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House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghan.

Topics

Anti-Crime LegislationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dona Cadman Conservative Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the born-again crime fighters in the opposition just showed their true colours. Despite all the public posturing over the last few weeks coming from those opposite, the Liberal, NDP and Bloc facade was revealed.

This morning, all opposition members voted to delay debate on measures aimed at fighting organized crime and drugs. After pressure from this government, they finally decided to pass an organized crime bill at second reading. What about our other bill aimed to crack down on drugs in this country?

Anti-Crime LegislationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that Canadians will finally see the second reading passage of our bill to crack down on organized crime and gangs in the country.

Next on our list is the drug bill that would send out the right message to anybody who wants to get into the grow op business, start selling drugs to kids or start bringing narcotics into this country. The message is that they will go to jail. I would like to see that bill get passed in one day because for once I want all the opposition to our crime agenda to be coming from gangsters and drug dealers and not from across the aisle.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Questions

March 26th, 2009 / 2:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, because of the Conservative government, more than 800 people are going to lose their jobs at the CBC. The Conservatives think it is okay to do away with local radio news at noon across the country, to cut the television news by half an hour in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere, to lay off two thirds of the employees at the Windsor station—they may as well close it—and to slash youth-oriented news programs such as RDI Junior.

We know that the Prime Minister dislikes the CBC so much that he does not even give interviews to the network. Is that any reason to destroy Canada's public broadcaster?

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, during the 2006 and 2008 election campaigns, we made a specific promise to Canadians. We said we would increase or maintain the budget for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. With each of our budgets, we have delivered the goods and kept our promise. That is what we have done. Now, though, here in this House, the NDP is making itself out to be the great defender of the CBC, even though it has voted against the CBC in our budgets year after year. It has voted against the CBC. That is terrible.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are now seeing crippling losses at CBC in Windsor, Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

While we are talking about pink slips, he should be giving them to the Conservative MPs from Quebec who will pay for his decision to blow 260 jobs yesterday in Montreal alone. These job losses were completely avoidable. All it required was his signature so that they could get a bank loan or bridge financing, and it would not have cost the taxpayer a money.

Why did the minister put an ideological vendetta ahead of the public interest of Canada?

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, frankly, does not know what he is talking about.

The president of the CBC said publicly that even if the CBC were extended a loan of $125 million, it would still be laying off people. This is the problem with broadcasters in this country, public and private. There is a massive drop in ad revenue for all broadcasters in this country. It is not the fault of taxpayers.

Taxpayers elected our government on our campaign commitment to maintain or increase funding for the CBC. We have done our job but the NDP, of course, voted against those increases in funding.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, although the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism claims that he is reviewing the unacceptable appointment of Pharès Pierre, the latter is currently undergoing training as a board member and already has been assigned an office at the board. In reality, the minister is doing absolutely nothing. A number of board members are refusing to work with Pharès Pierre because they believe he is unworthy of the position.

Does the minister realize that his inaction is a disgrace to our immigration system?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman in question was recommended to the government for appointment to the IRB by the IRB, in accordance with a pre-selection system that we have adopted. The chair of the IRB is responsible for candidates recommended to the government. We accepted the recommendation and he was appointed. It is up to the IRB chair to deal with IRB members.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the appointment of Pharès Pierre, we would like to point out that of John Cryer, a Conservative supporter and homophobe. The list of new board members also contains at least two other well-known Conservatives: Darcy Tkachuk and Cheryl Walker, an aspiring Conservative candidate and fundraiser.

Will the minister admit that his government is continuing the old Liberal practice of making partisan appointments?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I will not. The IRB appointment system was radically changed to prevent the kinds of problems we had under the Liberal government. All candidates for consideration are recommended after a pre-selection process that is independently managed by the IRB.

Since I was appointed minister, there have been more than 40 board members appointed to the IRB and four of them may have had previous ties to the Conservative Party.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, since last fall, when the Prime Minister said that there would be no recession, that the stock market was a good buy and that the government would not run a deficit, 300,000 Canadians have lost their jobs and another half a million are at risk.

Employment insurance claims have shot up but still tens of thousands of jobless Canadians do not have access to EI, even though they paid the premiums. The issue is eligibility.

Will the Conservatives change the rules to make EI benefits accessible now to those thousands who are already innocent victims of this recession?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I would have thought that the hon. member, given his years of experience here in the House, would understand the EI system by now. Eligibility is adjusted automatically every month, region by region, in 58 regions across the country.

As local economic conditions worsen, automatically every month the eligibility gets easier. People can claim EI benefits faster and for a longer period of time.

If we waited to do it through legislation or regulation, people would not get the benefits they are getting now.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the existing EI eligibility rules were devised for an economy enjoying the best economic growth since World War II. Those times have sadly passed. The nation has plunged into recession and the EI rules designed for boom times no longer fit.

Is it really the Conservative position that a worsening recession, destroying more and more jobs, is actually a good thing because that means more people will eventually become eligible for EI under the now outdated formula? Does the minister now recognize how cruel and ruthless that is?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the way the system works right now is best exemplified in Oshawa, which, unfortunately, has seen a lot of job losses in the last 12 months.

People in Oshawa right now can claim EI with two weeks less work time to qualify. They will get the benefits for four weeks longer, plus the five weeks that we have just added on through our economic action plan.

That system adjusted itself automatically to the worsening conditions. That is a good system. By the way, it was the Liberals who designed that system.

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve to know that the food they are putting on their families' table is safe.

During the deadly listeriosis outbreak last summer, the government assured Canadians that 2,000 new meat inspectors would be put on the job. They were not. Now we hear that it has suspended the listeria testing program and that it does not know how many inspectors it really has. It is no wonder Canadians do not trust the government with the safety of their food.

How can Canadians feel safe when the minister's department cannot even tell the country how many meat inspectors it has?

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite yammers on and on about the food safety system. I can assure Canadians that they are well-served by CFIA and, of course, public health across this great country.

We have added a number of inspectors and we have increased budgets for CFIA in the last three years.

That party keeps voting against those initiatives. Perhaps it should get down off its high horse and start realizing that the CFIA inspectors are doing a great job.We have added another 15% to the rolls since we took power and we will continue to do that in spite of that party voting against it.

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the only horse that was being ridden yesterday was by their filibuster. If the government wanted to protect Canadians, it would not have filibustered for over an hour in committee last night.

New Democrats proposed that we examine the outbreak to find real solutions and the minister stalled all the action. What is he afraid we will find out? The government is up to the same old tricks, but this time it is playing with the lives of Canadians.

Can the minister explain, and I do not mean run out the clock, why he will not allow the committee to do the work that Canadians want it to do?

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, if we did not want the committee working, we could have just vetoed the whole darn thing up front. We actually are looking forward to a non-partisan report from the opposition, working in conjunction with our government members.

If opposition members want to play silly games and not get to the bottom of this, that is their problem. We are more than willing to sit extra days, extra hours. I am more than willing. I already said I would go to committee. They have blown that opportunity for next week because they still do not have the structure figured out.

When they roll up their sleeves and want to get down to work, we are already there working. We are happy to help facilitate that. I look forward to working with the committee to get to the bottom of all of this.

SeniorsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week in the Edmonton Journal the Liberal member for York West insinuated that the new horizons for seniors program was a waste of taxpayers' money and that we should cut funding to this program. She said that funding for this program was “like buying votes”. She also said, “I suspect there are much higher priorities for Canadians today”.

Can the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development comment on the Liberal Party's blatant dismissal of seniors and the new horizons for seniors program?

SeniorsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, seniors helped build this great country of ours and we believe that they deserve our respect and support.

While seniors may not be a priority for the Liberal Party and while the Liberals may dismiss the new horizons for seniors program, we support it. That includes providing over $24,000 in funding for the Caribbean seniors program in the Liberal-held riding of York West.

RCMPOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP commissioner told committee last month that taser use had been made more restrictive. We now learn that this was a deception, that the RCMP policy has in fact been weakened, that the specific prohibition from cycling tasers, an action potentially contributing to the death of Mr. Dziekanski, has now been repealed.

The government's response has been silence, a complete lack of action. While the commissioner misleads Canadians, Canadians demand clear action to stop further tragedy. Why do the Conservatives refuse to act? How many deaths, studies, inquiries does it take before they finally listen and restrict these weapons?

RCMPOral Questions

3 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. I actually have in front of me copies of both the old RCMP policy and the new one, and there are significant differences.

The new RCMP policy on tasers indicates that they can only be used in response to a threat. There was no such restriction previously. It requires training annually. Previously, it was re-certification only, once every three years. It requires that they can only be used when force is necessary. There was no such restriction before. And, of course, it underlines that any use of tasers poses a risk. That was not there before.

It is a much more restrictive policy. We believe it is a step in the right direction.

TransportationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, Quebec City's mayor, Régis Labeaume, criticized the federal government's reluctance to get on board with high-speed trains, saying, “We are way behind. That kind of attitude belongs in the stone age”. Those in the know politically and economically recognize the advantages of this mode of transportation, but the government is way behind the times.

Will the Prime Minister move beyond studies, demonstrate some political will and support a Quebec City-based high-speed train?

TransportationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that we conducting an intensive study. There is a report we are looking forward to with regard to high speed rail. I can tell the member also and remind everyone in the House that there are $407 million to speed up trains right across this country, specifically between Montreal and Toronto. I believe the member will be very pleased with the result of VIA Rail's announcement.

Campaign AdvertisingOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Prime Minister. Given the report today that the Conservative campaign manager in the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands has admitted that he purchased signs from a third party organization in the 2008 campaign, does the Prime Minister agree that the Minister of State for Sport should do the right thing and step aside from his ministerial responsibilities until the matter is fully resolved?