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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigrants.

Topics

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

After receiving his letter, I uncovered secret cuts made by the previous government. The former Minister of the Environment, who is now the Liberal Party leader, is the one who made those cuts.

I would like to tell the House that the government does not intend to close the Bas-Caraquet weather station, and that I would be pleased to work with my colleague to find the funds needed for this important file.

Tourism IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week I met with the stakeholders of the tourism industry and they are upset with the government.

The Minister of Transport is not allowing air access to Canadian airports. The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development is not helping with staff shortages. The Minister of National Revenue has taken away the individual GST rebate and has denied adequate customs services. The Minister of Industry has cut promotion. Finally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has failed to get approved destination status for China.

Hello? Does anybody over there care about the tourism industry?

Tourism IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this government cares about the tourism industry. If we want to find a former Canadian government that did not care about the tourism industry, it sits on that side of the House. It did absolutely nothing to advance the interests of Canadian tourism.

This minister is dealing with the issue. The former Liberal government did not do anything.

HousingOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. Given the fact that the human resources and social development committee is about to embark on a very important study of poverty in Canada, and in light of recent meetings with the minister's provincial housing counterparts yesterday, can the minister tell us what this government is doing to help Canadians struggling in poverty with regard to affordable and social housing in Canada?

HousingOral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the member's leadership as the chair of the human resources committee. He does an outstanding job.

Last night I was pleased to have very warm and constructive meetings with my provincial and territorial colleagues. We agreed to work together on these important issues. I was very pleased to point out to them that we are now providing more resources for the building of homes for vulnerable Canadians than any government in history. They were very pleased to learn that.

Government ContractsOral Questions

April 3rd, 2008 / 3 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Independent Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Public Works called for bids on the Victoria class in-service support contract, the department apparently accepted the most expensive proposal. When I applied through access to information to confirm this, I was sent a really nice chart, but all the numbers on it are blanked out.

Therefore, would the minister confirm that the bid chosen was the most expensive, highest priced tender, and would he now table the complete chart with the numbers so we can all see what the tenders were?

Government ContractsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague is very interested in this file, and rightfully so, in that it is an important one, but his comments on this in public have been entirely premature. This issue is in fact before the courts. No final decision has been made. I would be glad to work with my colleague to get him whatever information he is looking for.

I know that all members of the House from all parties welcome him back to the House and wish him a full recovery. It is great to see him back in the House.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, on the business of the House for the coming week, I wonder if the government House leader could provide the agenda that he has in mind beyond the budget bill, which of course is preoccupying the House now. I would also like to ask him two specific questions.

First, Bill C-21, dealing with aboriginal human rights, has been dealt with extensively in a committee of the House of Commons and has been reported back to the House. It has been sitting on the order paper ready to be dealt with by the House since the 30th of January. I wonder if he could tell us when he intends to call Bill C-21 to be finally dealt with in the House.

Second, it was three weeks ago today that this House adopted a motion pertaining to the mission in Afghanistan. That motion calls explicitly for the creation of a special standing committee to provide greater transparency and accountability with respect to that mission in Afghanistan. It is important that that committee be struck immediately. I wonder if the government House leader could indicate his intention with respect to the establishment of the committee on the Afghanistan mission.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 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 start by thanking the opposition House leader for performing his basic parliamentary duty by asking the Thursday question. We have missed it once or twice. I believe it is important that this government have the opportunity to inform the House of its legislative agenda for the coming week.

Today we have started to debate the budget implementation bill. It incorporates the measures that were announced in budget 2008 and adopted by this House on two different occasions.

These are prudent, focused, responsible measures, including the tax-free savings account, $350 million for the Canada student grant program, and more money for police officers, the environment, health, and infrastructure for our cities.

We will continue to debate the bill tomorrow as well as throughout next week. The government has read reports that the opposition is going to delay and obstruct the passage of the bill. I hope that does not happen.

Next week will be improving the health and safety of Canadians week. A number of measures will be announced to accomplish this goal.

I cannot provide any details on these exact measures, but I am sure hon. members will agree that these are excellent initiatives that will improve the health and safety of Canadians.

Next week we will also debate changes to the Judges Act, Bill C-31; the Senate amendments to Bill C-13, our legislation to amend the Criminal Code in relation to criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other matters; and Bill C-23, which amends the Canada Marine Act.

The government will also debate—and pass, we hope—important bills to enhance the economy and accountability. There will be Bill C-33 to regulate a renewable content of 5% in gasoline by 2010, and a 2% requirement for renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012.

We will also debate Bill C-5, which deals with responsibility in the event of a nuclear incident, Bill C-7, which amends the Aeronautics Act, and Bill C-29, to create a standard process for dealing with loans made to political parties, candidates and associations.

I would like to indicate that next Tuesday will be an allotted day.

In terms of the question on creating a committee of the House regarding Afghanistan, I thank the member for his question. We did receive a letter from him asking about that yesterday. We appreciate the support of this House of Commons for the motion, which has allowed the Prime Minister to travel to Bucharest and obtain the commitments that have been obtained from our NATO allies and allow that mission to continue.

We do believe it is important for that committee to be formed so it can operate shortly, and we will be proceeding with that soon.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the latter item is very important. In light of the time that has passed by, three weeks, and the NATO meetings are now essentially concluded, could the government House leader give us the assurance that the striking of that committee will take place no later than next week?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that the opposition House leader is familiar with some of the challenges we have had at committee. One of the committees that is challenged right now, because of some of the procedural wrangling, is the procedure and House affairs committee, so at this point in time I am not sure I can give him that commitment.

We hope that those kinds of issues can be resolved and we can move smoothly with these matters, as we have in the past.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, as the government House leader knows, this matter does not have to be dealt with by the procedure and House affairs committee. It can in fact be dealt with directly by the House of Commons itself. It is very important that this committee be established.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

What's the point of having another committee where you guys are operating?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the opposition whip is heckling on the subject. I will resist the temptation now to respond to him because I want to stay on the substance of the issue.

The Afghan mission is important. It is possible to have this committee up and running next week. I would ask the government House leader to see that that happens in the public interest of transparency and accountability.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The Chair has notice of a couple of points of order.

We will first hear the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

Oral QuestionsPrivilegeOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on March 13, 2008, I rose in this House on a question of privilege concerning the fact that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages had misled the House.

This week, on April 1, the minister said:

Mr. Speaker, on March 13, 2008, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst rose on a question of privilege regarding the invitation I received to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I responded as follows and I quote:

Appearing before the committee is a ministerial responsibility. Since being appointed, I have had the privilege of appearing before the committee on several occasions, most recently on December 6, 2007. I will be pleased to appear before the committee to discuss the next phase of the action plan as soon as I have finished working on it.

Thus, it was an unfortunate misunderstanding and I will indeed be pleased to appear before the committee when the action plan is presented.

The invitation was extended to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages because the Standing Committee on Official Languages was studying the action plan. I think that the minister neglected to read the first page and the last paragraph of the letter she sent the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages on February 25, which reads as follows:

It would be premature for me to appear before the committee concerning the follow-up to the action plan before I have even had an opportunity to read Mr. Lord's final report. I will not be able to provide you with any further information for your study, because we are still working on the plan. I must therefore respectfully decline the committee's invitation.

This is where she misled the House.

I do not want to take up any more of the House's time, but I do want to set the record straight. I have a recommendation to make if you should recognize that the minister misled the House, because I am talking about the House, not the Standing Committee on Official Languages. She told the committee that she would not be coming. She declined the invitation and refused to appear, but she told the House of Commons that she had not refused, that she had appeared in December and that she would be appearing once the action plan had been completed.

That was not the issue. We wanted her to appear before the committee while it was studying the action plan. She declined that invitation. With respect, we just want her to say that to the House of Commons and not to mislead the House.

If she refuses, I would like the matter to be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for review.

Oral QuestionsPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 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, as I understand it, there was a concern the Minister of Canadian Heritage had in her answer indicating she was prepared to appear before the committee, and in some way there was a misunderstanding among the other members about when she was prepared to make that appearance. I believe that with the letter that was tabled with this House some weeks ago and with her comments here on Tuesday, she certainly clarified that.

The hon. NDP whip may not be pleased with her indication that she is going to appear after the second phase of work is completed. However, that is what she said and I believe that her explanation adequately clarified her answer that was left unclear in the House, at least in the minds of some.

Oral QuestionsPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to engage in a debate on this matter. I have the minister's letter, which says, “I must therefore respectfully decline the committee's invitation.”

Mr. Speaker, I would like you to rule on this matter in this House.

Oral QuestionsPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I appreciate all the points made by hon. members on this matter. I have heard enough. I will consider everything I have heard and come back to the House soon with a decision.

The hon. member for Louis-Hébert on a point of order.

Statements by MembersPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the statement by the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, a Bloc Québécois member, the hon. member for Montcalm, used unparliamentary language, as usual. He does this quite often. We do not usually bring it up, but today he went too far.

I would like the hon. member for Montcalm to withdraw the remarks he made during the statement by the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Statements by MembersPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the hon. member is not here we will take note of what the hon. member for Louis-Hébert has just said and we will ensure that this behaviour is rectified.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, during oral questions, sometimes members have a tendency to get a little carried away with some of their comments. I would like to think that is what happened with the member for Don Valley East when she asked her question today. She said, and I quote, that the government views immigrants as a liability. I found that particularly hurtful. I would like to ask the member for Don Valley East to withdraw the comment and apologize for making it.

I may have been born in Peterborough, but I am the grandson of an immigrant family. Our entire caucus is enriched by members who come from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, as well as religious backgrounds. We value each and every one of them. I found that comment to be particularly hurtful. In the name of my grandparents who have departed, I cannot possibly let that stand without requesting an apology.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am sure the hon. member for Don Valley East will have a look at the submission of the hon. member for Peterborough and we will hear her in due course.