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House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bank.

Topics

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, this has been a week of women's issues. It is appropriate and proper that we spend time thinking about, talking about and acting upon issues that affect and support women.

We have talked about the Status of Women and I am proud to be a member of a party and a government that values actual programs for women over bureaucracy. I am proud that Canada's new government has diverted $5 million from non-productive administration to be available for the direct benefit of women in communities across Canada.

We have talked about combating violence against women and everyone in this place agrees. I am proud to be a part of Canada's new government that has committed $10 million this year toward institutions that support women who are victims of violence and $15 million as of April 1 next year. An additional $6 million has been committed over the next five years for on reserve women's shelters.

I have been blessed with many strong women in my life. The most important woman in my life is my wife, Judy, who has been successful, independent and strong in her own right. She has also been the love of my for 38 years as of today.

I wish her happy anniversary and I love her.

Vietnamese Canadian Community Scholarship FundStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I want to acknowledge the efforts of the Vietnamese Canadian Community Scholarship Fund.

This grassroots organization awards hard-working Vietnamese Canadian students with scholarships in order to assist them in pursuing a higher level of education.

Last month, I had the privilege of attending its award ceremony where I presented 11 outstanding students with their scholarship awards.

It is non-profit organizations such as this that are critical in helping young Canadians achieve their full potential. When I toured universities last year, students were asking the federal government to assist young Canadians with tuition, jobs and debt relief.

It is therefore incomprehensible why the Conservatives chose to eliminate the youth international scholarship program and why they cut $55 million from the youth employment initiative.

We need to invest in our future leaders, not hold them back.

I hope the House will join with me in recognizing the efforts of the Vietnamese Canadian Community Scholarship Fund and its scholarship recipients for their hard work in enriching our community and our great country.

400th Anniversary of Quebec CityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 390 days, Canadians will mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.

The new Government of Canada is a proud partner in the 400th anniversary celebrations and is making the substantial contribution of $110 million for organizing and hosting events.

Some 400 years ago, Quebec City became the starting point in the adventure of building the Canada of today: a dynamic and modern Canada that builds its strength on its linguistic duality and cultural diversity.

Our government is actively involved and working closely with the Société du 400e anniversaire de Québec, Quebec City and the Government of Quebec to ensure that this anniversary is celebrated by all Canadians, because the anniversary of the founding of Quebec City is also the anniversary of the founding of Canada.

I want to join the mayor of Quebec City, Andrée Boucher, who is on Parliament Hill today, in inviting all Canadians to Quebec City in 2008.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, Conservative members of that committee declared that the Status of Women budget was not being cut but that the money was merely being shifted from the operating budget to the grant program. These same members accused fellow committee members and witnesses of not taking the time to understand the Conservative cuts.

After much research and many letters to the minister, I cannot find in writing anywhere that the money cut from the Status of Women's operating budget was ever intended to be reinvested.

The minister needs to clarify to the House and to women's organizations across Canada whether the money removed from Status of Women Canada, the government's so-called fat trimming, will be reinvested specifically in the grants program for Status of Women. Will it be increased from $10 million to $15 million?

Current funding is woefully inadequate and the loss of 12 regional offices and 61 experienced staff is hurting the goal of equality for Canadian women.

Frank MorganStatements By Members

December 7th, 2006 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is appropriate, on a day when we will be defeating a motion that promotes exclusion, to pay tribute to a man whose life was about teaching and practising inclusion.

Reverend Frank Morgan, Minister Emeritus of the Trinity United Church in Kitchener, and faith columnist for The Record for nearly three decades, passed away on November 29 with his wife of 63 years, Helen, by his side.

Frank was fearless and forthright in discussing the tough issues of faith and encouraged others to do the same. The late pastor's unflagging support for the disadvantaged, including immigrants, the poor, women and homosexuals, earned him many fans.

In recent years, Morgan turned to his typewriter to challenge fellow Christians to soften their interpretation of scripture. He endorsed and celebrated same sex marriage.

Frank was a principled and a humble man who enriched one's life just from having known him. He will be missed.

400th Anniversary of Quebec CityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2008, Quebeckers will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. As North America's first francophone city, it is the birthplace of French America and the seat of the Quebec nation.

The mayor of Quebec City, Andrée Boucher, is here today to draw attention to the magnitude of this event. Governments from around the world, including the City of Bordeaux and the Government of France itself, have confirmed that they will participate.

The Bloc Québécois is working to ensure the success of the celebration. Several projects have yet to be completed. We will ensure that the federal government fulfills all of its responsibilities.

The Quebec bridge, PEPS stadium and various heritage sites under Parks Canada's jurisdiction are among our priorities.

We wish the provincial commissioner and the president of the Société du 400e anniversaire de Québec all the best for a successful event.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Muslim Bangladesh journalist and editor of a daily Bangladesh publication, is standing trial on charges of treason, sedition and blasphemy for promoting Muslim, Christian and Jewish dialogue, peace with Israel and seeking to attend a conference in Israel for the promotion of peace.

Mr. Choudhury has also been personally beaten, his life threatened and his office vandalized while none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice and a former Bangladesh home minister has indicated that there is no basis for the charges.

As counsel for Mr. Choudhury and as one who, while as minister of justice, was engaged in a joint Canada-Bangladesh rule of law project, I call upon the Bangladesh authorities to respect the rule of law, to review and, as appears just and appropriate, to drop the charges while working to apprehend those who have violated Mr. Choudhury's rights.

Conservative Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, a historic event occurred three years ago today. What skeptics said was impossible came to fruition. Led by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs and our Prime Minister, the Canadian Alliance joined forces with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to form the Conservative Party of Canada.

Much has been accomplished in three years. In June 2004 a massive Liberal majority was reduced to a minority. In January of this year, Canadians from coast to coast to coast cheered as the Conservative Party of Canada became Canada's new government.

The future looks strong for our country and our party, as we are one election away from forming a majority that will benefit all Canadians. While we are still cleaning up Liberal corruption, Canada is better off knowing that Liberals no longer control the country's purse strings.

On behalf of Conservatives across the country, I thank the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for their courageous actions three years ago today. Our party is better off and, more important, our country is better off.

New MemberRoutine Proceedings

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of Mr. Glen Pearson, member for the electoral district of London North Centre.

Glen Pearson, member for the electoral district of London North Centre, introduced by the Hon. Stéphane Dion and the Hon. Karen Redman.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said, “I became aware of the differences in the story when everybody else did”, but the facts tell a different story. The commissioner admitted today that he told the public safety minister, after his first appearance in September, that he needed to change his testimony.

Now that the facts contradict him, is the Prime Minister ready, just like Mr. Zaccardelli, to change his story?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Of course not, Mr. Speaker. That is not what the commissioner said.

In any case, I think the House is well aware of the fact that the Commissioner of the RCMP tendered his resignation after some consideration. It was the honourable thing to do. We accept that resignation and thank him for his service to the RCMP and to the country. I would note the commissioner said that he had no political interference in this matter.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the excuse of political interference does not hold water because, since the first testimony in September, the minister and the commissioner worked together to prepare the testimony. Thus, there was no political interference at that time any more than there was today.

The facts do not add up. The Minister of Public Safety was informed that the commissioner's testimony was going to change. The Prime Minister's chief policy adviser was told that the testimony was going to change.

Is the Prime Minister finally ready to do as Mr. Zaccardelli did and change his version of the facts as well?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition are completely false. This government did not meddle in the affairs of the RCMP like the previous Liberal government tried to do. Our government did not do that. We did not interfere in the RCMP commissioner's testimony. The commissioner said so himself.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister and the commissioner worked very closely together on the commissioner's testimony. The Prime Minister must surely have known about it.

Canadian Press reported today that three senior ministers, including the Minister of Public Safety, pleaded with the Prime Minister to fire the RCMP commissioner months ago, but the Prime Minister refused.

Could the Prime Minister explain to Canadians why he rejected the advice of these ministers and what did these ministers know at that time to warrant their intervention? Is the Prime Minister ready, like Mr. Zaccardelli, to change his story, yes or no?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, one can only imagine the howls of outrage from the opposition if the Prime Minister had politically intervened and fired the Commissioner of the RCMP before he even testified at a parliamentary committee. Could you imagine, Mr. Speaker?

Instead of these ridiculous rumours, what we do know for a fact is that the member for Malpeque, a former solicitor general, wanted to fire the Commissioner of the RCMP because he allowed the RCMP to criminally investigate the Liberals' actions in the sponsorship affair. This is the kind of dangerous political interference for which that party stands.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the commissioner should have been fired on September 28 and the Prime Minister knows it.

Today in committee the public safety minister refused to answer a very simple question I asked him four times. The question was this. Did the minister urge the Prime Minister to have the RCMP commissioner released or fired this fall? There was no response from the minister.

Canadian Press reports that the public safety minister, the foreign affairs minister and the justice minister each privately called for the commissioner to be let go some time this fall. Will the public safety minister now answer the question? Did he push the Prime Minister to release the commissioner this fall, yes or no?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, if the newly elected member from the London area wants to get a lesson in the way not to pursue a question, he just got one over there. The member opposite failed to say what I did say.

There was a response. Therefore, what everyone just heard was inaccurate. I did respond. I asked the member to continue reading from the newspaper article, which was his secret source, about the particular story because my quote was very clear. I said that the story was utter fabrication. When he was just asked on the news what his secret source was, he had to cough up and say, “Oh, I guess it was that newspaper article”.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the only source on this issue is Sandra Buckler, who is part of the Prime Minister's spin machine. That is the only response that has been given.

This is a very easy question. Either the minister challenged the Prime Minister's unyielding desire to protect the commissioner or he did not. This minister has never responded. I want an answer from the minister right now, right here, on the public record. Did the minister push the Prime Minister to release or fire the RCMP commissioner at any time prior to last Monday, yes or no? Why is he afraid to answer?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, while responding to Perry Mason, I mean to the member opposite, Mr. Speaker, I said that was utter fabrication, but the question that keeps coming to my mind is, why do this member and some of his colleagues continue to pursue these little notions, conspiracies and secret letters that the whole world had?

I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that as soon as we got Justice O'Connor's report about the mess that the previous government had handled, we accepted all 23 recommendations immediately while their government did nothing. I wonder if that is what they are actually trying to hide.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, at a lunchtime press conference today, Mr. Zaccardelli was unable to clearly explain what part he had played in the Maher Arar affair. The same is true of the Minister of Public Safety, who testified this morning in committee. The more they talk, the more confused the situation becomes. The only way to get to the bottom of this story is to reveal the identity of the police officers who passed false information about Maher Arar to the American authorities.

Can the Prime Minister reveal the identity of the police officers who passed false information about Maher Arar to the Americans?

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Commissioner of the RCMP has tendered his resignation, and the government has accepted it. We thank the commissioner for his services to the country and to the RCMP.

With respect to the question by the leader of the Bloc Québécois, the current government obviously was not in power when these events took place. This government is interested in accountability, and we intend to implement accountability.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, he should realize that he is the Prime Minister, that he is in power and that he has a duty to tell the truth. He should tell us the names of the police officers who passed false information to the Americans, so that the whole story can come out once and for all. Neither Mr. Zaccardelli nor the Minister of Public Safety can shed light on this affair. Both of them are trying to create confusion, keep us from understanding what happened and hide the truth. The Prime Minister should give us the names of the people who acted improperly so that they can testify before the committee.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, Mr. Justice O'Connor held a public inquiry, and the government accepted his report.

The parliamentary committee is free to carry on with its work concerning these events if it so desires.

Unfortunately, the real problem for the Bloc is that Canada now has a federalist government that is no longer under police investigation. That is the real problem for the Bloc. It is a good thing for Canadian unity and for the nation of Quebec, but it poses a problem for the sovereignist camp.

RCMP CommissionerOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning in committee, the Minister of Public Safety was unequivocal: when an RCMP official learns that a subordinate has made a mistake, he must take immediate action to deal with the problem and inform his superiors. When he first appeared before the committee on September 28, Mr. Zaccardelli declared that he had known since 2002 that false information about Maher Arar had been forwarded to the American authorities. He took no action and did not inform his superiors.

How could the Minister of Public Safety reiterate his confidence in Mr. Zaccardelli after hearing his testimony of September 28, which revealed the errors in judgment of the RCMP commissioner?