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House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

JusticeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I certainly will admit no such thing. Not only has the hon. member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin said that his remarks do not represent the position of the government, he has withdrawn some of those remarks, as the Leader of the Opposition knows.

The member for Scarborough—Guildwood, one of the senior critics in the party opposite, said the following in the Ottawa Citizen on March 18, “What is the Supreme Court but a priesthood served by acolytes in black robes?”

If that is not a description of a religion, I do not know what is. I would like to know if that is really the position of the Liberal Party.

JusticeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, a Liberal prime minister always defended our judiciary. This is not some random backbench MP we are talking about.

In spite of the Prime Minister's pledge to allow committees to elect their own chairs, he appointed that member, surely knowing that his appointment would offend aboriginal Canadians. He says that he withdrew some of his remarks, but yesterday the member made it clear that he is unrepentant about them.

For the sake of our parliamentary integrity, for the sake of our aboriginal peoples, for the sake of his own credibility, will the Prime Minister now demand the resignation of his chair of that committee?

JusticeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, one day the Leader of the Opposition says I should not appoint committee chairs. Now he is telling me I should say who can and cannot be a committee chair. I wish he would get his story straight.

The fact of the matter is that if that party and that member oppose these kinds of comments, then they should withdraw the comments they have made, which are far worse than anything the member Saskatoon—Wanuskewin said.

JusticeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Enough is enough, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister continues to refuse to condemn the remarks by his committee chairman. He continues to refuse to apologize to the chief justice. Let us not forget that it is this Prime Minister who questioned the abilities of justices to render independent rulings.

Will the Prime Minister stand to defend our judiciary and immediately ask for the resignation of this committee chairman?

JusticeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Prime Minister cannot force a committee chairman to resign. That falls within the authority of the committee. However, I would like to say that the statements of the leader of the opposition are entirely false. It is not the position of this government. The member withdrew his remarks. It is now up to the Liberal Party to withdraw its remarks which are far worse than those of the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

May 9th, 2006 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Liberal Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages reminded us today that there is still a legal void in terms of the linguistic rights of Air Canada passengers and employees since its restructuring.

Why has the government still not followed our example and tabled amendments to the Air Canada Public Participation Act to ensure that the linguistic rights of francophones and anglophones are respected at Air Canada and all its affiliates?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question. Obviously we take the comments in the Commissioner of Official Languages's report seriously. I should mention that the Commissioner had raised the same issues a few years ago when she tabled two other reports that indicated the same thing. In fact, in the end my predecessor hastily tabled a bill that died on the Order Paper.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Liberal Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I asked a very simple question. Will the Minister of Transport table a bill immediately, a bill that is already prepared and has received approval from the Commissioner of Official Languages, requiring Air Canada and all its affiliates to respect the Official Languages Act and respect francophones in Canada?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I see that my hon. colleague defends this matter with great conviction. Nonetheless, it is a shame he did not have that same conviction for defending this issue in the past.

I would add that I had the opportunity last week to meet the Commissioner for the first time since we came into power. She brought this issue to my attention. We will take into consideration all aspects of the issue and announce our position at a later date.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the agreement on Quebec's place in UNESCO, the Government of Quebec undertook to participate in the work of UNESCO “in harmony with the general orientations of Canadian foreign policy”.

Would the Prime Minister tell us whether the Government of Quebec could publicly express its disagreement in UNESCO, should its position differ from that of Canada?

UNESCOOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is impossible for a federal government to prevent a province from expressing its position in a matter of public policy.

However, I can say that the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada have reached an agreement to work in harmony and full cooperation. That is natural for two governments that both favour a stronger Quebec within a united Canada.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is all very well, but I would like a definite answer. The Prime Minister avoided answering the first question. In 13 weeks, he has developed the same attitude as the Liberals, who spent 13 years fine tuning their ability to circumvent questions. I would like him to answer and tell me whether, in the event of differing positions, Quebec could rise in UNESCO and publicly express its position differing from that of Canada. The question is very simple and it should be just as simple to answer it.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the answer is simple. We work together. That is not like the Liberals. That centralizing party refused to conclude such an agreement. For the first time, the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada have concluded an agreement to give Quebec a voice and full participation in UNESCO. It is a historic triumph.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Prime Minister to clearly answer a very simple question. Is Quebec's participation in UNESCO assured only when Quebec agrees with the Government of Canada? In other words, when Quebec disagrees, will it be able to publicly express and show its disagreement? It is a simple question. What status will Quebec have? The Prime Minister should answer the questions.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I invite my hon. colleague to reread the agreement that the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec signed last week. In the preamble, he will read that the parties have decided to work cooperatively, to work together for the benefit of Quebeckers and Canadians.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, we have a heck of a problem. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister promised Quebeckers a seat at UNESCO and full rights, including the right to vote. But now, we have examined the situation, and Quebec will apparently have the right to speak only when it agrees with Canada.

The question is easy to understand. What happens when Quebec disagrees? Will it be expected to keep quiet and stand on the sidelines? That is what we want to know. It is that simple.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is a problem here. The problem is that the Government of Canada, this Prime Minister—

UNESCOOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

UNESCOOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. I agree with the Prime Minister. There is too much noise in this House. Order, please, so that we can hear the Prime Minister's answer.

UNESCOOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister invited Quebec to participate in UNESCO. And the Government of Quebec signed an agreement with us to do so. We have a historic agreement. The problem is that Quebec does not need the Bloc Québécois to participate in UNESCO.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite promises to the contrary, it was the government, acting without any debate or vote, that doubled our troop deployment in Afghanistan. Yesterday, we learned from the government that, because of this decision, Canada may be unable to respond to the needs in Darfur. Canadians want our military to be in the forefront of responding to the peacekeeping needs of the world.

My question for the Prime Minister is very simple. Will he now agree that there shall be a debate and vote in the House regarding any future troop deployment beyond February 7 in Afghanistan?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we welcome the peace initiatives in Darfur and we are optimistic that they will lead to a lasting settlement. The Government of Canada has been in consultation with our allies on how we can assist the United Nations in this regard. We are expecting requests for assistance on governance and humanitarian assistance. At this moment it does not appear that there will be any request for military assistance, but we stand ready to work with our international allies to improve the situation in Darfur.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not showing the leadership we need in this context.

Canadians invented peacekeeping. Now we are hearing that Canada will not take the lead in sending its soldiers to end the genocide happening in Darfur.

Why does the Prime Minister not give the Secretary General of the UN a positive answer about sending our peacekeeping troops to Darfur to help re-establish peace?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, Canada is ready to assist the international community. At the moment, it seems that western troops are not needed in Sudan. We are keeping an eye on the situation and are ready to respond.

Let me be very clear about this. We are operating in a UN sanctioned mission in Afghanistan, and the NDP cannot use its support for action in Darfur to excuse itself for not standing behind our troops in Afghanistan.

JusticeOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister tried to disown the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin for his attack on Canada's chief justice and the independence of the judiciary. This even though the comments were eerily similar to comments made by the Prime Minister in the past. Then last night, unleashed and unmuzzled, the member for Halton took on a new role of PMO apologist, launching a personal attack on Chief Justice McLachlin and calling her reaction “over the top” and saying she is getting “thin in the skin”.

Will the Prime Minister now re-muzzle the member for Halton or admit that his party has no respect for the judiciary?