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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour will please say yea.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 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 98, a recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 6, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am gaining a bit of a reputation for doing this on various occasions, but I am sure that if you would seek it you would find an eager unanimous consent to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the question I raised in question period relates to the Government of Canada using a fraudulent vote, manipulated by the government itself to get the results it wanted. The minister, although he misinterpreted those results, used the results that he achieved to violate the spirit of the Canadian Wheat Board Act itself. The government failed to abide by democratic principles and put its proposed changes to the House where those changes could be fully debated and the consequences carefully examined. The consequences are increasingly seen to be extremely serious to farmers, to the Canadian Wheat Board and to Canada's international reputation.

The minister proposed regulations that will undermine the single desk selling authority of the Canadian Wheat Board and has proposed that those regulations take effect on August 1 of this year and, in so doing, has disregarded the threat this action has on the integrity of the contracts the Canadian Wheat Board has with its customers around the world. These are serious consequences in terms of the consequences on producers, on the Wheat Board and on Canada's international reputation.

Even the minister's own task force, appointed to undermine the Canadian Wheat Board, did not recommend the actions the minister is taking.

The task force report indicated that the Canadian Wheat Board could find itself in a legally liable position for contract violation. The report states:

The existing CWB may have to exercise restraint in entering into contracts that make commitments beyond the date of termination of the monopoly, to avoid a liability for the CWB II that it is unable to fulfil in the choice environment.

The point being that even the task force stated:

The Government, at an early date, announce its intention to end the monopoly for barley and start marketing choice for barley....

The reason for that being that the Canadian Wheat Board is a marketing institution that makes long term contracts and, hence, gained respect in the world as a reliable supplier, both in quality and on delivery.

As well, all reliable studies show that the Canadian Wheat Board has maximized returns back to primary producers.

Regardless of the facts, the government is taking marketing power away from producers and is putting the Wheat Board in jeopardy, the producers in jeopardy and the domestic and international companies in jeopardy, and we need some answers.

With the government's intent to end the monopoly on August 1, 2007, what will be the cost to the Wheat Board, both in dollars and in reputation? Has the government done any studies in terms of that? Is the government and the minister willing to compensate the Canadian Wheat Board and producers for losses as a result of the government's action?

5:35 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here today and it is especially great to hear the member opposite actually giving credibility to the CWB II, suggested by the task force, and seeing it as a possibility. I do not ever remember him doing that before. I am excited to hear that and to see that he has moved along.

I was disappointed once again, though, to hear him toward the end of his speech defending the big grain companies against the farmers, the producers. Our producers are waiting with great expectation for August 1. Some of them have even asked for the date to be moved up so they can take advantage of the market ahead of that time. It is good to see farmers willing to move ahead, and this government certainly wants to move ahead with them.

The Liberal leader told us months ago that he was going to ask a question per day in the House on the Canadian Wheat Board. I cannot remember the last time the opposition asked a question on the Canadian Wheat Board, and I can tell members one thing, that is not leadership.

The hon. member is attempting to discredit a valid and fair vote, all the while impugning the reputation of a reputable accounting firm. The question that he asked in March had to do with the barley vote.

The questions that were asked in that barley vote could not have been more clear. Barley producers were asked, first, if the Wheat Board should retain its single desk for marketing barley, second, if they wanted to have a choice of who they sold to, and third, if the Wheat Board should get out of marketing barley entirely.

The hon. member said that he wanted Canadians to know that the ballots were numbered and traceable. What he did not say in his question was that the private company conducting the vote had said that the numbered ballots were used only to verify voter eligibility and that separate processes for the verification of the declarations and the tabulation of the ballots were established.

The member also stated that some producers were called to see which of their ballots they wanted counted. He neglected, as he often does, to mention an important fact, which is that the vote administrator had said that the inquiries were to verify the eligibility of farming entities and to confirm with the producer that the farming entity had not inadvertently submitted more declarations than it was eligible for. The administrator, KPMG, declared categorically that in no instance was a producer asked any questions about voting preference.

Finally, the member said in his question that there were no scrutineers from opposing camps. That is not true. Just so Canadians know the truth, I want to let the record show that the counting of ballots was performed in the presence of three senior municipal election officials from the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, who acted as scrutineers.

These scrutineers observed the opening of the sealed secrecy envelopes, the sorting of the ballots, the adjudication of all spoiled ballots, and the counting of the ballots. Each of the scrutineers confirmed in writing that they witnessed the entire ballot count and that they were satisfied that the process was conducted in an independent and objective manner.

Therefore, the question on the ballot was clear and the voting process was independent and objective.

We know that some people do not like how barley producers voted, and the member for Malpeque is one of those people. While they may object to the process of the vote, the real issue is the results. Those show clearly that farmers want to have the freedom to choose how to market their barley.

The government respects what producers have said. Over 60% of producers want to decide how to market their own product. Their decision in favour of marketing choice is clear and the government intends to give them that opportunity in this coming crop year.

I know that farmers are excited about this. We look forward to working with them in those opportunities and choices that they will be making.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Let us keep it simple, Mr. Speaker. The Conservative government is developing a pattern of breaking trust.

On April 20, 110 days after the fact, the minister shut down the Canadian farm family options program and left thousands of farm families without financial means under the program that their financial advisers had told them to plan on. The Conservative government broke its word. It is that simple.

On this issue, the minister is now changing the rules of marketing barley under the Canadian Wheat Board in a timeframe that makes it impossible for the Wheat Board to live up to its contractual obligations. Its own task force told it so. The minister has caused potential legal liabilities to farmers, to companies, to the Canadian Wheat Board, and indeed to Canada's international reputation abroad. This is outrageous.

The Conservative government cannot be trusted, either in terms of democratic principles or in terms--

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, what would the Liberals do? That is the real question. We have heard the Liberal leader say to the prairie provinces that he would ignore the plebiscite. Did he not say that he would roll back any changes?

What would the member for Malpeque do? Would he respect farmers and the choices they have made? I doubt it, because the history of the Liberal Party regarding farmers is one that farmers need to be afraid of. The House leader of the Liberals was the one in charge when farmers were locked up and jailed because they wanted to market their own products.

The problem is that the Liberals have no credibility on this file. Farmers fear them far more than they respect them. They look forward to working with Conservatives who will bring them the choice and the opportunity that they have never had before. It is an exciting time for farmers in western Canada in working with this Conservative government.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the adjournment debate on student programs. Last fall—in September— when the Conservative government decided to make drastic cuts to the old summer career placement program, it also decided to hurt several groups and organizations, small and medium size businesses, and, above all, many students who wanted to go back home and work there during the summer.

The Canada summer jobs program set up by the Conservative government was a real fiasco. The government created a fiasco, and then it was forced—as it said—to come back with a second round of funding. Indeed, the Conservative government panicked because of information provided by Liberal members. This reaction of panic clearly demonstrated that the government's managing of the Canada summer jobs programs was totally inadequate. This was an unacceptable situation that we had been condemning for months, only to be ignored by this Conservative government.

The government cannot say it has not been warned of the problems to come. Even though the government has come forward with a second round of funding, that does not necessarily mean work for students. Who is paying the price right now? As I said, not for profit organizations are paying the price, as are our cities, our towns, our small and medium sized businesses, and our students. They are the ones paying the price, not the government. The government has made mistakes that it is unable to admit. Today, people and organizations are paying the price.

Worse yet, a cabinet minister, namely the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, claims that the problem with the Conservatives' student program is attributable to department officials. It is unacceptable for a minister to blame officials for a problem that the minister and his cabinet colleagues themselves have created.

It is important to remind ourselves of the Conservatives' federal accountability act, designed to address what they considered to be dramatic situations. Let me read this excerpt from the federal accountability action plan, which states: “Under the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for all powers vested in them—”.

It is unacceptable for the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to pin the blame on officials from the Department of Human Resources and Social Development or from Service Canada. The Conservative government is making cuts to student initiatives, adversely affecting not for profit organizations and students. I cannot think of a better way to make sure that our regions empty out and fail to provide work for our students.

In this context, will the Conservative government finally recognize its mistake, its fault, and acknowledge the fiasco it has caused with its so-called summer career placement program? Will it recognize that we Liberals were right after all? Each time I have risen in this House to talk about the summer career placement program, I have done so to sound the alarm, and the government should have listened.

Will the government finally admit its fault and recognize that it should have acted when the concern was raised—not yesterday or last week when it finally reacted in a panic, but when it was told about it, back in September of 2006?

5:45 p.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Madawaska—Restigouche for returning to his question from the beginning of May.

A great deal has happened in the interim. Thousands upon thousands of Canadian students have been given quality work experiences this summer. Importantly, students who are getting grants this year will be getting positions that are higher quality, positions for more pay and for a longer duration than under the old Liberal program.

A great deal more has happened since the member first asked his question. Now the public is well aware of the Liberals' scaremongering and misinformation about the cost of the program which they said was cut by $55 million.

New Brunswickers now know that last year their province received $3.7 million for not for profit opportunities. This year, New Brunswick also received $3.7 million.

Across Canada, not for profit positions were funded to the tune of $77.6 million. This year it will receive $77.6 million.

The member should know by now that a great deal has happened in his region since he first asked the question. He should know that the new program is targeted to areas of high unemployment which benefited his region.

Perhaps the member will choose the rest of his words carefully. While the situation is still fluid at this stage, all indications point to the Madawaska-Restigouche region benefiting more from the new Conservative program in the first round than it ever did under his Liberals.

His constituents should certainly be happy that their new government is getting things done for them. I invite them to pay close attention to his remarks here and now, and measure them against results when all is final.

But even more has happened since the member first asked his question. As we all know, some organizations came forward to express concerns when they were not funded in the first round. Their new government took action.

The minister listened to community leaders and the concerns of the members of Parliament. He asked his department to look into why good organizations did not receive funding this year. He did ask them to accelerate the second round of funding. I am sure most Canadians would be hard pressed to picture the old Liberal government listening and responding to concerns.

Now, officials in the department have worked tirelessly to contact organizations and review their status. Many organizations are lauding the minister and this government for listening and responding so quickly. What has not changed since the member asked his question is this government's commitment to the principles of the new Canada summer jobs program.

The new program is one that focuses on the students. We appreciate the concerns that have been raised. We appreciate the good work of these great organizations. But this program of the youth employment strategy.

We are proud that the new program brings the focus back to students. We are proud to have created better jobs for a longer duration and more pay. We are proud to emphasize quality work experiences in fields that help students and their career aspirations, and so are Canadians.

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear: it is thanks to the Liberal members here in Ottawa that a second round of funding happened at all. Without us, without our efforts during question period and without the pressure we put on the government, the second round would never have happened. It only happened because of the Liberal members here in Ottawa. I am proud to be one of them.

Let us be clear: when the minister answered the question, he said that the organizations that did not receive funding were shut out because they were my friends. It just so happens that a lot of my friends—as the minister put it—received funding in the second round.

Is that because the minister and his government finally recognized their mistake and acknowledged the fiasco that resulted when non-profits, SMEs and especially towns and cities were nearly all denied funding during the first round? Students ended up paying the price. The government must acknowledge its mistake.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, what is really important is how good this program is. It was so well received that even the Montreal Gazette editorial stated:

The Tories also took the right tack on the Canada Summer Jobs program...The previous program gave local MPs far too much say over who in their ridings got money to hire summer students, a system that was ripe for abuse.

We are focusing on creating jobs that would not be created otherwise. Perhaps this member's friends now in fact have created some jobs that meet the criteria. We want to provide funding for students that have long duration and provide high-quality work experiences. Maybe his friends have met that criteria.

We are proud of the program because it is about students and it is for students. The opposition is fighting to restore an old program that allowed MPs to have direct influence in how taxpayers' dollars were spent. We have ended this culture of entitlement. We maintained--

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The parliamentary secretary should know that when the Speaker gets up, she sits down.

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

(The House adjourned at 5:52 p.m.)