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House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was salaries.

Topics

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I want to remind the hon. member that I am not hiding behind anything. If she wants to address her remarks to somebody, she is to address them to me. She is following very bad examples that have been set earlier in this House, and not today. I would invite her to address her remarks to the Chair, please.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is time for the minister to stop hiding behind the Ethics Commissioner and to start accepting the responsibility that Canadians demand. When will the disgraced and incompetent minister resign?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, this circus has been going on for about four weeks now. We have heard unfounded allegations in these last four weeks. We have had staff being smeared and a whole variety of things.

Frankly, we came to Parliament, to this House of Commons, to move forward on the facts of what matters to the government. Clearly, our government and our Prime Minister are doing such a great job that all opposition members can do is to continue smearing new immigrants.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Malcolm Brown, assistant deputy minister for the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, told the Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds that lowering the qualifying threshold for the employment insurance program to 360 hours, for everyone, would only cost $390 million.

Does the minister realize that, instead of reducing the EI contribution rate by three cents, he could have allowed thousands of workers to have access to employment insurance benefits at a similar cost? Why did he deliberately make the wrong choice?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, according to the Auditor General, the general actuary, we have made a fair and appropriate choice. We are in the process of making several decisions, and these decisions should be evaluated together, not individually.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to reducing contributions, the minister does not look at the overall picture. Mr. Brown also stated that lowering the number of hours required to 360 would make employment insurance accessible to an additional 90,000 people, who would no longer have to live in poverty.

Is this a case of bad faith? Why does the minister stubbornly leave all these people and their families in hardship, when he has ample means to come to their aid?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the only thing that is a hardship here is the lack of honesty of the party opposite.

I would like to indicate to the hon. members of that party that, over the past 10 years, we have created three million jobs, which generated a lot of hope and benefits while also creating a positive future for all Canadians.

During the last year alone, we created 59,000 jobs in Quebec.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with implementation of the Kyoto protocol at last only weeks away, we learn that Canada's water and air are more polluted than ever. Over the past decade, Quebec has had the best performance as far as reduction of greenhouse gases is concerned, and this is why we are calling for a bilateral Canada-Quebec agreement.

Rather than acting as the voice of Canada, could the Minister of the Environment focus his efforts instead on a territorially based agreement with Quebec, one that acknowledges Quebec's past efforts?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the negotiations with the Government of Quebec in connection with the Kyoto protocol are going smoothly, particularly since the Bloc Québécois is not interfering.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, although there is a federalist government in Quebec, as the minister has said, no progress is being made on anything, child care, fiscal imbalance, parental leave, let alone the environment.

Does the minister recognize that only an agreement based on a territorial approach can do justice to Quebec and its past efforts to deal with climate change?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if there is one political blueprint in Canada that would be disastrous for the environment, it is this party's separatism.

The worst possible thing would be to place international boundaries between provinces that are working together to achieve cleaner air and safer water, and particularly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the questions that the immigration minister refused to answer. She has been asked three times today about the number of ministerial permits she granted to members of her constituency, Liberal volunteers, and donors in her constituency.

She has avoided the question on three occasions. Here is a fourth opportunity for her to put it on the record. How many ministerial permits did she issue?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, let me be quite clear. Permits are issued to foreign nationals. Permits are not issued to people who are living in this country. They are issued to foreigners.

I issued permits to over 20 countries in that period of time. Some of them were for the opposition. There were a few others. I issued eight for the Ahmadiyya community. It had a conference of almost half a million people coming up on July 2, 3 and 4. In fact, if I am not mistaken, several members over there were also there.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Well, Mr. Speaker, let the record show that the question goes unanswered again. Is the Prime Minister aware of any police, RCMP or CSIS investigations into the conduct of the immigration minister or any members of her staff, past or present?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that there are no investigations that I am aware of, for myself or any of my staff. I stand here and will put my integrity up against any guys on the other side, anytime.

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, according to the 2004 Fraser Institute report on waiting times, it shows that waiting times have increased exponentially since 1993. One of the major causes is the shortage of doctors and specialists across Canada. While the immigration minister is handing out “get into Canada free” passes to strippers, there are doctors waiting in line and waiting a long time, like everyone else.

When will the Prime Minister get his priorities straight and help the doctors who want to come here?

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House before, we arrived at an unprecedented health care accord with the provinces and territories, and we will put $41 billion into health care over the next 10 years.

A significant amount of that money will be used to train our new doctors and nurses, and other health care professionals in this country. It will bring into our health care system all of the doctors and nurses who are here from other countries, who need to be re-skilled and retrained, and will be integrated into our system, so that we can deal with the wait times.

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, if I can stand in this House and ask this question, the Prime Minister can certainly stand and answer. It is an easy choice. If I had to choose between doctors or strippers, I would choose doctors. That is where the immigration minister and I disagree.

When will the government stop fooling around and get serious about the shortage of doctors and specialists in Canada?

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we will pour over $41 billion into health care over the next 10 years. It is important to recognize that a significant amount of that money will be used to train more health care professionals in Canada. A significant amount of that money will be used to retrain, re-skill and integrate international medical graduates into health care work here, so that there are no wait times for Canadians.

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

December 8th, 2004 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government announced steps to extend benefits to veterans and their caregivers which would allow our veterans to lead independent lives. Along with taking care of our veterans is the duty to commemorate their service.

Can the minister tell the House what the government is planning to do to commemorate our veterans during the Year of the Veteran?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Mississauga East—Cooksville Ontario

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there can be no greater priority than to serve those who have served Canada. The year 2005, the Year of the Veteran, will be a national history lesson and a national show of gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who wore the Canadian maple leaf in defence of our country.

I invite all members of the House to join us and join veterans in the official launch of the year next Tuesday afternoon, December 14, right here on Parliament Hill.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Supreme Court will decide on equal marriage for lesbian and gay couples. The Prime Minister has avoided this issue for years.

I have a question I know many would find comfort in his answering. As a citizen, as a gay man and loving partner, a clear answer to my question would be very significant.

Does the Prime Minister support my right to marry the man I love?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the answer in one word is yes.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's clarity, but I would have preferred an answer from the Prime Minister.

I hope that clarity will result in swift introduction of legislation that acts on those words. I hope that the Minister of Justice will be in the House tomorrow to table legislation ensuring equal marriage for gay and lesbian Canadians. When will this legislation be introduced?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have draft legislation before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada will deliver its advisory opinion tomorrow. Consequent to that advisory opinion, which we believe will be organized around the principles of equality and respect for freedom of religion, we will move with all deliberate speed to introduce legislation in the House.