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House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ethanol.

Topics

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, if those members want fiction, listen to what they have to say on detainees.

The facts are that Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, intervened on a government file. He ordered senior ministerial staffers, including a chief of staff, to attend meetings designed to influence a $50 million deal. He did this to help a land developer that a party fundraiser described as “someone who is powerful, who is important” for Conservative votes and money.

The Prime Minister called the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry because it touched the office of the Prime Minister. What will the Prime Minister do now that this has touched his office?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 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, let us summarize this latest scandal the Liberals have dug up. No favours were handed out, very different from the Liberal days.

Let us remember the Liberal days. That is when we would have seen the member for West Nova giving a grant as ACOA minister to a wharf and boat yard where his brother in law has a monopoly. Perhaps we can remember the member for LaSalle—Émard suggesting changes to legislation and introducing a bill that benefited Canada Steamship Lines, his company. That is when favours were handed out.

On this side, we do not hand out favours for political reasons. We do what is right for the people of Canada.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in response to a question that I put to him, the Prime Minister said: “—the hon. member asked a question about a community development trust. The government has no reason to delay granting this money.” Yet, when this fund was announced, the Prime Minister said that he had to wait for the budget to grant the money.

My question is simple. Will the Prime Minister act now, without waiting for the budget? Will he introduce a bill to implement an assistance plan, for which the manufacturing and forestry industries have an urgent need?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are in the process of working out agreements with all the provinces and territories for the community development trust. I hope that we can finalize these agreements as soon as possible, and I also hope that all the parties in this House will support this major fund.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing preventing the government from acting now. It does need any signature to do so, nor does it need to wait for the budget. After blackmailing parliamentarians with his announcement a month ago, when he made it conditional on the budget getting through, he is now going even further by saying that he needs the provinces' signatures to free up those funds.

Nobody is fooled. The only thing that is missing here is the political will to implement this initiative. What is he waiting for to provide the necessary funds to our manufacturing and forestry industries?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we cannot spend money without having concluded legal agreements with the provinces, or without the approval of this Parliament. I hope that these agreements will be signed and that we will get the support of Parliament as soon as possible.

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

January 30th, 2008 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the events surrounding Chalk River highlighted the fact that the problem is not limited only to the safe use of nuclear energy. This matter exposed this government's penchant for interference. In unceremoniously dismissing the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Linda Keen, it fired someone who did not share the Conservative philosophy.

Will the Prime Minister admit that Ms. Keen's dismissal was merely a means to cover up the incompetence of Atomic Energy of Canada and to send a message to the public service, specifically, that the Conservative way is “my way or the highway”?

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, first let me state that our government took full responsibility. That is in fact why we acted.

We followed a number of logical steps in dealing with both of these agencies to resolve this matter, followed by a cabinet directive, and ultimately bringing a bill before this Parliament when it was clear that this reactor should be resumed to ensure that we do not put people's lives unnecessarily at risk.

We acted and every single member in this House supported that legislation, every single party. Now they want to change their minds. That is not responsible.

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General pointed out that the minister's intervention could be construed as interference with the agency's independence. The first purpose of the minister's intervention was to protect the commercial interests of Atomic Energy of Canada and the Conservative plan to promote nuclear energy.

Will the minister admit that he chose to defend the commercial interests of Atomic Energy of Canada in this affair and that, to achieve his ends, he did not hesitate to get rid of someone who did not share his way of thinking?

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, that is absolute, complete nonsense.

If the member wants to talk about the Auditor General, in fact she was asked about this licensing issue and she said, “With respect to licensing, yes, we would have been informed of that, but we asked those questions and there was no indication that there was a problem with licensing”.

It became very clear that this reactor could resume operations safely and I am very pleased to report to the House of Commons that AECL has in fact completed the upgrades and this reactor is safer than it ever was before.

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' bungling of the Chalk River fiasco has given Canada's stellar record on nuclear safety a black eye. The respected British journal, New Scientist, says Canada is “sending out a dangerous message over nuclear safeguards”.

How can the Conservatives expect rogue countries to uphold international nuclear standards when the Conservatives themselves are trampling all over them for cheap partisan reasons? Could this be the Conservatives' way of getting their nuclear House in order?

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the only bungling here is the Liberal Party position, because the Liberal members do not know what they stand for. They change their minds every day.

It was very clear. Our government acted responsibly, completely within our authority. We brought all the technical experts from AECL, from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and independent experts, put them before this House until every last question was answered, and every member, every party of this House, agreed that it was the right thing to do, that this reactor could be operated more safely than it was before. It was completely safe.

It was unnecessary to put the lives of Canadians at risk. That was not acceptable to this government and we were not prepared to do that.

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not agree with the firing of the nuclear safety commissioner. Communities that host nuclear reactors do not trust the government when it comes to the nuclear safety regulator. The city council of Kincardine unanimously passed a motion calling on the Conservative government to stop meddling in the independence of the nuclear safety regulator.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why does he not listen to Canadians who live near a nuclear reactor? Why does he not respect the independence of the nuclear regulator, and more important, why does he not fire that incompetent minister?

Chalk River Nuclear FacilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, again, the Liberals do not know what they stand for.

This matter was brought before Parliament. It became absolutely clear that there was not an issue of safety, that this reactor would be absolutely safe, and that we needed to overrule the regulator. Everyone supported that. That is in fact what this Parliament did.

We have to ensure that we are not put in that position again and allow that to happen. That is why we have taken decisive action and we stand behind that action.

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's attack on the public service, science and the truth does not end with Linda Keen.

Arthur Carty was the national science adviser to the Prime Minister until the Prime Minister eliminated that position. Dr. Carty was a voice of reason on climate change, stem cell research, resource management and the environment.

What inconvenient truth from Dr. Carty led to his dismissal? Does the Prime Minister not realize that his attack on science is making Canada look like the flat earth society?

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this is a preposterous assertion. Dr. Carty is a respected Canadian whom I hold in very high regard.

Under the science and technology strategy, which this government has put forward, there is an intent to focus the science and technology strategy to harness more resources. There is a group of extremely distinguished Canadians headed by Dr. Howard Alper who will be assisting the government.

These are Canadians who are well known and well respected in science. They will be working with us in order to focus our science and technology strategy. The individual in question is held in high regard by me.

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Dr. Carty's firing has sent shock waves throughout the Canadian and global scientific communities. There is one other national government that has downgraded the role of the national science adviser. That is the Bush administration.

Is it an inconvenient truth that the Prime Minister is more interested in following Bush's advice on science than he is interested in following the advice of real Canadian scientists like Arthur Carty?

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, what is inconvenient is that my friend is not acquainted with the truth. He is certainly not acquainted with the truth on this particular issue.

The intent of this government is to strengthen the science and technology strategy of Canada. A great deal of what I work on is directed to do that.

Dr. Howard Alper is one of the most respected Canadians in science and technology. He has assisted the government of Australia in focusing its efforts. He has a very well respected group of Canadians who are focused on this.

At the end of the day, my friend I think will be forced to retract much of what he has said here today in the House.

KenyaOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are becoming more and more concerned about the increase of violence and political unrest in Kenya. Recently, our government committed $1 million to the international Red Cross to support its efforts in Kenya and this is good news.

Can the Minister of International Cooperation tell the House if the government plans on providing any additional help to the Kenyan people?

KenyaOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are very concerned by the events occurring in Kenya and that is why Canada was one of the first countries to respond. I quickly announced $1 million in emergency funds to react to the violence arising out of the disputed election.

Violence has increased, so today I am announcing an additional $3.3 million to alleviate the suffering of Kenyans. Canadians hope that a peaceful resolution can be found soon.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the allegations with respect to one of the Prime Minister's closest advisors are serious. It appears that Dimitri Soudas intervened on behalf of some Conservative friends. The conflict of interest laws are clear. Even perceived conflicts of interest must be avoided.

Will the Prime Minister as least suspend his spokesperson, Dimitri Soudas, until the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner investigates the matter?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 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, I would like to quote a former minister of the Liberal government, Jean Lapierre.

This morning he said that, after hearing the CBC report and reading the article in La Presse, he had to admit did not see a smoking gun and did not see a scandal.

He added that, in his political experience, dating back to 1974, any citizen can make a request to the prime minister's office, who may then forward it to the minister involved, that it is not a privilege to have a meeting and that any citizen has the right to be heard.

He also added that in his day, under the same circumstances, he would have—

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is unacceptable. Mr. Soudas is a key Quebec adviser working in the heart of the PMO who set up a meeting with public servants over a real estate deal and the government's response is “that's how we in the Conservative Party do business”. This stinks of the old Mulroney era and the sponsorship question.

My question is simple. Is the Prime Minister going to send a directive to his staff that these kinds of meetings are okay, or are they going to be stopped?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 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, I understood it when the Liberal Party was upset that special favours were not handed out. I am surprised to hear it coming from the NDP.

However, let us be clear. At no time were departmental officials asked to change the strategy they had for dealing with the file. At no time were departmental officials pressured or asked to change their strategy. That is a fact. The other fact is that no special favours were handed out and no favourable treatment was accorded. It is something that people should be praising, not condemning.