This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #11 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-2.

Topics

Canadian ForcesPoints of Order

10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning yesterday when the hon. member for Kitchener—Waterloo introduced a motion in the House asking for unanimous consent to have the House observe a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. There was no prior consultation yesterday, but I believe you would find today that if the hon. member cares to reintroduce the motion he may find unanimous consent for the motion.

I would ask the Speaker to perhaps give leave to the hon. member to re-introduce the motion.

Canadian Forces

10 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, during my S.O. 31, I mentioned that Canadians from coast to coast to coast, as well as the international firefighters, who have been visiting us in Ottawa, have been observing a minute of silence in respect of our four fallen soldiers. The soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice were Corporal Matthew Dinning, Bombardier Myles Mansell, Lieutenant William Turner and Corporal Randy Payne.

We also remember all the men and women who are serving and have served and all those who are giving their lives in the service of their country.

On Monday, we in this chamber observed a minute of silence on behalf of the Armenian genocide. On Wednesday, we observed a minute of silence in memory of the Holocaust. On Tuesday evening, when I was at the Armenian reception, they observed a minute of silence in respect to our fallen soldiers.

Given the fact that it is the soldiers of our armed forces who are trying to prevent those kinds of events that we commemorated this week, it would be a good opportunity for members of the House to give unanimous consent to the following motion:

That on Thursday, April 27, after question period, we observe a moment of silence in this chamber, as Canadians are doing from coast to coast to coast.

Canadian Forces

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Canadian Forces

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Forces

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

We will arrange that at 3 o'clock.

Aeronautics ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Defence ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-7, An Act to amend the National Defence Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

InterParliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian group of the InterParliamentary Union respecting its participation in the following events:

meeting of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the IPU, held in Geneva, Switzerland, July 11 to 15, 2005; seminar on the implementation of legislation on indigenous peoples' rights, held in Geneva, Switzerland, July 25 and 26, 2005; Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments, held in New York City, USA, September 7 to 9, 2005; meeting of the Twelve Plus Steering Committee of the IPU, held in Ghent, Belgium, September 19, 2005; 113th IPU Assembly and related meeting, held in Geneva, Switzerland, October 14 to 19, 2005; annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations, held in New York City, U.S.A., October 31 and November 1, 2005; and the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, held in Hong Kong, China, December 12 and 15 2005.

InterParliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Japan Interparliamentary Group representing parliamentarians' visit to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from November 12 to 15, 2005.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the guidelines for access to committee meetings by the electronic media.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the second report later this day.

Citizenship ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (service in the Canadian armed forces).

Mr. Speaker, we need to think of imaginative ways to recruit men and women into Canada's armed forces. The military needs more recruits and many permanent residents would appreciate an accelerated, service-oriented route to citizenship.

Earlier this year the Chief of the Defence Staff offered up accelerated citizenship for permanent residents as one way to increase recruitment in Canada's armed forces. Similar legislation is in place in other countries and has proved to be a success throughout military and immigrant communities.

Specifically, the legislation would entail permanent residents receiving one additional day off three year residency requirements to acquire citizenship for every day served in the Canadian armed forces. If we compare it to other countries' experience, we would recruit 2,000 to 3,000 new recruits for the armed forces.

This is a win-win scenario for our military and immigrant communities.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

asked for leave to introduce Bill C-233, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (public transportation costs).

She said: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I reintroduce this bill, which is essentially designed to allow public transportation users to claim, when filing their annual tax returns, a tax credit for their transit passes.

Let us hope that, in keeping with the Kyoto protocol, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party will facilitate the speedy passage of this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Broadcasting ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (decisions and orders).

Mr. Speaker, this is the same private member's bill that I tabled in the last two Parliaments. The bill is quite simple.

This private member's bill would amend the Broadcasting Act to require that the decisions and orders of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission be made within six months after a public hearing.

Just last month the telecommunication policy review panel requested, under an executive summary on page 12, that the CRTC expedite any decision making policy.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I would move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Citizenship and ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I once again rise in the House to present a petition that has been signed by many people across this country who are calling upon the government and Parliament to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented workers and to find a humane and logical solution to their situation.

Many people working without documents in this country play a vital role in this country's economy. If they were to be deported immediately en masse it would have severe economic consequences, not to mention, of course, the humanitarian consequences of dividing families who have many children born in this country.

Child CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of presenting a petition from residents of Petawawa and Pembroke, just a little outside of York South--Weston, calling upon the Prime Minister to honour the early learning and childhood agreement for all the reasons entrenched in this petition.

Child CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition of 295 names in support of the child care agreement signed between the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada.

In my riding, the municipalities received a very supportive gesture from the Province of Ontario in that the province, assuming in good faith that this agreement would go forward, uploaded the services that had been paid for by municipal tax bases through the social services administration boards. This means that with the plan to end the agreement after this year, the Province of Ontario has been compelled to spread out the funding awarded to them over the next four years. After that period of time, the municipal tax bases will be again burdened with this aspect of child care in each municipality.

The petition calls upon Parliament to restore the agreement and asks that the government continue in good faith with the agreement that was signed not only with Ontario but with other provinces and territories. I put this in very plain terms. This will severely impact municipalities by raising property taxation and it also would not create the intended spaces.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

AgricultureRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Toronto--Danforth.

AgricultureRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am putting forward this motion under Standing Order 52(2) to adjourn the House for the purpose of discussing an important matter that needs our urgent attention. It has to do with the agricultural crisis.

Have you noticed the tiny shoots emerging from the earth today? Weeds will soon be taking over the fields. Some families are in a crisis situation: they cannot afford to buy seed.

This crisis exists because this Parliament has not taken the necessary steps to prevent it.

Our farmers have done everything possible to shine a glaring light on the real and immediate danger to our food sovereignty that our country now faces. They have made it abundantly clear that if we are so reckless as to allow the family farming industry to go down for lack of seed money, we will forever regret it as a nation.

They have tried to point out that they will miss the very small window when spring planting must occur. It is not as though this can happen in July. If they cannot borrow the money now in order to purchase the seeds to put in the ground, some of these farmers are going to go under and they will not be coming back.

This crisis is not of their making. It is not that they are somehow inefficient or unproductive, far from it. It is because of years of bad trade deals and neglect on the part of successive Conservative and Liberal governments, which have reduced the once proud industry to begging its own country, on its knees, by protesting in front of Parliament Hill.

Farmers are not in a position to wait for the budget. The votes on the budget and the cashflow emanating from it are weeks and maybe months away. While it may be said that a week in politics is a lifetime, it has to be said that in farming a week can mean the difference between a viable farm and a bankruptcy, foreclosure and total ruin for the many more farmers that we cannot afford to lose.

In closing, there is a solution to this. If the government were to give a bankable commitment of sufficient emergency funds, as we have suggested, of $1 billion more than announced previously by the government, the farmers could go to their banks and have a fighting chance to deal with those across the table who are being asked to loan farmers the funds to buy the seeds to produce the food we eat.

This is an emergency. It is urgent. We should attend to it today.

AgricultureRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth knows that a similar request was made yesterday. The Chair rejected the request and suggested to the hon. member who made it that appropriate consideration could be given to this next week when the Minister of Finance brings in a budget on Tuesday at four o'clock.

I must say that my views of yesterday are the same today. I do not believe that this matter meets the exigencies of the standing order at this time, but I am sure that the Minister of Finance will note the hon. member's submissions in the House. I urge the hon. member to send him a copy of blues so that he has the matter in hand before his budget speech next Tuesday and is well aware of the hon. member's views and indeed the views of those who have been here with us for the last number of days in the protests we have witnessed.

The House resumed from April 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, an act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today and continue this debate on accountability.

I also want to take this opportunity, as it is the first chance I have had to speak in the House after the election, to thank the constituents of York West for their overwhelming endorsement. It was an interesting election. I increased rather than decreased my vote and I want to thank my constituents for that. I am very proud of that fact. It is a great privilege to be a member of Parliament for the riding of York West. I intend to continue to be an effective member and a strong voice, even if it is in opposition, and to work with all colleagues in the House to ensure that our country continues to grow strong and move forward.

My constituents and I certainly welcome any initiative to improve accountability in the government. In fact, this new accountability act is nothing more than a continuation of the groundbreaking work done by my government, the previous Liberal government. It was the government of the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard that took the courageous step of appointing the independent Gomery commission, which acted very decisively to change the culture of government.

It was my government that reviewed the responsibilities and accountabilities of ministers, senior officials, public servants and employees of crown corporations and brought in a wide variety of concrete measures that were adopted to increase oversight in crown corporations and in audit functions, which have been strengthened across the board.

From his first day in office, our former prime minister reformed government in many ways so that everyone in the public service will be held to account. It was the Liberal government that re-established the office of the Comptroller General of Canada. It was the Liberal government that strengthened ethical guidelines for ministers and other public office holders and established an independent Ethics Commissioner. It was the Liberal government that introduced a new publicly posted recusal process for all members of cabinet, including the prime minister. It was the Liberal government that put forward legislation to encourage whistleblowers and to give them the protection they needed from reprisal.

In February 2004 our Liberal government put forward an action plan on democratic reform to strengthen the role of parliamentarians in many ways, including implementing a three line voting system to allow for more free votes in the House and referring more bills to House committees before second reading so that committees have greater influence in shaping government legislation. That was a very important move in order to allow all of us as parliamentarians to participate fully in making sure that legislation is created to reflect the views of Canadians.

We have also pushed for the establishment of a committee of parliamentarians on national security.

It was the Liberal government that strengthened audit practices in the public sector through a comprehensive initiative that included the policy on internal audit and an initiative to strengthen and further professionalize the internal audit function throughout all of government through higher professional standards, recruitment of additional skilled professionals, training, and assessment.

As we go through all this process, we must recognize that our civil servants who work for the Government of Canada are some of the best in the world. We should be very proud of them and their commitment not only to us but to Canadians in general.

In 2004 the Liberal government delivered on a commitment to proactive disclosure. Since 2004, all travel and hospitality expenses of ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries, their political staff and other senior government officials have been posted online on a quarterly basis. That is accountability, without question, when all of those expenses are posted for anybody in Canada or abroad to see what kinds of expenses are being incurred and whether taxpayers' money is being spent appropriately. When we talk about accountability, I think those were huge steps forward.

Government contracts worth more than $10,000 are now disclosed publicly and posted online, another act of the Liberal Government of Canada.

My government embraced transparency in key appointments.

Through the government's action plan for democratic reform, parliamentary committees were empowered to review the appointments of the heads of crown corporations.

My government brought increased transparency to the selection of Supreme Court justices. It made a lot of changes when talking about transparency.

In March 2004, while I was the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and along with a lot of my other colleagues in cabinet, I introduced fundamental reforms to the appointment process for Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada members. These reforms improved the processes to ensure the quality and effectiveness of decisions made by the IRB and responded to the increasingly complex environment of the board, as did many other reforms made by my other cabinet colleagues in their portfolios.

Under the new process, the chairperson of the IRB is fully accountable for the selection and quality of the IRB decision makers. The new independent, transparent and merit-based selection process ensures that only the highest quality candidates are considered for appointment in that particular portfolio. The qualifications of candidates are measured against a new strengthened standard of competence to ensure that skills, abilities and personal suitability are the basis for appointments. I hope that continues under the new Conservative government.

My government also committed to expanding access to information. The Access to Information Act was extended to 10 key crown corporations that were previously exempt. It also presented a discussion paper to Parliament which proposed, among other measures, that the Access to Information Act be expanded to several federal institutions that are currently exempt.

My government was the first to seriously limit both individual and corporate political contributions as well as third party election spending. Bill C-24 was enacted in June 2003 and came into effect on January 1, 2004, representing the most significant reform to Canada's electoral and campaign finance laws since 1974. It affected contribution limits, those eligible to make contributions, public funding of political parties, spending limits for nomination contestants, and disclosure of financial information by riding associations, nomination contestants and leadership candidates.

I am pleased with most of the content of the legislation before us as it is a continuation of the Liberal government's 10 years of work on this file to increase full accountability and transparency in government. I do, however, have some concerns about the proposed bill, specifically regarding what is missing from it.

The bill does not strengthen the access to information regulations as I had hoped it would and I hope that there will be amendments to do just that. I am also troubled that the legislation before us restricts individual contributions to political parties and does nothing to reduce third party election spending. It is an area that still needs work to be done and I would expect that we would work together on amendments to ensure that it gets done.

This legislation would actually strengthen the third party influence in Canadian democracy and it seems like a deliberate exclusion. I would certainly hope that it is not the case. I also understand that there will be some amendments coming forth from the government regarding the lobbyist portion as it is already creating problems for people.

Canadians must have faith in the integrity of government and in the people who administer it. My government worked very hard to be accountable to the citizens of this great country. I am committed to support measures, as many of us are in the House, to enhance our prior work of building accountability, transparency and the public trust.

I look forward to being part of this discussion and debate.