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House of Commons Hansard #153 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening, the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs heard very compelling evidence from the Agent Orange Association of Canada; the MLA from New Brunswick, Jody Carr; and many others about the extent to which Canadian armed forces personnel, civilian personnel on the base and other civilians who worked on the base in various capacities over the years were sprayed over a period of 20 years with cancer causing chemicals and herbicides.

I wonder whether the Minister of National Defence would now agree to call the public inquiry that many have called for, while at the same time taking seriously the recommendations for how they could deal better with the situation in the meantime.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we do take very seriously both the committee work that was done last night and the recommendations, and we will be looking at these.

The evidence last night at the committee demonstrated precisely the amplitude and the nature of the complexity of this task, which is why we put Dr. Furlong in place to do a study. This gentleman has impeccable credentials. He has had both political and medical experience. I think we should allow him to deal with this and work with it so we can get the right answer, both for the victims and the Canadian public.

National DefenceOral Questions

November 18th, 2005 / 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, if anything, the evidence last night demonstrated that the problem is far more extensive than the government has been willing to admit.

However I want to ask the Minister of National Defence another question with respect to those who were deemed not to have served in the second world war by order in council. The department now seems to admit that perhaps as many as half of the 14,000 or so who were deemed not to have served did in fact serve with distinction and were not deserters.

Having acknowledged this now, I wonder if the minister could tell us what the department intends to do about that. Will it be moving another order in council to make these kinds of benefits available to those who are still alive?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member phrased his question the way he did because he clearly indicated that this is a complicated issue. The fact is that of those who were deemed not to have served included those who had gone AWOL, those who had deserted and those who had deliberately chosen not to be engaged.

Unfortunately, others, for personal reasons or bureaucratic reasons, did not file the necessary papers. What the order in council of the day sought to do was to turn a page on the issue.

There are those who believe they were unjustly treated. The way to deal with this injustice is to let them apply and we will deal with it on a case by case basis, and we will rectify the injustice.

Government ContractsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government seems to have trouble figuring out where the government ends and where the Liberal Party begins.

Liberal Party campaign manager, David Herle, received an untendered contract to write the Liberal Party platform that was then tarted up and called an economic update. Talk about gall, Mr. Speaker.

How can we believe the Prime Minister is serious about getting past the culture of entitlement, the sponsorship scandal, when he continues to be a sugar daddy for Liberal friends?

Government ContractsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentlemen's allegation is outrageous. Mr. Herle did not write the document. The contract in the case here was with and by the department. It was fully within all the rules and guidelines.

It was indeed disclosed and published on the Internet. With respect to public opinion polling generally, that matter was reviewed by the Auditor General and she concluded that it was properly handled.

Government ContractsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the rules were written so Liberal insiders could take advantage of them. That is what has happened here.

The Prime Minister and the Liberal government claim to be outraged at the sponsorship program and then they turn around and funnel money to their friends, right in the wake of everything that Justice Gomery has said. It is just like they cannot help themselves.

Will the finance minister promise Canadians right now, while he has a chance, that the money that went to David Herle will not in some way find its way back into Liberal coffers?

Government ContractsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that allegation is quite beneath contempt. There is absolutely no basis, no substance and no foundation to that whatsoever.

The fact is that in the interest of transparency and disclosure, the government followed, in this case as it follows in all cases, the rules that require the disclosure of all contracts over $10,000 publically on the Internet. That is a new rule in the public interest and it is being followed assiduously.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently we learned that aboriginal women in northern Quebec are 37 times more likely to be victims of violence. The Minister of Indian Affairs claimed that the issue was on the agenda for the first ministers' meeting in Kelowna. We now know that it is not true and it is not on the agenda.

Was the minister just making it up or is he incompetent?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Jeanne-Le Ber Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Canadian Heritage, I am pleased with our government announcement of the $5 million to the Native Women's Association for the response of Sisters in Spirit. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada also provides $70 million a year to the family violence prevention program for community based projects and operational funding for 30 shelters across Canada.

We were supposed to have a federal-provincial meeting to put all our needs together to answer this problem of violence against women but, of course, it is in January and those irresponsible people over there are probably bringing us to an election.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

No, Mr. Speaker, that just is not good enough. We have an opportunity next week to address this important issue.

The lack of action and support for women and children in crisis situations is appalling and the Liberal government, after a decade of federal-provincial meetings, has a lot of nerve blaming anyone else but itself for this problem.

Why will the government not take immediate action to address the problem and assign someone other than this incompetent minister who clearly has no idea that he is even responsible for the file?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I would like to report to the member opposite that the first ministers' meeting, the first one that will deal with health, housing, education, economic development and strengthening relationships, those things are vehicles for dealing with the issue.

Nineteen groups fed into the agenda last June; the leadership, the provinces, the territories and our government. We will do our job. The Native Women's Advisory Committee, NWAC, was talking to our minister yesterday on this subject. She knows things that the opposition cannot even understand.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's softwood lumber strategy merely consists in criticizing the Americans' attitude abroad, while neglecting the plight of our domestic industry. Yet, Tembec's CEO underlined his company's difficulties in borrowing money from the banks because of the government's refusal to provide loan guarantees, as it could, through Export Development Canada, for example.

Will the minister continue to ignore this plea by the softwood industry, which is fighting for its survival? What is he waiting for to provide loan guarantees, as the industry has been asking for?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalMinister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, first, the Prime Minister is making all necessary efforts to ensure that the United States respects the rule of law. Second, as regards helping businesses, the idea of providing loan guarantees deserves to be examined, based on the impact that such a measure would have on the entire industry. We must find a way to help the industry as a whole. This is what we are working on.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, for Tembec alone, we are talking about $320 million in countervailing and anti-dumping duties that are lying dormant in the United States.

Can the government assure us that the plan it has been announcing for the past three years, which, incidentally, does not require any legislation to take effect, will include enough loan guarantees to compensate companies for all the duties that are unfairly being kept by Washington?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalMinister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, we are working on this complex issue with a view to determine what would be best for the public and the affected industries. We are not here to engage in propaganda and find simplistic solutions to complex issues. I would ask the member to show some patience. He will see that the work we are doing is much more comprehensive than anything he can ever do.

International TradeOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé on October 20 as to whether he intended to follow through with the conclusions of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which recommended that the government apply safeguards to protect Canadian bicycle manufacturers facing competition from China, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade was evasive.

I ask him once again whether the government plans to act on these recommendations and impose safeguards.

International TradeOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman knows the normal procedure here. The government is following that procedure. We have the matter under consideration. We will make a decision in the best interests of Canadians just as quickly as we can.

International TradeOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that the tribunal tabled its decision in September and concluded that the rapid increase in imports of bicycles under $400 threatened the survival of the Canadian bicycle industry.

Is this an example of government impotence, as has been the case with clothing, textiles, shoes and softwood lumber, or will the minister finally decide to do something and save the bicycle industry and the 800 jobs it generates in Quebec?

International TradeOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government always acts in the Canadian public interest. We will weigh all of the factors. Of course, one of those factors that will be very important is the opinion of the CITT. We will report to the House on further developments as quickly as we can.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have a terrible election scandal involving vote buying, influence peddling and election rigging, but for once this does not directly involve the Liberal Party of Canada.

During the last three band council elections on Manitoba's Peguis First Nation reserve, voters have been intimidated, bribed and defrauded. Mail-in ballots were illegally purchased. Others were stolen from the post office. All of this has been declared by over 270 band members.

Why has the Minister of Indian Affairs not intervened to ensure that democracy is preserved in our first nation communities?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the investigator has completed his investigation. Officials of the department have received the report and are currently reviewing it. We take this process very seriously. We need to ensure that we have reviewed all the documents and information prior to making a decision.

The department is committed to working with first nations to strengthen their governments' procedures, including elections. We will do so because we know that in this country our future is dependent on having good relationships and giving all of the support that is needed to raise the democracy--

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Selkirk--Interlake.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals are serious about that, they would not have scrapped the Indian governance act.

The Peguis First Nation for Democracy requested the RCMP and INAC to investigate the past two elections. The first investigation is just coming out now and found election irregularities, yet the same chief is still in power today and has continued with the same practices to win the last election in March by only 29 votes.

The government makes phony claims about fixing the democratic deficit and improving accountability. People in first nations communities deserve better. The minister was made aware of this months ago and has done absolutely nothing about fixing the problem that is on the reserve right now.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, we have no lessons to learn from those members opposite. The first nations councils appoint an electoral officer who is responsible for administering the general band election. Any first nations elector or candidate may appeal an election held under the Indian Act. Once an appeal is filed, all candidates and electoral officers receive a copy and are provided with an opportunity to respond to any allegations.

If the information received is not sufficient to make a determination, an investigator can be appointed to conduct further investigation. This minister has followed procedure.