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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to remind the hon. member—and she probably knows this too—that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation manages its own daily operations.

I would also like to remind the hon. member that the government is definitely committed to the CBC and provides it with $1 billion in annual funding.

Furthermore, I also think it is important to recall the Speech from the Throne in which the government stated its intention—in all its activities—to develop communities.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, to the people from the Saguenay worried about these cuts, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord confirmed having received every assurance that they just might be cancelled over the coming weeks.

Can the minster promise, before the election is called, to maintain services at the level they were before the cuts, not only in Chicoutimi but in all the regions where there were cuts?

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Québec for allowing me to reiterate the government's promise in the throne speech, and subsequently, to promote and be very present in communities.

This was not just for the past few weeks. This has been going on for the past few months and will continue in the coming weeks.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government always claims that it wants to encourage competition in the telecommunications business, but when it outlined the terms required to provide telephone service to its own offices in Atlantic Canada, the conditions made it impossible for new entries to compete with the incumbent.

Will the Minister of Public Works just open up the bidding system and give all contenders a level playing field?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the member for Cumberland—Colchester for raising this important question and for providing me with a letter last week outlining his concerns, to which I have been able to respond.

For all members of the House, let me say that members of my department put out a draft request for proposals in January so that it could have discussions on that draft with members of the industry with respect to the best possible service for these two provinces. The barriers that the hon. member refers to are being worked out. The final request for proposals has not been issued, but certainly the concerns of the industry will be fully considered.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the letter but it does confirm that the barriers are there. In fact, the rules state that a company can only tender on an entire province at once. The rules also state that all services must be in place within 120 days, which is just impossible for any company other than the current supplier, so it is not a level playing field.

Will the minister change these specifics to open up the bidding or explain why the government does not want the best deal for Canadian taxpayers' dollars?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we will be issuing a request for proposals by the end of this month which will give a full explanation of a very competitive process.

Let me say to the hon. member that with respect to one provider of government telephone services per province, it is necessary for operational requirements and to provide value for money for the people of Canada. Also, in terms of barriers to entry, any new entrant into the provision of telephone services is allowed by the CRTC regulations to be sold services at the regular cost by an existing incumbent supplier so that there can be no barrier to new entrants--

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Oak Ridges.

TradeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, Japan and Mexico have recently concluded a free trade agreement. Companies such as Nissan and Sony are able to compete on a level playing field in Mexico against rivals such as the U.S. and Europe.

Japan has realized that FTAs are important for its national security interests. Given that Japan is Canada's second largest trading partner, with an economy greater than that of all of Asia combined, and given that the United States is also aggressively seeking FTAs in Asia, can the Minister of International Trade tell us what steps he is taking to secure Canada's economic and trade interests with Japan, since members of the Japanese Diet are interested in an FTA with Canada?

TradeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the area of northeast Asia is truly a driving force in global trade, and yes, Japan is indeed Canada's second largest trading partner. We will continue to explore with Japan ways in which we can enhance our investment and our trading relationship, but as a start we would ask that Japan open its markets to Canadian beef. That is our priority.

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been dragging his heels on public health. He talked about a national public health agency and a chief public health official. He did that in the throne speech, and he did it again in promising that in the budget, but where is it? Talk is cheap, but he does not even have the forms for filling out the applications.

My question is simple. Will the chief public health officer's position be filled before the election?

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of State (Public Health)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that we will begin the search for the chief public health officer hopefully next week, and we will take the time it takes to get the right person for the job. We think it will be a short process.

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, beginning a process is not a lot of assurance.

Does the government realize that SARS came to Canada over a year ago? This government was not prepared then and it is not prepared now. SARS could be only a plane trip away.

Does the government realize that West Nile virus is here to stay? The avian flu is also here within our borders. The agency has not even started to think about getting on its way, so will the agency be in place before this election is called?

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that this country is absolutely ready to meet the challenges that could face us. We have learned from the experience of last year, with $665 million invested in last year's budget in the public health agency. We are ready to meet these challenges.

We are working very closely with the World Health Organization as well, which has acknowledged Canada's great contribution not only in this country but worldwide. We are on top of it.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, Edith Gendron, a public servant with Canadian Heritage, was dismissed because of a personal commitment as president of the movement “Le Québec, un pays”, despite the fact that her work is irreproachable.

How can the government claim that this was a purely administrative decision when Guylain Thorne, the person who dismissed Ms. Gendron, is a committed Liberal, a former chief of staff of the current President of the Privy Council, a member of the same team that claimed to be at war against the sovereignists in the sponsorship scandal? Is this not evidence that the decision was indeed a political one?

Public ServiceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I do not have much to add to what I already said last week and on several occasions this week. This is a labour relations matter. The public service standards were complied with. I must say that I find it rather strange that Bloc Quebecois members would call for political interference in the area of hiring and labour relations.

Grain TransportationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has a 1996 commitment to dispose of hopper cars. My question is for the Minister of Transport. Could he give us an update on the status of the Farmer Rail Car Coalition's proposal to own and operate the hopper car fleet in the interests of farmers and producers?

Grain TransportationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to working with the FRCC on its innovative proposal to manage the fleet of railway cars. We will continue with the necessary due diligence on the proposal to ensure that the roles and responsibilities are clear and that value for taxpayers is optimized.

The government and the FRCC have shared interests in ensuring that there is sufficient commercial and competitive grain transportation in this country, grain transportation that in fact meets the needs of producers and other stakeholders.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 81(14), to inform the House that the motion to be considered tomorrow during consideration of the business of supply is as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should propose, before the dissolution of the House, an employment insurance reform along the lines of the 17 recommendations contained in the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Beyond Bill C-2: A Review of Other Proposals to Reform Employment Insurance”.

This motion, standing in the name of the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, is not votable. Copies of the motion are available at the table.

I have received notice from the hon. member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin that he is unable to move his motion during private members' hour on Thursday, May 6, 2004. It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence. Accordingly, I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will continue with the business before it prior to private members' hour.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 5th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 21 petitions.

Mathieu Da Costa Day ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-524, an act to establish Mathieu Da Costa Day.

Madam Speaker, I take great pleasure in introducing this bill, which formally designates the first day of February as Mathieu Da Costa Day.

Mathieu Da Costa was a black navigator and interpreter, who in the late 1500s and early 1600s was instrumental in bridging the cultural and linguistic gap between our early French explorers and the Mi'kmaq people.

In a Canada that endeavours to celebrate its history and diversity with great fervour, I cannot think of a more fitting way to kick off Black History Month than with this commemorative day.

I would like to thank my colleague from Parkdale—High Park for seconding this motion. I hope all members of the House will support this bill when it comes forward for debate at second reading.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Mathieu Da Costa Day ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. May I ask for unanimous consent to return to tabling of reports from committees?

Mathieu Da Costa Day ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Is that agreed?

Mathieu Da Costa Day ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which recommends that the French language version of the Standing Orders be amended to reflect current usage by replacing “Orateur” with “Président”. I intend to move concurrence on this motion, but on another day.