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House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was democratic.

Topics

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the issue the hon. member raises, that of the increased value of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar and resulting pricing policies in Canada, is very important to Canadian consumers. That is why I have raised the issue on behalf of the government publicly. I have spoken to many of the retailers directly in the course of the past month.

We are encouraging the retailers to reflect as quickly as possible the increased purchasing value of the Canadian dollar, for the sake of Canadian consumers and, quite frankly for the sake of Canadian retailers as well, so that they will have the business volumes they would like to have.

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have seen this movie before. Last year the minister asked the banking sector to reflect as quickly as possible and nothing has happened. The minister's idea of action is to go begging and then provide his own excuse when nothing occurs.

The Conservatives are posturing a lot these days about their strong desire to govern. Here is a chance to do just that. Instead of whining, why not act like parliamentarians on behalf of Canadian consumers, do the right thing and offer the public something other than the sophomoric excuses for inaction that have just been served up by the minister?

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member believes in price controls. We do not. That is not the type of interference in the market that we are interested in doing.

With respect to ATM fees, I might remind the member, and he might not be aware of it since he was not here at that time, that we now have better arrangements for ATM fees for seniors in Canada and better arrangements for students in Canada. We have a network being developed by the credit unions in Canada involving about 2,000 ATM machines that do not have any surcharge at all. This is all good for Canadian consumers.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Garth Turner Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday I asked the government about its relationship with the Conservative CIMS database. The hon. House leader said that it was a political party database divorced from government MPs, but I have here the authorization form signed by Conservative MPs installing this database in their offices.

My question is simple. Why is a political party database sitting on the taxpayer funded computers of members of Parliament?

PrivacyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I was very puzzled when I got this question on party databases last week so I did some research and I found the following:

This software enables both candidates and elected officials in their respective roles to properly and easily manage their campaign and constituency offices...members of the House of Commons are using this application for their day-to-day business. Since 1997, [it]...has been the software of choice for every election and by-election

in both federal and provincial elections. This package enables elected officials to track issues and correspondence in their constituencies, as well as donations, membership and voter intention.

Do members know what this is? It is not CIMS. It is ElectSYS, the Liberal Party of Canada software application.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

PrivacyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. Obviously the popularity of the hon. member for Halton has risen dramatically over the summer, but we have to be able to hear the question. Despite the enthusiasm for him standing in the House, we have to be able to hear what he says. The hon. member for Halton now has the floor.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Garth Turner Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope Canadians will notice that the hon. House leader did not answer that important question. He has now quoted a Conservative blogger whose credibility is extremely compromised.

My question remains: does the hon. House leader believe it is an ethical practice to have a Conservative Party database sitting on the computers of his MPs? Yes or no, ethical or not?

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I was actually quoting from the website of The AIT Corp.: “Giving you the edge through superior campaign and constituency management” and “Client base...Federal Liberal Party of Canada”.

It says that one can do “Issue tracking” and “Use the case layer to link files with issues” and also “Search wizards to help...retrieve the information by issue, case status, open date and assignment” and in fact “voter intention and vote participation”. Then there is my favourite privacy issue: it says that one can even “track birthdays” and “send congratulatory notes”.

I guess it is time for the member to go to the byelection with or without his database.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has refused to be accountable about the breach of privacy by the PMO and MPs. We now know that Conservative MPs were instructed to use government resources to collect private information without the consent of constituents.

We know the information was collected for the Conservatives' centralized data bank. Can the Prime Minister simply tell us whether this information is used by the Conservative Party for fundraising?

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I can keep quoting from the AIT system, which is what the Liberal Party of Canada used.

Let us remember that this “software enables both candidates and elected officials in their respective roles to properly and easily manage their campaign and constituency offices”. The Liberals are tracking casework in multiple layers and tracking birthdates.

I would like to know from the hon. member if she uses it.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. We are wasting time. Hon. members have a lot of questions they want to ask, I know, but as the House leader knows, generally in question period questions are from the opposition to the government and not the other way around.

The hon. member for Kitchener Centre has the floor now for her supplementary question.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the hon. House leader has just demonstrated that our software indeed does not collect private information.

Every day Canadians turn to their members of Parliament and are looking for help to access disability, veterans and immigration programs. The information is private. People come looking for help. They are not trying to get on the Conservative Party database.

If the information is not being collected for political purposes, can the Prime Minister tell us why two members of Parliament had their databases immediately disconnected when they ceased to be members of the Conservative Party but still continue to be members of this House?

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, when I got these questions last week I was puzzled. I was puzzled because I was thinking of what our party uses, not what the Liberal Party uses. That party boasted on this company's website that, “This software enables both candidates and elected officials in their respective roles to properly and easily manage their campaign and constituency offices”.

Under the administrative side, which is the constituency side, there is talk about linking the issues with the voter intention and with their birthdays and sending those birthday cards. I do not know who is--

PrivacyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

Metallurgy IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry approved Rio Tinto's offer for the acquisition of Alcan, without any conditions. However, Alcan union members in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean went to the minister to ask him to demand guarantees concerning the current level of employment.

Why did the minister refuse to demand a commitment from Rio Tinto regarding a minimum number of jobs for my region and for Quebec?

Metallurgy IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question, but we do not see eye to eye. I only approve a request when the foreign investor has proven that the transaction will mean a clear advantage for Canada. Rio Tinto promised certain things, such as setting up its head office in Montreal and investing in real estate—$2 billion, to be exact—in the Saguenay region. The acquisition will bring about benefits for Canada.

Metallurgy IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government did not demand anything beyond what the company was already offering. However, the workers in the regions affected by the acquisition wanted the company to guarantee a certain level of processing right here.

Why did the government not use this sale as an opportunity to demand that Rio Tinto process right here the aluminum produced in the Mauricie, Beauharnois—Salaberry and Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean regions?

Metallurgy IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Bloc member is not correct. The discussions that took place between Investment Canada and Rio Tinto were among the most extensive that had ever been held in this area.

I sign off on applications only when the foreign investor demonstrates that there is a net benefit to Canada. In the context of this transaction, the undertakings were specifically secured. Montreal will be the headquarters of the one of the world's largest mining companies, the largest aluminum company in the world.

There will be commitments to Canadian representation on the board of directors, representation of Canadians in senior management in the company and, as I pointed out, capital investments of close to $4 billion, including $2 billion in the Saguenay region of Quebec.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans authorized a different and very dangerous gear type for two large herring seiners in the gulf region. The minister should know that for fishermen it is a serious issue. Fishermen cannot catch their quota in the gulf now. Everybody in the region opposes this type of destruction in the gulf region.

Why would the minister put more pressure on herring and other stocks in the gulf? Will the minister do the right thing here today and put an end to this very dangerous gear in the gulf?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. member that these are not new licences and these are not new quotas. In fact, the management plan I am using, which allows this, is the same management plan brought in by the Liberals.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the last election the Conservative Party committed to strengthening our federation and modernizing our democratic institutions. In government we delivered on that commitment. So far we have passed the toughest anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history, the Federal Accountability Act, as well as legislation to establish fixed dates for general elections and legislation to improve the integrity of the electoral process.

While we have accomplished a lot, there is still much more to be done. Can the Minister for Democratic Reform please inform the House about his plan for further strengthening our federation through democratic reform?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, our government reversed the trend under the Liberals and delivered accountable, open and transparent government.

Once a leader in the world, under the Liberals Canada fell to 14th place on the annual clean government index issued by Transparency International. Under our Conservative government, the world is taking note that we are clean and accountable. In one short year, we have climbed back up in the rankings by five places to ninth in the world.

There is one thing I forgot to add in my previous answer to the House. If anyone in the media is looking for the AIT Corp. website, people will find it at theaitcorp.com, “Giving you the edge through superior campaign and constituency management tools”, the official website database of the Liberal Party.

Drugs and PharmaceuticalsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, middle-class Canadians are paying way too much for prescription drugs.

We just had another report commissioned by Industry Canada, something that the government was forced to release, which shows that the government is not helping doctors make affordable choices for their patients. Doctors who could be prescribing generic drugs just do not know about them.

WIll the health minister show some leadership, help close the prosperity gap and ensure that families do not pay any more for prescription drugs than they need to?