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House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Canadian Tourism CommissionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the latest election campaign, the Liberal MPs from British Columbia promised that the Canadian Tourism Commission would be set up in B.C.

Can the Minister of Industry confirm that the commission's headquarters will remain in the Ottawa area?

Canadian Tourism CommissionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I think if you look at the numbers you will find that there has been an increasing percentage of federal government employees in the Ottawa area over the last 10 years. I am one of the members of the House who thinks that it has probably gone too far, that Ottawa is not Canada and we need more Canadian public servants outside of Ottawa.

Canadian Tourism CommissionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Industry agree that there is no valid reason, for either the commission or the tourism industry, for the move to the west coast, other than strictly political considerations, as the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada has rightly pointed out?

Canadian Tourism CommissionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I think there are powerful logical reasons, powerful public policy reasons, and service delivery efficiency reasons to get more institutions out of Ottawa.

National DefenceOral Question Period

February 23rd, 2005 / 2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is no dithering with Frank McKenna. According to Canada's ambassador to the United States, it is a done deal. Canada has signed on to the U.S. missile defence plan.

In the throne speech the Prime Minister promised a full and open debate on the issue of ballistic missile defence followed by a vote in the House of Commons. Why has the Prime Minister reneged on that promise?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as the Leader of the Opposition correctly stated yesterday, “All parties in the House agreed that there would be a vote before we became part of missile defence”.

Should the government have an agreement to bring forward, we will respect our commitment, hold a debate and have a vote.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are asking what is this Prime Minister's word worth? On numerous occasions and in one very public forum, a CBC Town Hall , the Prime Minister promised that there would certainly be debate, a national debate, before any final agreement was signed on ballistic missile defence.

Why has he misled Canadians again?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I hope you take into account some of the words that the hon. member is using in your ruling.

Should the government have an agreement to bring forward, we will respect our commitment, which is to hold a debate and to have a vote.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday when referring to the missile defence system, Canada's next ambassador to the U.S. clearly stated:

We're part of it now and the question is what more do we need?

Then the defence minister told us we are already involved because of our commitment to Norad.

Will the Prime Minister tell Canadians what benefit we can now expect to receive from his backdoor deal on missile defence after the disastrous way he has been dealing with it?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the benefit we will get out of entering into a Norad agreement is the benefit of participating with our strongest ally in understanding the threats to North America and doing what this government has always done, which is to be a loyal partner in the defence of North America, working with the Americans and ensuring that.

That is not the same as bringing forward an agreement respecting a different ballistic missile defence system. As the House leader has said, in the event of an agreement, of course the House will discuss it and of course we can have a vote.

The principal reason is we are loyal allies with the United States and will remain so in spite of the opposition's effort to divide us.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, a commitment was made by the Prime Minister to debate the missile defence issue in this House, so Canadians would have a clear understanding of what we are getting into.

Now it is apparent that he has once again flip-flopped on this commitment and secretly agreed to take part in the missile defence system, while still misleading Canadians on what that commitment is. Canada's international credibility is being seriously damaged by this deliberate slight of hand.

With his credibility ruined by the Prime Minister, will the minister of defence now resign?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I must tell the House and I hope hon. members will support me on this, they would not want me to resign before the budget this afternoon.

I am looking forward to that far too much. I know all hon. members will rejoice with me in knowing that today is going to be a great day for national defence in Canada, a great day for the security of Canada for Canadians, and a great day for the Liberal government.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, the post office is a highly visible federal service and functions as a centrepiece to many rural and northern communities across Canada. With that the minister will understand the public concern over rumours that the moratorium on rural post office closures is to be ended.

Will the minister today assure this House that he will protect rural post offices from being abandoned or closed?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham—Unionville Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly acutely aware of the great importance of the 5,000 post offices to rural and small town Canada. I am also aware of these rumours in the press to the effect that there was some kind of plan or list to close 750 rural post offices. Having spoken to Canada Post, I am delighted to inform the House in the most unequivocal way that there is no such plan. There is no such list.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport has declared a move toward an open skies agreement with the U.S. based on a seven page document that was clearly written for, if not by, Air Canada.

The minister has no real interest in maintaining services for all Canadians. He disregards cuts to NAV CANADA's services and safety at small airports, while making opening Canada's skies to foreign carriers his priority.

Better service for all of Canada cannot be created by having foreign carriers cherry-pick the most profitable routes. His Liberal government needs to work for Canadians, not for the Americans running Canada's airlines. When--

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Transport.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell the hon. member that stakeholders across the country in the aviation sector all want us to move forward and start talking with the Americans, the Indians and the Europeans on an open sky policy.

We want to develop that. Air Canada, WestJet, and all the players say they can compete worldwide. That is why we are ready to open discussions and to ensure that we develop this air industry for the betterment of Canada and all travellers.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, a report card issued by Simon Fraser University gave B.C. a failing grade, the worst in Canada, when it came to language training for immigrants. Immigrants to B.C. end up with only mediocre language skills, blocking them from good jobs and community participation.

The B.C. government takes a whopping 47% of federal money earmarked for settlement services and diverts it to general revenue. There is no accountability for this spending and no national standard.

What steps will the minister take to ensure accountability for federal dollars and national standards for immigrant services?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for recognizing that the federal government is doing its share and more in the integration of potential citizens that it invites into this country. It is an important point to make. Not very many make that point as it is merited.

With respect to what our provincial partners would do on some of these issues, we have an ongoing review of our arrangement and they have to deliver on the services. They asked for our accord. British Columbia is one of those provinces with which we have an accord and therefore concomitant obligations that we will--

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver Island North.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian lumber industry has paid by far the largest legal bills during the four year softwood dispute with almost no assistance from the Canadian government. This is despite the fact NAFTA itself is under attack by U.S. softwood interests. The Canadian lumber industry has requested help. The official opposition has called for it and the previous trade minister promised it.

When can we expect this kind of help from the minister?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right, our softwood lumber industry has been under assault in terms of trade actions by the United States, which have been held unlawful by the panels of the WTO and NAFTA.

That was one of the reasons that we brought forward a $356 million package to support the workers, the communities and the industries. We are looking at further proposals in this area.

Canadian Wheat BoardOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wheat Board is a government mandated agency. It exists because of federal legislation. It has its own minister who has ultimate responsibility for the board.

After the last election, the board hired the minister's campaign manager as its lobbyist. Now the minister is becoming hypersensitive, trying to sue opposition members who pointed out the obvious conflict of interest.

How can the minister justify this hundred thousand dollar plus patronage position for his close friend?

Canadian Wheat BoardOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows and as all members who have paid attention to this know, this process was undertaken by an arm's-length recruiter. I played no role in this. I was not part of it. The Wheat Board has testified to that. I had no knowledge of the appointment until after it was made.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Belinda Stronach Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, the re-opening of the U.S. border to Canadian cattle is far from a sure thing. The U.S. secretary of agriculture said that he may change his mind one minute before midnight on March 6. The U.S. government is being sued by a group of its own cattlemen and powerful republican senators are trying to keep the border closed.

The Prime Minister has failed to provide honest leadership to Canadians and has flip-flopped on missile defence with the Americans. His indecision could jeopardize the re-opening of the border.

If the border remains shut on March 7, will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the hardship he is causing the Canadian beef industry?