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House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was loans.

Topics

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 12, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I look at the clock and I see it at 6:30. I wonder if the rest of the House and the Speaker would agree.

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is it agreed?

Aboriginal AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 26, in this House, I asked the government how it could explain that one year after their land was quarantined because of a golden nematode contamination, producers in Saint-Amable were still waiting for a long-term assistance plan.

According to the secretary of state responsible for this file, the government had shown leadership. Where is the leadership when they chose to ignore repeated calls from farmers who knew back in the fall of 2006 that the programs in place would not meet their needs? Where is the leadership when they ignore calls for a short- and long-term program tailored to this situation? I have to wonder.

The secretary of state also said that a lot of money had been put on the table and that it continued to flow. Who is telling the truth here? According to the producers, they had over $1 million in lost revenue in 2006 alone. It seems to me as though the money is not flowing. It has been completely cut off.

The secretary of state also said he was in contact with the producers. However, on October 24, Groupe Ama-Terre sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking him for a meeting. This letter was forwarded to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and, to date, the office of the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food still has not contacted Groupe Ama-Terre. However, Quebec's agriculture minister has decided to meet with the producers in mid-November. What is his federal counterpart waiting for to follow suit?

How can the government continue to ignore the fact that potato farmers in Saint-Amable have lost 70% of their market and that if they chose to convert to a different crop, they would have to create a market from scratch? It is not easy to re-establish contact with processors and distributors when the very name Saint-Amable is associated with the quarantine and restrictions imposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and makes potential business partners hesitate.

An assistance plan tailored to the situation has to be implemented without delay. Life for the producers and their families has been turned upside down. The community has banded together and shown its desire to take action. The minister must so the same and give clear instructions to the appropriate officials in order to resolve this crisis.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Philippe Gemme stated:

Agriculture, this love of the land, of farming, is handed down from father to son, from father to daughter. This is not 21 companies asking for help, it is future generations.

These people love farming and were even prouder of being able to pass on their heritage to their children, who had decided to follow in their footsteps. They want to find a solution to the problem, but their good will is not enough to get them through the crisis.

We must answer their call, as quickly as possible, by establishing a detailed plan outlining the assistance they will receive in the short, medium, and long term. These producers cannot settle for one-time aid when the quarantine imposed may last several decades. This government must take action and it must take it now.

6:15 p.m.

Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry Ontario

Conservative

Guy Lauzon ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to talk about my government's measures to help producers in Saint-Amable affected by the golden nematode outbreak.

As the member opposite knows, this government is committed to putting farmers first. Since forming government only 22 months ago, our government has invested $4.5 billion in Canada's agricultural sector.

At the request of the producers, we have overhauled CAIS and replaced it with an exciting new suite of business risk management programs under the growing forward network. This decision was made to put farmers first.

Our important principle of farmers first governed our response to the golden nematode outbreak as well. When golden nematode was discovered, quarantine measures were undertaken to contain and eventually suppress the pest. This quick action from our government helped to restore market access for potatoes into the United States.

We moved quickly to announce that financial assistance would be available to affected producers under the golden nematode disaster program and CAIS as well as under the Plant Protection Act.

To date, over $1 million of the $1.5 million available under the golden nematode disaster program has been paid out. The program helped cover the cost of disposing of potatoes from fields that tested negative and extraordinary costs associated with cleaning and disinfecting buildings and equipment.

We are still at the table with our producers to find long term solutions to this ongoing challenge. Clearly, this government has acted. Farmers like those in St-Amable have received assistance for the destruction of potatoes from negative fields and to help with extraordinary costs related to cleaning and disinfecting buildings and machinery.

Unlike the Bloc, members on this side of the House are able to take real action to help our farmers and we have done so. We have had the Bloc here in this House for 17 years and in that time it has not been able to enact one piece of legislation.

The government and this minister are committed to putting farmers first. Whether by fixing CAIS, supporting biofuels, or providing help for farmers affected by golden nematode, our farmers do come first. We are putting farmers first by working with farmers to find solutions that will make their operations profitable and sustainable.

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member across the floor can insult the Bloc Québécois, but this evening, it is the 21 families that he is insulting. It is Philippe Gemme, his wife Monique Plante and their children, Jean-François, Jérémie and Valérie, whom he is telling that nothing is happening. It is André Gemme and his sons, Stéphane and Jocelyn. It is Christian Chabot and his wife, Suzanne Chartrand. It is Roger Gemme, his wife, Francine Lecours, and their sons Hubert, Dominic, Francis and Nicolas. It is Sylvain Gemme and his father, Viateur, as well as Claude Boucher, Michel Gemme, Martin Gemme, his wife, Louise Beauregard, and their daughters, Claudia and Vicky. It is also Richard Saint-Aubin and his son, Nicolas. It is Daniel Blain and his daughter, Stéphanie. It is Guy Gemme and his parents, Gustave and Denise. It is Adrien Gemme and his wife, Sylvie Drapeau, and their sons, Tobby, Andy and Michaël. It is Gérald Gemme and his wife, Christiane Fafard, as well as their children, Alexandre and Véronique. It is Luc Gemme, his wife, Diane Lussier, and their sons, Jonathan and Nicolas

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is always the same with the Bloc. They talk and talk, but they never do anything.

As I said, this government is putting farmers first. Let me give another example of how.

To create new opportunities for potato producers, we quickly granted close to $600,000 under the advancing Canadian agriculture and agri-food program for the purposes of developing new nematode resistant varieties of potato, and finding economically viable alternatives to potato production in the area. That research will span a number of years and benefit the whole Canadian industry.

As I said, unlike the Bloc, we are getting it done. Unfortunately, Bloc members can sit there, they can cry, and make a lot of noise, but quite frankly, they have not done a thing in 17 years and they will be there another 17 years doing nothing.

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we speak of human rights in any respect, there are few who would not acknowledge the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stated:

Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.

When framed in those terms, who among us would not express concern and reservation about the current position of our own government here in Canada?

The death penalty is an absolute denial of human rights. Canada admirably abolished this cruel punishment in 1976 and subsequently adopted a policy of advocating on behalf of Canadians anywhere in the world who had been sentenced to death.

This most fundamental of human rights has now been undermined by the policy of the current Canadian government when it made it clear that it would not seek commutation for a Canadian citizen sentenced to death in Montana.

Similarly, Canada's noble voice has also fallen silent under this government in respect of the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan who have been turned over to Afghan authorities. Continual reports indicate that these prisoners are subjected to torture in violation of the most fundamental standards of human rights. In fact, we turn these prisoners over to the Afghan government, which has yet to even ratify the optional protocol to the convention against torture.

Additionally, why will the Afghan government not invite the United Nations special rappoteur on torture to visit its country?

Our government also has an obligation to speak out forcefully on the issue of extraordinary rendition, particularly in the wake of the events surrounding Mr. Maher Arar. Make no mistake, extraordinary rendition violates virtually every treaty, protocol or fundamental understanding of basic human rights. It is nothing more than the outsourcing of torture, far from the light of accountability, away from the altar of responsibility, and missing from the foundations of basic human dignity.

Our government is also silent on the issue of detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba, where prisoners are held without clear charges, absent from due process and removed from any assurance of basic human rights.

Let us be clear. No one is advocating that those who do wrong should go unpunished, but basic fairness calls for clear charges, fair trials, and respect for human rights and dignity. We have come too far in our history across the barren desert of human struggle to abandon the advances in human rights and the respect for human dignity that prior generations have fought so hard to win for us.

We need to remember that there are United Nations treaties, the Geneva Convention, domestic human rights guarantees in many nations, and a fundamental understanding of human rights as enunciated in the 1993 Vienna Declaration, which confirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

I therefore ask, why does the government speak volumes with its silence on issues so fundamental to our identity as Canadians and so important to our place in the world?

6:25 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as colleagues will know, this is the second time there has been a late show from the member on this issue. It is interesting members opposite have raised this issue with no mention of victims of crime. Our government brings forward legislation to address victims of crime and to protect society, we do not hear the members opposite talk about that.

We hear a lot of talk, and that is all it has been over the last 13 years, when it comes to human rights, but it was our government that provided the redress for the Chinese head tax. It was our government that addressed the hepatitis C issue. It is our government that is endeavouring to bring first nations under the Human Rights Act, which was denied under the previous government. It is our government that is in Afghanistan fighting for the rights that the members opposite purport to uphold. Yet we do not hear messages of support for the good work that our troops and personnel do in Afghanistan from members opposite. All we have heard, now twice, is this one issue.

The Minister of Justice has repeatedly said in the House that the government is not changing the law in our country with respect to the death penalty. In 1976 Canada abolished the death penalty in the Criminal Code.

The government also acknowledges that the legal systems of foreign jurisdictions may have differing views on this issue. Although the government recognizes the sovereign decision of each state to determine its own laws, this government continues to advocate for the full respect for international safeguards where the death penalty is still in use.

On November 15, the UN General Assembly voted for a resolution that called for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Canada supported this resolution. As members can see, Canada is taking a stand internationally against the use of the death penalty.

However, with respect to clemency, as the justice minister has said, our government will be dealing with the issue on a case by case basis. Potentially, if another country will only grant clemency on the basis of an offender being repatriated back home to Canada, we may have difficulty, as the hon. member should acknowledge, inasmuch as an offender who committed murder abroad could be eligible for parole in Canada and, subsequently, be free to live in our communities. That is not what Canadians want.

It is evidence from our ambitious justice agenda that our government's first priority is to protect Canadians. We would be abdicating that responsibility by the potential release of a murderer, particularly one who had committed not one but more murders. I am confident that Canadians do not want murderers free to roam our streets, especially if they have not served a sentence proportionate to the seriousness of their crime.

As the Minister of Justice has said in the House:

—this country and this government, in particular, has had an outstanding record with respect to human rights at home and abroad. I think it is a record for which all Canadians can be very proud.

We will continue to fight every day for Canadians and ensure that our families and our communities are safe.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the treaties to which the name Canada has been affixed are not just pieces of paper to be enshrined in our national archives. They are living documents. They are commitments to a noble vision that generations of Canadians have viewed as statements of our place in the world.

Human rights and human dignity are not simply concepts cast across pages for students of history to read. They are a manner of living that we believe makes us better people, that makes us a better country and which helps to build a better world for all citizens.

I call the attention of my hon. colleague to the fact that next week the United Nations will celebrate the 59th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, once again a living document that calls upon all nations to aspire to a vision of human rights and respect for human dignity that appeals to the nobility of human ideals.

Whether it is the death penalty, torture, extraordinary rendition, punishment without fair trial or a lack of respect for human dignity in any form, we have an obligation as a country to honour our heritage and our vision of our country.

Will the government return to a respect for human rights and human dignity—

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, human rights and human dignity are about more than words. We are hearing a lot of words from the other side.

We have been a government of action. One of the actions we have taken is to protect the human rights and safety of Canadians in Canada. We will continue to do that. We will continue to fill the gap that we were left with from 13 years of Liberal inaction, the Liberal soft on crime approach to justice. We will continue to do that. That is protecting human rights as well. If we were to ask Canadians if they want their rights protected and the rights of their children, they would say, “Yes, we do”.

On this issue, the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution that called for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Canada supported this resolution. In keeping with our support for the objective of the resolution, we voted with co-sponsors against efforts to undermine it. On this issue, Canada—

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Egmont.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, on November 23, I asked a question regarding the theft of a government computer from the home of a HRSDC employee. The computer contained files with the detailed personal information of over 1,200 seniors and their spouses. These seniors are CPP applicants from the Maritimes, and the information on these records included names, addresses, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, and banking information.

I am concerned about a number of issues arising from this incident.

First, the data on the stolen computer was not encrypted. Encryption refers to changing information to make it unreadable to anyone except the person who has the key required to decode it. It is a very common process used to protect sensitive computer files. Why was the data on this employee's computer not encrypted? It would seem to me to be a necessary tool to protect electronic information, especially on computers, that will leave departmental premises.

In addition, we may need a review of the way that client records are handled within government organizations like Service Canada. Recently in Britain, similar data on about 25 million people was lost by a British civil servant. What is the government's security process when dealing with this type of information internally? How does the government ensure security of electronic files when employees work from home? How does it track whether employees are following this process?

How does the government ensure online security? A Canadian applying for a passport online discovered last week that Passport Canada's website was not as secure as it claimed to be. Jamie Laning of Huntsville, Ontario was able to access the records of other passport applicants by simply changing one character on the website address. He notified Passport Canada immediately, but who knows who else might have discovered this security flaw and used it to his or her advantage. It is unacceptable for the websites of government departments, which frequently handle the confidential records of millions of Canadians, to have these kinds of security defects.

Finally, I would like to know why the government did not see fit to notify financial institutions that 1,200 people's banking details were being compromised?

When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development responded to my question, she noted:

There is a process in place and we are doing everything possible to ensure this is taken care of.

I would like to know in detail what this process is and what has been done up to this point to ensure that the information provided by these seniors is secure and to ensure that they do not become victims of identity theft. The people affected were notified by letter, but has anything else been done since? Has the computer been recovered?

6:30 p.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the questions raised by the hon. member on the theft of the government computer. I would like to take this opportunity tonight to set the record straight on the actions of this government and the actions we have taken to address this unfortunate incident.

Maintaining the security of personal data is important to all of us in this House and I want to thank the hon. member for Egmont for raising this matter again. It gives me an opportunity to allow all Canadians to know what we are doing to protect them from incidents such as these.

The hon. member should know that the government has very stringent security policies in place to protect the privacy of each Canadian and to ensure their personal data remains secure. Security breaches are rare but when a breach does occur, our government takes swift and decisive action.

Contrary to the hon. member's suggestion, Service Canada has taken a number of steps to reach out to all those who were affected. We have notified, in writing, each and every person who has been affected. We have also notified the banks and the credit agencies in writing and by telephone. As he expressed, he was concerned about that, but they have all been notified. We are also maintaining additional security measures through the monitoring of individual old age security accounts. Again, there are those additional security measures and, as he expressed, that was also a concern.

In addition, Service Canada has set up a special 1-800 line for people to call and it is staffed by specially trained agents ready to answer questions and suggest measures people can take to further protect themselves.

Service Canada is also making trained client service agents available to meet personally with individual clients.

We have followed up our letter campaign with proactive efforts to contact people who have not been in contact with Service Canada to offer them additional information.

Not only has the government acted quickly to respond to this specific situation, we have also taken steps to prevent such an incident from occurring again.

We are setting up additional information security and privacy awareness sessions for Service Canada staff. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to determine what improvements may be needed and whether staff have the tools they need to ensure the security of information and the privacy of every Canadian.

The security of personal data in this age of cyber crimes and identity theft is something that concerns us all. That is why we are committed to taking decisive action when breaches do occur and that is why we are committed to making sure they do not happen again.

I would like to again thank the member. The answer was not adequate for the seriousness of the crime and tonight allowed me to express exactly what I was told was part of the process.

I believe the member has announced that he will be retiring this year. I congratulate him and wish him well. I know he will be missed in the House.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the information she has provided, particularly the information regarding the personal follow up by the department in talking to the people who may or may not know that their security has been compromised. I also thank her for her best wishes.

I would like to ask another question. Legislation is going through the House now dealing with enhanced identity theft legislation. I wonder if this bill could be modified or added to which would take into consideration these types of actions or accidents that do happen when there are security breaches.

I know that when people give out information, they depend on the organizations that are getting it to make them feel secure about them having it, and they should be able to feel safe. I know that 50 of the states in the United States have this type of legislation and I think Canada should do the same.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am not exactly sure what the member was asking, but we do take seriously the protection of the personal information of Canadians and protecting them from the possibility of identity theft.

We know it is of great importance in this electronic age, which is why we introduced Bill C-27. It would create the new Criminal Code provisions for the unlawful possession and trafficking of personal information and government documents of another person.

I hope that has answered his question, if that is what he intended with the question. We definitely created the new Criminal Code provisions for unlawful possession and trafficking of personal information. I hope the hon. member will encourage his colleagues to vote in support of this initiative as well.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:40 p.m.)