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House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigrants.

Topics

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government can try to change the subject as much as it likes, but yesterday we saw that the Prime Minister can often get pretty mean and petty, and it is not the first time. Remember that in Alberta he attacked federalism with his firewalls letter. Why? Because he is petty. He accused Atlantic Canadians of a culture of defeat, again because he is petty. He accused a former prime minister of supporting child pornography. How low can one get? And now, bitter and petty attack advertising, all false concocted slander.

How can Canadians have any confidence in the Prime Minister's common decency?

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite will not listen to former deputy prime ministers who are saying to please extend the provisions. They will not listen to members of the families who have lost loved ones.

Will they at least listen to the Senate, Liberal dominated I might add, which not an hour ago passed a recommendation to maintain the very extensions on which the Liberal leader has flip-flopped and says should not be in our protection. The Senate itself not an hour ago said that we should maintain these. Will they maintain them?

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, again the Conservatives try to change the subject.

The issue that needs to be addressed today is the behaviour of the Prime Minister yesterday in his false and baseless accusations. The problems are obvious. For the Prime Minister quick, partisan advantage trumps everything else every time, no matter the cost, no matter the collateral damage, no matter the innocent victims, no matter the truth.

Does the government not appreciate why Canadians are concerned about the Prime Minister's abuse of power for his own partisan advantages?

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, not only did the Liberal leader do a complete flip-flop for reasons we can only imagine, but not an hour ago the Liberal leader was asked what he thought about the Air-India families. A number of them are here today. They are here today to hold a news conference to impress upon and implore the Liberal leader to please allow these constitutional provisions to remain. What did he say about their presentation? He said that the families are emotional. I guess they are emotional.

Older WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering the crisis currently facing Quebec in the manufacturing sector and the many cases of mass layoffs of older workers, the government must not adopt a laissez-faire policy.

How can a government that is swimming in surpluses, that took in $51 billion in employment insurance and, above all, that had promised in its budget to establish a new income support program for older workers, how can that government remain indifferent to the older workers who are having difficulty finding work and who are doomed to live in poverty?

Older WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the member is not aware of the targeted initiative for older workers. Quebec, of course, has signed on to that agreement.

Beyond that, this government and the finance minister have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Last month alone, 89,000 jobs were created in the Canadian economy. It goes beyond that. We are also moving forward with other plans to ensure that people in areas of high unemployment do have access to benefits. Today, 83% of all people who find themselves unemployed are able to get employment insurance benefits.

Older WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, since January 1, 2007 alone, thousands of people have been victims of mass layoffs in Quebec. Since the government has no industrial strategy to speak of, the situation is only getting worse with each passing day.

Does the government not realize that establishing an income support program for older workers is one of the first steps it should take? This is urgent.

Older WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat what I just said.

There is a targeted initiative available for older workers in the province of Quebec. Quebec is a signatory to that agreement. That is on top of employment insurance benefits which are very rich and provide people with decent support during times when there are levels of high unemployment.

Beyond all of that, Canada today enjoys a roaring economy and lots of jobs thanks to the leadership of the finance minister.

Aviation SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, Transport Canada is attempting to divest itself of one of its most important responsibilities, monitoring aircraft maintenance and the reliability of airline pilots, two factors that form the basis for aviation safety in Canada.

How can the Minister of Transport be so irresponsible as to make a decision that will reduce aviation safety to occasional random checks?

Aviation SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure my hon. colleague and the members of this House that this claim is completely inaccurate and mistaken. It is not true.

We are maintaining the required level of service and inspection. We are also adding a safety factor in the form of a security management system. The member knows this. Yesterday, we were able to answer questions about this. Our goal is the safety of Canadians who use the airways.

Aviation SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, Merlin Preuss, a senior official with Transport Canada, contacted Mr. Holbrook, the chair of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, and threatened him—I repeat, threatened him—with problems if the check pilots appeared before the parliamentary committee to denounce Transport Canada's plan.

How can the Minister of Transport be complicit in such blackmail for the sole purpose of reducing aviation safety by affecting both the thoroughness and the independence of safety inspections?

Aviation SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, raising his voice does not make my hon. colleague right. I simply want to say that his claims are unfounded. We are continuing to protect the safety of people who use the airways every day. Not only are we continuing to do so, but we are doing it better.

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians are faced with the spectacle of a Prime Minister who will not admit he is wrong, even when prominent jurists are forced to speak out.

In recent days two former Supreme Court justices and even the current Chief Justice have condemned the Prime Minister's stacking of the judicial appointments process as threatening the independence of our judiciary, a cornerstone of our Constitution. These protests are unprecedented, but they were provoked by an unprecedented threat to our judiciary.

Will the Prime Minister finally, as the public safety minister said, listen and act for the good of our country and restore independence to the naming of our judges?

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the House should be exactly clear on what kind of a threat the hon. member is talking about.

We are adding police officers to the judicial advisory committee. They represent one out of eight persons on that committee. There are other individuals from other sectors, including the judiciary, the Canadian Bar Association, law societies and members of the public.

I have been hearing this now for three weeks. I would like to know from the Liberals what exactly is their problem with police officers?

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one thing we like about our police officers is they are telling the government it should maintain the gun registry that was put in place to protect them.

However, if the minister wants to know, democracy is rightly concerned when police exercise control over the judiciary. This is not about respecting our police. It is about respecting our democracy and how it functions, and the importance that an independent judiciary plays in guaranteeing our rights. It is about respecting the independent judicial system that makes this country a model to many others throughout the world.

Why can our justice minister not understand that basic nature of our democratic functioning system in this country?

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals say they are always respecting and supporting police officers, but it is a funny kind of support. They say they back police officers and then spend every day complaining about police officers on the judicial advisory committee.

I hope that is not the kind of support they are giving the Leader of the Opposition, telling him at the convention that they support him and then spending every day complaining about him. Nobody needs that kind of support.

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the neo-conservative government is simply trying to deflect attention from its manipulation of judicial appointments. It is shocking that the petty, meanspirited Prime Minister and his colleagues will do or say anything. They make outrageous claims and slander reputations. They gerrymander the way judges are selected to suit their ideology.

When will the minister admit that the government's change in policy for judicial advisory councils is threatening the independence of Canada's judiciary?

Judicial AppointmentsOral 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, the Liberals like to talk about their version of the much flaunted independence of the judiciary, as if there was no partisanship involved when they were in government.

In 2004 the Ottawa Citizen reported that since 2000 more than 60% of the 93 lawyers who received federal judicial appointments in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta donated exclusively to the Liberal Party in the three to five years prior to receiving appointments. I do not know how independent that was. I think they were all very good people, but it is a remarkable coincidence.

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Chief--

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. We are moving on to the next question. The minister has completed his answer. The hon. member for Don Valley East has the floor to ask her next question and the minister wants to be able to hear it.

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Chief Justice of Canada, the Judicial Council and the Canadian Bar Association are all warning that the government is putting the independence of the judiciary in jeopardy, but the minister is ignoring their advice and is stacking the deck in his favour, not to fight crime but to clone his ideology.

Will the minister reverse this dangerous position and guarantee he will preserve the independence of the judiciary?

Judicial AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the ironic part about the Liberal Party is that in the last election, it actually promised to get tough on crime.

The Liberals were supposed to help the government in our crime fighting agenda, yet every opportunity that has come before this House, whether it is house arrest or mandatory minimum sentences for people committing crimes with firearms, they consistently oppose the measures of the government.

Their whole crime package has become this attack on police officers. I cannot wait until the next election. They can say that all they did was criticize police officers. We have a crime fighting package that I think Canadians will buy into.

Air-India InquiryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, two former Liberal deputy prime ministers, other prominent Liberals, and groups such as the Air India Victims Families Association have been calling on the Liberal leader to change his mind and vote in favour of extending two important provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act. So far their cries have fallen on deaf ears.

If these two security measures are not extended, could the Minister of Public Safety inform the House what impact this will have on the Air-India inquiry and on our ability to fight terrorism?

Air-India InquiryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, it will impede the work of the inquiry. If the Liberal leader will not listen to the parliamentary committee that wants these provisions extended, if he will not listen to the former Liberal ministers who wrote the law, if he will not listen to the Supreme Court, and if he will not listen to the Senate, will he listen to the families here today, people who have signed this letter asking that these provisions be continued, people such as Maureen Basnicki, a Canadian 9/11 widow, and Dave Hayer, a B.C. MLA, whose father, a Sikh news editor, was murdered in a terrorist attack?

Will he apologize to the families for dismissing them as being emotional? Will he be the one to apologize?