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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provisions.

Topics

Alexandre PéloquinStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, today the Bloc Québécois would like to honour the memory of Alexandre Péloquin, a soldier in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment, who was killed yesterday in the theatre of operations in Afghanistan.

Quebec is proud of this soldier and of this regiment. We have never doubted the courage of these men and women who are devoted to their mission. Their efforts and dedication to achieving peace are exemplary. Achieving lasting peace will always be a noble cause. That is why we must hope that the sacrifices these soldiers make will not be in vain.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to Alexandre Péloquin's family, friends and colleagues. We are deeply saddened.

Take heart; our thoughts are with you.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, one can hear a lot of colourful language in public transit stations. Sometimes it is the chorus of people speaking in different languages at the same time. Sometimes one hears language that would be defined, well, as coarse.

However, there is nothing pretty about the language that the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities hurled toward the city of Toronto and, indeed, its citizens. When discussing the only infrastructure application Toronto submitted to the federal government, a modern light rail streetcar fleet, the minister stated that Toronto should go—well, I will not parrot the minister in giving directions.

When in the Harris government, he often displayed contempt for Toronto. The minister has changed his role now, but not his views. Torontonians are appalled at the government's coarse, dismissive, flippant attitude toward us. The minister and the government clearly are not willing to work with Toronto, but Liberals are.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

June 9th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, 34 years after leaving this country, the leader of the Liberal Party has returned with a plan to bring Canada back to the tax and spend ways of the Liberal Party that Canadians know so well. In fact, he even refers to himself as a “tax and spend Liberal”.

He is also the leader of the party that first pushed for a carbon tax, so he should not be at all surprised that on the weekend he became leader of the Liberal Party was the same weekend his party reaffirmed its support for the job-killing tax.

The Liberal leader said, “We will have to raise taxes”. He made this statement during a global economic crisis, when all economists agree that raising taxes is the worst things to do.

The Liberals may want to raise taxes, but Canadians know this Conservative government “will not raise taxes”.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in a private conversation, the Minister of Natural Resources has described the isotope crisis as sexy as far as her career advancement is concerned.

How can the Prime Minister explain these words of his minister to a woman who has just learned she has breast cancer, and is waiting for a test that she cannot have because of the isotope crisis?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the isotope crisis is very serious, and this is why the government has been working for some time to help solve the situation concerning the world's isotope supply. This is a very critical supply situation.

The Minister of Natural Resources is working very hard to ensure an adequate future supply. She works very hard and the public is well aware of her record on this.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there are no apologies forthcoming, not a one. That is astonishing.

Let me try in English. Last week a curtain parted to reveal the government's deep cynicism about the issues facing our country. The concerns of our largest city are dismissed with a profanity. A health care crisis is designed or re-described as an opportunity for career advancement.

How will the Prime Minister explain the comments of his minister, not to this House but to a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer who is desperate for a scan and who cannot get it because of the isotope shortage?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government has been seized with this issue for some time. We have a very delicate worldwide supply of isotopes.

The minister has been working around the clock to ensure we get a greater supply of isotopes and to ensure we have alternative options for our health care patients in our country. That is what the minister is doing and that is what this government is doing, not playing cheap politics.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the cheapest politics there is, is to call a crisis a career opportunity. This is not. This is about the minister's performance.

The government knows there are not enough isotopes. Today we have learned from the Dutch that if Chalk River is shut down for a protracted period, we will face a disastrous global shortage. The minister's performance is the failure here.

How can she explain that failure to patients waiting for cancer tests who are waiting in vain because of those members incompetence?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the House knows that AECL did an unscheduled shutdown of the Chalk River reactor for health reasons.

This government has been working since November 2007 to address the delicate situation we have in isotope supply. No one has been more prominent in those efforts than the Minister of Natural Resources and her officials who are working around the clock and around the world to address this problem.

I wish the member would stop playing cheap politics and help solve that problem.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, on average, 62% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer survive. In the 1960s it was one in three.

Survival rates have nearly doubled over four decades thanks to medical advances in cancer testing, rates that depend on daily access to medical isotopes, which thousands of Canadians no longer have.

How can Canadians possibly believe the Prime Minister is treating this crisis with the competence and the urgency it deserves when the minister, in her own words, is willing to “roll the dice” with the health of Canadians in order to climb a political ladder?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue. The shortage is a concern. Canadians can have confidence that I will take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

For the last 18 months, my department has been working very closely with the experts, the provinces and the territories on contingency measures that are being used in situations like this.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, in his ruling Justice Gerald Moir stated that this issue, “is literally a matter of life and death for cancer patients. It is a matter of intense public interest”. However, according to the minister, her driving interests are her own, not the interests of Canadians.

Given her inability to comprehend the seriousness of the situation from the outset, her cavalier attitude toward an emerging national health crisis, her lack of faith in the health minister, her failure to secure access to the medical isotopes Canadians need, how can she possibly be left to manage this file?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, to review what we have accomplished on this file since 2007, we have undertaken a major study of AECL and we have actually taken a decision on how to move forward with AECL.

We have also taken great steps with respect to medical isotopes. We have struck an expert panel to review the submissions we are receiving on the long term supply. We are working with the United States on a medium term supply and, more fundamental, on the global supply.

Once again, I have to correct the Leader of the Opposition. The Dutch have said that they are willing to shorten up their time of being down this summer. Further, they are willing to put off their time operation until March next year.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

By leaving important documents at a television station, the Minister of Natural Resources has contravened the rules of ethics established by the Prime Minister himself. She ought to have been dismissed then, but the Prime Minister refused to do so. We have since learned of her irresponsible comments concerning the isotope crisis.

Will the Prime Minister respect his own rules and at last dismiss his Minister of Natural Resources?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as we have indicated with respect to last week, it was a serious matter. We took constructive steps in dealing with the issue.

More important, speaking of the global situation regarding isotopes, it is Canada that is leading the efforts in bringing the globe together in dealing with this fragile supply that we have. It has been recognized by other countries. Indeed, next week a high level committee is coming to Toronto to meet to discuss the issues and also to have meetings with AECL regarding the matter.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this minister has not even had the decency to make an apology here in this House, when we are well aware that on the recording that was left behind, she referred to of the isotope crisis as sexy and good for her career prospects. I wonder whether the patients still waiting for a medical exam because of the shortage of isotopes find anything sexy about their situation.

Given how little empathy and how much opportunism has been shown by his minister, the Prime Minister has no choice but to dismiss her. What is he waiting for?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The only people who are interested in political opportunism are the members of the opposition in the sense that they are the ones talking about it.

We are actually the ones who are doing something on the crisis. Indeed, it is this government that has taken steps regarding it as compared to a Liberal government, which for 13 years and five cabinet ministers refused to assess the situation realistically and take steps to deal with it.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, medical isotopes and cancer patients are merely an opportunity to boost her career, according to the Minister of Natural Resources. No empathy for the thousands of patients concerned by the lack of isotopes. She even went so far as to make disparaging remarks about her colleague from Health rather than try to quickly resolve the crisis.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that his minister is incapable of dealing with the crisis and that he must fire her immediately?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue. The shortage is of concern. Other alternatives are available. Over 50% of the uses of TC99 are for heart scans. Thallium can be used as an alternative in many of these cases. The next largest use of TC99 is for bone scanning. Again, there are other alternatives. Sodium fluoride can be used in these cases.

We have approved clinical trials and special access program requests. This provides Canadians with greater access to alternatives. For the last 18 months, my department has been working very closely with the provinces and territories.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, by refusing to fire his minister, the Prime Minister is proving that his own code of ethics has been set aside and that the dismissal of the member for Beauce last year was under false pretences. The fact of the matter this time is that he does not want to risk losing votes in the greater Toronto area and that there is a flagrant lack of succession in this government

Is this not the real reason—electoral considerations first and foremost?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as we indicated last week, it was a very serious issue with respect to the documents. Indeed, we took action on the matter. I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister. He did not accept it. The individual who was responsible for the handling of the documents offered her resignation and I did accept it.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, people are scandalized by the attitude of the Minister of Natural Resources. Let us look at the events. We have the medical isotope crisis, the forgetting of secret documents, not to mention the dubious spending when she headed the agency managing the port of Toronto and, especially, her disgusting attitude toward people suffering from cancer. The minister has shown she is not worthy of her office.

Why has the Prime Minister not insisted today in this House that the minister apologize to Canadians suffering from cancer?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. As we indicated, the only political opportunism that is coming out right now is that of the opposition. This government is working very hard with respect to the medical isotope issue. We are engaging globally. My colleague, the Minister of Health, is doing an excellent job engaging with her provincial and territorial colleagues in terms of the shortage of supply.

The NDP members, of course, are well versed in the land of conspiracy theories. That is indeed what they are putting forward today.

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, a lot of us in the House and those watching are surprised and shocked that there has not at least been an apology for the remarks that were made. Not only is the minister losing secret documents, she expected a career bounce as a result of a medical crisis. This is a crisis in a ministry for which she is ultimately responsible.

There is nothing sexy about thousands of suffering Canadians on waiting lists for cancer treatment. There is nothing sexy about radiation. There is nothing sexy about losing a family member to cancer.

Why will the minister not resign and the Prime Minister accept it?

Minister of Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, for the leader of the NDP to indicate that we do not have any caring on this side of the House is simply a ludicrous statement. Every member on this side of the House unfortunately has been touched by illness, has been touched by sickness and indeed has been touched by cancer. That is what motivates us here in caring for the health and safety of Canadians.

That is no different in my portfolio. With my officials and the Minister of Health, we are working diligently and very hard on this issue to make sure that we get action instead of rhetoric, conspiracy theories and personal smears.