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House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copenhagen.

Topics

Tobacco SmugglingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we are working with all the authorities to address this problem as soon as possible.

Tobacco SmugglingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's efforts to curb smoking, especially among young people, are being thwarted by the Conservatives' laissez-faire attitude toward tobacco smuggling. While the minister is asleep at the switch—that is the case—our high schools are being flooded with cheap cigarettes from smugglers.

When will the government implement a marking and tracing system so that tobacco is not sold on the black market once it leaves the factory?

Tobacco SmugglingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we actually have a very robust anti-contraband tobacco strategy that is being implemented and members will observe that it is being implemented very successfully. Seizures of contraband tobacco and charges this year are up significantly as a result of the excellent work of our police forces in implementing the strategy. We will continue to do that.

As members will recall, I recently implemented and made permanent the shiprider arrangement whereby we can, together with the Americans, police our joint maritime borders where a lot of this kind of trafficking has happened in the past. We think it is a serious problem. We are serious about tackling crime and we will continue to do so.

ChildrenOral Questions

November 20th, 2009 / 11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is National Child Day, which commemorates both the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

However, the Conservative government has failed Canada's children. It failed to create any new early learning and child care spaces, eliminated choices for families and failed to provide the best start possible for our children.

Why is the government so against giving our children all the tools we possibly can to give them the best start in life?

ChildrenOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is really interesting that the Liberals would raise a question like that since it is our Conservative government that is now spending three times more than the previous Liberal government on early learning and child care. The Liberals have no credibility on this subject.

It is through our universal child care benefit that we have taken 57,000 children out of low incomes. We have also enhanced the transfers to the provinces which have announced that they are creating over 62,000 new spaces for child care.

ChildrenOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that there is no choice for parents if there are no additional spaces. It is as simple as that.

The economics of it are unquestioned. It is one of the biggest job creators and one of the biggest returns on investment. It is even supported by the Bank of Canada.

We need to invest now to have the smartest, most skilled labour force on the planet but the government cancelled the early learning and child care agreements with the provinces, and the minister knows that. The Conservatives just do not get it. It is also about the early development of a child.

When will the Conservative government invest in children and their future in this country?

ChildrenOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member's earpiece is not working, so I will say it again.

Our government is investing three times more than the previous Liberal government ever did in early learning and child care The big difference between us is that we believe parents know best how to raise their children. We introduced the universal child care benefit so that parents could have a choice in how their children are raised in the early years and they could have the financial freedom to follow that choice, which is something the Liberals opposite never believed in. They said that parents would only spend the money on beer and popcorn. Shame on them.

PensionsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, AbitibiBowater is presently under bankruptcy protection and is in the process of restructuring. However, during that process, a $1.3 billion pension fund shortfall was discovered. The retirement income of more than 30,000 Canadian families is now at risk.

The management of AbitibiBowater and its partners at CEP have agreed to a plan to overcome this shortfall but it requires government action from both the provincial and the federal governments.

Will the Minister of Finance please agree to meet with the company and union representatives before December 1 to help secure these pensions?

PensionsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important question because it impacts a lot of Canadians who are concerned about their pensions.

In fact, the federal finance minister has agreed to meet with both parties. The member for Kenora has already met with AbitibiBowater but the Minister of Finance has encouraged the parties to meet with the provincial governments first, because it is their jurisdiction, and then he will sit down and meet with them.

PensionsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, if Canada had a national pension insurance plan like Britain, Japan, Switzerland, Germany or even the United States have, then the workers and retirees at AbitibiBowater, Nortel, Air Canada and the other companies across Canada with troubled pension plans would not need to worry about losing their pensions.

When can the workers of this country, Canadian workers, expect the government to take real action on pension reform and institute a national pension insurance plan?

PensionsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will share with all members of the House that I actually had a meeting in my office this morning with the member. He is working with the government to ensure all Canadians have adequate incomes to retire on. We just wish some of the other parties on the other side would catch up.

We have put in place a retirement income working group, which is the finance ministers of all the provinces and the federal finance minister, that is now studying the matter and will be reporting back. The working group will be coming forward with those results very soon.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade AgreementOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement provides a unique opportunity for Canadian exporters to secure duty-free access to a market where their main competitors have none. This kind of advantage is critical for exporters relying on tight margins to survive and grow, but the NDP and the Bloc, with support from the Liberals, have been holding up this important economic bill for more than 33 hours.

Could the minister of state tell the House why we need to stop the delays to get Bill C-23 moving?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade AgreementOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, Canada's deal with Colombia is good for Canadian business but economic opportunities and human rights are not mutually exclusive. We are talking about an agreement that will bind Colombia to tougher labour and environmental standards and improved human rights. More important, we are creating legitimate jobs and opportunities for Colombians looking for alternatives to narco trafficking.

I want to join the Council of Chief Executives and Canadian manufacturers and exporters in urging the opposition parties, all of the opposition parties, to pass Bill C-23 without any further delay.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the port of Canso sits at the heart of the fishing industry in Chedabucto Bay. The Guysborough County Inshore Fisherman's Association reports a recent increase in the amount of illegal fishing activity in the area, along with a spike in the number of transient fleets and recreational boaters. However, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has announced its intention to abandon the current operational centre in Canso. The community has come forward with a number of possible solutions.

Will the parliamentary secretary assure us today that he will have the minister commit, on her part, to ensure that office stays open where it belongs, in the town of Canso?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the conservation of fisheries resources is our highest priority in DFO. Fisheries officers must be located where they can do their jobs most effectively.

DFO's analysis of its operational requirements has led to a consideration of moving some offices in eastern Nova Scotia to improve their efficiency but no decisions have been made as yet. Consultations are taking place with the community. If the member has some information that he thinks we should consider as we make this decision, we would be happy to receive it.

Lobster IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the transitional measures program for the lobster industry is penalizing harvesters in the Magdalen Islands who shouldered their responsibilities by implementing conservation measures in the past. This week, the minister announced that she had approved applications for compensation from harvesters throughout Atlantic Canada. Yet harvesters in the Magdalen Islands are telling us that the programs do not apply to them and that their requests for assistance have gone unheard.

Can the minister tell us how many lobster harvesters in the Magdalen Islands will receive compensation under this program?

Lobster IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the program to which my colleague refers, the short-term transitional measures program, was put in place by our government to support lobster dependent harvesters who are most seriously affected by the downturn in the wholesale price due to the global economic recession.

Eligibility criteria were put in place after extensive consultation with all parties and we have been receiving applications since September 22. Over 1,000 applications have been approved, about $5 billion have been disbursed and more applications will be received.

Airline IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week we learned that the transport minister's office has been trying to sabotage efforts to pass Bill C-310, the air passengers' bill of rights. The Conservatives have been working with airline executives to kill the bill, putting their lobbyist friends ahead of Canadians' interests.

The European court of justice in Luxembourg has ruled that passengers are entitled to compensation for flight delays, the same as for cancellations and overbooked flights.

Will the government follow the lead set by the EU and put passengers first? Will it work with us to pass the bill of rights?

Airline IndustryOral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we understand the real concerns with respect to families, small business people and others who use our airlines. When they experience delays, whether it is mechanical, administrative or with regard to weather, we certainly are prepared to work with the industry and with all members of the House.

I know his bill is before committee. As it is currently written, many of us have serious concerns about it, and particularly the effects it would have on rural parts of Canada which have smaller airports that are dependent on airlines.

However, we look forward to the committee hearings, the clause-by-clause discussion, and further debate on this bill.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. and Canada are each other's largest agricultural trading partners.

In 2008 bilateral agricultural trade totalled approximately $37 billion. However, the country of origin labelling measure created by the United States imposes an unfair and unnecessary cost on our integrated North American supply chains.

Could the Minister of Agriculture inform the House and Canadian farmers on where the government is going next in fighting COOL?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

Noon

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to announce today that the World Trade Organization has established a dispute settlement panel to hear our challenge on the U.S. country of origin labelling. We are putting farmers first and we are confident that we will win our challenge.

However, the Liberal Party is alarmingly out of touch with agriculture and our livestock sector, and it would have us abandon this challenge. Just listen to what Bob Russell, who is the former Liberal candidate in Edmonton—St. Albert and was recognized as the Liberal of the year in 2007, said, “COOL appears to be an idea whose time has come and that our producers should meet this demand”.

The Liberals need to get on side with Canadian farmers.

Ferry ServiceOral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General says Marine Atlantic is on the verge of not being able to provide the ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. This is not news to the people of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia who have repeatedly asked to have the continuous problems plaguing the crown corporation fixed.

While Marine Atlantic needs a long-term plan, there are immediate needs that must be addressed now. Chronic mechanical breakdowns and docking problems are common. Band-aid solutions are not acceptable any more.

I ask the Minister of State for Transport, what immediate plans does the government have to fix the problems plaguing Marine Atlantic?

Ferry ServiceOral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns that the member has raised, not just those that have been reported by the Auditor General but also from her constituents and others in Newfoundland and Labrador and on the mainland in Atlantic Canada.

Since 2007 the government has committed an additional $416 million for Marine Atlantic which includes $98 million toward a five year charter agreement for the MV Atlantic Vision.

We recently also announced $9.5 million of funding to deal with shore-based priorities in Cape Breton. We are committed in the long-term to Marine Atlantic. We are committed to work with the member and everyone to make it a better service for those in the east.

Human RightsOral Questions

Noon

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, today around the world Transgender Day of Remembrance is being marked to remember transsexual and transgender people who have died due to transphobic violence.

In Canada transgender people face violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, in health care and in housing.

Will the government introduce legislation to add explicit protection for transsexual and transgender Canadians in the Canadian Human Rights Act? If not, will the government support private members' legislation to add gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination?

Human RightsOral Questions

Noon

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, our government is of course strongly committed to protecting Canadians from all forms of criminal violence and indeed protecting all Canadians. I should underline that.

That is why we introduced the Tackling Violent Crime Act and had it passed by the House. That is why we are looking to repeal the faint hope clause. That is why we are eliminating the bonus credits for time served for those who are facing prosecution for serious violent offences.

As for the specific legislative suggestions the member has made, I am happy to share those with the Minister of Justice.