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House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Passport CanadaOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the hon. member that those 500 officers are now fully working. That is why we have been able to increase our capacity by 40% by addressing 20,000 passports per day. As I stated, we expect this backlog to be over by the end of the summer.

Immigration and Refugee BoardOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minority Conservative government is dragging its feet on filling vacancies on the Immigration and Refugee Board as more refugee cases become statistics in the swelling backlog.

The minister has personally claimed that she is filling positions but the fact is that there simply are not enough judges to handle the overload of casework.

When will the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration fill the 60 vacancies on the IRB and get to work on reducing the backlog?

Immigration and Refugee BoardOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the minister commissioned an independent report that has come through with a number of recommendations that the minister has accepted. Part of that is requiring a new process that is more efficient and transparent and that will get positions filled quicker.

One of the aspects of the report indicates that those who go to the position will need to write an exam and pass the exam to qualify. We will ensure that appropriate people are appointed in due course and expeditiously.

Immigration and Refugee BoardOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the Liberal government there were only five vacancies on the board. Under the Conservatives the number has grown to 60.

When he resigned last month, the former IRB chairman said that he had left the minister with 80 qualified candidates to choose from. He also said that the backlog was “growing at a rate of 1,000 a month on the refugee side”.

In her attempts to stack the IRB with hand-picked right-wing appointees, the minister has made a mess of Canada's refugee system.

When will she take immediate steps to resolve the crisis?

Immigration and Refugee BoardOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, in the past, the previous Liberal government appointed friends, family members and those who were not able to pass the test. What we will do is ensure that those who are actually appointed are qualified. Everyone will be required to write an exam and actually pass the exam before they are appointed.

International CooperationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, a demonstration will be held today on Parliament Hill to urge the government to meet an international assistance objective of 0.7% of our GDP.

How is it that the government feels free to invest millions of dollars in military equipment, but when it comes to international assistance, the increases fall well short of the objective of 0.7% of the GDP?

International CooperationOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I would believe that everyone in this House would recognize that in budget 2007 we reaffirmed this government's commitment to double overseas official development assistance. We added $900 million in that budget for the next two years. I do not think that is diminishing. That is increasing.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian embassy's kiosk and that of a private school in Montreal were closed during an education fair in Saudi Arabia. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice closed the kiosks because the representatives working there were women.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs personally lodge a formal complaint with Saudi authorities to inform them of our utter disapproval of how these three women were treated by the religious police?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the embassy in Saudi Arabia has contacted the Saudi Arabian authorities to address that issue. I would like to remind her that it was not the Government of Saudi Arabia that was responsible for it, but the organizers there. We have filed a protest and we are talking to the Saudi Arabian government about it.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that the government has reneged on the Kelowna accord and the residential school apology. It has failed to show respect toward our first nations and aboriginal peoples.

Concerning the matrimonial real property issue, would the minister seriously consider adopting a plan of the Union of Ontario Indians now being reviewed by its member communities? That plan better reflects the inherent legal capacity of first nations and the need to recognize historic aboriginal and cultural values.

We can learn much from our first nations people. Will the government adopt the union's plan?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member from the Liberal Party is interested in matrimonial property. Of course we as a government want to pursue that matter very vigorously. That is why we brought forward Bill C-44.

Some people in Canada might not realize this, but in fact the Canadian Human Rights Act does not apply to first nations people on reserve. It is a shameful situation that has been left with us by the Liberal government.

The Liberals, with all the other opposition parties, have just chosen to put off extending human rights to first nations people until after the summer. They want to go back to their cottages and their country clubs first and maybe think about it a little further.

We are ready to act. We are ready to bring human rights to first nations people.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, for too long Canadian farmers were neglected under the previous Liberal regime. In January 2006 new hope arrived for farmers in the form of a Conservative government.

The Minister of Agriculture continues to lay out some very impressive programs to help farmers from coast to coast. Could the parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture tell the House what the government is doing to help improve the outlook for Canadian farmers?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the short answer to that is very easy. With the help of great members like the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex, we have done a lot.

The government is providing a total of $4.5 billion in new funding to the agriculture sector over the next five years, with $1 billion to fix CAIS, $400 million for cost of production support, and $600 million to kickstart farmer savings accounts. Producers heading out to spring seeding can now access up to $100,000 in interest-free cash advances.

We are working with the provinces and territories. We are providing market choice for barley growers in western Canada. Exports are up in wheats and canola. Cattle shipments are bouncing back.

It is good to be a farmer under this Conservative government.

HealthOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it was November 2004 when Parliament voted to ban trans fats. Since then, a blue ribbon task force of experts agreed to ban trans fats. Restaurants, food manufacturers, doctors, scientists and even municipal governments agree that we have to get this toxic goop out of our food supply.

What on earth is the holdup? What possible excuse does the minister have for not listening to Canadians and banning trans fats now?

HealthOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to assisting Canadians and improving their health outcomes. That is why we brought forward the new Canada Food Guide. After a number of years, we have upgraded this document, which of course lets Canadians know that they should in fact limit their intake of trans fats.

HealthOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the government is telling us the whole story. I think the government will not ban trans fats because the Americans would not like it. Just like the increase in pesticide thresholds, I think American trade concerns are trumping our Canadian sovereignty over our own standards on health and well-being.

I want to know if the government has discussed the banning of trans fats with the Americans. Did the Americans raise this as a trade issue? Will the minister table any documents and correspondence from the American government on our interest in banning trans fats in this country? Will the government table those documents today?

HealthOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, once again I have to make it very clear that our government is very committed to the health of Canadians, even those who fly in black helicopters.

We have indicated clearly in an upgraded and renewed document, the Canada Food Guide, that trans fats are not good for one's health. We are going to continue to make this known to all Canadians.

Status of WomenOral Questions

May 11th, 2007 / 11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, women in Canada earn 71¢ for every $1 a man earns. Our current pay equity legislation is complaint based and has led to litigation lasting over 20 years.

The previous Liberal government committed to introducing proactive pay equity legislation in late 2006 or early 2007. The Conservative government would rather spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lawyers.

When will the government stand up for women and follow the recommendation in the 2004 pay equity task force report and the proactive pay equity motion passed by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women yesterday?

Status of WomenOral Questions

11:55 a.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 talk about this government's commitment to women.

We are putting in over $6 million to combat the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Our government is helping protect women against cervical cancer by investing $300 million for immunization. As well, we are increasing funding to Status of Women Canada, with an additional $10 million, bringing its budget to the highest ever.

This is concrete action and we are delivering it for Canadian women.

International TradeOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, free trade agreements can encourage economic prosperity and raise the standard of living for citizens in the countries involved.

Whereas the Liberals paid no attention to emerging trade opportunities for Canada, this new government has already demonstrated great forward thinking through initiatives such as the Asia-Pacific gateway.

Last week, the Minister of International Trade was in Washington, D.C., at the Council of the Americas. I wonder if the parliamentary secretary would share with us what this new government is doing to improve our economic relations with our partners in the region.

International TradeOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of International Trade presented a clear vision of Canada's trade agenda for the Americas. His message was unambiguous. The Americas are a key priority. To that end, we have already started work with the U.S. and Mexico to further strengthen our NAFTA partnership.

Last year Canada signed a foreign investment protection and promotion agreement with Peru. This is the first such agreement that Canada has signed in eight long years. Negotiation of bilateral trade agreements with Caribbean and Latin American countries is another key part of our plan.

We aim to build--

International TradeOral Questions

Noon

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Etobicoke Centre.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the public accounts committee's investigation of the RCMP pension fund heard new allegations of obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence.

Testimony indicated that Deputy Commissioner Gauvin interfered with access to information requests. Files have gone missing. Just two weeks ago, his executive assistant got into the secure area of RCMP archives before it closed on a Friday in an attempt to access files the committee had requested.

While Mr. Zaccardelli is gone, his deputy commissioner is still in a position to obstruct and destroy evidence. Why?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

Noon

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this government is working to get to the bottom of this scandal, which of course occurred under the previous Liberal government.

Just last week we heard about a former Liberal MP who in fact was engaged in highly questionable contracting schemes to enrich himself at the expense of RCMP members. We learned also that he had brought that information to the attention of Liberal ministers who did absolutely nothing to stop the scam.

Now we are pushing forward with a continued public investigation at the public accounts committee. We have also appointed an investigator who will report back to the minister and publicly.

Human Resources and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, a recent study shows that the federal support program that gives families $1,200 per year is not effective because it hurts public child care, discourages women from working and benefits the wealthy.

Given that these conclusions echo the Bloc Québécois' warnings, does the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development agree that it is time to turn the $1,200 benefit into a refundable tax credit?