viewers, during the leaders' debate, the Prime Minister himself made a commitment to review the 910 hour rule determining eligibility.

What is the government waiting for to meet this commitment made by the Prime Minister? He will not be able to back out because he made this commitment in front of millions of people.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government is taking the necessary time to ensure that the appropriate and correct decisions are made rather than policies scribbled down on the back of an envelope, as I gather is being recommended by the Bloc Québécois. However, I can assure the hon. gentleman that in the coming year he and Canadian workers can look forward to lower rates and higher benefits.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister makes a promise it is serious. The Prime Minister made two promises. He promised to reduce the 910 hour requirement and he promised, in Rimouski, to find a way to improve the situation and do more for seasonal workers.

In light of repeated criticism by the Auditor General and of the promises by the Prime Minister, how can the government continue to ignore workers' complaints by stubbornly refusing to correct the situation?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have already begun to correct the situation. We proposed changes a few months ago, but obviously the hon. members opposite do not read the papers. I said we were going to correct the anomalies and we are in the process of doing so. However, we will not present a slapdash and incomplete plan.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the situation certainly has not been corrected. This is the fifth time the Auditor General has said that the government is not respecting the spirit of the law. To help the government respect the spirit of the law, the Bloc Québécois has tabled two bills: one to improve the employment insurance system and another to set up an independent fund.

Since these two bills correspond directly with what the Auditor General is saying, does the government intend to support these two Bloc bills, since it was the Prime Minister himself who promised these things?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government is obviously examining all issues very carefully with respect to employment insurance. In the short run, we have the issue of setting the rate which indeed is authorized for us to do by law. We will be doing that in the next number of days. The hon. gentleman will see lower rates and higher benefits in due course. He will also see that the government takes very seriously the concerns of Canadian workers and the people who employ those workers.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1989 the Prime Minister joined with other Liberals in voting to put an end to child poverty in Canada. During the 1990s, despite growing surpluses which now total some $61 billion, the government did virtually nothing about it.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. How can the government justify the shameful fact that today a million of our kids are in poverty even more than in 1989?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden LiberalMinister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the results of the report that the hon. member refers to are disappointing. After six straight years, when the child poverty rates went down, this report says that they have gone up. All of that has been helped in the last few years by a better economy, lower unemployment rates, an increase in the national child benefit, and now new initiatives in terms of child care. However, I and other ministers in the House will continue to work in areas that affect child poverty. I am sure that the provincial governments will do the same.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the 1990s, when this government continued with its cutbacks in spite of building surpluses, countries including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and a couple of others acted on child poverty and virtually eliminated it.

Will the government put an end to the hypocrisy and commit itself today to targeted reductions in child poverty in the years ahead?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden LiberalMinister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my previous answer, in the last number of years there have been significant efforts made in the area of child poverty, including a dramatically increased national child benefit and the announcement of a very ambitious child care program. We will continue to work in areas that affect child poverty, as other ministers in this government will, and as will the provincial governments.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, reports are leaking out that the immigration minister has fired her chief of staff. The minister has not denied that in the House. I would like to remind the House that he is an individual who is more than just a chief of staff. He has been with the minister since her days on Toronto city council. They have been working very closely for a long time.

My question is simple. Is Mr. Wons taking a bullet for the minister today?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, first, I have not fired my chief of staff. Second, it is demeaning to stand here and throw people's names, whether it is the public or staff who work for us, and have them bandied around here as if they are useless people, while members stand here under the immunity of Parliament. I think it is disrespectful for Parliament.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister obviously has a problem understanding the seriousness of this situation. She has been found to have helped a campaign worker jump the queue. She rushed that through three days before the election. Her campaign staff, including her chief of staff, were doing confidential immigration business in her campaign office. They were charging expenses to her ministerial budget while they were working on her campaign. They failed to report a deportee with a Canada-wide arrest warrant to the authorities.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, one has to wonder why we all talked about the need for an independent ethics counsellor for 10 years. We now have it as a result of this Prime Minister and this government.

I have asked them to look at this, to see exactly where we are going, and to seek the advice of the Ethics Commissioner. I am totally confident that there has been no breach of ethics and that will be found when he reports back. Let us wait until the Ethics Commissioner reports back.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has tried to portray the granting of a minister's permit to a stripper as an act of compassion. However, we now know that for senior aide Ihor Wons it was regular operating procedure to meet with the owners of strip clubs. They would discuss ways to circumvent the immigration system in order to bring exotic dancers into this country.

How many permits did the minister sign as a result of Mr. Wons' rendezvous at these clubs?

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, we are hearing from the same member the most unfounded and outrageous allegations. He has tried to do this before in this House. If he has any evidence of the allegations he just made, let him table that evidence in this House today.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, we ask questions so we can get to the bottom of these allegations. This minister continues to fail Canadians by not exposing her role in this. Allegations that eight women were improperly granted landed immigrant status by this minister's official have recently come to light. Once again, the minister and her staff are in the middle of scandal.

Will the minister finally take the responsibility for her role in this scandal and resign?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I do not take any lessons from that sanctimonious parliamentarian over there who is a disgrace in this Parliament. If the member has any proof of those allegations, he should put them on the table now, or shut up and sit down.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I think it would be helpful if all hon. members kept quiet.

The hon. member for Saint-Lambert.

Cultural DiversityOral Question Period

November 24th, 2004 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, recent government comments on the draft convention on cultural diversity are extremely vague on two of the key issues raised. As far as relations between the WTO and the convention in particular, the position is totally nebulous.

What I want to know from the minister is. what position does Canada have in mind to ensure that the countries concerned have the means to protect their culture when they feel it is under serious threat? Also, what exactly did she mean yesterday with her reference to wanting a convention that is legally applicable?