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House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was athletes.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Palliser.

VaisakhiStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sikhs in Canada and around the world are celebrating Vaisakhi, the 306th birthday of the Sikh nation, Khalsa, this month.

The founder of the Sikh nation, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, prayed for equality, truthfulness, tolerance, honesty, brotherhood and respect for all. Canadian Sikhs are invited to follow in the path of Sikh gurus. Canada's Sikh community and I deeply appreciate the Prime Minister's continued involvement in the Vaisakhi celebrations, including his attendance at this morning's religious ceremony in the Confederation Building.

Sikh Canadians can be proud of their many significant contributions in all fields of Canadian achievement. I wish to congratulate all Sikh Canadians on the anniversary of the birth of the Sikh nation, the Khalsa.

Property RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, private ownership of property and the development of that property is the basis of our national economic growth and prosperity. Yet the proclamation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 did not include property rights.

Property rights should include the right to buy, maintain, sell, bequeath or enjoy one's properties. Enshrining property rights would not prevent governments from interfering with the use of property but would have to provide appropriate compensation to the owners.

The current situation is particularly frustrating for rural landowners. For example, if the government decides that an animal species is in danger and one of them is found on a rural property, the owner cannot make use of the affected land. However the owner continues to pay taxes. If the owner tries to sell the land, no one is likely to buy it because it is unusable.

If property rights are acceptable in a communist country like China, why are they not acceptable in Canada? It is time for Parliament to protect property rights.

Grand Falls Knights of ColumbusStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud to pay tribute today in the House of Commons to the Grand Falls Knights of Columbus Council 0621, Msgr. Leclerc Chapter. This organization has been serving my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac for 60 years and has just celebrated its diamond jubilee.

Two of its members have been part of this organization throughout its 60 years and several others have long records of service as well. They are: Msgr. Urbain Lang, member of the Knights of Columbus for the past 63 years, even before the Grand Falls Council was formed; Joe Toner, 60 years of service; Bernard Savage and Patrick Ouellette, 59 years; Everard Daigle, 49 years; and Enoil Bourgouin, 42 years.

I want to congratulate the Grand Falls Knights of Columbus on their 60th anniversary.

Quebec Solo and Small Ensemble CompetitionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's fifth annual solo and small ensemble competition will be held in Victoriaville, in my riding, from April 15 to 17. The theme this year is “Hats off to Musicians”.

More than 1,700 musicians between the ages of 7 and 42 will take part in this major event being held under the honorary presidency of Jean-François Harrisson, a popular actor with young viewers.

This competition is being organized by the Fédération des harmonies et des orchestres symphoniques du Québec, which has over 13,000 members.

More than 800 performances will be held in about 10 different venues during this prestigious competition. Over $30,000 in scholarships will be shared by the best musicians and musical ensembles.

The public will be able to attend a number of performances and concerts being held at various locations.

This is a unique opportunity for the public to enjoy our local talents.

National Day of BulgariaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House as the first federal member of Parliament of Bulgarian heritage.

It was a great honour for me to attend the National Day of Bulgaria celebration at the Bulgarian Embassy. The National Day of Bulgaria celebrates the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878.

On that auspicious occasion, I witnessed the presentation of the Insignia of Honour, the “Golden Laurel” of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria to Mr. Luc Dupont for his contribution to the development of economic relations between Canada and Bulgaria. Mr. Dupont is the first Canadian to receive this honour.

I would ask that all parliamentarians join me in offering their congratulations to Mr. Luc Dupont on his receipt of the Golden Laurel and to Bulgarians around the world in celebration of their National Day of Bulgaria.

Conservative Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians become more disgusted with the sponsorship scandal, many are turning to the Conservative Party to form the next government. They are looking for a party which does not muzzle their members for important votes on great social issues, a party which does not unilaterally shut down parliamentary committees because they fear negative testimony and a party which does not resort to shady backroom deals with party henchmen in order to win elections.

With one phone call to the Government of Ontario, our leader was able to establish better working relationships with our largest province than the Prime Minister has over the past 10 months. His support for the provinces in the fiscal imbalance led the provincial Liberal finance minister, Greg Sorbara, to state that the opposition leader “is a great friend of Canada”.

If the leader of the official opposition can achieve better working relationships with the provincial government with just one phone call, the public can just imagine what he would do as Prime Minister.

BoxingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House of Commons today to congratulate one of my constituents, Michael Gerrow. Michael is a 15-year-old resident of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia.

Today I am proud to announce that Michael has returned from Prince George, B.C. where he received a gold medal in the welterweight division of the Canadian Boxing Championship.

Michael is a member of the Tommy Gordon Boxing Club in Florence, Cape Breton where he is coached by John MacNeil. John and other volunteers at the boxing club are doing a great job working with the youth of our community and are to be commended for their good work.

Cape Breton is very proud of Michael and gave him a hero's welcome at home in Florence. On behalf of all Cape Bretoners, I want to congratulate Michael and the Tommy Gordon Boxing Club on their hard-earned success and wish Michael many more gold medals.

DemocracyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, democracy is threatened when people are prepared to lie, betray, scorn, to mislead and humiliate Quebec out of greed, greed for power, material wealth, the pretence of unification and dirty money, and in the name of the leader.

Democracy is threatened when manipulative programs attempt to impose deceitful and mind-numbing presences, sterile unanimity and conspiratorial silences.

Democracy is threatened when fear, nepotism, hypocrisy and corruption, in arrogance, pound on Quebec's door in order to erect monuments to ignorance and partisanship.

The Bloc Québécois believes that human dignity, the one true value, must never be diminished or debased, especially in politics. We are convinced that, in order to interest a substantial number of individuals in our communities to do their civic duty, politics must not only seem clean, it must also be clean through and through.

HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, Needle Aid is a small medical business located in my riding of Dartmouth--Cole Harbour. This relatively new company is innovative and forward thinking, and is an example of how a small business can succeed with the support of government through ACOA.

Needle Aid was developed in Canada as a safe, convenient device designed to guide a needle safely to the right spot and is of particular benefit to those individuals who are required to self-administer their needles. Needle Aid is helpful to a variety of patients: the elderly, visually impaired, diabetics, and for those who at times have a fear of needles. This is a valuable service to many Canadians.

I congratulate Needle Aid chief executive officer Tom Inkpen and his entire staff for their hard work in developing new technologies to assist in the care of Canadians. I also congratulate ACOA and its minister for supporting technology and innovation in Atlantic Canada.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am a proud Canadian and as such it is my duty to stand up for honesty, integrity and accountability.

The fine citizens of Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre have entrusted me to uphold what is right and to put an end to Liberal corruption. Extortion, corruption and criminality are not Canadian values. They are however the values of the Liberal Party of Canada. The fact that the Liberals not only condoned but participated in these activities is unforgivable.

Simply put, the Prime Minister, the cabinet and the Liberal Party as a whole are not fit to govern. Canadians deserve an open, accountable government that not only respects Canadians but also respects Canadian laws.

From the outright criminal fraud and money laundering to the cronyism appointments of this government, one thing is very clear: from Gagliano, to Chrétien, to the current Prime Minister, a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal.

On behalf of all Canadians, I have a message for the Liberals. We will not be bought and come election time, we will not forget.

Polyvalente Aux-Quatre-VentsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity on March 18 to meet a group of students from the Polyvalente Aux-Quatre-Vents in Dalhousie, New Brunswick, to tell them about my role as an MP and the role of the government.

I was fascinated to see their interest in Canadian politics and the relevancy of their questions. It was an extremely rewarding experience for me to talk with young people, who are the future of our country. I am sure that some of them will be here in the House one day. I encourage all my colleagues to take part in such exchanges so that young people can learn more about our system of government.

I want to publicly thank the teacher, Joan Branch-McIntyre, and her students for having invited me to their class. I hope that it was as rewarding an experience for them as it was for me.

HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian women were angry this week when they learned that Health Canada conducted secret meetings with breast implant manufacturers to discuss returning silicone breast implants to the Canadian market.

This incident highlights a problem with the way Health Canada conducts drug approvals. Canadians are often kept in the dark about safety concerns, the true effectiveness of a product, and even how a product is tested.

Clinical tests on silicone implants were often too short and followed too few women to be effective. It was only over time that Canadian women reported leaking implants and increased complications with arthritis, vascular problems and autoimmune disorders.

Offering a public comment period after a report is filed will not protect the health and safety of Canadian women. This is yet another example of how women are not a priority for this government.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister referred to himself as having the moral authority to lead Canada out of the scandal ridden quagmire that the Liberal Party has landed in.

However, the real truth has come out and it is not pretty. His conspirators in the Liberal Party have revealed their utter contempt for Canadians of non-white origin. In fact, cultural communities are only welcomed by Liberals as slaves during elections and leadership campaigns, according to Liberal organizer Beryl Wajsman who said in today's Le Devoir “Every time the Liberal Party needs cultural communities, it is for two reasons: as slaves during an election campaign or to buy tickets”.

This is outrageous coming from one of the Prime Minister's closest organizers. It shows the real Liberal attitude toward ethnic communities. They expect them to show up and vote Liberal, but really think of them as nothing more than their personal property.

I demand that the Prime Minister stop thumping his chest about his moral authority, and apologize to every Canadian he and his party has ever exploited.

921 L'Ancienne-Lorette SquadronStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Cleary Bloc Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, for over 10 years, 921 L'Ancienne-Lorette Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets has been giving a voice to our young people by providing them with training in various survival techniques, experience with flying techniques, instrumental music practice and a number of sports.

This year, the squadron is launching the President's Challenge, in which participants will have to refurbish a certified aircraft under the supervision of experienced pilots.

The Bloc Québécois thanks all the stakeholders who make 921 Squadron a place where young people can learn, thereby helping to build the Quebec society of tomorrow.

Air-IndiaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, last night the House spoke for the victims of the Air-India disaster and demanded that the government hold a public inquiry into the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history.

Since the B.C. Supreme Court verdict on March 16, I, along with my leader in the Conservative caucus, have been demanding that the government hold a public inquiry. The families have waited in anguish for 20 years and have watched the investigation drag on and on. They endured the horror of reliving the moment year after year with no visible progress to a conclusion.

In the end the families are left with nothing, no sense of closure and more importantly, no answers. The Deputy Prime Minister's eminent person approach is not what the families and Canadians want. It is a sham and a cover-up.

To honour the memory of 329 people who died on Air-India flight 182, this House spoke last night and now it is time for the government to act.

Textile IndustryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Cowansville, I took part in an important announcement for the textile sector. Consoltex Inc. has announced a $14 million investment in its plants, with the participation of the Government of Quebec.

Consoltex Inc., of Cowansville, will be the main benefactor of this investment which maintains 40 jobs. I commend its president, Marcel Thibault, who chose to innovate in an industry which is facing major problems. My thanks to the MNA for Brome-Missisquoi, Pierre Paradis, and to Minister Claude Béchard for putting everything together.

I am totally committed to the textile industry in Brome—Missisquoi. I have organized meetings in Ottawa with the various departments concerned, to open new markets internationally. Sustained cooperation among all levels, the federal, provincial and municipal governments, the company's management and its labour union, will ensure that we can not only preserve, but also develop our textile industry.

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last night the House voted to hold a public inquiry into the Air-India tragedy. In fact, members representing every party in this House voted for that motion. The Prime Minister has the moral responsibility to respect the will of the House and the wishes of the families.

Will the Prime Minister respect this vote and immediately call a public inquiry into the Air-India tragedy?

Air-IndiaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister met this week with a number of the families. She announced that she would be announcing the name of an eminent Canadian who will meet with the families. This individual will seek the answers and seek the questions that should be answered, and the government will determine its position.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the House has voted for a full public inquiry.

I want to return to the Prime Minister's evasive answers yesterday. Before the Gomery commission, the Prime Minister said that he had barely any relationship with Claude Boulay, anything beyond a casual “How do you do?” That was his testimony. However, another witness has testified that the Prime Minister discussed government business with Claude Boulay over lunch at the Liberal convention.

Did the Prime Minister have lunch with Claude Boulay on any occasion, yes or no?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my testimony is a matter of public knowledge. Any allegation that I interfered in any contract is a lie.

I will tell members what is not a lie, and that is what is now the Conservative position on health care. Last week it was Ralph Klein. Today it was Preston Manning and Mike Harris.

What is the Conservative agenda, which is no longer hidden? I will tell members. It is no federal role in health care. It is no Canada Health Act. It is no one saying no to the privatization of health care. I will fight the Conservatives tooth and nail and we will protect the Canada Health Act.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we often accuse the Prime Minister of not being transparent, but that was about as transparent as one can be. I am going to ask the Prime Minister the same question again until he answers it.

Yesterday, when asked whether or not he had lunch with Claude Boulay, another sponsorship millionaire, the Prime Minister refused to answer.

I will put my question again. Did the Prime Minister have lunch with Claude Boulay at the Liberal convention, yes or no?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, again, the full testimony is there. However, let us talk about transparency. Let us talk about the Conservative hidden agenda on health care that the hon. member refuses to divulge.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. It seems the invitation is being taken up rather enthusiastically. I know the Prime Minister said, “let us talk”. Perhaps we could use other words and carry on with the answer without invoking the need for everyone else to get into the discussion during question period. There are places to carry on those discussions outside, but we are doing it in here, and it is a one on one question at the moment. I invite all hon. members to remember that.

The Prime Minister now has the floor to answer this question.