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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing to hide. When the member raised this question yesterday, the Minister of Labour promised to shed some light on the matter. He is in Quebec today to make an important announcement. I therefore ask the hon. member to wait until the minister returns to this House next week. He will give the House an update on this matter at that time.

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us try this in English, then. The Minister of Labour yesterday confirmed that his senior policy adviser, Normand Forest, got a contract for $24,000 for 24 days of work, quite a bonus, but he said also that Mr. Forest was hired in his office at the end of the contract. He said this yesterday and said that everything was on the website.

When we consult the website we see that it says Normand Forest Communications received $1,000 a day between March 7 and March 31, but that Normand Forest was hired on March 14, 2006. What was Forest doing while he was double-dipping?

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister did not say what the member has just suggested. What the minister did say is that he will look into this matter, as I understand he is currently doing, and report back to the House as soon as he has all of the information and all the details. While he is doing so, perhaps the member for Bourassa could tell us what he was doing at the Groupe Everest condo.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is day 128 of the Liberal Senate's delaying tactics.

Unelected and unaccountable Liberal Senators have taken the teeth out of the accountability act through amendments. They have allowed big money to creep back into politics. They have allowed the private interests of the Liberal Party to take precedence over the public interests of Canadians. They have increased government secrecy by limiting the reach of access to information legislation, which the Conservative Party has opened greatly.

Can the President of the Treasury Board tell this House why he thinks the Liberal Party is so afraid of accountability?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, not one of the government amendments to the bill in the Senate weakened the bill, but I share the disappointment of the member opposite with respect to the actions of the unelected Liberal Senate. It wants to increase the role of big money in politics. We want more openness and we want to reduce it.

The unelected Liberal Senate wants to, for the first time in Canadian history, reduce the number of organizations covered by access to information. We want to increase the number of organizations covered by access to information. What we see by the actions of the unelected Liberal Senate is that problematically the Liberal Party--

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about accountability.

In October of last year a letter was written on behalf of the present Prime Minister to Joyce Carter of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It states that “a Conservative government would immediately extend Veterans Independence Program services to the widows of all Second World War and Korean War veterans” regardless of time of death.

My question is quite simple. When are these widows going to see the VIP extension?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Betty Hinton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, one of the things the new minister did as soon as he was appointed was to make certain that there was an inquiry and a review done on comprehensive health care. That is under way as we speak.

While this review is being completed, the government has already allocated an extra $352 million for Veterans Affairs this year, more than the Liberals did last year. This new funding includes $250 million for enhanced benefits and services to veterans.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple question.

Harold Shea of Halifax, an 83 year old war veteran, died the other day. We lose approximately 24,000 second world war and Korean war veterans every year in this country. They want to make sure, before they pass on, that their spouses are well taken care of by that government or any government.

Once again, this was a promise by the Prime Minister to a woman in Cape Breton who is representing thousands of widows in this country. This being Veterans Week, when will the government honour its promise and extend the veterans independence program to all widows of all veterans in this country?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Betty Hinton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not have to take a backseat to this member or any other member of the House when it comes to veterans issues. I have been fighting strongly for veterans for many, many years. The minister feels very strongly toward veterans. The Prime Minister has made it very clear how he feels about veterans.

We are moving as quickly as we can. I would ask for the cooperation of the opposition members in putting together a bill of rights and an ombudsman so that these kinds of issues can be addressed very, very quickly, without delay.

HomelessnessOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, it is appalling that the federal government is ignoring Canada's homeless. To date, the Minister of Human Resources has refused to indicate if the supporting communities partnership initiative for the homeless will be extended.

Does the minister think that if she says it is being reviewed long enough the homelessness problem will just disappear?

HomelessnessOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the issue of the homeless is very important to the government. That is why one of our earliest actions was to renew the SCPI program, with $135 million, and in August we made available $37 million more.

After seven years of no changes in that program, we think we must review it and look for opportunities to improve it so that we can make it even better and more responsive.

That is $135 million for SCPI and that is not peanuts.

HomelessnessOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House will not accept that the SCPI program is wasteful or inefficient, as the minister said.

Earlier this year, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities told the finance committee that SCPI has been particularly effective in combating homelessness and asked that it be extended for five years. Despite a $13 billion surplus, the Conservative government would not extend the SCPI program.

There are approximately 150,000 homeless people in Canada every year. Will the minister stop making excuses and extend the program today?

HomelessnessOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, as we have seen with so many programs that were put in place by the previous government, they need to be reviewed. We owe that to Canadian taxpayers.

There was a former Liberal minister of CMHC who said that improvements needed to be made. We are going to deliver programs for the homeless at least as good as SCPI, and I hope better.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

October 27th, 2006 / 11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has failed to announce its plan for an estimated 200,000 undocumented workers in Canada and it refuses to grant them amnesty. Instead of addressing how to use the immigration system to better benefit the Canadian economy, the government is clueless.

Will the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration explain why he continues to ignore the plight of those workers? Why is he throwing them out and slamming the door?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we have tremendous sympathy for anyone who wants to come to Canada for a better life. This is a great country, but I think it is only right that people who want to get here come here legally. We already have 800,000 people waiting in line to come here legally.

Here is the real question. If the member cares so much for immigrants, why did she vote against the $307 million in new settlement funding that we announced in the budget?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer shows he is totally clueless. These workers bolster the Canadian economy. In addition, many of them have children who are Canadian-born and have a legal right to remain in Canada.

This is an urgent issue. The minister has the ability to act on behalf of these families. Will he now recognize the complexities of this issue and ensure that the families of Canadian-born children remain in Canada? Or is he going to throw Canadian citizens out of the country?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's new-found interest in undocumented workers, but I point out that when the Liberals were on the government side, they deported over 100,000 undocumented people in a very few years.

I think it is time for the former government to own up to its failure on all kinds of immigration issues, including its failure to provide settlement funding, something that we announced in the budget.

The Liberals froze settlement funding and penalized immigrants. We have provided $307 million in new funding because we care about newcomers.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the measures put in place by the government on May 11 to help female immigrants who are victims of abuse, Amnesty International still denounces the working conditions of domestic helpers, who are quite simply being treated like slaves.

In 2003, the United Nations adopted a convention to ensure better protection for all migrant workers. What is Canada waiting for to sign it?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we have great concern for migrant workers, workers of all kinds. We have rules in place regarding labour conditions and we work with the provinces to ensure that those standards are met.

Whenever that is in question, I of course urge the provinces to move very quickly to address these issues. I point out, by the way, that Quebec is a leader in ensuring that labour standards are met when it comes to migrant workers.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the newspapers, the Conservative government does not intend to regularize the status of illegal immigrant workers employed in construction, for example, across Canada. This decision is even harder to understand when we know that there is such a severe labour shortage.

Will the government acknowledge that one of the best ways to protect these workers from possible abuse would be to regularize their status to get them out of the black market?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue and I have tremendous sympathy for people who want to come to Canada. We are looking for ways to make it easier for tradespeople and people who do not necessarily have a university degree to come here.

In fact, we have raised the number of temporary workers who come here quite dramatically. We are going to do more on that file, but we are not going to allow people to jump the queue and get ahead of the 800,000 people who are trying to come here by regular means. That is not the Canadian way. We have to be fair to people who are trying to get here legally.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, on September 26, the President of the Treasury Board said in this House that the court challenges program was a waste. Does he think it was a waste for Gisèle Lalonde to make the effort to save the Montfort Hospital from the provincial government, or for the Société franco-manitobaine to stand up for its rights and get its own school board, rights that had been denied for over 80 years? Yesterday the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne announced it was going to the Federal Court to have the government's decision reversed.

Is it not a real waste to pay lawyers to defend this horrible decision in court?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Beauport—Limoilou Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we know about the concerns expressed by the official language minority communities. Since this is a matter before the courts, it is inappropriate for us to comment further on this case.

However, let us never forget that this government continues to give unwavering support to La Francophonie and to this country's official languages.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, hon. Liberal and NDP members say they are so concerned about aboriginal communities. I wonder why they did not go to Mashteuiatsh. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development even offered to pay for the opposition MPs to go to the forum, but they did not show up. Shame on them.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development give us the real facts on how Canada's new government is contributing and improving the quality of live of all aboriginal communities?