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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think it has already been clear. We have already said in the Speech from the Throne, and again in our motion, our desire to see the mission end in 2011.

The Liberal Party has made similar proposals. I have said we will take a careful look at those to do our best to try to find common ground. After all, Liberal and Conservative governments have sent our men and women in uniform into a dangerous situation into Afghanistan. When they are there, they obviously have to work together and I think they expect us to try to work together here.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely, but in order for that to happen we have to have clear answers to clear questions.

So let us try again.

The Liberal position is that after February 2009 the mission will change. We are not going to be doing more of the same. The mission has to go from being an offensive mission to being a security mission, a reconstruction mission, a training mission.

Does the Prime Minister agree that Canada’s offensive mission in Kandahar will end in February 2009?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has clearly said that he wanted the mission in Afghanistan to continue after 2009, until 2011. He has also said that it was still the responsibility of the military leaders to give the orders on the ground, and it was not the role of a politician to tell them how to conduct their operations.

I agree with that.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, does he agree that it is the role of the politicians to establish clearly what the mission is? That is what we are talking about.

Let us talk about another principle the Prime Minister has recognized, a principle that we have been supporting for at least a year, if not more: the rotation principle.

The Prime Minister has talked about the rotation principle. I would like to know whether he talks about it in the telephone calls he is finally making to NATO, for additional troops to replace us in the offensive mission, so we can focus on our training, security and reconstruction mission.

Is the Prime Minister sending that clear message to NATO, even though he is not sending it clearly in this House?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Leader of the Opposition that in the Speech from the Throne the government stated its desire to end this mission in 2011 and also to make the transition from its present role to a training role, as the primary mission of the Canadian Forces. We see the same recommendations in the Manley report.

We hope to work together to achieve a real consensus, a real position that can be adopted by this House and that will serve our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not giving a clear answer to a clear question. He has to understand the rationale for a clear deadline is to set clear targets for our Afghan allies. Unless those clear targets are set, we could be there forever. Does he understand that point?

The point here is to make sure the Afghan allies meet their obligations. Otherwise we are there forever. Does he understand that?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the deputy leader of the Liberal Party has put the situation very well. We need to establish clear targets, as he knows and as is documented in the Manley report.

We already are training the Afghan army and making some progress. We need to set clear timelines for that so we successfully, over the next couple of years, transition this security operation to the principal responsibility of the Afghans themselves.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would point out, with great respect, that without a fixed deadline this will not be possible.

Yesterday, I asked when the military mission would end. The Prime Minister replied: “around 2011”. Well, “around 2011” is not clear, it is not decisive. We have reached the decisive point in our discussions. The Liberal Party is opposed to renewing the mission beyond 2011 for strategic reasons.

What is the government’s position?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government has stated its desire to end this mission in 2011. We said it in the Speech from the Throne and we said it in our motion here in the House of Commons.

I recognize that the Liberal Party has said something a little different, perhaps, but it is more or less the same thing. Obviously we are seeking common ground. Because both of us, Liberals and Conservatives, have sent our troops to Afghanistan to work together, and we should be working together here in the House of Commons.

TransportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities told us that there had not been any political meddling in the appointment of the president of the Montreal Port Authority. However, Joseph Soares, who is in charge of appointments in the office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and Dimitri Soudas, who is the Prime Minister’s press secretary, met with the port’s board of directors in order—and I quote—to “express a preference” for Robert Abdallah.

Does the Prime Minister understand that there is political meddling going on when an important official in his office and an important official in the office of his Quebec lieutenant express their preference for a certain candidate?

TransportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I understand that all governments have expressed their preferences about various decisions, but what matters ultimately is that this was a decision for the port board of directors to make. The port made its decision, and the government accepts and supports it.

TransportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the meddling consists just in going before a board of directors and not in whether it was successful or not. The government is starting to make a systematic practice of this. Breaking-and-entering is a crime regardless of whether it was successful or not.

Is meeting with a board of directors to inform them of the government’s preferences not just like the kind of meddling that the Liberals used to do? Maybe the Conservatives are just not as successful as the Liberals were in these kinds of operations.

TransportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the decision was made by the board of directors of the Montreal Port Authority and not by the Government of Canada.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, a study of recent procurement shows that Treasury Board, the Privy Council, the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Works and Government Services award a disproportionate share of contracts that, strangely enough, are just under the $25,000 mark, the point at which it becomes obligatory to call for tenders.

Even worse, how can the President of Treasury Board explain the fact that, on at least five occasions, Treasury Board awarded to a sole supplier two contracts of the same value for the same work on the same day, unless this was a strategy for circumventing the rule—

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The President of Treasury Board has the floor.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the contracts mentioned in the media were routine contracts administered by departmental officials with no input or direction from the minister or political staff.

All of the Treasury Board Secretariat's contracting is done within Treasury Board guidelines. No rules have been broken at any time and no one is even claiming that any rules were broken.

The work was awarded to qualified providers who performed on time and on budget.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative ethics spokesperson has confirmed that his party is keeping its options open so that in the next election it can use the same tactic that was criticized by Elections Canada, whereby the Conservative Party was able to spend $1.2 million in 2006, in violation of the law.

Is this refusal to promise not to cheat again in the next election not proof of the culture of wheeling and dealing of the Conservative Party and the Conservative government?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 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, all our election financing practices are legal and above board. The same cannot be said for the Parti Québécois. I remember the inquiry conducted by Justice Moisan, who concluded that the Parti Québécois had knowingly and illegally received $96,400 from Groupaction between 1995 and 2000, through an organized system of disguised contributions for past or future favours.

HealthOral Questions

February 14th, 2008 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, sadly, over 5,000 Canadian families will lose a loved one this year due to breast cancer, while 22,000 more women will be diagnosed.

We as a country have to do everything we can and use all the tools at our disposal to make cancer history. The current government is weakening women's capacity to fight back by callous cuts to the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, cuts that were started by the previous government.

Can the Prime Minister explain how starving the Canadian Breast Cancer Network of desperately needed funding is going to assist women and their families to fight breast cancer?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am told we are not terminating any such funding. On the contrary, this government has introduced a national cancer strategy led by the Minister of Health in collaboration with partners around the country.

This is a very serious problem that touches virtually every Canadian family. This government wants to work with the provinces and with providers to make sure we do everything to minimize the occurrence of this tragic disease in the future.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the government cannot be trusted on this, and let me tell the House why.

During the past campaign the Conservative Party told the Canadian Breast Cancer Network that if the Conservative Party formed government, it would, and I am quoting now, “ensure that”--the network--“is able to continue helping Canadian families meet the challenges of breast cancer with grace and dignity”. Instead, the government is cutting its funding. The network's offices are faced with having to close. These are the kinds of networks that can help women to fight back.

Can the Prime Minister explain to the thousands of women battling breast cancer why he comes up with corporate tax cuts but--

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Health.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the House realizes that nothing could be further from the truth.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network did approach us because it had concerns about the funding arrangement that had been agreed to with the previous Liberal government in 2004. We on this side of the House have committed to continue to fund the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.

As the Prime Minister indicated, we have created a world leading approach to fighting cancer with the provinces and territories, with oncologists, and with cancer survivors. That is our commitment: to fight cancer across this country.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is a walking ATM, dispensing cash to his political friends.

His untendered contract for $122,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. The finance minister has also handed out over 100 contracts to other cronies at just under $25,000, also to dodge the tendering rules.

Why is the finance minister using taxpayers' dollars to pay off IOUs from his failed leadership bid in Ontario?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite refers to me as a “walking ATM”. I am at best a fire hydrant, I would think. I would like to be an ATM. Someday I look forward to growing into an ATM.

We have been open and transparent about these contracts. They are listed on the finance website as part of proactive disclosure for anyone to see.

The people who were hired on contract were skilled professionals who did good quality work for the money. These people worked on highly confidential documents, budget documents. They were people I could trust.