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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Federal ByelectionsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, today the House of Commons will welcome our newest Conservative MP, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, who won in the recent byelection by campaigning on the priorities of local families: lower taxes, safer communities and strong leadership for the economy.

With his background in law enforcement and his knowledge of issues affecting northern Saskatchewan, it is clear that the newest government member will provide a very strong voice in the House.

The Conservative byelection victory is also an endorsement of the strong leadership and real results people see from our Prime Minister and our Conservative government.

This win also highlights the fact that today there are more Conservatives and fewer Liberals in the House of Commons than there were following the last federal election. As well, since the last federal election, as shown in the nine byelections, Conservative support has consistently gone up and support for the Liberal Party has gone down.

Canadians are making it clear that they also trust the leadership of this Prime Minister and this government because we are getting the job done.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to invite all of my hon. colleagues to visit the Tolerance Caravan, which is being hosted all day today in room 256-S Centre Block by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity.

This is an initiative of the Tolerance Foundation, a Montreal-based organization created to raise awareness about the consequences of exclusion, prejudice, racism and the most unspeakable of crimes, genocide.

On this 14th anniversary of the Rwandan tragedy, blood is flowing in the streets of Lhassa, villages have turned into bloody battlefields in Darfur, and yeshiva students have been murdered in Jerusalem.

In the shadow of these events and in the light of the message of hope offered by the caravan, I invite my fellow parliamentarians to visit the Tolerance Caravan. There will also be a reception today at 4 p.m. in the same location, 256-S Centre Block.

Gerard KennedyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Liberal leader appointed Gerard Kennedy as unelected critic for intergovernmental affairs.

I would like to quote some statements made by Mr. Kennedy on bilingualism and Quebec. First, the new unelected critic opposed the resolution to the effect that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada, which is obvious. Then, he said: “We are all part of Canada”. He also said that he joined the race because he feared that Canada would be split, not just because of old battles, but also because of major new challenges. He even suggested that it was not necessary for a Liberal leader to be fluent in French. According to him, “this is not something that is cast in stone”.

Does the Liberal leader share the same small thinking as his new critic? If not, he will have to quickly call him to order and tell him to show greater clarity.

I have more news for the Liberals: the open federalism practised by the Conservatives works for Quebec, and it also works for Canada.

TibetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is a global day of action in support of Tibet. Earlier today I spoke at a rally in my riding which is home to the largest number of Tibetans in Canada, most of whom arrived as refugees. They try to maintain their language, culture and religion which have been denied in Tibet.

This latest military crackdown has sadly resulted in loss of life and many hundreds in detention. China must allow entry of international human rights observers and the media into Tibet.

Tibetans are not calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, an honorary Canadian citizen by a unanimous vote of MPs, yesterday in a letter to the people of China reached out and extended a hand inviting dialogue. He has reassured China that he is not seeking independence, but rather, true autonomy for Tibetans.

We urge our government to keep the pressure on China to stop the oppression and begin the discussion to resolve this crisis.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 17 six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation were sentenced to six months in jail on contempt charges for protesting mining exploration on their traditional land.

Yesterday I travelled to the Thunder Bay correctional facility to meet with Chief Donny Morris who is being held there with Jack McKay, Sam McKay, Darryl Sainnawap and Bruce Sakakeep. Cecilia Begg has been sent to a facility in Kenora.

I met with the chief to communicate to him my support for his community that has been left without leadership in this difficult time. When in Canada do we throw the entire leadership in jail for standing up for their community?

I have spoken with many of my constituents who are very concerned with the way in which this situation has been handled and who are concerned that this decision will violate rights that have already been established.

Mining exploration is an enormous opportunity for first nations in northwestern Ontario, but communities must be consulted before the process begins. We must support communities, not punish them, when they are fighting for their rights.

I urge that all involved re-examine the situation and strongly consider the needs of the people of the Big Trout Lake First Nation.

Magdalen Islands TragedyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday night, while the Acadien II was being towed by a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, it struck ice and capsized off the coast of Nova Scotia, throwing its six crew members into the sea. Although two crew members were rescued, three others died and one is still missing.

It is with sadness that I acknowledge the tragic loss of these four seal hunters who disappeared in the performance of their duties: the fishing boat owner, Bruno Bourque, captain Gilles Leblanc and the hunter who was also a talented hockey player for the Restigouche Tigers, Marc-André Deraspe. The missing hunter is Carl Aucoin.

The Bloc Québécois extends its most sincere condolences to the families and friends of these four sailors and to the Magdalen Island community and it commends the two survivors, Bruno-Pierre Bourque and Claude Deraspe.

Forestry IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the growing challenges facing the forestry industry in Canada are abundantly evident in my northwestern Ontario riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

As a Liberal MP, it is with great pride that I can reflect upon the tremendous support that my party has shown for forestry. It has been significant even though I have been in Parliament for a short time.

For instance, in November 2005, the Liberal government introduced the $1.5 billion forestry competitive strategy. Shockingly, it was cancelled by the Conservative government shortly after it came to power.

Given today's far more dire circumstances, the Conservatives' lacklustre support for the Canadian forestry industry continues. By ignoring the Liberal leader's call for a national forestry summit, the Prime Minister has essentially turned his back on the many Canadians who are hurt by this ongoing crisis.

At meetings of the natural resources committee, Liberals have led the charge to help deliver help to the forestry industry. A Liberal motion has put into action a study by the committee into the challenges and opportunities facing this sector.

Federal ByelectionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome the latest addition to the Conservative caucus, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. I congratulate him on his upset victory over yet another candidate who was hand-picked by the Leader of the Opposition.

Today on the Liberal ship known as the SS Titanic, the captain welcomes some new deckhands, all elected from safe Liberal seats. This does not hide the fact, however, that the Liberal Party has seen both its vote share and seat count shrink since the 2006 federal election.

Since 2006, the Conservative Party's vote share across nine byelections has gone up 4% while the Liberal Party's has gone down by 5.5%. That is a 10 point spread in favour of the Conservatives, a gain of three new seats for the Conservatives while the Liberals have lost six. These are the facts.

No amount of Liberal hot air and spin about the three latest devotees of the absentee opposition party, or the lifeboats they supposedly bring, can hide the fact that the Conservative government continues to grow in members and popularity with Canadians, while the Liberal Party continues its plunge into the depths of the icy ocean.

Now the Liberals have four captains to go down with the ship.

New MembersRoutine Proceedings

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of Mr. Rob Clarke, member for the electoral district of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River; Ms. Martha Hall Findlay, member for the electoral district of Willowdale; Ms. Joyce Murray, member for the electoral district of Vancouver Quadra; Mr. Bob Rae, member for the electoral district of Toronto Centre.

Rob Clarke, member for the electoral district of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, introduced by the right hon. Stephen Harper and the hon. Gerry Ritz.

Martha Hall Findlay, member for Willowdale, introduced by the hon. Stéphane Dion and Mr. Anthony Rota.

Joyce Murray, member for the electoral district of Vancouver Quadra, introduced by the hon. Stéphane Dion and Mr. Don Bell.

Bob Rae, member for the electoral district of Toronto Centre, introduced by the hon. Stéphane Dion and Mr. Anthony Rota.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canada is a country that proudly welcomes people from all around the world. That is why it was a shock when, without any warning, the government introduced last-minute sweeping changes to our immigration system in a budget implementation bill.

Instead of presenting independent legislation, why is the government trying to sneak in these changes through the backdoor?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am still trying to recover from the shows of affection over there.

In terms of immigration reform, the Minister of Finance included in the recent budget some funds to effect some very important immigration reforms. These are necessary. The previous government left us with queues of hundreds of thousands of people who wait for years to get into this country to fill necessary jobs. It is unfair to immigrants, unfair to Canada.

That is why it is a confidence measure. That is why it is a part of the budget. We appreciate the support of the Liberals to that a goal.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this has nothing to do with the waiting list and everything to do with the exorbitant powers the government wants to give the minister to choose who can and cannot come to Canada.

Given what we know of this government's ideology when it comes to immigration, will the Prime Minister admit that Canadians are entitled to a full and open debate in this Parliament on the disturbing powers it wants to give the minister?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, this government, and the Minister of Finance, included essential funding in the budget to reform immigration. Under the Liberal government, we had six-year waiting lists. That is totally unacceptable and totally unfair to immigrants.

We are in the process of reforming this system. That is why it is a part of the budget and why it is a confidence measure. I appreciate the Liberal Party's support for these reforms.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, under the current system, any person who wants to come to Canada has the right to apply and to be considered. This is one of the reasons why Canada is such a great country. However, the government wants to deny some people the right to have their application considered.

Why is the government telling the world that immigrants need not apply?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is not only completely false, it is exactly the opposite of what this government is doing.

Under the previous government we had 800,000 people, approaching a million, sitting on a waiting list for six years while vital jobs went unfilled in this country. That is unacceptable to Canada and unfair to immigrants.

We are cutting the landing fee in half. We are getting the system reformed so that immigrants are treated fairly and get to this country as quickly as they do in our competing countries that are letting in immigrants a lot more quickly than we are. We need them. That is what we are doing.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, the government snuck changes to the immigration system into the budget and it hoped Canadians would not notice but they did notice. They noticed that the minister will be able to cherry-pick from the queue, not reduce the queue, and keep families that applied in good faith from ever being reunited.

Will the government separate the new immigration regulations from the budget and allow Parliament and Canadians the chance to debate these radical and unwelcome changes?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, over the course of their tenure in government, the Liberals allowed the backlog to balloon from 50,000 to over 800,000.

Now, because people must wait five to six years to get here, we are losing much needed talent to other countries. We need that talent here. We need to ensure our systems are streamlined so we can get the people we need to fill the jobs so businesses can stay in business.

I appreciate the support of the Liberals in our budget.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the sudden change in the immigration policy raises the question of its application in the province of Quebec. It is not clear whether the new powers the minister wants to assume are compatible with Quebec's immigration policy.

Can the minister explain, in a concrete manner, how her new discretionary powers will affect immigration management in Quebec?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is quite simple: the amendments we have proposed will have no impact on the immigration agreement between Quebec and Canada.

Seal HuntersOral Questions

March 31st, 2008 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by offering my sincere condolences to the families of the four seal hunters who were lost at sea, and to all of the people of the Magdalen Islands. This is the worst tragedy the Magdalen Islanders have experienced in 15 years. Many questions remain unanswered with respect to the Coast Guard's involvement in this incident. The Coast Guard has not yet commented on the tragedy.

Will the Prime Minister launch an in-depth public inquiry into all of the issues surrounding this terrible tragedy?

Seal HuntersOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. The Magdalen Islands tragedy was indeed terrible. I am sure that the victims and their families are in the thoughts and prayers of all members of this House.

In the days to come, there will be a number of investigations, and these investigations will all be public.

Seal HuntersOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Prime Minister to clarify the answer he just gave me. I know that the reports will be made public. However, I would like to know if there will be public hearings so that everyone involved in the industry and the seal hunt can talk about what happened.

Will this inquiry be truly public?

Seal HuntersOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I expect there to be a number of investigations, including a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation, a Canadian Coast Guard investigation, and a Fisheries and Oceans Canada investigation by an independent party. There may also be an investigation by the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board. I believe that all results of those investigations will be made public.

Seal HuntersOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Magdalen Islanders and the family of the man who was not found are very disappointed in the Canadian Coast Guard's lack of compassion. The Coast Guard did not even inform the missing sailor's family members that the search for him had been called off. They found out about it in the media. The Canadian Coast Guard did not contact the family before making that hasty decision.

Does the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans think that process and that lack of compassion were appropriate?