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House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was date.

Topics

Supreme Court of CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has fulfilled his promise to have a parliamentary review and that process is underway. That process does not yet allow for the exposure of private confidences which still remain protected. If a recommendation is made otherwise out of that parliamentary review process, we will respond to it.

Supreme Court of CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, how open is it when Canadians cannot even know about the candidates for the Supreme Court? The background is hidden and the minister refuses to give it out in public.

The Prime Minister clings to this same old secretive process that has always been in place. He has had years to come up with a broad and open process. How does the Prime Minister explain his complete failure to keep his commitment?

Supreme Court of CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Minister of Justice I appeared before the justice and human rights committee and shared with that committee the protocol with respect to the appointments process. For the first time we revealed how comprehensive is the nature of consultations. We look forward to the report of the committee as to any further recommendations it may wish to make.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Chinese national people's congress standing committee has stated universal suffrage will not apply for 2007 for the Hong Kong special administrative region. In 1997 Beijing promised autonomy: one country, two systems. This decision goes against that pledge.

Since Canada has championed and supported this approach, what representations will Canada make to ensure that China fulfills its obligations?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Oak Ridges for his question and his interest on this important subject.

We have always made it very clear that we believe that the people of Hong Kong should determine the political structure which is most suited to their needs in accordance with the democratic objectives which are laid down in the basic law.

We urge the Chinese authorities to ensure that the power to interpret the basic law will not be used to prevent political evolution in Hong Kong in accordance with the wishes and democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong. We will convey that message to all Chinese authorities at the appropriate meetings.

Whistleblower LegislationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today Ralph Heintzman, the government's top official on the whistleblower file, is reported as saying that Bill C-25 is not a whistleblower protection act at all. He says it is actually an internal disclosure bill designed to impose penalties on whistleblowers in order to prevent departmental reputations from being publicly tarnished. Moreover, Mr. Heintzman feels, as Martha Stewart would put it, that “that's a good thing”.

My question is does the President of the Privy Council agree, and can he explain how the act of reporting confidentially to the public sector Integrity Commissioner could publicly tarnish any reputations?

Whistleblower LegislationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, first, I want clarify what Ralph Heintzman simply wanted to say, which is that the system that we want to put in place will be used to deal with the situation internally. He never said that it was something else.

This is an act to protect whistleblowers. We want to ensure that it is an inclusive measure that strikes a balance between the importance of protecting whistleblowers and the need to be able to prevent frivolous actions. I am confident that we can move forward very quickly with this legislation.

Whistleblower LegislationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, prominent whistleblower advocate Ken Rubin said yesterday that the whistleblower legislation, Bill C-25, was a cruel and contemptuous hoax that would accelerate distrust and intimidation, and would end up hurting public employees turned whistleblowers who were doing their jobs.

One reason the bill is so bad is that clause 15 says that “No person shall take any reprisal against a public servant”; however, the bill imposes no penalties whatsoever for violations of this provision.

Will the minister commit today to imposing penalties for the violation of those rights?

Whistleblower LegislationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, first of all, instead of reading all those papers, the member should read the bill. I think it is more important to take a look at the clause itself. He should take a look at clause 9.

Second, what I promoted since the beginning is to ensure that not only he reads the bill, but participates fully in the standing committee because this is a great piece of work. We believe that we can be flexible. If there are good amendments, I would be more than pleased to listen to them.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Léonard report released yesterday shows that between 1994-95 and 2002-03, the federal government's revenues increased by 45% and its operating expenses by 39%. During the same period, the federal government's transfers to Quebec—to fund health and education—decreased by 7.6%.

Faced with such shocking figures, can the Prime Minister deny that all those years when he was finance minister, he was the prime architect of the fiscal imbalance with which Quebec and the provinces must deal now?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in the last fiscal year for which figures are available, 2003, the Government of Canada generated revenues of $177 billion and the provinces received $166 billion including tax points.

Once the transfers are done, the provinces have just over $200 billion and the federal government is down to $140-odd billion. The federal government, however, is still left with 22¢ on every dollar for debt reduction where the provinces have 11¢ on every dollar.

Therefore, if there is a fiscal imbalance, it is the other way.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

In light of the Prime Minister's visit to the United States, will the minister report to the House on the progress of discussions with U.S. authorities in regard to creation of a safe third country agreement with the U.S. regarding refugees coming from the U.S.A.?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the U.S. have both published the draft regulations. We are awaiting comment back and we are looking forward to implementation before the end of the year. It is a very important piece of legislation that is going to improve the safety of both the U.S. and Canada.

Canada Labour CodeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, pregnant and nursing women who work under Quebec legislation and stop working for preventive reasons, are paid 90% of their salary, while women who work under federal legislation receive only 55% through employment insurance, if they are eligible, which is not the case for two thirds of them. The Liberal way of doing things simply creates two classes of workers in Quebec and endangers the health of women and their children.

Why does the Minister of Labour insist on encouraging such an injustice against pregnant and nursing women in Quebec?

Canada Labour CodeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in reality, 84% to 88% of workers who are eligible can receive the necessary benefits, but, unfortunately, only if they lose their jobs. There are successful situations too. One has to realize that many more women are working today than before. This is something quite positive that perhaps the Bloc cannot—

Canada Labour CodeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Windsor—St. Clair.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week the Ontario College of Family Physicians released a report on pesticides. The report found that exposure to pesticides caused acute health risks to adults and children, as well as potentially deadly impacts on fetal development. According to Health Canada, pesticides cannot be registered if they have the potential to cause birth defects. We now know that is clearly the case.

Given this evidence, will the government move immediately to ban pesticides and implement a specific ban on their cosmetic use?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, before a pesticide is registered in Canada, detailed studies must be conducted to assess potential long term adverse effects on all systems, as well as potential, acute and short term effects.

The agency carries out a rigorous scientific assessment of these studies to ensure that pesticides, when used according to the label, do not pose a health or environmental risk for Canadians. No pesticide is allowed to be used or sold in Canada when it is determined to pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

We have now concluded the list, therefore question period is over for today.

The hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby on a point of order.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

April 27th, 2004 / 3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, further to a matter that came up yesterday and to a conversation that I had with you in chambers, I wish first of all to apologize for expanding the envelope of the rules of this House and going against them.

Second, I would like to say I will make a commitment about cooperation with our rules. As parliamentarians we make those rules and then we elect you to enforce those rules, Mr. Speaker, so there should be cooperation and not any appearance of unilateralism to change those rules.

Third, I had some images on a digital camera and I wish to assure the House that I have erased those images.

In summary, I would say there is an apology, there is a commitment to cooperation, and I have described the subsequent action.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby for his compliance with the practices of the House. I believe that will therefore conclude this matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Athabasca.

I have listened to the debate today and it has been quite informative to watch the Liberals hoist with their own petard. They have been saying that this would totally revolutionize this place, that somehow we would come under the spell of George Bush and his terrible hordes from the United States, that truly the marines would come.

I can advise the federal Liberals that it has not happened to Gordon Campbell. Gordon Campbell, the premier of British Columbia, decided to do what was in the best interests of the people of British Columbia. He took the initiative for the people of British Columbia that we have been proposing for the people of Canada. He actually set a fixed election date. The sky did not fall. The troops did not come in from Port Angeles. No, indeed, nobody particularly paid any attention.

To suggest that what the Conservative Party motion is recommending, setting a fixed election date in Canada, would somehow be totally revolutionary, that it would end our British parliamentary system and all of the affects of our British parliamentary system, is specious on the part of the Liberals.

We do recognize, at least I recognize, that there would be some substantial changes. A couple of the changes would lie in the area of a change in the cycle of how politics is done in Canada. By going to a fixed election date means that effectively, the province of British Columbia is in the process of getting ready for and campaigning for the entire legislative cycle of the British Columbia government. It is focused on the fact that it will be going to the people on May 17, 2005.

I also point out that the opposition party in the province of Manitoba, the Progressive Conservative Party, is also proposing a fixed election date.

It is very important to note that as a result of a fixed election date basically what would happen is there would be a loss of advantage to the premier in the case of the provinces, and to the prime minister in the case of Canada. Of course, in the case of a loss of advantage to the Prime Minister, he needs every advantage that he can possibly get.

I should also note that we have a model of success for what is set out in the motion by the official opposition. It did not bring the end of the British parliamentary tradition or system in Australia in the state of New South Wales nor in the state of Victoria.

As a matter of fact, I can report that in Australia, the New South Wales parliament has a fixed four year term. This is going to be earth shattering for my federal Liberal friends on the other side, but the next election will be on Saturday, March 24, 2007. Believe it or not, that has not brought the British parliamentary system to its knees in Australia.

Further, the state of Victoria, with the passage of historic parliamentary and electoral reforms in March 2003, now has four year fixed terms for both houses. The next election will be held on Saturday, November 26, 2006. This is really quite amazing. I do not think its government has fallen, nor has it seen the U.S. marines on its shores.

It is just a little bit facetious, particularly for some of the members on the other side of the House, to try to indicate that this House would fall, that somehow the British parliamentary system under which we work would be severely damaged and somehow democracy simply would not work.

In fact, we could listen to another Liberal, a person who has been referred to a couple times in the debate today, our friend Mr. Tom Kent. I will repeat what he said in January of this year.

He said:

The fount of authority is the prime minister's power to dissolve Parliament when he chooses--a fearsome discipline over his own party. The even greater offence to democracy is that other parties are put at a serious disadvantage, as they cannot be sure when and on what issue or pretext an election will be called. Will [the Prime Minister] free Parliament from arbitrary dissolution? That would indeed shift the balance of power, away from the “command-and-control systems of central authority” and toward a democracy that better reflects “the views of citizens and communities”.

That is what Tom Kent said and it is what we say. I submit that is what a majority of Canadians, who are sick and tired of being held hostage by the Prime Minister in setting the election date, would also say.

There are certain efficiencies that would occur, recognizing that there are certain costs and indeed other consequences that would flow from setting a fixed election date.

As I alluded to a couple of minutes ago, when we go through a life of a Parliament there is a phase when the government basically does all the housecleaning, does all the bad things that need to happen in the first year.

In the second year, the government tinkers around and makes sure things get repaired, that they are in better repair. The government is still working at correcting the situation.

Normally in the third year the government starts the process of putting things back together so it appears to be a lot better to the electorate.

In the fourth year, as in the case of the present federal Liberal government, it has been doling out about $1 billion in lollies to constituencies it is concerned about possibly losing.

That is the normal cycle. Unfortunately it is a cynical description of the cycle, but that is the normal cycle of events.

The difference with the present government, with the party that will be going for its fourth term at some time we know not when, in the first three incarnations, in 1993 then prime minister Jean Chrétien came to office with all sorts of ideas about how he would correct things and how things would be far more responsive.

We then arrived at a point when in his best judgment it was in the interests of himself and of the federal Liberals to not wait until the fourth year. Instead he got on with doling out all the lolly and then he went to the people in 1997 for absolutely no good reason. In 2000, after only three years in office, the government went back to the people of Canada for another mandate.

Then there was the Liberal leadership shemozzle. From that we have the incarnation of the new Prime Minister who now says, “Gee, maybe I will have an election, or maybe I will not have an election”.

What that is all about is the federal Liberal Party has had its hand caught in the cookie jar over the ad scam scandal. As a consequence, the Prime Minister is now choosing to delay and effectively hold the people of Canada ransom while he takes a look at all the opinion polls. This is a shameful way for any new prime minister who continues to lead the tired, old federal Liberals to treat the people of Canada.

Let us look at what this means in the actual election cycle. I am going to run again to hopefully succeed myself in the riding of Kootenay--Columbia.

Kootenay--Columbia is a very large riding. I am fortunate to have 1,200 members in my constituency organization, most of whom are very dedicated, hardworking people. They are completely committed to keeping the representation in this Chamber from that constituency in the hands of a party and a party representative who will take the information from the constituency and bring it to this place. They are prepared to work.

But we do not know if or when there is going to be an election. As a consequence, what do we do about headquarters as far as having a campaign office is concerned? What do we do about installing telephones? What do we do about acquiring printing and signs? There are all sorts of things involved in the election process.

This is true not only for me. Amazingly, it is also true for the federal Liberals who have been selected by their party and will be running. Their members are in exactly the same bind of trying to figure out whether or not to take summer holidays or whether they should have a coffee party or a barbecue.

What kind of efficiency does this create for people in Canada who are very interested in the democratic process but who do not get involved? This kind of shilly-shallying and sidestepping by the current Prime Minister effectively means that Canadians who would normally be interested in becoming involved in the electoral process are not getting involved. They are saying, “I don't know what's going to happen and I don't know when it's going to happen”, and it leads to the level of cynicism that only this kind of game-playing by the Prime Minister and by the federal Liberals can actually generate--

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member for Kootenay--Columbia, but his time has expired. He is splitting his time and I am afraid he has run out of time, but there may be salvation yet. There is time now for questions and comments.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have an observation and I have a question. First, I have now heard references to Mr. Tom Kent and an article he wrote on January 29 in The Globe and Mail. I would say that on this side we are a big tent and we accept those comments, unlike our friends in the official opposition who, for example, when they hear a statement like that made by the member for Calgary Centre, call him a traitor. We have not done that on this side.

My question revolves around references to New South Wales, Australia. I would ask my friend opposite whether he could confirm that New South Wales is indeed truly a state. Or is it one of the territories of Australia and does it in fact have a constituent assembly which does not have the legislative powers of either a provincial assembly in Canada or the Parliament of Canada?