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House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we made our answers to these questions clear last week. We learned, of course, at the same time as everybody else learned. That is why, obviously, we accepted the resignation of the Commissioner of the RCMP. It was his decision, not our decision.

Officials are not in any way restricted or forbidden from appearing before a parliamentary committee.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, “at the same time as everybody” means last week and that the Prime Minister did not know before last week. We need to know, because more and more he is trying to not answer the questions, and it looks more and more like a cover-up. The Prime Minister must tell the truth about when he learned. Was it last week or before?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition will have to learn that once we get our questions answered, we have to come here the next week with some new questions, not with the same questions as before.

In terms of any allegation of a cover-up, I would once again note that the events in question occurred under the stewardship of the government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member. I would encourage the members of that government to come forward with all the information they know about the Arar affair.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will keep asking questions until we get answers.

We now know that the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Foreign Affairs urged the Prime Minister to remove the RCMP commissioner in the fall, this long before the matter became a crisis. The Prime Minister ignored their advice, ignored all evidence and protected the commissioner.

Since the public safety minister has refused to answer this question seven times and since the Minister of Foreign Affairs will only admit to statements caught by Hansard, will the justice minister answer? Will the Minister of Justice now admit that he pushed for the removal of the RCMP commissioner prior to last Monday, yes or no?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the issue here is not questions not being answered. As a matter of fact, we have answered those questions. I have answered that question that he has put to me a number of times, saying that it was utterly lacking in any kind of fact whatsoever.

The issue here is not that we do not answer the question. The issue here is that when those members hear the truth, they do not like to accept it. When the member opposite asks a question and gets a response he does not like, he lights his hair on fire and says that nobody will answer his question.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question was clear and it was direct and we have no answer. The only answer we have is from the Prime Minister's spin machine.

Why did the Prime Minister's go to such lengths to protect the commissioner? Why did he do nothing when he knew everything in early November? Why did he wait until there was massive public outrage to demand action? The committee and Canadians deserve answers.

Will the Prime Minister confirm that his national security adviser and Mr. Elliott will be available for the committee to question before we break for Christmas, or will they continue to be too busy?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question a couple of times today, but let me once again recount the facts for the hon. member. I think the important thing to remember is that Commissioner Zaccardelli himself tendered his resignation in what he believed to be the best interests of the RCMP. That is why the government accepted his resignation.

I would point out to all hon. members who give this any more than 30 seconds' thought that only as a last resort, only under the most extreme circumstances, would the Prime Minister ever intervene in the national police force to start hiring and firing people at will. Commissioner Zaccardelli took the decision. We supported that decision.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

December 11th, 2006 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, Maher Arar feels that the RCMP commissioner's resignation is not enough and that certain pieces of information must now be made public.

Will the Prime Minister, in the name of fairness to Mr. Arar, promise to make public the names of the people responsible for the media leaks concerning Mr. Arar, particularly the people who continued to allow the leaks, which discredited Mr. Arar, even while Justice O'Connor was conducting the inquiry?

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, this is finally a good question. We are very concerned about the question of who may have given information to the media and we want to know who those people are. Indeed, giving information to the media was a very bad thing to do.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to give the minister an opportunity, since he likes my questions. I have a question for which he has the answer and I would like him to give us the answer here today.

Maher Arar and every member of this House all want to know who in the RCMP gave the Americans the information that led to Maher Arar's deportation to Syria? The minister knows the answer to this question, and I would like him to tell us here today.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, according to Justice O'Connor's report, people from the RCMP gave the information to the Americans. I will try to obtain names. Once I obtain them, if possible, I will give those names to my hon. colleague.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, in order to fully clear his reputation and recover all his rights, Maher Arar wants assurance that his name will be removed from the U.S. suspected terrorist watch list.

What is the government waiting for to act with determination and demand that the Americans remove Maher Arar's name from this list?

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we have indicated to the Americans that we have removed Mr. Arar's name and the names of his family members from our lists. And we have asked the Americans to do the same. The United States is a sovereign nation. I do not know whether they will comply, but we have asked them to do so.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we think that the Canadian government owes more than that to Maher Arar and that it has to demand that the Americans remove his name from the list.

Why does the government refuse to make public the entire O'Connor report, something Mr. Arar has been asking for and regarding which Justice O'Connor has no objection and sees no threat to Canada's safety?

Maher Arar InquiryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, first of all it is important to note that Justice O'Connor has said that all the information that he ever wanted to look at, he was allowed to look at.

In certain cases, in certain very narrow pieces of legislation, it is deemed to be, if they are made public, that they could have a detrimental effect on national security. In those narrow cases alone, a decision was made to withhold the information, but it had nothing to do with any names in terms of individuals who could have been at fault and who could have done anything inappropriate in any way on the Canadian side. Any of the information that was withheld was strictly from the point of view of national security.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Canada's ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Yet after years of Conservative and Liberal government, women in Canada make only 71¢ for every dollar a man makes.

Will the Prime Minister put women on a equal footing with men by introducing pay equity and a federal minimum wage and creating real day care spaces to help women finally participate fully in the labour force here in Canada?

Status of WomenOral 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, we have decided to act immediately on pay equity instead of waiting for new legislation that would take months and months and months.

We have asked our inspectors to go out into the field and visit businesses to make sure they have a pay equity program for women.

We feel that by being proactive, we will truly help the cause of women, and that is the approach we will take.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is going to be whispering in the ears of the various companies, I assume, to suggest that they finally get on board with women's equality.

The Prime Minister said in the last election that he was committed to “ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada”. He certainly has not done that. He has rejected pay equity. He has removed the goal of equality from the Status of Women organization. He has done nothing to create child care, and surely he would at least admit that, despite the fact that there are thousands of working families waiting for spaces.

How much longer do women have to wait for fairness? When will we stop getting proclamations and start getting action on women's equality?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Labour just said, the government is pursuing aggressively obligations with the private sector under existing pay equity legislation.

This government has done a number of other things for women, of course, and obviously there is the universal child benefit that goes to all Canadian families. We have increased funding to on reserve family violence shelters by $6 million. The Minister of Indian Affairs has begun action on matrimonial property rights.

While those members over there want to protect lawyers, we have proceeded with stronger legislation on criminal violence against women. We hope the House will pass that.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Belinda Stronach Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, the recent cuts to the Status of Women and the removal of the goal of equality from the mandate of the women's program speak volumes about the Conservatives' regressive approach to women's concerns.

Canada has made great strides toward greater equality, but the current government has put that success at risk. Women still earn only 71 cents on the dollar of what a man earns. That is not equality.

If the minister has indeed changed her mind on that cut, will she also change her mind and reinstate the goal of equality into the mandate of the women's program?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, this government does stand up for the equality of all Canadians.

It is only members opposite who would fight for more offices and more bureaucracy and who would fight to use 31 cents to deliver one dollar. Only members opposite would not remember that they cut the women's program budget by five times. What did they do with that money when they cut that program?

We believe in equality and we are doing something about it. We are making sure that aboriginal women have matrimonial property rights. We are making sure they have a right to a decent job. We are making sure they have financial security in their senior years.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Belinda Stronach Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, Finance Canada's website clearly shows a $5 million cut to the Status of Women as part of the government's elimination of so-called wasteful and ineffective programs. On September 26 and 28, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women confirmed to this House in her own words that she had cut that $5 million.

Now the minister and other Conservative ministers have said that the money that was not actually cut will be redirected. Can the Minister responsible for the Status of Women tell us on what page and on what line of the estimates we will find this explicit reinvestment?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the $5 million is available right now. We are telling them that. At the end of this fiscal year, as of April 1, that $5 million will be allocated to directly assist women in their communities. We are not talking about cutting. We are talking about making sure that we find savings in streamlining in operations and that in the next fiscal year that money will be made available directly to women in their communities.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know where that $5 million is because we have learned that the Conservative government is closing the Status of Women Canada offices in Sainte-Foy in the Quebec City region.

This closure is part of the several million dollars in cuts that the government has made to the Status of Women Canada.

I have a question for the Minister of International Cooperation because this issue affects her region, unless the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister wants to answer. How could these two hon. members, who are women, ever have agreed to give the Status of Women Canada such a slap in the face?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, on this side of the House every member of government is committed to Canadian women. As we know, we have a responsibility and accountability. The party on the opposite side should recognize the fact that in due process there are notifications that have to be given to employees. We also know that we have obligations and that is why we are saying the changes will come into effect at the beginning of the 2007 fiscal year.