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House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was human.

Topics

Forestry IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, today in Donnacona, 252 workers will lose their jobs because of the crisis in the forestry industry. Despite the demonstration held last Sunday, which I attended, along with the member for Trois-Rivières and 1,500 others, the AbitibiBowater mill will shut down indefinitely. This is one of the consequences of the Conservative government's inaction. Efforts to reopen the mill will continue with the help of a coalition of elected members, community representatives and union members.

The Bloc Québécois is calling on the government to finally take this crisis seriously. We will not let the Conservatives get away with their insufficient aid plan that is conditional on the passage of the budget. It is blackmail. Assistance for the manufacturing and forestry industries is the Bloc's priority. We want the Conservative government to invest $5.5 billion, not a measly $1 billion.

Sustainable DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are those in life who merely talk and those who take action, like Tree Canada, which has planted more than 75 million trees in 10 years.

That organization helped me calculate the carbon emissions of the activities of the Lévis and Lac-Etchemin constituency offices and our office here on the Hill. We calculated a total of 20 tonnes of CO2 a year. To offset those emissions, I intend to plant 166 trees in cooperation with the Comité de restauration de la rivière Etchemin, thereby becoming, with the certification of Tree Canada, the first carbon-neutral federal MP.

This will be a Canadian first, much like the Canadian plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, thanks to binding targets for all large industrial emitters. This is on top of the $2 billion for the ecoenergy program, $1.5 billion for the ecotrust and $2 billion for renewable energy.

As you can see, rather than spouting rhetoric while offering nothing, I am taking concrete, local action, as is our Conservative government, to make Canada a leader in sustainable development.

YouthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Kaydance and Santana Pauchay and to the community of Yellow Quill reservation in Saskatchewan.

I now would like to share the wonderful story of young Jessie Krejcik from NDG. On February 9 and 10, she will attempt to become the youngest person to earn the Coureur des Bois Gold Bar in the Canadian ski marathon.

Young Jessie, who is 13 years old, will cross-country ski 160 kilometres in two days, while carrying a back pack weighing at least five kg and camping outside overnight on February 9.

The individual effort required to complete in such a race is remarkable and that she is doing it to raise money for children's cancer treatment and research is truly commendable.

I am proud to support Jessie's campaign and call on my fellow parliamentarians and all Canadians to make a donation in Jessie's name to a children's hospital of their choice.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the second anniversary of the Afghanistan Compact, a milestone agreement between the United Nations, the government of Afghanistan and the international community.

The Afghanistan Compact provides the framework for the international community's engagement in Afghanistan until 2011.

When it was developed, Canada was there, along with 60 other nations and international organizations, to pledge its full support to the compact. Our country was instrumental in ensuring that the compact included a mechanism to monitor programs and measure progress.

We have joined with the international community to help the people of Afghanistan build a better future. We know many challenges lie ahead but we are encouraged by the significant progress Afghans have been able to achieve since the fall of the Taliban.

Our support for this important agreement is a noble endeavour, that of helping a country devastated by decades of conflict and oppression to get back on its feet.

Outdoor Caucus of Parliament HillStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House of Commons one of the greatest caucuses on the Hill, and I am not just talking about the NDP caucus. I am talking about the outdoor caucus, which is organized by the member for Yukon and the member for Yorkton—Melville.

Prior to the break, we were treated to a wonderful reception. We were honoured by the presence of Mr. Bob Izumi, a great sports fishermen who has the greatest life of all: He gets to fish anywhere on the planet. Also present were: Mr. Phil Morlock of Shimano Canada; Mr. Barry Turner of Ducks Unlimited Canada; and Mr. Greg Farrant of the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters. Mr. Tony Rodgers of the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation and Mr. Walter Regan of the Sackville Rivers Association were there in spirit.

Those people, along with this caucus, are promoting the great life of outdoors in Canada. It brings tremendous economic opportunity to all Canadians and we would like to preserve the great outdoors for future generations.

Hip, hip, hooray to the outdoor caucus of Parliament Hill.

Northern Lights Trade Show and ConferenceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, this week, the nation's capital is playing host to the Northern Lights 2008 trade show and conference.

Northern Lights is a multi-industry event which is bringing together business, community and government leaders from Labrador, Nunavut and Nunavik to highlight the economic opportunities of these northern regions of Canada.

This initiative of the Baffin Regional and Labrador North Chambers of Commerce will build links between the corporate world of the Canadian south and the emerging economic and resource powerhouses of the Canadian north.

Northern Lights will also showcase the artistic and cultural richness of these regions through visual and performing arts.

At its heart, Northern Lights is about resilient and aspiring peoples whose rich history have helped shape this great country and whose future is as bright as the amazing aurora borealis on a clear winter's night.

I welcome my fellow northerners, some who are in the gallery today, and congratulate the organizers on putting together an informative and diverse package of speakers, workshops, sessions and entertainment.

I extend an invitation to all members to take in Northern Lights 2008.

Fleur-de-lysStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Gaudet Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 21, 2008, Quebeckers celebrated the 60th anniversary of their national flag, the fleur-de-lys.

On January 21, 1948, at 3 p.m., the national flag of the people of Quebec was raised atop the Quebec National Assembly for the first time. That very morning, the government had granted it the status of official flag of Quebec. The flag is only a little over half a century old, but all Quebeckers can identify with it.

A number of events were held to celebrate the 60th anniversary, bringing together citizens of all backgrounds and beliefs in testimony to our allegiance and attachment to Quebec, the Quebec nation and our flag.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesStatements By Members

January 31st, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, after the Shermag plant shutdowns and the temporary closures, today the AbitibiBowater plant in Dalhousie is closing.

This closure affects the Restigouche area, where nearly 1,000 jobs depend directly or indirectly on the plant, and represents an economic loss of close to $70 million. It is truly an economic and human disaster.

Instead of taking action months ago, the Prime Minister waited until the crisis had affected thousands of people before offering assistance. Even worse, he politicized the issue by making the financial aid conditional on the adoption of the budget. What is more, the Conservative government eliminated the $1.5 billion in aid announced by the Liberal government in 2005, which could have prevented these tragedies.

The Conservatives' aid announcement has not stopped the plant closures and the layoffs, and there is proof of this daily. There is nothing for plant workers, nothing for workers at the port of Dalhousie, nothing for forestry workers. All the Conservatives should be ashamed of abandoning the communities, the workers and their families.

Leader of the OppositionStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, once again we are seeing weak leadership from the Leader of the Opposition who has failed to make passing our tackling violent act a priority.

Our government's Bill C-2 would better protect our children from sexual predators, protect society from dangerous offenders, get serious with drug impaired drivers and toughen sentencing and bail for gun crimes.

Bill C-2 was passed by this democratically elected House and has widespread support from Canadians and yet the Leader of the Opposition has failed to direct his Liberal senators to pass this legislation quickly.

Why is the Liberal leader so allergic to leadership? Why does he refuse to stand up for the safety of Canadians? The opposition leader is weak and could never be entrusted to lead our country. Furthermore, he has revealed the true agenda of the Liberals. They are just like members of the NDP. They talk tough when it is time for an election but Canadians know they are soft on crime.

Only one party continues to stand up for safe streets and communities and--

Leader of the OppositionStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. Oral questions.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today we heard reports that the government was allowing Afghan forces to take detainees directly during joint operations alongside Canadian mentors.

Because this is not technically a transfer, the detainee transfer agreement does not apply, but beyond technicalities are the immoralities of this practice.

Will the Prime Minister tell Canadians if this unacceptable practice is occurring, yes or no?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as we train the Afghan forces to take more responsibility for the security of their own country, I think it can be assumed that they would also be taking more responsibility for all aspects of the mission.

I must admit that I am completely baffled by the perspective of some in the opposition that somehow Canadian Forces would not do any military operations in Afghanistan but we would take prisoners.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, once again Canadians have heard their Prime Minister refuse to answer a very clear question. I will therefore repeat it in French so that he may clearly answer whether or not, during joint operations, it is being left to Afghan forces to take prisoners and then transfer them to the Afghan detention system where they could be subjected to torture by that government. Yes or no?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I assume that if Afghan forces take prisoners, they are responsible for the detention of these prisoners. If we take prisoners, they are our prisoners and we have an agreement with the Government of Afghanistan governing the nature of these transfers. Our Canadian Forces can transfer them if they believe it is in their operational interests.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we will get there. The Prime Minister understands the question very well. We are speaking of joint operations. During joint operations, who takes the prisoners? Do the Afghans or the Canadians keep them under their protection? It is a simple question. Prime Minister, what happens during joint operations?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. Leader of the Opposition knows very well that he is to address his questions to the Speaker even if they are for the Prime Minister.

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, these are operational matters. I would assume that if Canadian Forces seize the prisoners they are in Canadian custody and if Afghan forces seize the prisoners I would presume they are in Afghan custody.

As we train the Afghan forces to take over more and more of the responsibility for their security operations, of course they will be taking over more and more responsibility for these various aspects of the security operation.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians continue to learn the truth about the situation in Afghanistan from the newspapers because the government will not tell them the truth.

The government's attempt to circumvent the military's decision to stop detainee transfers is absolutely troubling.

Will the Prime Minister finally come clean with Canadians and admit that it was his government that issued this new policy to circumvent the detainee ban?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, in short, no, we will not admit this because the policy has not changed.

The Prime Minister has clearly stated, as I have stated, that the policy remains the same. Operational matters around the subject of transfers of prisoners are in the hands of the best people in the world to do so, and that is the Canadian Forces.

We stand behind the Canadian Forces.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know the government will never admit the truth. We know that and Canadians know that. The government has never levelled with Canadians on the transfer of detainees.

I will turn to the Minister of Public Safety and ask him a question. We know Canadian Forces conduct joint operations with Afghan soldiers. There are prisoners detained by those Afghan soldiers. Do Correctional Service Canada officials have access to and the ability to inspect those detainees?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of members of Correctional Service Canada because when people volunteer, and these people are volunteers, to go to a country like Afghanistan they do so knowing the risks.

We are very pleased with how those individuals have been working with Afghan authorities, DND and others in the process of trying to demonstrate the types of things that we do here in this country which can guarantee or at least further the causes and interests of human rights everywhere. They are doing a great job.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when asked about his press secretary, Dimitri Soudas, who intervened in support of Michael Rosenberg, president of Rosdev and great friend of the Conservatives, in a dispute with Public Works and Government Services, the Prime Minister said in his defence, “the company received no advantages or special treatment”.

In other words, the Prime Minister's press secretary used political interference, but that does not matter to the Prime Minister, because nothing ever came of it. That is like saying a failed attempt at burglary is not a crime. Is that the Prime Minister's idea of ethics?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I categorically reject the allegations of the leader of the Bloc. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Soudas was looking into an issue. He approved government decisions and those have not changed in two years. That company did not receive any special treatment from this government. That is the key difference. Now the Bloc can complain that the government does not grant anyone any favours.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker,that appears to be the very definition of “mixed up”.

By way of explanation, the Prime Minister told us that this is old news that goes back a year and a half. If I understand correctly, while the Prime Minister was presenting his accountability bill to the House, a year and a half ago, his press secretary was wheeling and dealing on his behalf, in his office, in favour of a party supporter.

Does that not further prove that this government's ethics are nothing more than a facade used for partisan purposes?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, again, it is quite the opposite. We did not grant that company or that individual any favours. Mr. Soudas said that a Montreal city councillor approached him about an issue and he set about looking into it.

That is the nature of the work ministers and staff do here: they have a responsibility to look into issues. That is not interference, it is how the government works. Mr. Soudas was doing his job.