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House of Commons Hansard #144 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was columbia.

Topics

HousingOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, it is unusual that the Conservatives want me to use CMHC surpluses, of which we are doing, to promote affordable housing. The Conservatives voted against the budget that earmarked $295 million toward aboriginal housing. They voted against Bill C-48 which essentially was to build more and more housing on and off reserve for aboriginal people.

The Prime Minister, the first ministers and the aboriginal leaders next month will talk about a transformative program for aboriginals for both on and off reserve housing.

HousingOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, no one voted for the type of surplus we currently have or for the lavish spending we have seen.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has built a $4 billion surplus on the backs of home buyers. It is clear that CMHC premiums are still much too high. These premiums add thousands of dollars to mortgages. The government claims that this surplus is for social housing.

Why are home buyers, who cannot afford a 25% down payment for their own home, paying for government social programs?

HousingOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I know they do not have a policy, but where have they been? CMHC offers 95% mortgaging for first time home buyers. We have come up with incredible innovative programs to make it possible. Home ownership is at an all time high. We are waiving premiums for not for profit and cooperative housing. We have reduced premiums by 30% for the private sector. We are doing more and will do more.

That party does not even have a policy on housing let alone any other ideas.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, we learned that the leader of the Bloc Québécois had continued not only to play with his little toy soldiers, but also to dump on the Government of Canada.

What does the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs think of that?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc should be reminded of what René Lévesque's former secretary, the current PLQ candidate in Outremont, said about the past few years having clearly demonstrated that Quebec could very well develop within the present federal context.

This is evidenced by the 149 agreements signed with Quebec in recent years, including one on early learning and child care, signed just last Friday.

This is proof positive that Canada works.

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, thanks to Conservative pressure the Liberal government finally had to expand access to compassionate care benefits. As we have said all along, the minister had discretion to make needed changes, but instead we saw months of inaction while families suffered.

One of the many Canadians who was denied compassionate care in the last days was my constituent, Sue.

Will the minister help those families who were denied compassionate care during those difficult times--

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we introduced the compassionate care program last year. We are making changes to the compassionate care program that will expand the possibility of individuals who can benefit the person who is dying. We are taking a look at that.

With respect to the members question, I would be happy, if the member would contact me, to take a look at his case.

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, recent media reports indicate that the government was altering the deeply flawed compassionate care benefit to allow terminally ill Canadians to name a caregiver of their choice, saying “it is imminent”. However, weeks later Canadians are still waiting for an announcement regarding a timeline for these changes.

Will the minister clearly state when these changes will occur, if they will occur, and what imminent means to the minister? Could it be before an election?

Human Resources and Skills DevelopmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the compassionate care program is a really important program. We are going to expand the definition of who the dying person can recommend to look after him or her in his or her dying moments. We are going to take a look at it and changes should be coming very soon.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of using his radio speech yesterday to announce specific measures to help the softwood lumber industry and the workers hit by the crisis, the Prime Minister confined himself to his usual rhetoric.

How could the Prime Minister talk of softwood lumber without devoting at least 15 seconds to announce relaxation of employment insurance requirements to keep workers hit by the dispute afloat?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3 p.m.

Markham—Unionville Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, the government is working hard on this. Even if we did not want to, the pressure from our caucus is enormous, as it is in each region of the country. Because of this pressure from caucus, we will have a solution shortly.

SeniorsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, many Canadian seniors are not fully aware of the benefits which they are eligible to receive. There are indications that many seniors are indeed not receiving all of the payments to which they are entitled in relation to their contributions.

I would ask the minister what action he has taken to ensure that Canadian seniors are receiving the full benefits to which they are entitled.

SeniorsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Trinity—Spadina Ontario

Liberal

Tony Ianno LiberalMinister of State (Families and Caregivers)

Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that every senior who is eligible for GIS receives it. Of the 1.6 million seniors who receive GIS, every year 1.3 million automatically get renewed with their income tax forms. For the remaining we outreach, we advertise, we do mailings and we continue to communicate.

We care for the most vulnerable in our society. That is why we have increased the GIS by $433 when fully implemented. I encourage all members of the House to reach out to their constituents and ensure that they all receive what is fully due to them.

EthicsOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's tolerance for corruption knows no bounds. A former assistant deputy minister of health gets caught red-handed for fraud and corruption involving tens of millions of dollars and serves four months in jail. Now on a recommendation from the crown, the same official walks away, serving no additional jail time for a $100,000 tax evasion conviction.

Will the government ever clean up corruption? Why is it always lobbyists over whistleblowers, patronage over merit, Liberals over Canadians?

EthicsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for giving me an opportunity to talk about all the things that we have done recently under the leadership of the Prime Minister.

The reality is the government has brought in the strongest internal audit program of any government program in the world. The reality is the government has spent the last 18 months working hard at restructuring how it provides governance, how it provides oversight, how it does its financial management. I do not think the government takes a second seat to anybody.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During question period I made reference to a letter which Justice John H. Gomery wrote to me and the leaders of the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party today. I seek consent to table this letter.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Points of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on October 18, 2005 by the hon. House leader of the official opposition concerning the use during question period of the term “mislead”.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter as well as the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and the hon. member for Calgary Southeast for their interventions.

During question period that day, the hon. member for Calgary Centre-North posed a question to the hon. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development that concluded with the following, “Why did the minister mislead the House?” At the time, I indicated that I was dissatisfied with the use of the term in that context. I had made a similar remark when the same word was used during question period on September 27, 2005.

Following question period, the hon. opposition House leader argued that the term “mislead” had been accepted in debate on numerous occasions. He stated that the term had been judged to be unparliamentary only when qualified by words like “deliberately” or “intentionally”. The hon. member quoted three Speaker's rulings in this regard.

In his intervention, the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell pointed out that citation 489 of Beauchesne's 6th Edition enumerates a number of cases where the word “mislead“ has been found to be unparliamentary. He also argued that the Speaker always has the discretion to rule out of order anything that causes disorder in the House. For his part, the hon. member for Calgary Southeast stated that since the term has been accepted many times in recent years, it should have been allowed.

While I can understand the desire of hon. members for certainty and consistency when it comes to acceptable language in the House, I am afraid that it is just not possible to say that particular words or terms are always parliamentary or always unparliamentary. This is because acceptability depends not only on the words themselves, but how they are used and the reaction they provoke. I would refer all hon. members to the following passage found at page 526 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice :

In dealing with unparliamentary language, the Speaker takes into account the tone, manner and intention of the Member speaking; the person to whom the words were directed; the degree of provocation; and, most importantly, whether or not the remarks created disorder in the Chamber. Thus, language deemed unparliamentary one day may not necessarily be deemed unparliamentary the following day.

It is therefore not surprising that hon. members can cite examples of the term being accepted in certain cases and not in others. The passage continues:

The codification of unparliamentary language has proven impractical as it is the context in which words or phrases are used that the Chair must consider when deciding whether or not they should be withdrawn.

I would also refer hon. members to rulings given by my predecessor, Mr. Speaker Parent, on February 17, 1997 and November 5, 1998. When arguments were raised about the acceptability of the word “mislead” and the word “misrepresent”, Mr. Speaker Parent indicated that tone, context and intention were the deciding factors when determining whether or not to rule the terms out of order.

I always try to allow hon. members as much latitude as possible in presenting their points of view, for, in my view, this House should be a place where strong arguments are presented and vigorous debate ensues. Indeed, I must confess that as the hon. House leader of the official opposition has reminded me, I have even on occasion allowed the use of the word “mislead” in certain questions, without the verb being modified in any way. However, I should also say that I have never been entirely at ease with its use in questions, though I have come to tolerate it in preambles to questions.

In the case before us, I judged that the tone of the question implied that the minister was intentionally misleading the House. I did not ask the hon. member for Calgary Centre-North to withdraw the word; I only cautioned him and all hon. members to choose their words carefully. Since the House is seeking clarification, let me say then that from now on, the Chair plans to be especially watchful about the use of the word “mislead” and I am not likely to allow it at all in direct questions.

I hope that hon. members realize that presiding over question period can be more of an art, some might say a black art, than a science. It is always the duty of the Speaker that our debates are conducted with a certain degree of civility and mutual respect in keeping with established practice in this House. The vigilance of the hon. House leader of the official opposition has been most helpful to me in considering this situation and others like it. I continue to count on his and the cooperation of all members in meeting the challenges our unique question period poses for any Speaker.

Again I thank the hon. opposition House leader for raising this matter.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, during question period in response to a question, the revenue minister replied along the lines that he felt that some information he was putting on the record would be especially relevant to me because it came from a Saskatoon newspaper, and I believe he used words along the lines that it was very close to my riding.

Of course I love Saskatoon and the great province of Saskatchewan, but just to avoid future confusion, I want to correct the record and state clearly that my riding is in the great province of Manitoba and that I actually reside about 10 hours away from Saskatoon. To make sure that the minister does not touch down his Challenger 10 hours away from his actual destination by mistake, with the permission of the House, I would like to table a hand-drawn map of Manitoba and western Canada that he will be able to reference.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member would not need to table the map. He could just send it to the minister. We do have pages here who would be more than happy to deliver it for him. I would suggest he proceed by that route rather than tabling a hand-drawn map.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of a Canadian parliamentary delegation concerning its visit to the Czech Republic and Slovenia from September 19 to 23, 2005.

2004-05 SIRC ReportRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 53 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, I have the honour of tabling, in both official languages, the 2004-05 SIRC report.

It is an operational review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Performance Reports 2004-05Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as part of our ongoing efforts to inform parliamentarians and Canadians on the government's performance, I have the honour to table in both official languages the 90 reports on performance for 2004-05 on behalf of the departments and agencies of government.