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House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. parliamentary secretary is an experienced member. He knows that making reference to the presence of someone in or not in the gallery is not permitted and he will want to refrain from such conduct.

The hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence.

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to railway safety, the Minister of Transport seems to be asleep at the switch. Train derailments have become commonplace, some with disastrous environmental consequences, all under his watch.

Today the transport committee had scheduled an examination of the problem with expert witnesses, but the minister appears to have caused the chair of the committee to pull the item off the agenda.

What is the minister afraid we will find out and how many more personal injuries and environmental disasters is he willing to tolerate before he acts on rail safety?

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the hon. colleague is confused with the facts. For 13 years the Liberals sat by and watched rail safety in this country go down the tube.

What we have done is not only introduced that piece of legislation, so that we are able to hear from all parties on this particular issue but we have also created a board that will review this situation, and come back and give valid, legitimate information so that we can go forward and protect Canadians who use the rail system.

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, rhetoric instead of action and of course we are talking about the last 13 months. We are not talking about the last 13 years.

Railways are key to Canada's economic infrastructure and to the health of hundreds of communities. The minister cannot guarantee rail safety or reliability. Recent problems at CN have caused havoc to the economy as shippers were unable to get product to the market and rural communities were isolated. CN service is once again strained by strikes and lockouts, with already alarming economic consequences everywhere.

Will the Minister of Transport finally take an interest in this file or is he going to wait until the Minister of Labour picks up the slack?

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that when we are talking about strikes in the transportation sector and at Canadian National, that is the responsibility of the labour department. Our government has been very active in trying to help the two parties reach a negotiated settlement in this labour dispute.

Unfortunately, the discussions on Saturday did not produce the desired result. We have said several times in this House, and our government has been very clear from the start, that our responsibility is to protect Canada's economic stability and the reliability of the railway system for Canadians and our trade partners, and we are going to act.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bill to improve employment insurance is compromised because the government refuses to give a royal recommendation.

Will the government listen to the arguments of the union leaders, workers and unemployed who have gathered on Parliament Hill today to ask that it remove the final obstacle to the adoption of Bill C-269 by giving a royal recommendation?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has now come out in support of different initiatives regarding employment insurance private members' bills to the tune of about $6.2 billion a year if they were all implemented. That would bankrupt the employment insurance system, leaving unemployed workers holding the bag. We cannot allow that to happen. The government has moved to both reduce premiums and improve benefits in a responsible, sustainable way.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, when he was a member of the official opposition, the current Minister of Human Resources and Social Development rightfully accused the Liberal government of pocketing the money of the unemployed and using the employment insurance surplus to pay down the debt. Now that he is in power, he is adopting the same attitude that the Liberals had when they formed the government.

Should the minister not be using the fund surplus to help the unemployed rather than using it for other purposes, as he pointed out when he was in opposition?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member is simply wrong. This government has moved to reduce premiums. In fact, we have cut taxes of all kinds including the GST, which certainly benefits everyone.

We have also moved to improve benefits. In areas of chronically high unemployment, we have extended benefits. We have also improved benefits for people who are looking after terminally ill family members. This government has acted, whereas the previous government for 13 years did nothing except rhetoric.

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice knows very well that a Charter case costs millions of dollars, which most Canadians do not have. Unless there is proper access to legal aid and to the court challenges program, only the rich will have equal rights, which is unacceptable.

If the Minister of Justice refuses to budge and does not save the court challenges program, will he at least improve access to legal aid to provide Canadians with the justice they are guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we do not need any lessons from the Liberal Party with respect to defending people's rights. This party has acted on the Chinese head tax. We have extended the rights of all Canadians to vote. We were able to get the full franchise under Conservative administrations. We have stable funding now for legal aid. We have a victims ombudsman which is long overdue in this country. Members should be applauding these actions.

Wildlife TraffickingOral Questions

April 16th, 2007 / 2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, international wildlife trafficking is a serious problem around the world. The threats to wildlife from poaching and the illegal trade in animal parts from endangered species is a very important fight which Canada must be a part of.

Could the Minister of the Environment tell the House what action our government is taking to fight wildlife trafficking?

Wildlife TraffickingOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Prince Albert who obviously shares a strong interest in this issue as the Prince Albert National Park is so close to his constituency.

We are very pleased to join the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking. This international trade around the globe is some $10 billion and we want to take real, substantive action.

While the Leader of the Opposition and Elizabeth May were cooking up backroom deals, we were getting the job done for the environment.

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, ordinary Canadians are tired of waiting for the finance minister to make up his mind about ATM fees. One day he pretends he is ready to ban them, and the next day he says the banks need to compete and it is really up to them.

Well now we know that public pressure is working. Some banks are announcing limited fee free accounts for some consumers, but most ordinary Canadians continue to pay these outrageous fees.

The question for the minister is simple. Will he take a stand? Does he support ATM fees and the banks, or will he support ordinary Canadians who are getting nickeled-and-dimed?

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when the member raised this question in the House some time ago now, I indicated that I would speak to the banks about it.

I am very pleased that having spoken with them and having met with them, at least three of the banks now have extended their services with respect to various issues that are quite important, including services for students on our campuses across Canada, both colleges and universities, and including seniors across Canada and persons with disabilities. These are important steps in the right direction by these banks.

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, just as we expected, a lot of nonsense from the minister and more stalling. It almost sounds like he is getting as good as the member for LaSalle—Émard.

Goodness gracious, when are we going to get a position from this minister? It is simple. Canadians want an end to ATM fees and he is in a position to make a decision.

So will he stop this gouging? Will he ensure that when regular folks take their own money out of the bank, they are not charged for it? The solution is simple. What side is he on? Is he on the side of ordinary Canadians or is he on the side of big banks and ATM fees? Will he take a position?

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am on the side, as our government is, of competition and choice in financial services in Canada. We have competition between the credit unions, for example, and the banks, and between the banks themselves.

When I spoke to the banks and said we have three specific challenges with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities, with respect to access for students on campuses, and with respect to seniors, at least three of them have reacted positively. These are steps in the right direction.

Court Challenges ProgramOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The charter protects minorities and women's rights. Indeed, it protects all Canadians.

Will the Minister of Justice celebrate the 25th anniversary by relenting and giving reprieve to the court challenges program, restore its funding and protect the rights of all Canadians. After all, the charter is very important to every single Canadian. Will he show courage and is he prepared to allow Canadians to criticize government programs?

Court Challenges ProgramOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I will be commemorating the anniversary of the charter tomorrow with 600 students in Ottawa. I look forward to that.

This party has had a longstanding commitment to human rights, and has this government and previous Conservative administrations. An hon. member says an impressive record and I agree with him on that. It goes back many years in this country. We did the things that the Liberal Party was never able to get done.

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, in early February the Minister of Health launched a revised food guide to help Canadians make healthier food choices. Last week another important step was made by the health minister when he and the Minister of Indian Affairs launched the first ever published food guide for first nations, Inuit and Métis in order to assist aboriginal communities in making informed decisions while respecting their traditions.

Can the Minister of Health please inform the members of the House on the status of this new initiative?

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, indeed, after extensive consultation with over 400 aboriginal leaders, as well as dieticians and others, last Wednesday in Yellowknife I was proud to launch the first ever, in Canada, aboriginal food guide with specific recommendations for first nations, Inuit and Métis people.

This is culturally sensitive. It will also help individuals in those groups make the right choices when it comes to their food preferences. Just two days before the red-green coalition was announced, we got the job done when it came to the food guide.

Paillé ReviewOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has just appointed Daniel Paillé to review contracts for polls and their alleged use for partisan purposes.

How can the Conservative government, which claims to be transparent, explain that the review stops at 2003? Why has the government excluded itself from this review? Does it have something to hide?

Paillé ReviewOral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, we have nothing to hide. During the election campaign, we made a promise to Canadians that we are keeping. Furthermore, Mr. Paillé is qualified to review this matter.

HealthOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the False Creek Urgent Care Centre in B.C. is back in business, charging patients hundreds of dollars for basic medical services that should be free. This American style clinic is the exact opposite of what Canadians expect from our health care system. It should be illegal, but the clinic has found a loophole that allows it to stay in business.

Every Canadian has the right to free, universal health care when they need it most, regardless of whether or not they are carrying their chequebooks. Will the Conservatives take action today and put an end to clinics that charge patients for medically necessary urgent care services?