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House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was revenues.

Topics

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government is very concerned about this unilateral action by North Dakota. That is why in April of last year we formerly approached the United States to make the outlet the subject of a joint reference to the International Joint Commission.

Tomorrow, the Prime Minister and I intend to raise the issue with President Bush and Secretary Rice. We will remind them that it is in the interest of the United States just as much as it is in Canada's interest to take a responsible attitude to protect our precious transboundary water resource projects, such as the Devils Lake outlet. They must be fully assessed before they are implemented.

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the former senior minister from British Columbia has publicly stated that slamming the door on a public inquiry to find out what happened in the Air-India bombing would be a betrayal of the Liberal Party's commitments to Canadians.

The current Minister of Health has publicly stated that CSIS treated the Air-India crisis in a casual manner because it involved people from the South Asian community. Former MP and Solicitor General critic, John Nunziata, has said that there was a massive cover-up. All Liberals.

What is the government afraid of? A public inquiry is needed. Will the Prime Minister commit today to a public inquiry if there is no appeal?

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, far from there being a cover-up in this tragic incident, there has been a considerable number of reviews and hearings including the longest criminal trial in the history of this country.

I have offered, along with key government officials, to meet with family members and representatives. I would like to sit down with them, identify the questions that they think are still unanswered, and then determine whether at this point, 20 years later after this tragedy, we can find useful answers to those questions for the families.

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

That is another weak answer, Mr. Speaker, and another betrayal of the victims' families.

It is unbelievable that the government would show no respect to the 329 families and refuse to ensure that this never happens again. We know what the families are calling for. They have been calling for a public inquiry for 20 years. As a spokesperson for the families said, “The dead deserve more”. These families deserve more.

Will the Prime Minister apologize to the 329 families of victims of the Air-India disaster for the cavalier comments of the Deputy Prime Minister? Will he commit to a public inquiry today?

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting that it is this government, and indeed myself in my capacity as minister of public safety and the first public official who has offered to sit down with these family members and talk to them about what happened 20 years ago and, in fact, what has changed.

Indeed, this was a horrible tragedy. The very least we can do is sit down with the families and work together to determine what lessons can be learned.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the federal budget set aside $1 billion in a fund to reduce CO

2

emissions in Canada or to buy hot air credits from other countries.

Last week the environment minister said Canada needs to build power plants in China to meet Canada's obligations. Every dollar Canada spends to build plants in China is a dollar not spent in Canada to reduce emissions. China has no Kyoto commitments.

Why is the minister proposing to buy hot air in China instead of investing in Canadian technology?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the improved climate change plan that will be released pretty soon will increase tremendously the capacity of Canadian technology to succeed here in Canada and everywhere in the world. It will be a way to improve our capacity and show Canadian knowledge about environmental technologies. It will be very good for the economy.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is putting the cart before the horse here. China is building power plants as fast as it can and already has plans to build 562 new coal fired plants. It is not accountable to us. It is ludicrous to buy these hot air credits. We should not be rewarding China's poor environmental record.

Why is the government prepared to spend billions in China, instead of investing in Canadian technology which will help the world?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we will invest in technology in Canada.

My colleague said that China will use dirty coal. The best technology to have clean coal in China appears to come from Calgary. In using our investment to improve our technology in Canada and using our investment to help our industry to export abroad, we will help the planet. We will help the environment. We will help the economy.

Border SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, thousands of vehicles cross into Canada illegally each year without stopping at customs. Unfortunately, this government refuses to acknowledge this as a concern to our national security.

In fact, the minister told a House committee recently that only a few drivers blow through the border in a given year. Yet, her own agency has testified that there are thousands going through without any consequences.

My question is for the minister. Why has this government failed to do what is right for the protection of Canadians and their border, and made security a priority?

Border SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, security, whether at the border or elsewhere, is a priority for this government, which is why we spent over $9 billion in total since the tragic events of September 11. The hon. member may not know that some 71 million people cross our border every year. In fact, there are those who would choose to break the law and cross the border illegally.

Let me assure this House that every one of those brought to the attention of the CBSA is pursued and they are dealt with appropriately under the law. Let me also say that in this budget, due to the far-sightedness of my colleague, the Minister of Finance--

Border SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Portage—Lisgar.

Border SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, our border cannot be secured by patrols that are armed only with calculators.

The fact is that an armed border patrol is estimated to cost about $15 million. Perhaps the government could find that money in the $1 billion failed gun registry that protects no one in this country. This government chooses to protect the security of the Canadian border by having our personnel act as tax collectors rather than as law enforcement agents.

When will the government commit to properly training and equipping the Canadian Border Services Agency?

Border SecurityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, CBSA agents are peace officers under the law, as the hon. member is probably aware. They are trained and they are properly equipped.

Let me remind the hon. member that in this most recent budget we have received some $433 million additional dollars to ensure that the CBSA is able to carry out its job at its border to protect Canadians. In addition, I remind the hon. member of the some $135 million received by the RCMP to create integrated border enforcement teams which work with the CBSA and other law enforcement agencies to protect Canadians.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, representatives of the customs officers and members of the Quebec mounted police association appeared this morning before the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Civil Protection, where they told us that the Prime Minister was unable to give President Bush a guarantee that border security was properly in place.

How then, Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Public Safety and Civil Protection continue to support the RCMP's decision to close nine regional detachments in Quebec?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as I have said on a number of occasions in the House, the redeployment of RCMP officers in the province of Quebec is to increase operational efficiency.

On the more general question around security at our borders, we work with the United States of America to ensure that we are able to identify high risk goods and high risk individuals so we can facilitate trade and keep the peoples not only of Canada but of the United States as safe and secure as possible.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can the minister continue to say that it is not her role to review administrative decisions by the RCMP, as she did in the letter this morning, when section 5 of the RCMP Act states in black and white that all decisions by the Commissioner are under the direction of the Minister, that is, her direction?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. The RCMP Act is absolutely plain that the administration of the force rests with the commissioner of the force. As I have said before, I do not involve myself in operational matters, but I will say one more time for the individual involved, the hon. member, that the redeployment of officers, the same number of officers in the province in Quebec, are being redeployed so they are more effective as a modern 21st century police force.

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, what an oddity. The Liberals were the ones calling for an inquiry into the Air-India disaster when they were in the opposition. It was none other than the former Liberal leader, John Turner, who called for a royal commission into this tragedy. Now the Deputy Prime Minister's stalling tactics are another example of what Liberals are becoming famous for: promises made, promises broken.

Three hundred and thirty-one lives have been lost. For their sake and memory, an inquiry is a must. Will the government call an inquiry if an appeal is not lodged?

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the member has an unfortunate tendency to take this horrible tragedy, which we all acknowledge, and turn it into a partisan debate. I simply will say this to the hon. member. He brought up the leader of the official opposition, John Turner. I wonder why the Progressive Conservative Party at the time did not call an inquiry.

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, there was a police investigation.

The current Liberal health minister, Liberal Indo-Canadian MPs, former senior Liberal ministers Herb Dhaliwal, Brian Tobin, Sergio Marchi and Herb Gray have all called for an inquiry. Why is the Deputy Prime Minister not getting the message? Is there a hidden agenda here?

If an inquiry is not held, the victims' families and Canadians in general will point their fingers at the government and say that it has something to hide. What does it have to hide?

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, again, most of us would appreciate the fact that there is nothing hidden after the longest criminal trial in the history of the country.

Let me reiterate again that I have offered to meet with the families. I have offered senior government officials and relevant agencies, CSIS and the RCMP. We have offered to sit down and identify remaining questions that have not been answered. At that point I am more than willing to think about what process is possible to answer any remaining unanswered questions.

Pharmaceutical IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wajid Khan Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year Canadians have seen dramatic examples of how difficult it can be for consumers to access information for the safety of pharmaceuticals. Could the Minister of Health tell us what work he is doing to help ensure Canadians have access to both safe drugs and safety information about drugs on the market?

Pharmaceutical IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I have called for the clinical trials to be more transparent and open so all Canadians know the good, the bad and the ugly of clinical trials. I have also written to the Standing Committee on Health to look at potential options for improving the drug safety and transparency in the drug approval process.

I also said in February that I had asked the department to look at a variety of options for improving the drug transparency, approval process and the post-market surveillance. We are going to be producing a discussion paper on mandatory adverse reaction reporting. We are going to change the culture of drug approval in the country.