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House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Question No. 110Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

What was the name of the company commissioned by the Canadian Wheat Board to hire Avis Gray to the position of Senior Advisor, Government Relations, and what were the names of the other candidates considered for the position?

Question No. 110Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the government is not involved in the day to day operations of the Canadian Wheat Board, CWB. Consequently it does not have in its possession the names of the unsuccessful candidates, or the applications of any of the candidates. The CWB has advised that it hired the Toronto based executive search firm Ray and Berndston to lead the recruitment process and that this firm prepared a short list of five candidates which was forwarded to the CWB. The CWB has further advised that four members of its senior management team participated in the interview process which culminated in the decision to hire Avis Gray.

With regard to the four candidates who were unsuccessful, the CWB does not propose to release these names publicly. Candidates who are seeking a position, whether in the public or the private sector, make their applications with the expectation that their names, and any other information they choose to include with their applications, will be held in confidence.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 87 and 91 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 87Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

With respect to variations among jurisdictions in the application of the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS): ( a ) what mechanisms are in place to ensure equal support for all Canadians regardless of their place of residence; ( b ) where a province or a territory applies a benefit reduction (clawback) to a family's NCBS, does a family still receive, in any case, the same level of overall income support; ( c ) how does the government ensure that provinces and territories invest proceeds from any clawbacks in programs that are complementary to the NCBS; ( d ) by province and for each of the last five years, how have provinces reinvested any proceeds from clawbacks; and ( e ) how many families who see a clawback of their NCBS from a welfare benefit fit into one of the following categories, and for each category, what percentage does it represent of the total number of families receiving the NCBS: (i) working but not earning enough money to qualify for welfare top-up, (ii) disabled or unable to work, (iii) caring for a disabled child under the age of 6 years, (iv) caring for a baby under the age of 1 year, (v) living in a homeless shelter unable to find affordable housing, (vi) paying more than half their income on rent, and (vii) relying on food banks in order to feed their children?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 91Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

With regard to the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada Alternative Dispute Resolution process (ADR): ( a ) what were the original ADR projections, including annual projections, that led to the Government conclusion that the ADR would take seven years at a cost of $1.7 billion to resolve some 12,000 cases; ( b ) including the estimated budget with any administrative costs versus compensation, what are any updated ADR projections regarding the number of cases expected to be resolved; ( c ) are any performance reports available on the ADR process; ( d ) what information is available relating to the total actual cost of the ADR program to date including: (i) a breakdown of the cost of the program by category (i.e. adjudicator costs, administrative costs, government lawyer costs, government case manager costs, travel expense, other expenses, amount spent on compensation, etc.), (ii) the total cost of the Model A process to date (including a breakdown of administrative costs versus compensation), (iii) the total cost of the Model B process to date (including a breakdown of administrative costs versus compensation), and (iv) the average administrative costs for each Model A and Model B settlement along with the average settlement information; and ( e ) what information exists relating to the following ADR costs: (i) the amount spent on adjudicators to date, including cost per hearing, (ii) the amount spent on case managers to date, including cost per hearing and any information relating to the need for a case manager to be present at every adjudication, (iii) the amount spent on government lawyers to date, including cost per hearing, (iv) the amount spent on investigations to date including any information relating to the need for investigators to be involved in Model A hearings, and (v) the amount spent on form fillers to date?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 91Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 91Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 91Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resume consideration of the motion.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will have to hurry to get to everything I want to say in the few seconds I have left.

Earlier I was talking about votes. The next thing I want to say about votes is that our Standing Orders should be changed to allow, under exceptional circumstances, the ability of a member of Parliament to register his or her vote in important votes in the House of Commons even though they may not be present physically.

I am sure that all of us remember an important vote that was held, and I am not sure if it was the previous Parliament or just before Christmas. Lawrence O'Brien, who subsequently passed away, loyally came here under great duress because of physical circumstances to vote as was his duty as a member of Parliament. We have a number of members even now who are facing that same thing.

I would like to propose that our Standing Orders be changed so that a member who is woefully ill or has other such problems may, perhaps via his or her party whip, register that vote for those occasions only. It would have to be one at a time. In that way a person would not be disenfranchised because of something that would be totally out of his or her control.

I know that my time has now elapsed. I have about four more things that I would like to cover. If there is unanimous consent, I would be prepared to do that.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is there unanimous consent?

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

We are now in the questions and comments period for the member.

The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to ask the member a question. I was disappointed that our Bloc colleagues did not want to hear what he had to say, but I would certainly be interested in the other three or four points that he wanted to make. I wonder if he could begin to expand on some of those.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord on a point of order.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The hon. member should not be making such comments. Let us assume that there are many people in this House and that they are all interested in the debate. This is why we should continue. Accordingly, the hon. member should withdraw his remarks.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands has the right to ask a question of another member in this House and ask him for the remaining amount of his comments. That does not violate anything in this House. He has that right.

Furthermore, the time that we are wasting discussing this should not be taken away from the member. He should be allowed to finish his comments. Mr. Speaker, I hope you will see fit not to deduct this time from him.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to say that it is the privilege and the right of the hon. member to ask a question. The issue I raise, however, is his remark about our refusal earlier to grant unanimous consent, saying that we were not interested.

Members can reread the debates. I to not want to deny him that right, but I would like him to withdraw his allegations against me after my refusal to give unanimous consent.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The point from the Bloc Québécois whip has been heard. The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this week. If we are this sensitive on Monday, it will be interesting to see what transpires throughout the rest of the week.

I would like to ask my colleague if he would be willing to elaborate on some of the points that he thought were important to this discussion. I look forward to hearing that right now.

Standing Orders and ProcedureOrders of the Day

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Standing Orders, the next item I had which I think ought to be considered for change is the method of election of chairs and vice-chairs in committee.

I was always intrigued with this when I first came here. When it came to election time, instead of having a slate from which to elect as we do in every other election, in committees we were not permitted to do that. Even when we elect the Speaker here there is a slate of all the candidates and we can choose which one we are voting for. In committees we are not permitted to do that. One person says, “I nominate X”, and then the vote is yes or no on that one person.

I would rather have a slate of candidates, a slate of everybody who is willing to be there, and let the committee choose the chair and the vice-chairs based on a slate. Then of course we would have runoff elections if necessary, if no one has a clear majority. To me, that would be a more reasonable way of electing chairs.

The way it is now sometimes for the candidates who have expressed their willingness to come forward, only the first one nominated gets a chance to be considered. I think there is a huge flaw in that. I know the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell would probably take exception to this. I am not sure, but I would sure like to hear his comments on that sometime as well.

The last thing I would like to have in the Standing Orders is on the Speaker's reluctance to intervene when there are problems in committees. Several times I have had a problem myself where there have been clear violations of ordinary rules of democracy. This was in a previous Parliament, not the current Parliament, where the chair actually declared passed a motion that had been defeated.

That occurred in a clause by clause of a bill. The committee chair said, “Shall clause 38 pass?”, or whichever one it was that we were on, and not a single person said yes. I and my colleague on the committee said no and the chairman said, “I declare the motion passed”. It was so opposite to the way a democracy is supposed to work when the chair declared that something had passed when in fact the only response in the committee was a negative.

I remember reporting that to the House. The Speaker of the day said that committees can do whatever they want, that they are masters of their own fate. I think they should be, but within the rules of democracy. When there is such a blatant and obvious violation of a simple vote, then the Speaker should be able to intervene in order to make sure that the rules of democracy are kept.

That completes my remarks. I have one more brief comment. We have had this step of a bill being referred to a committee before second reading. I remember when that first came in. It sounded like such a fine idea that all of the committee members could work together to fine-tune the first draft of a bill so there would be a better opportunity to get a good bill.

Unfortunately, within the party politics of the committee, that simply served to take away the debate time in the House. I think that is something that has to be revisited. If we are going to do that, fine, but then that should be added as another stage in the bill.

In other words, if it should be referred before second reading, when it comes to second reading then the debate on second reading should be exactly as it is now, with further referral to a committee. In other words, we should add an extra step because of the fact that the politics involved sometimes prevent real input into the formation of the bill.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Standing Orders and ProcedureAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Grey—Bruce—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak today to an issue that is extremely important and close to the hearts of many Canadians, particularly those in my riding. The issue of a national day care program has become paramount, especially to me since the birth of my first grandchild just three weeks ago.

On February 15 the Liberal government voted down a motion by this party to reduce taxes for lower and modest income Canadian families and giving new funds for child care directly to parents. It read:

That the House call upon the government to address the issue of child care by fulfilling its commitment to reduce taxes for low and modest income families in the upcoming budget, and, so as to respect provincial jurisdiction, ensure additional funds for child care are provided directly to parents.

In doing so, the Liberals did the unthinkable by voting against stay at home parents. That vote was a slap in the face and an insult, in particular by the social development minister who insinuated that the only reason parents stayed at home with their kids was out of guilt.

The main point I want to make here tonight is that this is about choice and fairness. When a child is born the choice of how that child is raised should be made by the parents, not the government.

The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes that parents, not the federal government, are in the best position to determine which type of child care best suits their family. We know parents would benefit from direct assistance.

The Liberals are discriminating against these families by pouring money into child care for working parents but giving no breaks to stay at home parents. An example of this is the fact that summer camps are tax deductible for working parents but not for stay at home parents.

The Conservative Party will continue to support all existing child benefit programs and introduce broad based tax relief that would directly benefit parents and allow them to make their own choices about the care and nurturing of their young children.

In fact, at our recent national policy convention in Montreal the following detailed and comprehensive policy was ratified:

The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes that parents are in the best position to determine the care needs of their children, and that they should be able to do so in an environment that encourages as many options as possible, and in a manner that does not discriminate against those who opt to raise their children in family, social, linguistic, and religious environments. We also recognize that the delivery of education and social services are provincial responsibilities under the constitution. We believe that support should go to all parents and families raising children, especially to lower and middle income parents. All existing levels of support will be maintained and improved if necessary.

The Liberals have been promising Canadians a national child care program for over 10 years. However, after broken promise after broken promise, they have finally put forward a plan that is not workable. They have failed to provide any information about how they intend to achieve this. They are willing to spend billions of dollars without a proper plan and risk creating another huge Liberal bureaucracy.

The key details, including how flexible the system can be, how to hold provinces accountable and how many child care spaces will be created are yet to be determined. This has the potential to set records of waste and mismanagement. We can think of the gun law.

A Conservative government would ensure that parents who need the money most would receive the most assistance and that parents would be given the resources they need to make the best choices for their children. This is extremely important, especially in the rural areas where a majority of children are babysat by family, friends or a local babysitter.

A Conservative government would protect parents from being forced to send their children from the cradle to an institution at a very young age.

My wife Darlene and I made the choice that she would stay home and raise our boys. That was our choice and that is the way it should be. I would like my son and his wife to have that same choice with their daughter. I want them to be able to have the same financial benefit as any other parent, regardless of whether they choose to work away from home or stay at home to raise my granddaughter.

A family like theirs and the thousands of others across this country should not be penalized for deciding to raise their children in the early years of their development. The government should be ashamed that it is not honouring its throne speech promise to reduce taxes for lower and modest income Canadians.

Standing Orders and ProcedureAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Ahuntsic Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, I am also a mother of two daughters.

The Government of Canada recognizes that parents play a very important role in raising their children. We are dedicated to helping them meet their responsibilities. We understand that the right mix of investments by governments and other partners can support parents and ensure that communities, workplaces and public institutions work together in a way that supports families with children.

The need for child care services is very real for Canadians, for reasons of economics, lifestyle or self-sufficiency. Many parents would prefer to stay home to raise their young children, but that option is often not a reality in today's society. There is one thing that the opposition is always forgetting, which is that 70% of children aged six months to five years live in families where both parents work or study, or where a single parent works or studies.

For these parents in particular, early childhood education and child care is a necessary and valuable choice, an option that can provide parents with the assurance that their children are growing up in a healthy and safe learning environment focussed on development.

As a result, the Government of Canada has made a commitment to provide parents with choices, and access to quality childcare and early childhood education facilities has become a real choice for parents.

This is a priority shared by all governments in Canada. At their meeting in Vancouver on February 11, the Minister of Social Development and his provincial and territorial counterparts reached consensus on the urgent need to put such programs in place throughout the country. All administrations were actively involved, because all of us, regardless of level of government, know that this is a choice our constituents want and need.

On February 23, 2005, the government announced it would invest $5 billion over five years. Of this amount, $700 million is available now for 2005-06, to fund the early learning and child care initiative, which will be developed in collaboration with the provinces and territories. As we continue our work on the final agreement, we will ensure that the provinces and territories have the flexibility they need to establish programs that best meet the needs of their citizens and that respect the common values to which the federal, provincial and territorial ministers agreed in November 2004.

In response to those for whom “choice” means a child-related tax break, it is important to note that the government's new commitment to early learning and child care is in addition to existing direct benefits and services for parents, which we have designed to ensure that all children have the best start possible in life and that families get the support they need, no matter what their circumstances or the choices they make.

In fact, through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the National Child Benefit Supplement, the Canadian government is already providing billions of dollars in income support directly to low- and middle-income parents. This is something the opposition constantly forgets.

The total combined investment in the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the National Child Benefit Supplement is $7.7 billion. Contrary to what the member already said, families where one parent decides to remain at home can also take advantage of early learning programs funded by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, under the agreement on early childhood development and the multilateral framework on early learning and child care.

I would like to say--