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House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentence.

Topics

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the real record is this. The only thing the government opposite has done on this issue is send a star-struck foreign affairs minister who looked dreamily into the eyes of the U.S. Secretary of State.

The Prime Minister wants to wait now until July to visit Washington, when all the people whom he needs to convince in the U.S. Congress will be away on break.

When are the Prime Minister and his cabinet going to stop gawking at their American idols and actually start standing up for Canada?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this is another example of Liberal diplomacy, the likes of which we saw this week when a Liberal senator shamefully attacked the elected president of Afghanistan as “an American stooge”, insulting two countries at the same time.

We understand that we do not make progress for Canadians, defending Canadian jobs, by attacking foreign countries. We do it by working with them. That is why we achieved the historic softwood lumber agreement. That is why we are achieving concrete progress on the western hemisphere travel initiative. This is why we have a government that finally is standing up for Canada, not just uttering empty rhetoric.

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister promised Quebec farmers that he would make it a priority to protect the entire supply management system. Yesterday in parliamentary committee, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food sang quite a different tune, implying that protecting supply management at the WTO negotiations was no longer a sustainable position for his government.

Is the Prime Minister not going back on his promise to Quebec farmers during the last election campaign?

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Canadian farmers understand very well that there is an important balance between the supply management system and access to foreign markets. That is why our representatives are extremely active in the current negotiations in Geneva. We are working on solutions that are good for Canada’s entire agricultural sector.

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last November 22, there was a motion here supporting full respect for supply management. Since that time, the balance has changed. There was, in fact, a letter from three western ministers asking the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to revise his position on supply management because it might hamper their farmers’ access to other markets.

Are we to understand that this change of position, the government’s new balance in regard to supply management, resulted from pressure from the western provinces to the detriment of Quebec? Is that not what happened?

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc leader is mistaken. There has been no change in Canada’s position at the current talks in Geneva. Quite the contrary, we are working in the interests of the entire Canadian agricultural industry to secure access to foreign markets and also protect the important supply management system.

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the day after the unanimous vote on the Bloc motion reaffirming the members’ desire to defend supply management at the WTO, the Canadian negotiator in Geneva stated that he did not feel bound by the vote.

Apparently, instead of the government imposing its view of things, it is the negotiator who is imposing his line of thinking on the government.

In order to dispel all uncertainty, what is the government waiting for to make the nature of the mandate it gave to the negotiator public?

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we cannot discuss our negotiating tactics and strategies in public day after day, but one thing is clear: Canada must remain at the negotiating table in the best interests of our agricultural industry as a whole, which includes the supply managed sectors, and orient it toward exports.

It is important for our negotiator to be at the table. That is the reality.

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, with what we just heard today and yesterday in committee, what is clear and public is that supply management is in danger. This government’s approach is becoming ever more obvious.

In the environment, it is abandoning Quebec in favour of the western oil companies. In agriculture, it is abandoning supply management to satisfy the interests of western farmers.

How does the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food intend to explain to Quebec farmers that he is abandoning supply management to make it easier for western farmers to sell their wheat?

Supply ManagementOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, obviously the member has not been to my riding. There is one big industry in my riding and that is supply management. We are not neglecting supply management. It is very important to the government.

However, at the negotiations, when the votes go 148 to 1 against us, we can abandon and leave it or we can get in there and fight for the interests on behalf of supply management. We are in there fighting on behalf of the interests of supply management and the rest of the export industry as well.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

May 31st, 2006 / 2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the UN published a report condemning Canada's neglect of its unemployed workers. The report indicates that two out of three unemployed persons cannot receive EI when they need it. Those most affected by this are women and youth. This Sunday, a pilot project to improve the situation for unemployed people in regions with high unemployment will end.

The Liberals had a tendency to abandon the unemployed, but will this government do the same or will it extend this important program?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. We are committed to ensuring that the EI system continues to serve Canadians quickly and well. Of course, the Canadian government is in favour of an effective program that supports all unemployed workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, if one is an unemployed worker wondering whether the program will continue as of Sunday, I do not think that person has an answer from the government. What we are looking for is a clear answer.

Perhaps the member should spend some time in the regions of the country that are suffering high unemployment or he can even take a look at the situation in Toronto. We have a report from the Toronto City Summit Alliance saying that only 22% of the people who pay into employment insurance are able to get help when they need it. That is one in five. No wonder we see poverty rising in our cities and across the country.

In a country as rich as Canada, which can give billions to oil companies, why can we not help out the unemployed the way we should? How is the member going to explain that?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is not difficult to explain that Canada has an extraordinarily generous system of employment insurance that assists workers in transition, people who have lost their jobs. I would ask the leader of the NDP to stand by for perhaps some very interesting news later on.

PassportsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the border with the United States, this government has abandoned Canadians. The Maritimes depend on American and Acadian tourism. American families have to spend more than $500—the price of passports—to enter Canada. Americans will avoid the Maritimes, and our tourism industry will suffer further. Canadian exporters who must travel to the United States have the same problem.

Why is this government abandoning Canadian communities on the passport issue?

PassportsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister made this issue a priority in Cancun, and he continues to make it a priority. Just since the initial visit, we have reached an agreement with the Americans to determine the documents that will work for Canadians. As well, in the U.S. Senate, we have seen an amendment to the American bill, thanks to the efforts of our Prime Minister, our officials and our MPs who made this issue a priority.

PassportsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, this answer will not pay the bills for businesses in border communities.

The tourism industry in my province has been hit very hard by 9/11 and the rise in the Canadian dollar. It is the same for U.S. states. American governors are reacting but not our Prime Minister.

Will our government not represent us on this vital question or do we have to depend on U.S. governors to defend our interests? This is bush league leadership. Once again, the Prime Minister shows himself to be a shrub, a little bush.

PassportsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, insults like that created a lot of problems for the Liberal regime.

We have worked with the Americans, with the chambers of commerce, with the governors and now with the premiers of other provinces. We have solutions, and we have already received confirmation from the United States that we have a program that will work and that will produce solutions.

PassportsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Blair Wilson Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is clearly abandoning Canadians. First, it abandons the voters of Vancouver Kingsway. Then it abandons our forestry workers. Now it is abandoning our tourism industry and threatening the very economic viability of our Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Western premiers are demanding that the U.S. passport law be delayed. The only thing the Prime Minister is telling Canadians is to “just get used to it”.

My question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. When will the government come to the aid of premiers? When will it stop working for George Bush and start working for Canadians?

PassportsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, instead of hysterics I would think they would come forward with some positive ideas, as we have proposed.

Here is a quick chronology. Since the Prime Minister went to Cancun and made this the priority, we have an agreement with American officials in terms of alternative documents being acceptable from Canadians. We never had that before. We have seen an amendment now passed in the Senate that asks for this whole issue to be deferred.

We have made some great advancements. We have worked with governors and with chambers of commerce.

This issue is in the process of being resolved, but not because of any help from former Liberals or present Liberals. They have given no help on this.

PassportsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Blair Wilson Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, excuses like that might fly in Washington, but they sure will not work in British Columbia.

My question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In a recent November 2005 news article in the New Glasgow Evening News, the Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote, “Moving to a rigid 'passport-only' requirement will almost certainly harm cross-border travel, hurting tourism” and resulting in tourism losses on the Canadian side that “would amount to nearly $1 billion” a year.

Will the minister now eat his words or will he continue to con Canadians?

PassportsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate these questions because it gives us one opportunity after another to show how effective the Prime Minister has been and how effective we have been in meeting with chambers of commerce, governors and premiers.

He can choose to insult the President of the United States if he wants. There was better action a week ago when the President of the United States raised concerns about this issue and how it needed to be deferred. We can thank our Prime Minister for putting that kind of pressure on the situation.

Cultural DiversityOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, at present two items are under negotiation at the World Trade Organization: supply management and services. The stated positions of Quebec and Canada maintain that culture must not be covered by an agreement on services. The government now seems to be adopting a fallback position on the issue of supply management.

Can the government reaffirm here that it is standing by its position defended at UNESCO, a position that clearly states that culture is not negotiable at the WTO?

Cultural DiversityOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Conservative

David Emerson ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, cultural industries and cultural protection are not a negotiable item for the Government of Canada. We are committed. We continue to live by that commitment and we will continue to do so.

Cultural DiversityOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the behaviour of this government is becoming increasingly worrisome. On the issue of the environment, it is blatantly following in the footsteps of the American administration. According to our sources, this is also the case for culture, which Americans want to treat as a simple commodity at the WTO.

If the Conservative government wants to show that it is acting in good faith, will it agree to actively promote ratification of the Convention on Cultural Diversity in order for it to come into effect as soon as possible?