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House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was land.

Topics

AgricultureOral Question Period

September 27th, 2005 / 2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the U.S. border was closed to Canadian beef, this government dithered about before appealing the U.S. government's decision. Now no less than six states are trying to reverse the decision and close their borders again.

As usual, this government is saying nothing and doing nothing. Why is the Prime Minister refusing to support our farmers and other workers in the natural resources sector?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is simply wrong in her facts. The issue was resolved in the appeals court. The Government of Canada had its amicus brief in the appeals court. The Conservative Party did not.

The Government of Canada, this party, was there defending Canadian producers; that party was not.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, three months ago the Liberal government rolled the dice in a crap shoot. It gambled the future of Canada's livestock producers on one appeal court in Seattle, with no plan B if things went wrong. Now forces are trying to make things go very wrong.

If that happens, thankfully, Conservative parliamentarians will be in Montana to stand up for Canadian producers, and shamefully, the Liberal government will not. Is that because the government is indifferent to agriculture, or incompetent, or both?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member pointed out that under the leadership of this government, of this party, of this Prime Minister, the border was reopened.

Also, as they were trying to rebook their flights to Montana, the federal minister along with the 10 provincial ministers were meeting in Alberta and did in fact develop a contingency plan, which we hope will not be necessary.

Income TrustsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the finance minister cancelled advance tax rulings on income trusts last week, he devastated the retirement nest eggs of millions of Canadians. Here is what one of them wrote me and said, “I'm near retirement and thanks to Income Trusts I can finally see that I'll be able to retire in dignity. I do not want to be a Wal-Mart greeter. Now the Finance Minister wants to take that away from us working class retirees by screwing up Income Trusts”.

Why is the minister bullying investors and seniors who, in their own words, just want to retire in dignity?

Income TrustsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we can all review our correspondence and see views on different sides of different issues. I can assure the hon. gentleman that the representations currently being made to the Department of Finance are running about 75% in favour of the position that the government has taken.

The fact of the matter is this is an important public policy question. It has to do with revenue to all governments, including the provinces. It has to do with fairness in the business system of this country, and it has to do with productivity and growth for the future. We would like to get the policy right for the long term and we think it is important to consult with Canadians to ensure that happens.

Income TrustsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is the difference between us and them. The Liberals care about revenue for government when they are running multi-billion dollar surpluses. We care about the dignity of seniors and investors.

Another investor wrote me to point out that the minister destroyed 15% of the value of his investment portfolio with his thumb-sucking musings about income trusts the other week. How will the minister make that up to that person and the millions of others he devastated with his remarks last week?

Income TrustsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, perhaps, like some of the folks that the hon. gentleman is referring to, his own hysteria and hyperbole are contributing to the problem.

It is important to have a rational discussion about the future of business organization in this country, including fairness among all the ways in which businesses can be organized, and to ensure that we are contributing to growth and productivity in the future and not locked into the past. We want to have that dialogue. We want to have a policy that builds for the future of all Canadians.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the softwood lumber dispute is nowhere near resolution, judging by the attitude of the U.S. industry, which, unhappy with the decisions, is disputing the very legitimacy of NAFTA.

Day after day for three years, the Bloc Québécois has been asking the government to provide concrete help to the softwood lumber industry, namely by providing loan guarantees.

Does the Minister of International Trade not feel the time has come to give the softwood lumber industry some concrete help? Does he intend to provide the loan guarantees the industry is looking for?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for this very important question. Softwood lumber and the softwood lumber industry are very important to our country. Furthermore, the Americans absolutely must respect NAFTA conditions.

That being said, our attitude in the past has illustrated our willingness to work with and support the communities, the workers and the industry. We have already given them over $300,000. We have supported the industries with a $20 million subsidy. We are continuing to help them.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the figure the hon. member is referring to dates back to 2003. That $20 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the expenses the industry has incurred and will continue to incur to defend itself in the American courts. This is no laughing matter. It is very clear that the American strategy is to buy time in order to kill the industry so that when the issue is resolved there will be no players left.

Does the minister realize that one way to help the softwood lumber industry get through this crisis and recover the tariffs the U.S. authorities illegally imposed is to give the industry loan guarantees, period?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the best way to help the softwood lumber industry is to end this dispute. We are taking every possible step at this time, including litigation in the U.S. courts and at the WTO. We will continue our efforts in Washington to promote the interests of this industry. The Americans must respect NAFTA.

Technology Partnerships CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, under section 6.5 of all Technology Partnerships Canada agreements, it is expressly forbidden to pay lobbyists contingency fees for successfully securing a TPC grant. Despite this, former Liberal cabinet minister David Dingwall was reported to have received $350,000 from a company in exchange for securing a technology partnerships grant.

Will the Minister of Industry simply confirm that David Dingwall did in fact receive the bonus for securing a TPC grant for his client and if so, exactly how much was he paid?

Technology Partnerships CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt about it that under the technology partnerships program the government has contractual relationships with companies and those companies have an obligation to abide by the terms and conditions.

One of the terms and conditions, as the hon. member said, is that individuals cannot have an unregistered lobbyist and if they have a lobbyist, they cannot be paid a success fee or a contingency fee.

We have found examples of that and we are moving to correct them with zero tolerance. The relationship between the companies and their lobbyists is one that they are working on and until we have very specific information that we should act on, we will just continue to deal with--

Technology Partnerships CanadaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc.

Technology Partnerships CanadaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is taxpayer money that is being squandered. Canadians have a right to know why a former Liberal cabinet minister received a kickback against his government's own rules.

I have two direct questions for the Minister of Industry. How much money has been received that he knows of, in total, for lobbyists securing these TPC grants and why is the government itself not pursuing the kickbacks paid to these lobbyists instead of leaving it up to the companies?

Technology Partnerships CanadaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw attention of the House to the premise here. Canada has a competitiveness challenge going forward. Manufacturing industries have been shedding jobs, over 100,000 over the last year.

It is very important that we encourage innovation, technology use and improve the competitiveness of the Canadian economy. We are reviewing technology partnerships. We have replaced the program. We have a new program with a broader, more effective orientation, stronger administration, and that is what we are going to continue to do because it is good for the Canadian economy.

TELUS CommunicationsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, TELUS Communications and the Telecommunications Workers Union have now been without a collective agreement since December 31, 2000. The ongoing inability of these parties to reach an agreement has caused great uncertainty for the workers and disruption of service to many of my constituents. This is a matter that needs to be resolved now for the benefit of all concerned, the community, the workers and the company.

Can the Minister of Labour and Housing give us an update on the status of this dispute?

TELUS CommunicationsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalMinister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for North Vancouver for his question and to indicate to him that yes, it has been four and a half years. Over 13,000 workers at TELUS have been without an agreement and thousands and thousands of communities are affected. That is why my negotiators have been trying to get both parties to the table.

I want to confirm that yesterday in fact both TELUS and its telecommunication workers agreed to get back to the table. I would encourage all members who believe that this is an important issue to encourage them to come to an agreement and to get on with good bargaining, and to put in place an agreement that will satisfy both parties.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is up to his old tricks again. This time he stuck the taxpayers with a bill of $6,800 for meals he had in a two month period earlier this year. His staff stuck the taxpayers with another $6,000 in restaurant costs. This averages $285 per meal.

Most Canadian families spend less on groceries in a week than the minister does on lunch. How can he justify this?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, as the House well knows of course, with my additional responsibilities as regional minister, I have occasion to speak with many stakeholders. I have had a lot of meetings. I welcome the fact that I have this kind of a responsibility. All I can tell the member, and everyone in the House, that everything met Treasury Board guidelines.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, his expenses are almost four times the average of his fellow political ministers in cabinet. According to official government disclosure statements, the minister had two breakfasts on March 22, two lunches on March 3, and two dinners on March 21. Either the minister was really hungry or his staff had made fraudulent meal claims on behalf of the minister.

Why did the minister give his staff approval to file these overstuffed expense claims?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, in my responsibilities I do have opportunity to meet with stakeholders and interested parties. As the member will know, in the course of this next month I will present to Parliament a yearly immigration plan. This has given me an opportunity to meet with many people.

Yes, I do go to various places during the course of the day. As I said, one of the functions of the transparency provisions is so that people can see what ministers do. We have done that and we have done it within the Treasury Board guidelines.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is very difficult to hear the answers with all the argy-bargy we have in the House today. Perhaps hon. members could control themselves.