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House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Conservative

Charlie Penson Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, January 31, 2005, your committee has considered Bill C-259, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (elimination of excise tax on jewellery) and agreed on Thursday, May 19 to report it back with one amendment.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Your committee adopted a motion on Thursday, May 19 in response to the recent remarks made by the chief justice of the Appeal Court of Quebec, Michel Robert, and agreed to undertake a study of the process for appointing judges within the federal judgeship nomination.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActRoutine Proceedings

May 30th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-399, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Prisons and Reformatories Act (conditional release).

Mr. Speaker , I have a number of private member's bills that I would like to introduce today.

First, I rise to reintroduce this private member's bill which, if enacted, would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to provide that any person who received a sentence as a result of being convicted of an indictable offence while on conditional release would be obliged to serve the remainder of the original sentence and at least two-thirds of the new sentence.

In addition it provides that where a person was convicted on more than one occasion of an indictable offence committed while on conditional release, the person would not be eligible for conditional release with respect to any new sentence.

This private member's bill is introduced out of respect and honour for the hard work of the Canadian Police Association, representing 26,000 members. The CPA diligently endeavours to make this country a safer place.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-400, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (elimination of conditional sentencing).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to reintroduce my private member's bill which, if enacted, would repeal sections 742 to 742.7 of the Criminal Code. These sections allow the courts to impose conditional sentences which are to be served in the community in respect of convictions for offences for which a minimum term of imprisonment is not prescribed.

Since the introduction of conditional sentences by the current government, numerous violent criminals, including rapists, have served no jail time for their crimes. If the guiding principle of our justice system is the protection of society, then all violent criminals should spend an appropriate period of time behind bars.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-401, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (sexual assault on child--dangerous offenders).

Mr. Speaker, this is another of my private members' bills from the previous Parliament which I would like to reintroduce in this Parliament. This bill, if enacted, would allow the courts to designate an offender who has been convicted of two or more sexual offences against a child as a dangerous offender.

Furthermore, it would ensure that an offender with such a designation would not be released on parole, unescorted temporary absence, or statutory release unless at least two psychiatrists determined that the offender was not likely to reoffend or pose a threat to persons under the age of 18. It is a pleasure to reintroduce this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Corrections and Conditional Release ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-402, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (indictable offence committed while on conditional release).

Mr. Speaker, this is the fourth private member's bill which I would like to reintroduce in this Parliament. If enacted, it would make it an offence to breach a condition of any of the various forms of conditional release, namely, parole, statutory release, or temporary absence. If someone breached those conditions of his or her release, it would be an offence.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

moved:

That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Finance that it divide Bill C-43, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, into two bills: Bill C-43A, An Act to implement the Canada — Newfoundland and Labrador Arrangement and the Canada — Nova Scotia Arrangement and Bill C-43B, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005; that Bill C-43A be composed of Part 12 (the Canada — Newfoundland and Labrador Arrangement and the Canada — Nova Scotia Arrangement); that Bill C-43B be composed of all remaining Parts of Bill C-43; that the House order the printing of Bills C-43A and C-43B; that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make such technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion; and that Bill C-43A be reported back to the House no later than two sitting days after the adoption of this motion.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.

This is an issue that has been before the House on several occasions recently. I will give members just a short bit of history. Three or four years ago, I, along with others, kept pushing government to offer the provinces of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia a better deal in relation to the revenues they get from offshore development. It culminated during the last election campaign, when our party made a solid commitment in writing to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and to the province of Nova Scotia that should we form the government we would make sure that they would get 100% of their share of revenues from the offshore development.

The government opposite matched that commitment, won the election and now is in the process of delivering. However, in the interim, it was like pulling teeth to get even to where we are today, and we still have a way to go. Once the election was won, the government backed off on its commitment to the people of the Atlantic provinces. Day after day in this honourable place, members of this side of the House constantly questioned and pushed the government to deliver on its promise.

Finally, after being embarrassed by the opposition and by the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, the government signed an agreement. For instance, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador had to walk out of meetings and had to order flags be taken down from provincial buildings. It was not easy to do, but it had to be shown to the country how important this issue was and how little regard was being paid not only to the needs of the provinces but to promises actually made by the government opposite.

Finally, on Valentine's Day, and I am not sure if there is a significance to that, everyone sort of kissed and made up and signed an agreement. That was over three months ago and the government was still hedging on bringing forth legislation. The bill is contained in a two page document, so it is not anything substantive. This went on and on. Finally, when the bill was presented it was part of an omnibus bill and was included with 23 other pieces of legislation.

Any bill of that complexity, especially if some of these pieces of legislation are ones which will cause concern to members of the opposition or members generally in the House if they are concerned about how we spend our money in this country, which we know members opposite do not worry too much about, is a very lengthy process.

We immediately asked for single stand-alone legislation. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador asked for stand-alone legislation. The province of Nova Scotia asked for stand-alone legislation. The government said, “No, the bill is in Bill C-43 and we will deal with it in totality”. Then we asked if the Liberals would split the bill; if they would take out the section pertaining to the Atlantic accord provisions and the funding arrangements for both provinces and deal with that separately so the money could flow.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is losing $3 million for every week this drags on. We asked that the accord be taken out. We asked that the bill be split. The Prime Minister, in responding to one of my questions, said that he could only do it with unanimous consent from the House. We asked for unanimous consent, we being the leader of the Conservative Party, seconded by the leader of the NDP, actually, whose members have supported this solidly throughout.

The government refused, but instead of taking the blame, it blamed the Bloc for objecting. After a few days we asked again that the government split the bill, this time with unanimous consent from every opposition member in the House. The government refused again.

Finally the budget came and the budget was passed, again with a huge majority thanks to the members of this party. That was because of how important one issue in particular is; it is not that we were in love with all 24 clauses in the budget, but certainly because that one issue is so important to the Atlantic provinces. Around this commitment hinges the future of Newfoundland and Labrador and, to some extent at least, that of the province of Nova Scotia.

The budget passed and now the bill has been referred to committee. The committee now has to deal with 24 clauses, along with a second piece of associated legislation, Bill C-48, the bill brought in to legitimize the buyout of the NDP.

Mr. Speaker, you and I have been around long enough to know that 25 pieces of legislation take time to go through any process, especially if the legislation is complex. We are within days of closing for the summer. If this bill is not passed through this facility, then it drags on into the fall. With other issues coming up heaven knows how long it would take and at $3 million a week we just cannot afford it.

Now that the budget has passed and now that the bill is in committee there is no reason at all why the government cannot ask committee, which is why we presented the motion, to have part 12 sent back here to be dealt with as a stand-alone bill so that the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia can have their money flowing before any other complexities set in that would further drag out the approval of this legislation.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I have gone over this quite a number of times. This is like déjà vu all over again. I would like to direct the hon. member to part 24 of the budget implementation bill.

By the way, the last implementation bill was passed in six weeks, from March 31 through to May 14, so that is how long it takes to get a budget implementation bill through. That is what the record is from last year.

This is what I would like the hon. member to tell this House. Why is it that payments for the Atlantic accords should be in preference to and put ahead of $200 million to Quebec, in preference to and put ahead of substantial sums of money to Yukon, in preference to and put ahead of moneys to the Northwest Territories, in preference to and put ahead of moneys to Nunavut, and in preference to and put ahead of moneys to Saskatchewan?

What is it that is unique about the Atlantic accords which puts those moneys set aside in the budget for those two provinces in the Atlantic ahead of moneys payable to the people of Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Yukon? What is his basic rationale for doing this?

I appreciate that he likes to see the money flow, as do we all, particularly on this side of the House. As I say, a budget implementation bill can be passed within six weeks. We are already well past the period of time that we used up last year to pass the entire bill, so--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Let's just do it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

That's right. Let's do it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, I could not wish for anybody better to ask me a question because, as we know, the parliamentary secretary who just spoke has been against this motion, against the issue, against giving Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia funding, from day one. He is solidly on the record at every turn. Every time we rose and dealt with the issue, the member was up spitting venom about the issue that these provinces should somehow get some of their own money.

Let me answer his question. Why do I think it is important to isolate one piece of legislation and not the rest? Every other piece of legislation involved, most of which provides funding as any budget does year after year, is a continuous set of programming. Funding constantly flows to the different provinces for different programs, some through special programs every year to follow up on promises made in elections or to deal with special issues. We have special funding for that. I have no problem with that.

What we are talking about here, though, is a special deal, an outside separate deal done with two provinces because of a promise made during an election. Because the government was forced into a corner, it had to come up with commitments to the provinces, entirely separate from anything else. It is entirely different. It is like the health care deal or whatever. It was done entirely differently. But the magnitude of the commitment means a chance for Newfoundland and Labrador together to start becoming a have province, because for once in their lifetime they would be allowed to hold on to some of their own resources.

Like the others, it is money coming out of the budget, the total pop, and all we are saying here is to let us keep some of our own money. We are not talking apples and apples at all. It is a distinct, special program for a distinct, special need that is so important in relation to the amount of money versus the needs in the province that there is no comparison.

Because of the effect of slowing down the process, the amount of money being lost is $3 million a week. For a province like Newfoundland and Labrador, let us imagine what that could do for the health care system in our province, for the education system, for the increase for public service workers, who have not seen a cent in years and who had to be legislated back to work last year with no increase, and for the roads and for the infrastructure that is falling apart.

This is the turnaround for our province, but a member like that member can stand and ask why it is so important and say that it is no more important than anything else. That just shows how little he knows about the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the province of Nova Scotia.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments that have been brought forward by my hon. colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl. I would like to preface my remarks by saying that in this chamber nobody speaks up more for the issues related to Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and the other provinces, than the Conservative MPs who are here.

It was those MPs who brought forward the idea and the initiative to have this particular accord in place so that the people of Atlantic Canada, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, as the member of Parliament for St. John's South—Mount Pearl just said, could finally enjoy part of the promise of Confederation, which was that they would be able to share in their own prosperity and would not continually have it taped off and raked off by a federal government that is concerned only about its pursuit of power right here in this part of the country.

These MPs made the case. The government, for once, seemed to partially listen and has said it has provided a way for it to happen. Now all we are asking is that this particular part of the budget be carved out, and the member has well articulated the process to get here, so that the dollars can flow now and parliamentarians can be free to debate other parts of the budget which, the records show very clearly, the official opposition supported.

It is time that we had this done. We know that a member of Parliament from another part of the country, from Ontario, can stand up and ask what the big deal is, what the big deal about $3 million is to people in Newfoundland and Labrador. I would venture to say that $3 million is a big deal to any Canadian.

That is why we are demonstrating as members of Parliament from across the country that we support our colleagues and we support the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They cannot afford to continue to see this money, at the rate of approximately $3 million a week, held up by the Liberal MPs strictly for political reasons. It is time we showed commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Because we cannot delay that, I move:

That this question be now put.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties concerning the recorded division requested earlier today on the third reading stage of Bill C-9 and I believe you would find consent to further defer the said vote from Tuesday, May 31 to the end of government orders on Wednesday, June 1.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to raise a couple of questions with the member for Okanagan--Coquihalla.

I do not wish to get into a dispute over the point, but I do want to give fair credit where credit is due. The Premier of Nova Scotia and the leader of the official opposition in Nova Scotia worked together to advance what has ended up in the Atlantic accord long before the member's party took up the challenge. It is only fair to give credit and there is certainly credit to be passed around.

This was a relentless, persistent campaign that went on for several years by Nova Scotia politicians across party lines. The Premier of Nova Scotia had the foresight to invite members from the federal Conservative caucus, the NDP caucus and the Liberal caucus to sit together to pledge commitment to support this campaign. The Newfoundland and Labrador premier, who is quite dramatic, did a good job of driving this issue home during the election, but it was all party collaboration that brought it to the point of finally being adopted and that fact has to be recognized.

We should let bygones be bygones. We should not dwell on those on the Liberal benches who tried to block this in the earlier stages because the Prime Minister did come on side. The question now is this. What is needed to ensure that we can deal with this expeditiously so we can then get on with the rest of the budget measures?

I have heard both members on the Conservative benches talk about how important these resources are to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, which is absolutely true. In exchange for the kind of fast tracking support for which my colleague is looking, which has already been given by my caucus when our leader seconded this original motion to split the two budget items, can the people of Atlantic Canada, especially those in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador , count on expeditious support from the Conservative benches for the other desperately needed measures of affordable housing funds and funding for post-secondary education? There are no two provinces that more desperately need those funds than Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. As well important funds for public transit and energy retrofitting of low income housing are desperately needed.

Can we count on Conservative members to give the same kind of expeditious support to ensuring that those measures are delivered and in the pipeline for Atlantic Canadians as well as all the other budgetary measures that we simply cannot and should not hold up beyond the end of this spring session of Parliament?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax has raised some important questions. There is no question about the involvement and the commitment of Atlantic Canadian premiers in this process.

The record, and not that we want to get to a point of who said what first, is very clear that the Conservative MPs from Atlantic Canada were the ones who conceived of a way to get this done. They are the ones, hopefully along with others, who are suggesting a way to deal with the member for Halifax's second question about expediting this, and that is all members could simply agree with us. The motion which has just been tabled in the House which will come forward for a vote I believe on Tuesday or Wednesday. That is how to expedite this. Bring these specific items to the floor of these chamber so we can vote, support and get those necessary dollars to Atlantic Canadians.

On the final portion of the question from the member for Halifax, in the area of what we would call the NDP-Liberal alliance and the overnight budget process that took place, a $4.6 billion hole was blown in a budget to which we initially gave tacit support. I say let us take a look at that.

It is one step at a time. Let us deal with the elements of the Atlantic Canada accord. Then let us bring forward the new, and I do not think improved, gigantically expanded NDP-Liberal alliance budget. Let us take a look at those elements too in all fairness.

Let us get this one done now and quickly for the people of Atlantic Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions with all the parties. I think you would find consent to allow the House to go to Questions on the Order Paper because the government has six questions that it wants to answer today, including from the opposition. Then we would immediately revert to the current debate on the motion.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: Question No. 142.

Question No. 142Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

With regard to requests for proposals, RFP issued by Marine Atlantic Inc.: ( a ) how many RFPs has Marine Atlantic Inc. issued in the last decade in the area of safety and training for the company; ( b ) broken down by the number of RFPs, how many responses were received; ( c ) how many different companies were awarded a contract after submitting an RFP; ( d ) how many different companies were awarded more than one contract after submitting RFPs; ( e ) what was the process for determining the requirements of an RFP; ( f ) what criteria was used in determining which company would be awarded a contract; ( g ) how many personnel were involved in the process of deciding which company would be awarded a contract; and ( h ) how many contracts were given to companies not owned by Canadians?

Question No. 142Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

In response to (a), five RFPs have been issued since 2001. Prior to 2001, all health and safety training delivered by Marine Atlantic Inc. was delivered in house.

In response to (b):

2001 – RFP = 1 – Number of Responses = An undetermined number of replies were received (the file had been removed to off-site storage);

2002 – RFP = 1 – Number of Responses = 6;

2003 – RFP = Nil – Number of Responses = Nil;

2004 – RFP = 2 – Number of Responses = NFP No. 1-16, RPF No. 2-7;

2005 – RFP = 1 – Number of Responses = 14.

In response to (c), four companies received contracts.

In response to (d), one company received two contracts.

In response to (e), the client department and/or the training department reviews the requirements for training. This may involve marine regulatory requirements, government regulations arising from legislation, requirements arising from the collective agreements, for the purposes of due diligence relative to employee awareness of various elements of their positions, or for the purpose of enabling employees to carry out their assigned functions in a safe and orderly manner so as to ensure the safety of both the employees and customers of Marine Atlantic Inc.

In response to (f), the individual or group reviewing the responses checks the response against the requirements as set out in the RFP. The responses are rated against the RFP requirements and each other to determine: which satisfy the basic criteria as set out in the RFP; which company has the better experience with similar projects, number of personnel with necessary qualifications to carry out the requirements of the project, good references, financial stability, reasonable cost, and so on. Other factors may be included in the review depending on the nature of the particular project under consideration.

In response to (g), the normal technical review panel consists of a minimum of two individuals. Specific projects may employ a larger number of individuals, depending on the nature and scope of the technical review. A department head or director then vets recommendations prior to final award.

In response to (h), of the five contracts awarded, none of the companies receiving the contracts are known to be owned outside Canada.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if Question Nos. 132, 134, 135, 136 and 137 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.