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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firefighters.

Topics

Forest IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Liberal

Belinda Stronach LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear on what I said. First of all, I said that where there is a large layoff in a community, we cannot turn a blind eye as a federal government and we must always be concerned and sensitive. I also said that there is a devolved labour market agreement with that province, so therefore it has primary responsibility for the layoff.

However, I said we would work together with the employer and the employees to take a look at what we could do in the long term.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, fully two months ago, Cascade Aerospace in British Columbia was informed that based on merit and price the company had been awarded a federal contract for maintenance work on Canada's fleet of Hercules C-130 aircraft.

Then, weeks later, Cascade was informed that the contract was being re-evaluated.

I would like to ask the government if it will guarantee to the House that the contract will go to the best bid, based on merit and price.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, this has been a fair, open and transparent process. I can guarantee the hon. member that in this process of procurement and in all our procurement processes we will always deliver the best possible value for Canadian taxpayers while providing the best equipment and services to our Canadian armed forces.

We are operating an open, transparent and accountable process and we are investing to ensure that our Canadian armed forces have the equipment to do their jobs.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's response to the unanimous recommendations of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development on the social and environmental liability of Canadian mining companies abroad is unacceptable.

Since the human rights violations and environmental looting by Canadian mining companies will only get worse, we want to understand why the government is refusing to change its approach, which consists of invoking voluntary codes of conduct, which do not work.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate this question. It is quite pertinent.

We believe that it is extremely important to continue to work with companies operating in other countries. The Government of Canada knows that there are mining projects in 3,200 locations around the world. However, Canadian jurisdiction applies only to Canadian territory, to Canada. We invite Canadian companies to respect their social responsibilities. We intend to continue to work with these companies to make them aware of these responsibilities.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the UNESCO General Assembly has just adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In Canada, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, in conjunction with all the provinces and territories, made the Canadian position clear to the UNESCO member states. This culminated in an historical vote: 151 of the 155 members voted in favour of the convention.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has made Canada the champion of respect for cultural diversity, and the concert of nations heeded us. How does the minister plan to implement the convention?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Jeanne-Le Ber Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. This is indeed a great day for Canada, since the convention has been officially ratified by UNESCO, in an unprecedented consensus. This is why it is being termed an historic convention. This is a new international right.

The next step is for Canada to ratify the convention. We are aiming at being the first to do so. We will therefore try to move quickly in order to preserve the lead role we have played so far in this matter.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Independent

Bev Desjarlais Independent Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, education is critical to improving the social and economic strength of first nations people. The community of St.Theresa Point has over 700 nursery to grade eight students attending school in trailers and satellite rooms that were supposed to be temporary. They have no gym, no library and no playground. Indian Affairs says it will start design planning in 2009 for a new school. In the next five years 500 more children will reach school age.

Would the minister and the Liberal government accept their children receiving their education under these conditions?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalMinister of State (Northern Development)

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is very concerned about the quality of education for first nations children and all aboriginal children across Canada. We invest millions and millions of dollars across the country. The first ministers will be meeting in November to plan along with the government the results that are desired by the first nations on education for their children.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

October 20th, 2005 / 2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration suggested that he would yet again postpone the creation of a special refugee appeal section, thereby going against legislation passed in this House four years ago now. The United Nations Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have been calling for its implementation for a long time.

If the minister does not intend to create the refugee appeal section, then he should just say so instead of leaving refugees in uncertainty, as he has been doing for far too long with all his postponements.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, people who work in this area all agree that the system works well. For example, last year we accepted 22% more refugees than in previous years.

Does the hon. member opposite want us to say no to more refugees or does she agree that the system works well since we are already welcoming more refugees?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year the Prime Minister of Canada said that it is time to stop the rape of our oceans. The fisheries minister said “no habitat, no fish”.

We know the Liberal government is very good at dealing with bottom feeders when it comes to pay and patronage.

Will the government now support a moratorium on dragging or bottom trawling within our economic zone and will it support the UN call to stop bottom trawling or dragging in the high seas throughout the world?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, in fact over the past three years in the NAFO regulatory area there were no Canadian vessels using the kind of gear that was displayed yesterday on the Hill by the group that was here. In fact, inside Canadian waters Canada is the only country in the world with toggle and chain regulations ensuring minimal contact between the ocean floor and the shrimp trawl.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that members of the House and indeed all Canadians would be interested to know what the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has planned for his agenda for the remainder of this week and the next week.

In light of the fact that we have already sat 14 days in this fall session without an opposition day and there are only 35 days left, that works out to one opposition day every seven days. When will we get an opposition day?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I find the last part of that question a little puzzling, given that the hon. member was at the meeting where I in fact outlined the opposition days. They will begin the week of November 14 and will go right to December 8. We are meeting our commitment and our obligation to provide seven opposition days during this supply period.

We will continue this afternoon with the second reading debate of Bill C-65, the street racing bill, followed by Bill C-64, the vehicle identification legislation, Bill S-37, respecting the Hague convention, Bill S-36, the rough diamonds bill, and reference to committee before second reading of Bill C-50, respecting cruelty to animals.

Tomorrow, we will start with any bills not completed today. As time permits, we will turn to second reading of Bill C-44, the transportation bill, and reference to committee before second reading of Bill C-46, the correctional services legislation. This will be followed by second reading of Bill C-52, respecting fisheries.

I expect that these bills will keep the House occupied into next week.

On Monday we will start with third reading of Bill C-37, the do not call legislation. I also hope to begin consideration of Bill C-66, the energy legislation, by midweek. We will follow this with Bill C-67, the surpluses bill.

Some time ago the House leaders agreed to hold a take note debate on the softwood lumber issue on the evening of Tuesday, October 25.

We also agreed on an urgent basis to have such a debate on the issue of the U.S. western hemisphere travel initiative on the evening of Monday, October 24.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 53.1(1), I move:

That debates pursuant to Standing Order 53.1 take place as follows:

(1) on Monday, October 24, 2005, on the impact on Canada of the United States western hemisphere travel initiative;

(2) on Tuesday, October 25, 2005, on softwood lumber.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in response to a question during question period the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said:

—the hon. member for Pontiac denies any wrongdoing on his part, but has written to the Ethics Commissioner to ask him to look into this matter. I hope the member opposite waits for a response from the Ethics Commissioner before commenting on this issue in the House again.

Later in question period the member for Nepean--Carleton asked the following question:

The Globe and Mail is reporting today that KPMG had found irregularities in the activities of the firm run by the family of the MP for Pontiac.

The Speaker then ruled the question out of order, citing subsection 27(5) of Appendix 1 to the Standing Orders which reads:

Once a request for an inquiry has been made to the Ethics Commissioner, members should respect the process established by this Code and permit it to take place without commenting further on the matter.

Mr. Speaker, the subsection you cited is a subsection of section 27. Section 27 deals with the matter of a member who has reasonable grounds to believe that another member has not complied with his or her obligations under the code. Under section 27 the Ethics Commissioner would then conduct an inquiry into the matter.

In the case involving the member for Pontiac, it was not another member who initiated an investigation; it was the member himself who made an inquiry. Such inquiries are covered under section 26. Section 26 deals with seeking an opinion and has nothing to do with an investigation. Subsection 26(1) states:

In response to a request in writing from a Member on any matter respecting the Member's obligations under this Code, the Ethics Commissioner may provide the Member with a written opinion containing any recommendations that the Ethics Commissioner considers appropriate.

Therefore, there is no investigation under way. An opinion has been sought and under the rules there are no restrictions regarding the asking of questions in this House.

The remaining subsections of section 26 deal with the opinion being confidential, that the opinion is binding on the Ethics Commissioner and that the last subsection provides rules for the publication of said opinion.

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I contend that you applied the wrong section of the code. A member cannot initiative an investigation into himself. A member can seek an opinion and that is covered under section 26 and not section 27.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would submit that if your ruling were to stand, it would mean that at any point when government members' activities were called into question, all that would be required to avoid any further questions in this place would be to have those members request the Ethics Commissioner to look into the matter. Given the government's propensity toward questionable behaviour, at some point soon the Ethics Commissioner could be looking into dozens of Liberal members and the opposition would be unable to ask any further questions.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I understand and appreciate the comments made by the opposition House leader.

I am conscious, Mr. Speaker, that the rule was designed precisely to allow the Ethics Commissioner to complete his work obviously in a timely way but to complete that work free from increasingly nasty comments made about the work he has undertaken in this particular case.

If we want the Ethics Commissioner, who is an officer of the House, to be able to do his work, I think that the minimum respect for the institution of the Ethics Commissioner requires that he be able to do that work free from undue comment which can be publicly very harmful to members of the House before the Ethics Commissioner has in fact arrived at some conclusions.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you and members of the House that it was always the intention of the member for Pontiac that the Ethics Commissioner's report, once it is completed, be made public. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Pontiac that once the Ethics Commissioner completes his work and arrives at a conclusion, the member for Pontiac will be very happy to make that report public.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. House leader for the opposition and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government for their interventions on this matter. I was going to say something on the issue anyway before the issue was raised. I will say it now.

Yesterday during question period, this matter was alluded to in a question by the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth. The government House leader replied, as indicated in the comments earlier, that the hon. member had asked the Ethics Commissioner “to look into this matter” and asked for members to refrain from referring to the case until the work had been completed.

Later in question period, the Chair reminded members of section 27(5) of the Ethics Code in Appendix 1 of the Standing Orders that enjoins members from referring to an inquiry being conducted under that section.

I now understand that a request made by an hon. member to the Ethics Commissioner to clarify his obligations under the code is mandated under section 26 of the code, which governs opinions sought from the commissioner.

Accordingly, I wish to clarify that there is no specific rule prescribing members from raising this matter in the House. However, I urge them to be judicious in their language and the phrasing of any such reference.

I remind them that the questions that are asked about this must deal with government business and government responsibilities, and not the responsibilities of the hon. member under the code. He cannot be questioned on this matter in the House during question period because questions must be directed to ministers and must deal with matters of ministerial government responsibility.

I know that all hon. members would want to avoid a situation where, in the heat of the moment, they would find themselves contravening Standing Order 18 which specifically prohibits the use of offensive words and I quote:

—against either House, or against any Member thereof.

I think that will deal with the matter. We could now move on to orders of the day.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Before the House had its break for question period and statements by members, the hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla had just finished his speech. There remain five minutes for questions and comments consequent on his address. Questions and comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for North Vancouver.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, street racing is a matter of serious concern in my riding of North Vancouver, as I am sure it is in all areas of Canada. This is why I gladly support Bill C-65 as a logical step by this government toward the goal of the much respected, late member of this House, Chuck Cadman, and his proposed private member' bill, Bill C-230.

Bill C-65 will now provide a clear, express direction for the courts to conclude that street racing, if found to be a factor in the commission of the offence, is to be an aggravating factor.

The Criminal Code does not have many factors listed as expressly being aggravating circumstances. Therefore, the addition of street racing will certainly be noted by the judiciary.

Bill C-65 also goes further than Mr. Cadman's proposed bill, by extending the possible maximum driving prohibition from three years to a possible maximum lifetime prohibition.

Street racing is an area that I know we have many examples of in my riding and in adjoining ridings where lives have been lost as a result of street racing. Therefore, it is important that this House shows its concern, through the passage of Bill C-65, to the people of Canada that this is an offence that must be dealt with seriously.

I know that this bill does not propose minimum mandatory sentencing. Minimum mandatory sentencing is something that I have supported in this House, both in my statements and in my votes on previous motions and bills. However, I believe that Bill C-65 is worthy of support at this time because it indicates the very serious nature of which this House holds street racing. As I have said earlier, it sends a very clear message to the judiciary to treat this as an aggravating factor and extends the maximum prohibition.

Many families have suffered lost ones as a result of street racing. It is something that puts at risk the lives of people and communities, as it has in my riding. It is something that this House, I believe, needs to show support for as being not acceptable behaviour in Canada.

Therefore, I would ask the members of this House to support Bill C-65.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been quite a while since I had the opportunity to rise in the House and speak to certain issues. I am very pleased to do it in respect for one of the finest men that I have had the opportunity to meet in Canada since I came to this place, and that is Mr. Chuck Cadman whom I met in 1993 when I was first elected.

At that time, Mr. Cadman was very active with various victim groups throughout the country. The organization was called CRY at that time in the British Columbia area. I was very pleased to see him arrive in Ottawa as a member of the House to work on justice issues because I knew where he was coming from and it was on behalf of victims of crime.

I am also very pleased to have listened to various members of my party who have risen and spoken to this issue. In particular, I think of the member for Fundy—Royal, Regina—Qu'Appelle, Palliser, Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, and Kildonan—St. Paul. I believe the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is the mother of a police officer. I want to commend every one of these members because they are speaking from the heart and strongly in favour of victims' needs and rights. That is something that has been lacking from the federal Liberal government for a long time.

I recall talking to Mr. Cadman on first arriving here about the rights of victims and how they seemed to be so blatantly ignored, while the rights of criminals were exaggerated in so many ways. At that time, I shared with him the story of a death of a five year old girl in the Calgary region who was murdered by an individual whom was later captured. He kidnapped her out of her backyard, assaulted her, cut her throat, and threw her in the garbage. It is the sickest story one could ever hear.

It had a major impact on her family members, but the one who received all the attention and had all his legal process paid for was the criminal. He received all the psychology, all the treatments by psychiatrists, and all the benefits afforded to him by the taxpayers of Canada to ensure he was treated fairly. Yet the siblings and members of the family of the five year old girl never received a penny toward any kind of assistance. That entire family received a life sentence because of this tragedy, yet the individual who committed the crime will be eligible for parole in the very near future and be back on the streets.

This did not make sense and it was not making sense to Mr. Cadman. When we talked about various issues, and I know that street racing was one of the latest ones, he was trying to put an emphasis in the hearts of the people in this place on the importance of addressing the will of the victims, the need to go all out with all strength, to put a stop to a very dangerous activity, and in order to do that, it required severe penalties and serious deterrent sentencing. What has been proposed in Bill C-65 has dishonoured Mr. Cadman's memory, by moving forward with this watered down version of what I know Mr. Cadman was fighting so hard to achieve, not only on this bill but on a number of other bills.

We sat side by side in the justice committee for a long time on many issues. I remember the conversation we had one day regarding some individuals who were sent to jail. These individuals were handcuffed, put in leg irons, taken out of court in front of their families and went directly to jail. Does anyone know what the crime was? These were farmers who had taken a bit of grain across the border without a Wheat Board permit. They were going to be made an example of. This government and its legislation sent those vicious farmers to the penitentiary.

Mr. Cadman would ask, “Good grief, what is going on?”. At the same time, this government, as we heard today in question period, was leaning toward sentencing people who abused, attacked or assaulted children to house arrest or community service. I think what Mr. Cadman wanted more than anything else was that the punishment of any kind of crime in this country should fit the crime that was committed. There should be a matchup.

To send farmers to jail at that time was mind-boggling to all of us, as to why this severe action had to be taken when we were putting other criminals who were violent and dangerous to society on the streets, under house arrest, or doing community service. Today we are still mind-boggled by this Liberal government when we constantly see in courts across the land, such as a person being convicted of 15 counts of fraud, virtually stealing $1.5 million and being sentenced to house arrest, I think he has to be home by 9 o'clock, and having to teach business ethics in certain schools across the land.

Can anyone imagine? That is a very lenient sentence. Yet those farmers who took the dab of grain across the border, which they owned and should have a right to move and sell as they see fit, went directly to jail because they did not obey the law. Can anyone tell me where any of that makes one bit of sense?

In 1994 Mr. Cadman was involved with these victims groups very strongly. I remember a very strong lady. I cannot recall whether it was 1994 or early 1995, but it was in those early years. Priscilla de Villiers was the president of this victims association. The numbers were growing by the thousands and that organization under her directorship brought over 2.5 million signatures on a petition to this place. I know you, Mr. Speaker, will remember the day that petition was brought to this place demanding that the House and the government get serious about crime in this country and do something about it.

It is now 10 years or 11 years later. Let me assure everyone that all the victims who belonged to this and other organizations across this country have worked very hard to achieve some good law and order, some good sense that would truly bring justice to this land. This government has ignored those 2.5 million signatures just as sure as the day is long and it continues to ignore the crime petitions from victims all across the country who send them to every member of the House as we table them.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why any Canadian would continue to have a group of people in charge of this government who do not recognize that victims mean a heck of a whole lot more than the criminals who perpetrate crime.

We have to start recognizing the seriousness of those crimes and the effect that they are having on our children. We have to start addressing them in the manner that Mr. Cadman wanted to do with the street racing bill. Instead the Liberals continue to water everything down, making everything so soft while the victims are growing in numbers.

Do members believe we would have victims' organizations if we were doing our job in this place? I think they would not be there. We have to start doing our job.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague from Wild Rose, Alberta. He has been an example to all of us in the House of Commons. He has stood up for justice and victims' rights. I see the same passion in the member as we saw in Chuck Cadman, a passion to see justice and appropriate sentencing. That is what he is expressing this afternoon. I thank him for representing his constituents and for standing for the same values that Chuck stood for and speaking eloquently.

The previous speaker, representing the Liberal perspective, felt that the Liberals had made Chuck's bill even stronger. Chuck's bill had a very important component and that was to have increased sentencing for repeat offenders. I agree with that philosophy.

Does my colleague from Wild Rose believe that the watered down Liberal bill will make Chuck's bill even stronger by removing the consequences for repeat offenders? I believe it water it down and totally changes what Chuck wanted.