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House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Abitibi-Témiscamingue International Film FestivalStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 11, 2007, the Festival du Cinéma International en Abitibi-Témiscamingue was awarded the Mercuriades prize, given by the Quebec federation of chambers of commerce.

The festival distinguished itself in the leisure and culture category for the outstanding quality of its content and the originality of its related events, by highlighting the talent and resources of Quebec society.

Over the past 25 years, the Festival du Cinéma International en Abitibi-Témiscamingue has become invaluable to those who work in the film industry, both in Quebec and internationally. The festival presents films from around the globe to an audience of devoted movie goers. The visionary founders of this regional film festival did the right thing, and it has become a force to be reckoned with.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to congratulate Jacques Matte, Louis Dallaire and Guy Parent, the founders of the Festival du Cinéma International en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, who have made it the success it is today.

Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to lead that party that, 25 years ago, gave Canadians the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The very essence of the Charter affirms that equality among all Canadians—men, women and children—is the keystone of our democracy.

Well before the charter, Canadian women struggled to see their rights recognized, including the right to run for office, but now, having this right is not enough.

The fight for equality starts at the heart of our democratic institutions. We need more women in Parliament and in government to ensure that the voices of all Canadians are heard. The Liberal Party is committed to that.

Member for SherbrookeStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that the member for Sherbrooke used the resources of the House of Commons for commercial advertising.

In fact, in the past few days 270 residents of his riding received mail addressed to them from the office of the Bloc member. When they opened it, they found a brochure from a Sherbrooke business. This was paid for by Canadian taxpayers.

After repeatedly denouncing the Liberal culture of entitlement, and patting themselves on the back for asking more than 450 questions about the sponsorship scandal although they could not put an end to it, we have the Bloc Québécois using taxpayers' money for business purposes. The last thing Quebeckers want is a windbag misusing taxpayers' money.

Quebeckers can be reassured. Thanks to the Conservative government, the Federal Accountability Act ensures that there is greater transparency and will help Canadians regain confidence in the integrity of the democratic process.

Women and Political ParticipationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the low participation rate of women in politics is a blemish on democracy in Canada and Quebec. As democratic people, we cannot sit idly by; we all have an obligation to take action immediately.

Women compose 33% of the Bloc Québécois caucus, making it the federal party in Quebec with the highest number of women elected in the last election.

But that is not enough, especially since the Conservatives, through their inaction, are decreasing the percentage of women in this House, lowering it to 48th in the world, as the multi-partisan organization Equal Voice points out.

The organization also says, “Political parties can be catalysts for change. All that is required is political will on the part of party leaders to make a difference”.

The Bloc Québécois has that political will and we are committed to increasing the number of female candidates from our party in the next election. In the spirit of a truly representative democracy, we are challenging the other parties to do the same.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

April 17th, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Law Commission, the court challenges program, federal funding for legal aid, and a fair and non-partisan judicial selection process, all cancelled by the Prime Minister in an attempt to undermine the charter.

Why does the Prime Minister not use this historic day to correct his mistakes and reinstate these measures that are so important to the integrity of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the question from the Leader of the Opposition is important. However, if you do not mind, I would like to take a minute to say a couple of words about the tragedy yesterday in Virginia.

We have learned that a Canadian was among the victims in Virginia yesterday. I am sure that the thoughts and prayers of everyone in this House are with her and her family.

When we saw the events overnight, it is really almost impossible to comprehend why an individual would take his own life and that of so many others in this way. I think we can all say that our thoughts are with all the victims, their families and the community.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition would like to join the government in conveying its condolences to the families affected by this terrible tragedy.

I now give the Prime Minister the opportunity to answer my first question.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition knows we have a difference of opinion on the efficacy of some of these matters. They may be important things to lawyers, but I look at some of the things this government has done to promote rights in this country, like addressing the historical injustice of the head tax, dealing with victims of hepatitis C and the residential schools legacy.

We brought in measures to protect the rights of women and children from acts of criminality. I think probably most important of all, we have a piece of legislation before the House to protect and extend the most important right of all, the right to vote and the right to vote for the representatives in the Senate of Canada.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister did not answer my question at all.

I repeat: the benefits of the Charter are too valuable to let people undermine it because of negligence or spite. There are too many battles to be fought, too many rights to be won.

Why, then, does the Prime Minister want to take away Canadians' ability to defend their Charter rights? Will he take advantage of the opportunity provided by this day of celebration to reinstate the court challenges program?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government believes that instead of paying lawyers, we must act to protect citizens' rights. This government and those that preceded it supported the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All parties in this House supported it. Today, we continue to support it.

This party has a proud history of human rights protection, not just with the charter, but beginning of course with the first legislative act: the Bill of Rights of Mr. Diefenbaker in 1960. It is an important legacy that this party defends.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Prime Minister to show that he is in the tradition of a progressive Conservative.

The Prime Minister must find a way to celebrate the charter, instead of being mute about it. A good way to show that is to say that he will make sure that all Canadians have access to the benefits of the charter, whatever the size of their wallet.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition talks about being mute on rights. Where was he when the historic injustice of the Chinese head tax was not fixed? Where was he when the Air-India inquiry was never properly constituted? Where was he when a residential schools agreement was never signed? Where is he when we are trying to pass legislation to protect the rights of women and children from criminals in the country? Where was he when we recently agreed to the United Nations rights on the declaration of the disabled?

The government is acting on rights, unlike the record of that government which did not get the job done.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in some astonishment. I am still waiting to hear the Prime Minister of Canada, in the House, welcome the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as an enhancement of our liberties. I have not heard it.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously the deputy leader of the Liberal Party was not listening to my answer in French when I said precisely that. In fact, not only does this party support the charter, I, as some of us know, have been in court on a number of occasions to actually promote human rights in the country.

I am glad, as a government, that we are able to actually advance some of these rights.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, many countries make a point of helping their aerospace industry. When Brian Mulroney was prime minister, he took concrete action to help the aerospace industry, especially in Quebec, where the industry is concentrated. However, there are four representatives from Quebec in cabinet and they cannot even lift a finger to ensure that Quebec receives its fair share of the aerospace contracts.

How can the Prime Minister justify that his Minister of Industry, who comes from Quebec, lowered Quebec's share of the spinoffs for all future contracts to 15% when Boeing had set Quebec's share at 30% for the C-17s?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we have already indicated and I will say again that this government will not tell Boeing who to conduct business with. Why? It is quite simple. The primary goal of this government is to ensure that the Canadian Forces get the better equipment they need at the best possible price.

Telling Boeing who to do business with would not be economically viable. It would increase the cost of military procurement on the backs of Canadian taxpayers. Unlike the Bloc Québécois, this government does not score political points on the backs of Quebeckers.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government is not telling Boeing what to do, Boeing is telling this government how to spend taxpayers' money. That is the reality.

We are not afraid of standing up for Quebec. In the words of Sue Dabrowski, the general manager of the Quebec Aerospace Association:

The federal government has a responsibility... We must [use the economic spinoffs] to protect the industry in Quebec, exactly as the government did to protect the auto industry in Ontario.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for to stand up and ensure that Quebec receives its fair share?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised at the Bloc Québécois' criticism. The Bloc Québécois should read its own platform before criticizing our military procurement for our soldiers. If we relied on the Bloc Québécois platform, there would not be any industrial spinoffs for Quebec since the Bloc Québécois is against the procurement of cargo planes. It is a very simple equation: no C-17 planes, no economic spinoffs for Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois is being truly inconsistent on this.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry keeps saying that Quebec's aerospace industry will be able to hold its own, be competitive and get sub-contracts for Boeing's C-17 aircraft.

How can the minister demonstrate such bad faith knowing that his government gave the contract to Boeing without issuing a call for tenders, and knowing that Boeing's activities compete with Quebec's industry rather than complementing it?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we decided to do business with Boeing for one simple reason: it is the company that can provide what our military personnel need.

It is important to consider that we want Canadian businesses to keep positioning themselves for the long term in Boeing's supply chain. We want the economic spin-offs to be good and effective for all parts of Canada.

Unlike the Bloc Québécois, we are working in the best interest of Canadians, especially Canadian taxpayers.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, a spokesperson for Boeing said that the company was having problems giving sub-contracts to its competitors in Quebec. By failing to require that 60% of the economic spin-offs from this contract end up in Quebec, the Minister of Industry has put the Quebec aerospace industry in a very difficult position. He should admit that his colleague, the Minister of National Defence, is a far better lobbyist for the aerospace industry in Ontario and western Canada than he himself is for Quebec's aerospace industry.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, rather than try to convince Quebeckers that it is useful here in Ottawa, the Bloc Québécois should congratulate our government for all of the business opportunities we have made possible for aerospace companies in Quebec and Canada. Canadians will benefit from economic spin-offs totalling more than $13 billion over 20 years.

Before it gets too critical, the Bloc Québécois should ask itself what it could have done for the aerospace industry. The answer is simple: nothing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the tragic events at Virginia Tech University bring back memories of the shootings at the École polytechnique and Dawson College. It is truly shocking. We offer our condolences to the family of Jocelyne Couture-Nowak and the families of all the people who were wounded or killed at Virginia Tech.

When the Minister of National Defence is talking about a deployment in Afghanistan that could last 15 years, the Prime Minister has a duty to table his plans. Will the Prime Minister wait until the last minute again to unveil his plans for Afghanistan to Canadians?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this Parliament has approved the mission in Afghanistan until February 2009. If the government wants to extend that mission, it will obtain Parliament's support.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Let us hope, Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives do not do it the same way they did last time, with a last minute motion and a debate that was not permitted to be fully conducted by the Canadian people. That is not the right way to set this sort of strategy.

This kind of improvidence we have seen before. The Department of National Defence has just missed a deadline in Federal Court to respond to a case started by Amnesty International with regard to the treatment of Canadian prisoners in Afghanistan. The government could not even follow the simple court rules, so it is now having to ask for an extension. The Minister of National Defence has already had to apologize on this general matter.

Which is it to the Prime Minister? Is it incompetence or is the government trying to hide something?