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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was code.

Topics

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Economic Development Canada should analyze a festival’s application for assistance based on the economic impact that the event will have in its region. The assistance requested was for international promotion. It is a proven fact that the gay Black & Blue Festival will produce economic benefits for Montreal worth $25 million. The minister denied their application for funding.

What should we take from this? Did the minister’s personal opinions outweigh economic development in Montreal?

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, my responsibility as minister is to look at all of the applications, to cast an eye over them, and to consider the value of each of them. We decided that the $55,000 we were being asked to provide for marketing was not essential for the event to be held. We thought that it would be able to go on regardless, and we were not mistaken.

That being said, if we want to talk about homophobia, how is it that this same minister said yes when the First World Outgames were held and he was asked to advance the funds earlier to help them out? How is it that we gave $100,000 for the Divers/Cité event held alongside the Outgames?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming more and more obvious that the government is making decisions solely on the basis of ideological reasons. Again, yesterday, we learned that the Minister of the Environment has appointed Darrel Reid as her chief of staff, a man who has expressed offensive remarks regarding gays and lesbians, as well as denying that there is a problem with climate change. In addition, Mr. Reid has made questionable statements about the morality of Quebeckers.

How can the Prime Minister explain his Minister of the Environment’s appointment of a person with such controversial views to a key position in her office?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Reid has personal views on questions such as marriage. The leader of the Bloc has known for a long time that it is the government’s intention to hold a debate in which members can vote freely and express their views on these questions.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, those views and remarks are offensive, that is why the prime minister kept them hidden during the election campaign.

Despite contrary advice from his officials, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec has refused to renew funding for the Black & Blue Festival, an event that generates $25 million in economic benefits. By way of explanation, one of the minister’s political advisers said that the minister prefers to provide funding for family-oriented events.

Can the prime minister explain to us when the ideological values of his government became the criteria for awarding grants to public events?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, that criterion is not part of our analysis. All submissions are analyzed on their own merits.

I wish to remind the member that at present organizations that submit projects to this government do so on a three-year basis. If they ask us for $3 million, that means three times $1 million.

We now realize that people systematically seem to believe that once we say Yes it means Yes forever. We must analyze these submissions on merit; we need some room to manoeuvre in order to contribute to the economic development of all the regions of Quebec.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me just go back to the Black & Blue Festival, whose grant was cut. The Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec claims that the grant was cut because this event is successfully established. That is just a pretext and not the real reason.

How can the minister claim that the Black & Blue Festival is successfully established and that is why he decided to cut its grant when the Just for Laughs Festival received $805,000 and the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal received $890,000? It is pretty hard to say that these are not successfully established events.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my hon. colleague that we have many cases to examine: around 1,200 a year. We cannot say yes to all of them.

My priority over the last few months has been to implement six new initiatives to promote economic development in various regions of Quebec, including regions in decline.

This case was examined. We felt that our contribution was not crucial to this event and that it could be held without our $55,000. This festival is now in its 16th year and is well on its way.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, we see now why the minister was in a rush to squeeze out his regional managers by taking away all their decision-making powers when he took over the department.

Is that not the real reason? The minister squeezed everyone out to make it easier to impose his own values and those of his party, in other words, to choose the events that suit him, period.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, accountability is very important to this government.

Each one of us, as the minister, is responsible and must answer to Parliament for how we manage our budget, whether for Economic Development Canada or any other department.

A minister in the department made the decision to review the files himself, to take a look at them and find out how things were going. In regard to this case, the money was not crucial to the event being held. We were not wrong, either, because the event is being held in Montreal from October 4 to 10.

AfghanistanOral Questions

October 4th, 2006 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, evidence is mounting that Afghanistan is the wrong mission for Canada.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate majority leader conceded that this conflict would not end militarily. Today, the United Nations reports an estimated 15,000 families in southern Afghanistan have been uprooted since July. Over one million Afghans are refugees in their own country.

When will the government realize that the George Bush counter-insurgency is not helping Afghans and is not making Canadians safer either?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the President of Afghanistan was here and expressed his support for Canada and for the help that Canadian soldiers, Canadian diplomats and Canadian public servants were giving to his country.

The member also knows full well that the United Nations mandated this mission and it has wide support and participation from members of the United Nations. We will continue to work with the international community to bring prosperity, peace and further development to Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister cannot ignore the reality. The region is not becoming more secure. It is becoming less secure. There are not more kids going to school. There are fewer kids going to school. There are not growing numbers of Canadians behind this Liberal-Conservative blunder. There are fewer.

When will the government bring Karzai, the Pakistani military leadership, and combatants, to the same table to hammer out a ceasefire that will finally bring about stability and security in southern Afghanistan? When will it do that?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the real question is why the NDP does not want the international community to succeed in Afghanistan.

More important, this week we learned, sadly, of the deaths of Canadian soldiers serving valiantly in Afghanistan while they were in the process of rebuilding roads in that country for the benefit of the population. Instead of expressing support for our soldiers and sympathy for their loved ones and for those they have lost, why does the NDP get up and ask despicable questions like that?

LiteracyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, even Conservative premiers in Atlantic Canada are opposed to the government's crippling cuts to literacy. P.E.I.'s Pat Binns and Newfoundland and Labrador's Danny Williams denounce this regressive decision.

Premier Williams even distanced himself from his federal cousins. He said these callous cuts “show the difference between true right-wing Conservatives and progressive Conservatives”.

Will the President of the Treasury Board show some common sense and reverse this senseless slashing?

LiteracyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we will be investing over $80 million in literacy programs. This government is refocusing its energies and its money on programs of a national nature to help literacy at all levels. That is our commitment. We are also investing in workplace skills and in literacy issues for new immigrants, something that party voted against.

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the international adult literacy and skills survey indicates that nearly one in two Quebeckers between the ages of 16 and 65 cannot read well enough to function fully in society.

In addition, since Jacques Demers' biography was published, support groups such as Alpha Laval in my riding, Laval—Les Îles, have seen a huge rise in requests for literacy services.

How can the President of the Treasury Board ignore this reality? When will he reinstate funding for these programs?

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, by focusing our energies on adult learning and literacy skills, Canadians will have access to the best literacy training available. These will, for a change, be programs that run efficiently and deliver real results for real Canadians.

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the meanspirited cuts to literacy will force organizations that help Canadians improve their reading and writing skills to close their doors.

The government refuses to honour the labour market partnership agreement in Ontario which earmarked $1.4 billion for workplace training emphasizing literacy skills.

The President of the Treasury Board used to believe that literacy training was key when he was an Ontario minister. Why has he abandoned Ontario adults now?

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we do believe in literacy, which is why we are investing over $80 million and why we put new funds into the settlement funding process for new Canadians. This is money that had been frozen by the previous government for over 10 years.

We put that money in because we are investing in literacy and, by the way, the Liberals voted against it.

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are shocked and saddened by the surprise massive Conservative cuts to the most vulnerable in our society but nothing has enraged Canadians more than the senseless cut to nine million unfortunate Canadians who have problems reading.

The new Conservative government is forcing the potential closure of literacy coalitions across the north, including the Northwest Territory Literacy Council, the Nunavut Literacy Council, the Yukon Literacy Coalition and culturally based programs at Nunavut Arctic College. What a shame.

Will the minister responsible for literacy stop giving that ridiculous answer about what you are funding and reinstate the funds that you have cut to all these organizations?

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member knows that he must address his remarks to the Chair and I would urge all hon. members to continue to do that properly.

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Social Development.

LiteracyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we will be investing in literacy but we will do it right. We will fund it with over $80 million, with $300 million for new settlement programs, moneys that party, despite all its claims, voted against.

Canadians want their money to be spent wisely and that is exactly what we will do.

JusticeOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, because he is afraid of losing the vote on same sex unions, the Minister of Justice is preparing to use the law to impose his conservative values and give more ammunition to religious groups in the event the government should lose the free vote on same-sex marriage.

Does the Minister of Justice acknowledge that, in the guise of protecting freedom of religion and freedom of expression, which are already protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he is ultimately aiming to authorize religious groups to discriminate with impunity?

JusticeOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, during the election, the Prime Minister and the government made a promise that it would bring forward a motion and allow a free vote on the issue. That is what we will do. Everything else is simply speculation.