House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombia.

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Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On June 2 you made a statement with respect to the management of private members' business. In particular, you raised concerns about three bills that appear to impinge upon the financial prerogative of the Crown and invited the comments of members of the House.

One of the three bills you mentioned was Bill C-308, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance system). Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I submit that Bill C-308 contains provisions that would change the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act, would require new spending and would, therefore, require a royal recommendation.

Bill C-308 includes the following provisions that would require new government spending.

First, Bill C-308 would reduce the qualifying period for employment insurance to a minimum of 360 hours of work compared with the current variable interest requirement, which varies from 420 to 700 hours, depending upon the unemployment rate of the region.

Second, Bill C-308 would permanently increase the benefit period by five weeks.

Third, Bill C-308 would increase the benefit replacement rate to 60% of insured earnings from the current rate of 55%. The bill also proposes to change the benefit calculation from the best 14 weeks of a claimant's earnings during a 52-week period to the best 12 weeks of a claimant's earnings during a 52-week period.

Fourth, Bill C-308 would increase the level of maximum yearly insurable earnings from $39,000 to $42,500. It would also introduce an indexing formula that would further increase the level of maximum yearly insurable earnings every year.

Finally, Bill C-308 would add a new part to the Employment Insurance Act to expand benefits for self-employed persons.

The Department of Human Resources and Skills Development estimates that the measures contained in Bill C-308 would cost as much as $4.3 billion per year.

Mr. Speaker, in previous rulings, you have ruled that other private members' bills on employment insurance were out of order because they would increase government spending and therefore require a royal recommendation. In particular, I would draw the attention of members to a November 6, 2006 ruling on Bill C-269, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance system), where the Speaker stated that Bill C-269 would reduce

the qualifying period for benefits...increases the weekly benefit rate...repeals the waiting period for benefits...increases the yearly maximum insurable earnings and...extends coverage of the Employment Insurance Plan to the self-employed. ... I have concluded that all of these elements would indeed require expenditures from the EI Account which are not currently authorized. I note as well that the summary of the bill lists three further ends which, at first glance, appear to me to involve other increases to expenditures. Such increased spending is not covered by the terms of any existing appropriation.

I must rule that...Bill C-269 requires a royal recommendation.

Bill C-308 includes provisions similar to those in Bill C-269 from the 39th Parliament, which was found to require a royal recommendation. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I submit that Bill C-308 must also be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas wish to comment on that point of order?

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

No, Mr. Speaker, I do not. We will invoke our right of reply another time because this morning we are just getting started with the debate on Bill C-308.

If we may, we will address the government's claims later on.

What a happy coincidence that we are debating Bill C-308, employment insurance reform, as the session begins. As everyone knows, people have been talking about this issue all summer and even earlier this year.

Before I begin, I would like to salute the people of my riding, who are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Champlain's arrival in the Chambly-Borduas area via the Richelieu River. This summer was full of festivities marking the event.

I would also like to salute my House of Commons colleagues, and I hope that we can get off to a positive start this session.

This summer, people were talking about a 360-hour provision for employment insurance benefits. We believe that this is only part of the solution to the problems plaguing employment insurance. It is time for a comprehensive overhaul of the employment insurance system, and that is why we have tabled Bill C-308.

This bill includes a number of changes to the current system, including reducing the qualifying period to 360 hours—I will discuss costs related to these measures shortly; increasing the benefit period, which is currently 45 weeks but has been temporarily increased to 50 weeks—we believe that should be a permanent change; and increasing the weekly benefit rate to 60% from 55%.

For those who did not tune into this debate the first time around, I want to point out that this bill would eliminate the presumption that persons related to one other do not deal with each other at arm’s length. Right now, people working for an employer who is also a relative must prove that they have an arm's-length relationship with company administration.

I would also note that a temporary measure was recently brought in to increase the maximum insurable earnings to $41,500. We believe that this measure should be permanent. This bill would also enable self-employed workers to qualify for employment insurance benefits.

That is an overview of the measures in Bill C-308.

Some will focus on the other measures that are not in the bill. But we have planned separate initiatives, and we have not neglected these measures, such as the waiting period, the abolition of the two-week waiting period, which is being examined in Bill C-241, introduced by my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi.

In addition, regarding the increase in the number of weeks for individuals who are on extended leave because of a serious illness, epidemic or quarantine, we would like to increase the number of weeks from 15 to 50. This bill was introduced by my colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, who has left this House, but the bill was saved by a motion from the House Leader of the Bloc Québécois, the member for Joliette, so that it can be put to a vote in the House.

Motion M-285, moved by my colleague from Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, would reinstate a program for older worker adjustment, for which the provinces would provide 30% of the funding and the federal government would provide 70%. This would ensure that those aged 55 and up who are not able to find new jobs receive an income until they reach the official retirement age, when they will receive income security.

The fourth additional measure is addressed in Bill C-395, introduced by our colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé. This bill would protect workers who are affected by a prolonged labour dispute—more than 103 weeks—and would ensure that these workers, who have often been paying into employment insurance for 25, 30 or 40 years, are eligible for EI benefits when their employer shuts down the company after the 103 weeks. These are the other measures we have planned in addition to Bill C-308.

Since this time last year, we now have 500,000 more unemployed workers, including 70,000 in Quebec. Nothing has been done to help these people, although we are aware of all of the problems with the current system, which already excluded nearly 60% of unemployed workers from the possibility of receiving employment insurance benefits. We all saw the show put on by the Liberal-Conservative coalition this summer about the 360 hours. In a heartfelt speech, the member for Bourassa told us in June, here in this House, that if the Conservatives did nothing, it meant they were abandoning the workers and that these workers would starve. To ensure that this would happen, the coalition set up a bogus working group that has been recognized as such and that has produced bogus results.

Today, we need to debate this issue in this House. Are the parliamentarians here aware of the problems the crisis is causing for people who lose their jobs? These are problems faced by all the families who have seen their income drop because of job losses. The crisis also means a substantial shortfall for the regional economy. Many of these people will soon be dependent on provincial programs. Quebec, of course, has programs to help people in need.

The show we witnessed this summer is a non-starter. No one from the government or the official opposition is willing to say that they are going to stand up for the unemployed and correct the situation. The department's own figures show that in 1990, nearly 84%—83.82%—of people who lost their jobs could expect to receive employment insurance benefits. Today, 46% of people can expect to receive these benefits. This means that 50% of people have been deliberately excluded. The Liberals, followed by the Conservatives, created this economic tragedy for the unemployed, while managing to produce an EI surplus of between $3 billion and $7 billion year after year.

In the past 12 or 13 years, $57 billion has been diverted from the employment insurance fund.

Where will the money come from to pay for the improvements to the system? From worker and employer contributions. Instead of using this money for other purposes, the government should have put it toward the fund's stated objectives.

This opinion was shared by all the members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. I would remind this House that just four years ago, in February 2005, that committee made 28 recommendations to the House of Commons, in keeping with its terms of reference. The first eight of those 28 recommendations were unanimous. In other words, the four parties in the House of Commons represented on that committee had unanimously agreed to recommend that an independent employment insurance fund be created to prevent the government from dipping further into the fund. The committee recommended that the fund be used only to cover the costs of employment insurance. It also recommended that the money that had been diverted be transferred gradually to the employment insurance fund, as the Auditor General had called for. The committee further recommended creating a premium rate stabilization reserve, to provide for sudden increases in the number of unemployed workers; introducing a mechanism to stabilize premium rates; giving the government the power to set a statutory rate and implementing a $3,000 yearly basic insurable earnings exemption.

These recommendations were all unanimous. I would also remind the House that all three current opposition parties—the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP—also unanimously recommended amendments that correspond exactly to Bill C-308. It will be interesting to see if the Liberals support that, if this time, they will remain true to the work they did with other members of the House, and if they will support their own recommendations in the House of Commons.

These amendments are: a permanent, rather than temporary, maximum duration of regular benefits of 50 weeks; that is, extending benefits by five weeks. We no longer hear the Liberals talking about that; now it is the Conservatives. At that time, the Conservatives also voted in favour of calculating benefits based on the 12 best weeks. The amendments also provided for an increase in the rate of benefits from 55% to 60% of earnings between periods. Once again, the Liberals agreed with us. The other measures included allowing self-employed workers access to the EI system, removing the arm's-length relationship—this is all included in Bill C-308—and eliminating the waiting period for those engaged in approved training.

We are very curious to see how our colleagues will vote. Of course, we encourage them to vote in favour of the bill as it was introduced, which would allow them to honour their commitment in this House. The Conservatives also voted for some of these measures back when they were in opposition.

As a final point, one might wonder whether the money is there. Yes, it is there. The cost is not as high as the Conservatives are claiming. We saw that in relation to the 360 hours. This measure will not cost $4.5 billion, as the Conservatives would have us believe.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer did an approximate calculation and estimated the cost at $1.2 billion.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for introducing his bill, a bill which I think all three opposition parties have supported in whole or in part for a long time. It is the government that has been resistant, although it appears now that it is prepared to come forward with some relief, which I think is helpful.

In the last budget the government proposed to establish a new employment insurance commission, which would be funded with some seed money and established to follow certain rules to make sure there is balance. That balance obviously depends on some circumstances.

I wonder if the member has taken into account the rules established for this proposed commission, which I understand will not start until 2012, and whether he has done any estimates as to what he or his party believe will be the actual cost of implementation. The government has indicated it will be some $4.5 billion. I wonder if the member has an idea of how much these provisions would cost if implemented.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent question.

Take for example the 360 hour threshold. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Kevin Page, estimated the cost of that measure, if implemented, at $1.148 billion, which is well below the $4 billion suggested by the Conservatives.

Another cost, and the highest, would be associated with raising the benefit rate from 55% to 60%, as forecasted when the Liberal Party was in government and, later, under the Conservatives. This benefit rate increase from 55% to 60% would apply across the board. This cost, which is the highest, is $1.2 billion.

Is there money for that? When the cutbacks started, the premium rate was $2.20. Today, it is $1.76 per $100 of insurable earnings. Yet, surpluses continue to be accumulated. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have pursued a conservative policy, maintaining premiums to a minimum, thereby limiting benefits.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the summer I came across a lot of people who said they were in a desperate situation. They have been laid off. Some of them have worked for many years in a job, they are in their fifties and they cannot find another job.

On top of that, they have to use up all their severance pay before they can get employment insurance. As the House knows, the New Democrats have said that should not be the case and that they should be able to get employment insurance immediately. I know the Bloc supported this. Unfortunately, many Liberal members did not.

In the case of extending employment insurance five to twenty weeks, I know the private member's bill supports that. Is that an area that the Bloc understands must happen? It is an area that many unemployed people desperately want, because they do not want to go on welfare and become destitute.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member raised an important issue and, in doing so, she is showing that, by making access to the EI fund difficult for those who are insured, the government is putting the burden back onto the provinces. These are individuals who have been paying premiums, whether they are regular employees or, as the hon. member said, people over 55 who lost their jobs and are unable to find another job because of their age or other adjustment factors.

Note that we agree to some extent with the measures in place with respect to retraining people to enable them to find a different job. Where we have a problem, and the two main federal parties will not listen to reason, is regarding those over 55 who cannot find another job. That is truly dramatic for them. They have nothing and are often forced to live off their savings or even to sell their homes to get money to live on.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, it is good to be back in the House after spending the summer seeing our economic action plan create jobs.

With respect to this bill, to put it quite simply, and with deference to my colleague, the bill is not sound policy. It is therefore unsupportable. It proposes a significant number of changes to the EI system, a veritable laundry list of the oppositions' demands with respect to the system.

Among many other changes, this bill proposes a flat 360-hour national entrance requirement, and a permanent flat 360-hour requirement at that. Not only would this bill be unaffordable and irresponsible now and in the short term, but it would also be increasingly unaffordable, irresponsible and economically damaging over the long term.

As this proposal is a big ticket item in this bill, I would like to take time to discuss it in some detail. I know my colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre noted the substantive cost to it. My learned colleague started in the low billions and then added to that list.

This bill would permanently reduce the EI entrance requirements to only 360 hours of work for regular benefits. Let us be perfectly clear about what this means. Three hundred and sixty hours is 45 days of work, just nine weeks. In reality this is a proposal for a two-month work year supported by the Liberal opposition, specifically the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. This program's history shows us that the 360-hour idea is nothing more than a return to the failed Liberal policies of the 1970s.

On August 1, in The Canadian Press, referring to this time and these negative Liberal policy effects, University of Ottawa economist David Gray said, “What happened in '71 to my mind was a policy catastrophe”. To repeat it today, he said, “would just be catastrophic for the Canadian economy”.

Shortening the qualification period for EI would be tantamount to encouraging a higher turnover of workers. The result of that kind of misguided policy could be a permanent rise in the unemployment rate.

Others agree, and I will quote the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's July 23 press release. It said:

moving to a national standard of 360 or 420 hours of work as the basis for qualifying for EI would have substantial adverse impact on Canada’s labour market--it would discourage work, increase structural unemployment, exacerbate skills and labour shortages, and stifle productivity.

All those are not acceptable. Simply put, they are ill-advised. Those are the not the sorts of policy outcomes the House should be pursuing.

Allow me to quote a few others. On August 1, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that the flat 360-hour proposal was “just ludicrous”. It really sums it up.

On June 3, in the National Post, Jack Mintz, now the Palmer Chair in Public Policy at the University of Calgary, said that the flat 360-hour proposal is “[one] of the worst ideas...getting serious attention”. He said that, “shortening drastically the qualification period [for EI] would encourage greater turnover of workers, result in a permanent rise in the unemployment rate and impose a high economic cost”. It becomes quite clear what sorts of problems this 360-hour proposal carries with it.

The Department of Human Resources and Skills Development calculated the cost of this sort of proposal, and to put it mildly, it is costly. A 360-hour national entrance requirement including new entrants and re-entrants to the workforce, which this bill would do, and including the costs incurred by making the 360-hour standard permanent, which this bill would do, and including the related behavioural or dynamic effects of this permanent change, brings the cost of this policy alone to $4 billion. My learned colleague speaks in billions of dollars as well.

In addition to that, we would have to provide for the costs of all other changes proposed in this bill. This could be in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. This would not be responsible at this time.

Where do these many billions of dollars come from? They come from Canadian workers and employers; eventually that is where they come from. But the immediate effect would be to further increase the federal deficit. I think it should be clear to everyone that this 360-hour, two-month work year proposal is a very costly and irresponsible policy.

The proposals put forward in the bill would truly hurt our ultimate goal of encouraging and supporting unemployed Canadians in their efforts to get back to work. The two-month work year proposal is unacceptable as policy and unacceptable to hard-working Canadians. It is a policy change this government will not be pursuing.

I know the opposition has been talking about access to EI. I would like to point out that EI access is high among those persons for whom the program is designed. According to Statistics Canada's 2008 employment insurance coverage survey, 82% of the unemployed who have paid into the program and have either lost their jobs or quit with just cause were eligible to receive benefits. In fact, fewer than 10% of those who have paid the premiums and then lost their jobs lack the required number of hours to qualify.

These high rates of access are due in large part to the variable entrance requirement. As of September 2009, 38 of the 58 EI regions have seen their entrance requirements decrease and their benefit durations increase. That is the way it was intended to work. During this same period, more than 82% of Canadian workers gained access to EI.

Right now, the duration of EI benefits is something very much worth addressing. Bill C-308 does propose a change of duration. It proposes to make permanent the temporary five extra weeks of EI benefits this government introduced as part of Canada's economic action plan. Our government implemented this measure because we recognize that during these challenging economic times people need more time to find employment. We also temporarily increased the maximum duration of benefits available from 45 to 50 weeks. As of August 30, close to 289,000 Canadians had already received additional benefits and both of these measures will be in place for new claimants until September 2010.

While our government firmly believes that these measures are providing immediate support to workers and their families right now, we anticipate that these measures will no longer be needed a year from now when they are scheduled to lapse. Making these additional weeks of benefits permanent, as this bill proposes, may hinder economic recovery by contributing to disincentives to work and labour shortages when the economy rebounds. We do not think this policy proposal is a responsible measure to take.

Of significance, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development has announced that she will be introducing more measures shortly to ensure that Canadians, who have paid into the EI system for years, are provided the help they need while they search for employment. This will be an important step for Canadian workers who have worked hard, paid their taxes their whole lives, and have found themselves in an economic hardship that they did not create.

Our government has already made a number of improvements to the EI program to support unemployed Canadians to help them get back into the workforce. We are providing five extra weeks of benefits. We made the EI application processes easier, faster and better for businesses and workers. We have increased opportunities for unemployed Canadians to upgrade their skills and get back to work. We are assisting businesses and their workers experiencing temporary slowdowns through improved and more accessible work sharing agreements. More than 160,000 Canadians are benefiting from work sharing agreements that are in place with almost 5,800 employers across Canada.

We believe it is important to ensure Canada's workforce is in a position to get good jobs and bounce back from the recession. Career transition assistance is a new initiative that will help an estimated 40,000 long-term workers, who need additional support for retraining, to find a new job. Through this initiative, we have extended the duration of EI regular income benefits for eligible workers, who choose to participate in long-term training, for up to two years. We are providing Canadians easier access and training that is tailored to the needs of workers in our country's different regions.

Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians: finding solutions to help long-term workers who have worked hard and paid into the system for years but are having trouble finding employment through no fault of their own; extending benefits to self-employed Canadians; and getting Canadians back to work through historic investments in infrastructure and skills training. The temporary measures under Canada's economic action plan are well suited to respond to the economic situation.

Our plan provides support to unemployed Canadians over the short-term. It is designated to meet the needs of the current economy and to help Canadians get the skills they need for the jobs of the future.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, here we are back in Parliament in the fall, again speaking about employment insurance. It is almost as if we never left.

Much has happened over the summer but little has changed. We still have a Conservative government that puts politics before people, that does not see EI as the fundamental and critical part of our social infrastructure that is so necessary at a time of difficulty, but rather a government that sees EI as a political tool, a blunt instrument to divide Canadians, to divide Parliament, as part of a strategic ploy hatched to distribute false and misleading information to Canadians.

This is a government that uses false statistics and never allows facts or truth to get in the way of its goal to divide this country. These are the traits, indeed, this is the character of the government. Employment insurance is but one example.

Today we look at the work of my colleague, the distinguished member for Chambly—Borduas in Bill C-308, who today introduced his bill in this Parliament and is worthy of consideration. One of the most important things in his bill is the issue of a 360-hour national standard for eligibility. This is something that has had a lot of attention, not just from members of the House but from people across the country.

Let me just give a couple of quotes from people who might be recognized across Canada.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said in August, “What we’re really saying is Canadian workers, whether they live in the Maritimes, the West or North or Ontario, we should treat them the same way”.

Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, said “Instead of 50-plus different treatments for the number of qualifying hours, we need to dramatically reduce that”.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said, “An unemployed family, whether they live in Nova Scotia, Quebec or Alberta, are equally unemployed”.

The TD Bank, in July, said, “The truth of the matter is that during an economic downturn, it is no easier to find a job in a region with lower prevailing unemployment than in one with a higher unemployment rate”.

Pierre Fortin, economics professor, said of the Leader of the Opposition that his proposal of 360 hours was not a problem. It was just and it was fair.

The Star Phoenix in Saskatoon said, “Clearly, EI services should be equally applied across the country. Isn't that what being a nation is all about”?

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, who my colleague, the parliamentary secretary referred to, said:

A measure to improve the equity of the EI system that would be consistent with longer-term smart policy aimed at improving labour mobility and flexibility would be to immediately and permanently make the duration of, and access to, benefits equal--

How about this one: “An unemployed worker is an unemployed worker and deserves to be treated the same, regardless of region of residence. We will urge the immediate elimination of discriminatory EI elements such as regional entrance requirements”. This was said in the Reform Party of Canada platform statement authored by the now Prime Minister of this country. Let me repeat the last bit, “We will urge the immediate elimination of discriminatory EI elements such as regional entrance requirements”.

Here we are. We resume Parliament more or less where we left it off in June. As the session ended last spring, we all remember that we were on the verge of an election. It was averted when our leader and the Prime Minister agreed to a joint committee that would spend the summer looking at improvements to EI, specifically two things: regional fairness, which was our issue, and the Prime Minister added the issue of the self-employed. That was the proposal from the Conservatives, part of which they had promised in the last election but had not acted upon.

We had these meetings. I was there along with my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Kevin Chan from our leader's office, and three members of the opposition. The meetings were difficulty but I do not suppose that this particularly relevant. People do not care how we spend our summer time.

The bottom line is that the Conservative members of this committee stalled, delayed and brought nothing to the table, absolutely nothing serious. I do not believe this was unintentional. The Conservative members broke confidential protocols. It had been decided that there would be certain protocols about confidentiality. At almost every turn the Conservative members prevented departmental officials from giving information that we had all agreed to, including the Conservative members. That is unbelievable.

The Conservative members leaked a document that they themselves indicated should not be leaked. I am looking at it. It says “Employment insurance working group--not for distribution”. The members brought that to a meeting. The only problem was, it was already given to the media. Why would the Conservative members do that?

Mr. Speaker, I can see you are shocked. The Conservative members did it because there was false and misleading information in that document. They increased the cost of the Liberal proposal for regional fairness by over 400%, not a little bit.

I took the decision to ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an independent officer of this House, to review the government numbers. We now know the result of that.

The PBO, appointed by the government, came back and said, yes, the government inflated the cost and, in fact, indicated that the actual cost of our 360-hour temporary proposal was slightly under the cost proposed by the Liberals.

This is some of what the Parliamentary Budget Officer said in his report:

The government's total cost estimate overstates the cost of the proposed 360-hour national standard. The Parliamentary Budget Officer believes that the government's dynamic cost estimate is flawed. More important, the PBO also believes that only the static costs should be considered in costing the proposal, given the structure of the program and that the proposed change to the EI system is in effect for one year only. This is the independent officer of this House and this is what he came back with.

The response from the government was that it did not change anything. The government first ignored it, then continued to mislead and still used, as recently as Friday, the $4 billion, even though everybody knows that it was discredited.

That is how the summer went.

I was asked many times by people across the country, including people in my own caucus and in my riding, “Why do you keep going to these meetings? You know that the Conservatives are not serious. They have not presented anything. Why would you keep going back?” We went to every scheduled meeting, to try to find a consensus.

Canadians have more important things on their minds than to follow what is happening with an employment insurance working group. However, to the extent that they paid attention, who could blame them for saying that that was just an extension of a dysfunctional Parliament? Who could blame them for saying, “You have just dragged question period throughout the summer. You guys can't get along in the House of Commons and you can't get along in the summer”? Who could blame them for saying, “He said this and she said that; you're all equally to blame”?

We tried to make it work. We went to those committees to try to make those committees work. Yes, we had an opening position, supported by many people across this country: economists, labour leaders, anti-poverty groups, even business people, and premiers of provinces who have many representatives on the other side of this House. We had that position, we presented it, and we all agreed that we would go away and get that costed. When the number came back, it was distorted.

However, beyond that, we also asked other questions. These are the questions we tabled to the group on July 23.

What is the current deficit in this year's EI account?

What are the components of that deficit? There was no answer.

How many Canadians have seen increased access to EI by region?

What would be the incremental cost of having a 360-hour national standard for eligibility?

We also asked, at that same meeting in July, what would be the cost of a 395-hour standard and a 420-hour standard?

We asked, how many Canadians draw benefits for the maximum duration?

What percentage of claimants are expected to draw the maximum weeks? Perhaps extending benefits further is a very sensible thing.

We did not get answers to all of those questions.

We also asked, in areas where the unemployment changes the eligibility criteria, how does the time lag between job loss of people becoming eligible for benefits go into the issue of a three-month average versus a one-month average to determine eligibility?

We asked all those questions.

We followed the protocols of the working group. We established the working group, we established protocols, we followed those protocols, and we expected answers. We were told we would get answers.

At the last meeting of the group, the minister told us that he told the department not to even bother with that, not to even bother with the stuff that we all agreed with.

Many of us in this House come from backgrounds in business or labour organizations or other non-for-profit organizations. We do negotiations as a way of doing business to make perfect not be the enemy of better. However, we all know, whether we are in labour or management or any other organization, it takes two to make something happen.

Employment insurance to the government is a ploy. It is part of the game of politics.

Here today, as Parliament resumes in the fall, we are where we left off in the spring, and for the government the games continue.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-308 introduced by the member for Chambly—Borduas.

It is common knowledge that this bill is very important to me, just as it is to a great many workers throughout the country. This is a bill that the NDP has proposed quite a few times in the House of Commons.

Some people may not know or may have forgotten that in 1997, when I was elected, the same changes were being studied. Cuts to employment insurance were initiated by Brian Mulroney and continued through Jean Chrétien's tenure. In 1996, employment insurance cuts were disastrous for the country and for the workers.

I feel obliged to start off with a few comments. The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is trying to tell us that the Liberal Party—I do not know if the members have seen the light at the end of the tunnel—wants to be the saviour of employment insurance.

At the same time, the Liberal Party is saying that this is temporary. That worries me. What does “temporary” mean? I heard the leader of the official opposition, the Liberal leader, say that temporary means “as long as there is an economic crisis”. As soon as the economic crisis is over, this temporary measure will be terminated. We are already hearing on the news that the crisis may soon be over. But we do not really know how long it will last.

The bill will set 360 hours as the number of hours required to qualify. I have a problem with the Conservatives' position on 360 hours. It is as though they have always said that it would cost $4 billion and that too many people would receive employment insurance. To hear them talk, only 15% of workers are not eligible for employment insurance. According to their data, 85% of workers pay premiums and are eligible for unemployment benefits and only 15% are not. It is as though all of Canada were applying for benefits. Come on. There are 33 million workers in Canada.

What an insult to the workers when we say to them that if we bring it down to 360 hours, they will all get on EI and they will be on EI instead of working. What an insult to working Canadian men and women and the people of Quebec. What an insult.

I was in France not too long ago, and I asked how much people were getting paid for employment insurance. It was 80% of their wages. I used the Conservative argument and asked whether they thought that at 80% of their wages, people would want to be on EI instead of working. The representative of the government said that their people love to work, that they want to go to work, but that in the meantime, they do not want to punish the family of the person who has lost his or her job, and that they invest the money in the community. That is good for the economic crisis.

When I went to France, I asked the question. People can check if they want. In France, employment insurance recipients receive 80% of their wages. I asked a question that could very well have been asked by the Conservatives or the Liberals: do you not think that people who get 80% of their wages in EI benefits would want to be on EI instead of working? The government representative said no, that people want to work and are eager to work. It is their own employment insurance system, paid for by employers and employees. He said that they are proud of the fact that they have a good income because they can spend that money within the community, which is good in tough economic times.

The government and the Liberals are saying that people are lazy, that they do not want to work. About the 360 hours, where is the government taking its figures when it says that it will cost $4 billion and that nearly everybody can get EI benefits already? This obviously makes no sense whatsoever.

I listened to what the government representative was saying earlier. The parliamentary secretary was saying that all the changes proposed by the Bloc Québécois would cost more than $4 billion. There are several changes: 360 hours; increasing the benefit period; increasing the rate of weekly benefits to 60%; eliminating the distinctions between a new entrant and a re-entrant to the labour force; eliminating the presumption that persons related to each other do not deal with each other at arm’s length; increasing the maximum yearly insurable earnings to $42,500 and introducing an indexing formula; and adding a new part VIII.01 to the act relating to self-employed persons.

Now they are changing their tune and saying that it will cost $4.1 or $4.2 billion. And they are also saying at the same time that reducing the number of hours to 360 will cost $4 billion. Which figure is the right one?

What is the right number? The 360 hours are supposed to cost some $4 million, and the parliamentary secretary of the Conservative government said that all the changes of the Bloc would cost $4 million. I would like to hear the right number.

The real figures indicate that it would cost $1.4 billion. That money belongs to workers in case they lose their jobs.

I heard the Liberals say that it was terrible. I read in BC newspapers that people in that province should be treated the same way as those in Atlantic Canada, in Regina and across Canada. The 360-hour rule should apply to everyone. It was the Liberals, supported by the Conservatives, who established the varying threshold, increasing the number of hours from 420 to 700 and then to 910. That is why we are saying that there is not much difference between the Grits and the Tories. They all take their orders from Bay Street. That is where the decisions are made.

However, for those workers who lose their jobs, the decision is made on Monday morning when they no longer have a job to go to and wonder how they will support they family. They wonder whether they should get EI benefits or welfare benefits. That is where it hurts.

When people say that the country will go into debt if changes are made to employment insurance, which debt are they talking about? The former Liberal government and the current Conservative government stole $47 billion from the EI fund that belonged to workers. So we should be able to say that there is a fund with surpluses and to use that money.

We must study the possibility of making changes to EI. It is a serious issue. We must ask ourselves what we can do to help workers. People must stop telling tales and giving false figures.

It has always been said—and experts said it—that only 38% or 42% of people who contribute to EI are eligible for benefits.

Therefore, since the Conservatives keep telling us that this is false and that 85% are eligible, why are they so afraid of the 360-hour rule and why do they think that the whole country will receive EI benefits? Why are the Conservatives so worried? A mere 15% is not that much, if I am to accept the government's arguments.

It is the same thing with the workers referred to in the bill put forward by the Bloc member, those who are related to the owner of the business. We want to have small and medium sized businesses and promote them. That is the right thing to do. To build a business, one starts by hiring family members, and then, as the business grows, they start hiring outside the family. It is discriminatory to deny benefits to contributing employees when they are laid off because they are related to the owner of a business who pays his or her taxes. It is discriminatory because the decision is simply based on the fact that a family relationship exists. They have to be treated like any other employee. If they did their job, worked the hours, paid their premiums and lost their job, that is what matters. The current approach is totally discriminatory. And there are such cases.

I am thinking of the Liberals, the so-called saviours of EI. I am sorry, but that makes me laugh. They are the ones who, in 2005, voted down a motion I had put before the House of Common, asking that the 12 best weeks be used in calculating benefits in order to help the workers. The Liberals did that. They also increased to 700 the number of hours of work required to qualify and established requirements that vary across the country. To listen to some people, 360 hours is the end of the world. One should remember that all that was required previously was 150 hours.

The myth about these 360 hours allowing individuals to receive benefits for one year is fallacious, because people are entitled to benefits for a given number of weeks.

Let me conclude by saying that we will certainly support the bill from the Bloc Québécois.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am especially happy, for at least two reasons, to have an opportunity today to rise on Bill C-308, introduced by my colleague from Chambly—Borduas. The first, of course, is that I am deeply concerned about the flaws in the current employment insurance system and the proposals for remedying them. The second is that the Conservatives and Liberals set up a phoney committee to discuss these issues behind closed doors and it is wonderful to finally have a chance to hear the positions of all the parties in the House.

There are many problems with the current system, but we are very familiar with them all because they have been pointed out repeatedly by the various stakeholders. As early as February 2005, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities produced an exhaustive report with no fewer than 28 recommendations to reform employment insurance from top to bottom.

But it remained largely a dead letter. Both the Liberals and Conservatives ignored its conclusions, even though they were very reasonable and appropriate. No one should be surprised, therefore, that we in the Bloc Québécois took a rather jaundiced view of the announcement that a secret committee on employment insurance would be quickly and quietly convened to save face in view of the thousands of unemployed people who would have been able to take immediate advantage of the measures in Bill C-308.

This bill does not reinvent the wheel. All it does is pull together the best proposals for finally improving the accessibility of an employment insurance system that has been strait-jacketed for far too long by the restrictive changes introduced by the same Liberals who say now in public that they are outraged but then vote in favour of a budget that does nothing.

The most shocking thing about this refusal to finally re-open the eligibility requirements is the ideologically driven insistence on seeing all unemployed people as potential cheats. The government’s way of thinking was on display as recently as last Friday in the report from the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer when it estimated the cost of a standard eligibility requirement of 360 hours.

The government assumes in its calculations that, in addition to the 166,000 existing unemployed, more than 180,000 people would qualify under the new standard and would try to take advantage of it by voluntarily quitting their jobs, with the connivance of their employers, after accumulating enough hours to qualify. As we know, voluntary departures have not been covered for a long time by the current system.

It is only in this way that the government is able to conclude that changing the minimum requirements would cost about $2.5 billion, or more than twice the estimate of the parliamentary budget officer. It is hard to imagine a government with more contempt for its own citizens. It is especially sad to think that this contempt and these suspicions are penalizing people who have had the misfortune of losing their jobs. The government is basically treating 180,000 Canadians, and therefore more than 40,000 Quebeckers, as potential liars and scam artists.

I have a question now for the government. If the intent to commit a crime is just as punishable as the crime itself—as it is in the Canadian Criminal code—perhaps the government thinks that it should rush out and arrest these people who might commit fraud? Let us make no mistake. This is the exact same logic behind the government's imposition of a two week waiting period. The same logic applies to people who do not deal at arm's length with the employer. It is up to them to prove beyond a doubt that they have no intention of defrauding the plan. This does not take into account the fact that the procedure can take a number of months, even a year, before the applicant is deemed to be acting in good faith. All this cynicism is extremely discouraging.

Perhaps we should remind the government of the principle underlying the seven measures proposed in Bill C-308—attempting to help the unemployed by increasing benefits and eligibility does not amount to promoting unemployment. On the contrary, these measures have a single aim—to enable the unemployed to retain some dignity despite the difficult times they face.

Let us review these measures here, one by one. The first, and perhaps one of the most important, is to introduce a standard qualifying period of 360 hours across the board. Despite the claims of the Conservatives, who clearly have not taken the trouble to study our proposal seriously, there is absolutely no question of granting the maximum number of weeks of benefits to anyone who has worked 360 hours. This is misinformation, as my colleague has just said.

One need only consult schedule I of the bill. An individual who has worked 360 hours would be entitled to between 14 and 36 weeks of benefits. Entitlement to 50 weeks, the maximum under this bill, would require over 1,115 hours of work and residence in a region with a level of unemployment over 16%.

If this measure were passed, it would substantially reduce the phenomenon known as the spring gap, the period in which many seasonal workers receive neither income nor benefits.

The second measure in Bill C-308 concerns the weekly benefit rate. At the moment, as everyone knows, the rate is set at 55% of insurable earnings, to a maximum of $41,300 a year. This bill proposes to increase it by 5% to set it at 60%.

Over 166,000 Quebeckers—nearly two thirds of whom are women—earn minimum wage, which is currently $9 an hour. This means that these workers can earn a maximum of $173.25 a week or $9,000 a year. Clearly that is far too little to live on decently.

The third measure in this bill, which perfectly complements the previous one, is to increase the maximum insurable earnings to $41,500 and introduce a guaranteed annual indexing formula. This increase would generate additional revenues and thus fund some of the improvements proposed by this bill. According to the figures of the human resources department, this increase would lead to additional revenues of $420 million and spending of $245 million resulting in a credit balance of $175 million.

Fourth, the bill also proposes finally eliminating the discrimination facing people who are entering or re-entering the workforce—the Liberals put forward that distinction in 1996. Those individuals are unfairly penalized, especially women who often leave the workforce to care for their children. That is why, according to a study by the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec, only 16% of young unemployed workers under 25 years old are receiving EI benefits, while in the early 1990s, that proportion was 52%.

The fifth measure aims to correct the problem I mentioned earlier, namely, the presumption that workers who do not have an arm's length relationship with their employers are basically guilty until proven innocent. Of course, this goes against the presumption of innocence that is pivotal in all modern judicial systems, and enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and its Canadian equivalent.

Sixth, Bill C-308 amends the formula used to calculate insurable earnings; the calculation would be based on the 12 best weeks in the 52-week qualifying period.

Lastly, this bill opens the door to the possibility of self-employed workers taking part in the EI system on a voluntary basis. According to the most recent numbers, over 16% of Canadian workers are self-employed at this time, and that number has risen recently particularly because of the recession. It is high time we offered them the opportunity to enjoy some sort of income security.

These seven measures would undoubtedly correct many major deficiencies that exist in the current employment insurance system—first, by improving it, but also by removing certain provisions originally put in place to address the terrible suspicions that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have seemed to harbour against unemployed workers.

In closing, losing one's job is rarely a joyous occasion. Having to prove to the government that one is not trying to cheat the system is even more humiliating. Workers who find themselves in that situation are reduced to begging the government for assistance that they rightly deserve, assistance that they themselves have paid for, day after day, week after week.

That is why I invite all parliamentarians to look at this bill not simply as a way to improve the system, but as a way to correct certain glaring injustices.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and this item is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

The House resumed from May 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, be read the second time and referred to a committee, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Windsor West had five minutes remaining in his speech the last time the bill was before the House so he can pick up right where he left off and finish his allocated time.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, from the very moment the House resumed, the Conservatives began heckling, so some things do not change. Unfortunately, Bill C-23 has re-emerged as well, which is of concern. The bill would bring in a trade agreement between Canada and Colombia.

The bill is about providing a privileged trade agreement to Colombia. It is not about the issue of fear of trade in general and free trade. It is about providing privileged access to the Canadian markets as well as Canada entering into another deeper relationship with Colombia. On the surface, there is no doubt that we should pursue trade agreements. However, what is disturbing about the bill is we are doing so with a country that has had significant problems such as murder and crime. As well, a series of problems related to civil society and the economics of its nation have not yet been addressed. Sadly, since the last time I spoke, approximately 27 more trade unionists have been killed in Colombia.

I had an opportunity to discuss this at committee. I questioned the Colombian representatives about the number of leaders who had been assassinated in their state. We were not talking about union activists from forestry or mining. We were talking about people who were part of their civil society, leaders of their nursing, teachers and university associations. I asked about specific cases. Interestingly enough everything was a crime of passion, assassinations of people who were fighting for basic human and worker rights. A continuation of the explanation was that these were personal problems, people being assassinated in their homes, in the streets, at work or somewhere else. That is unacceptable.

That is why I am surprised we have come back to this bill at this point. I know the Liberals vacillated on this issue. At first they were very supportive of the bill, supporting the government in moving it forward. Then at the same time there was a big push back. Thousands of Canadians have petitioned against this deal, saying that we need to have some further resolve of the Colombian government's protection of its citizens before we even entertain this type of deeper relationship. Once again, it is a privileged relationship and would be different than we do for most nations.

Interestingly then the LIberals apparently changed their position because it was supposed to be a confidence matter. I guess they are showing more confidence in the government again. I do not understand how this place works any more. It seems every day there is a different story.

It appears the Liberals are going to support this measure and that is disturbing. We would rather see a resolution of some of these problems so the trade organizations, civil society members and the Colombian people can be supported. Then the government can be rewarded by a trade agreement, but not before it resolves these very serious issues.

Some of the names may not mean much to some people, but Tique Adolfo was murdered recently. Arango Alberto, Pinto Alexander, Carreno Armando, Franco Franco Victor and Rodriguez Pablo were murdered as well. It is interesting to note that Rodriguez Pablo was a teacher.

This is what really disturbs me about the way we are approaching this. I am glad I had a chance to read some of the names into the record because at least they will be remembered in that way and in the that context. It disturbs me that my country would enter a privileged trading relationship with a government that continues to allow people in its civil society, including teachers, to be murdered because of the beliefs and values for which they stand.

If we want to have an open and free democratic society and we want to have a fair trade agreement with Columbia, it is time to say no to its government until it clean up its house, get things in order, ensures that people in its civil society and working class can do the necessary work to advance the country. Let us not reward Colombia first. We need to stand strong right now.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, why does the NDP continue to use very misleading language when it addressed the crime problem in Colombia? In a very inflammatory way, the member said that the Colombia government allowed murder. Would he be willing to retract that statement? It is a very serious statement to say that a government is allowing murder when the record is very clear that it is being very aggressive on prosecutions, following up, arrests and successful convictions.

Will he apologize and change his language? He has made a very serious statement about another government. He has said that a government is allowing and permitting murder. Would he clarify that and perhaps apologize?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have nothing to apologize for or clarify. The nation has been too well versed in history in understanding the seriousness of the nature of the problems there. There has been a continuation of public policy that has not protected people who stand for ordinary citizens.

I am ashamed that Canada would defend that type of approach. It is extremely important for our country to stand strong. We are not just talking about mining and different types of industries that have had historical conflict. We are talking about people who are teachers and who organize society. The government is supposed to support them, yet they continue to have problems. I simply cannot stand by, witness that and pretend, by a distance, that it is not something serious. It needs to be addressed.

We should send a much stronger language back to Colombia to show that if it is to have a privileged trade agreement with Canada, it will come with conditions. We have trade agreements with them, but this is a privileged trade agreement that comes with conditions, which is the people in its society are to be protected.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Trade obviously has not looked at the facts coming out from human rights organizations in Colombia.

A report was issued by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which named President Uribe, more than a decade ago, as 82nd on the list of the top 100 Colombian narco-traffickers. The Defense Intelligence Agency said that now-President Uribe was “a Colombian politician...dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high government levels” and that he was a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug lord.

The Defense Intelligence Agency is tying them in with narco-traffickers. Given that human rights organizations have already shown direct links between the Uribe administration and murderous parliamentary thugs, how can the Conservatives say, with any credibility, that they are opposed to drug trafficking and crimes when they want to give a privileged trading relationship to that regime?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is shocking. We have obvious evidence of drug cartels tied with those who are part of the governing body. It is something that needs further examination.

It should not be one from which the minister distances himself. He should be further delving into that relationship and doing the work necessary to ensure that things are going to be approached in a very professional and appropriate manner. However, what we have is an ideological drive by the Conservatives to bring in a trade agreement with Colombia.

Once again, this is a privileged trade agreement. Nothing right now would affect the trade agreements that we have and the trade that is happening between our two countries. This is a privileged trade agreement. Why would we not be working with other nations and have them progressing on human rights and moving forward in ways that are open for democracy versus rewarding a country and then hoping later on that it is going to do something?

In this privileged trade agreement, we have sidebar issues for the environment, multinationals and trade unionism. That clouds the issue and provides a greater cover for those who do not want to follow the rules to break them and not have consequences. It is beyond me why we would want to structure our agreement to a regime of that nature and has those connections. It just shows how weak the Conservatives truly are on the drug issue.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I noted the comment made by the hon. member referencing the sidebar agreement. One of the regrettable aspects to NAFTA was that environment and labour rights were sidebarred. Since then, there has been a lot of discussion that we should go further and we should strengthen that.

We heard a lot of worries during the American election that they might get serious about opening up NAFTA, not necessarily for protectionism but to make sure that the environmental and labour provisions were actually included in any future trade agreements, potentially opening up the one that we have with the United States and Mexico.

The hon. member mentioned these sidebar agreements. Does he think we have actually progressed in Canada by still sidebarring and not making binding on the parties matters related to workers' rights and protection of the environment of their communities?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things about the NAFTA agreement and our trade agreement with the United States is that we have actually seen on their side of the border a progression to understanding that, for us to compete in a global economy, often the environment, as well as labour and other types of issues, are used against us. They are used against us because other countries are able to exploit the environment, exploit workers, exploit women and children. We have seen a progression in the United States to identify that, if we are to compete in the world market, other countries have to raise their levels. To be able to ship into and dump into our markets when they are exploiting children or exploiting labour, whether it be women, the activists or the environment, is something we should contest. There should be a voice raised against this, because we are not doing ourselves or those countries any good by allowing those conditions.

That is important, because our country still seems stuck in a rut that, if we deregulate everything and have no standards, we will actually do better. The reality is that deregulation is allowed, not just in terms of the poisoning of our food, but we have lost companies because of that. They have gone to other districts where there is fair competition, as opposed to those companies that want to use the environment or labour practices as a subsidy, and they do well. Other companies have moved away from that.

It is really important that there be an understanding that the North American market has to shift. Once again, there needs to be more scrutiny on those products and services that not only come from here, but also those that are shipped and dumped into our markets, such that they will have standards to them. If we do not do that, we are not even helping the people from those countries. All we are doing is allowing the continuation of abuse and a pattern of behaviour that will not sustain this planet and will not sustain the workers and keep many people out of poverty.

So I say to the Canadian government, let us use this as an example to Colombia. The carrot-and-stick approach is one thing we can do. If they raise their standards, if they solve these issues, if they work on them and we monitor them and put them on an approach that will take these concerns away, then we can move into a privileged trade agreement. Why give them a privileged trade agreement right now when we know the abuses are still there? They are historic enough in this century and are significant beyond even just Canada; they are international. Why would we do that? Why would we send the message to the rest of the world that we are willing to do business under the terms and conditions of these regimes versus what we should be doing? Canada is doing the exact opposite.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question for the hon. member is, with Colombia having been torn apart by civil war over the last 40 years, with much of that warfare being fueled by the narco-economy, recognizing the fact that Canada already has a commercial relationship with Colombia without a rules-based structure around it, how can providing legitimate economic opportunity to the people of Colombia with a rules-based structure with the most robust labour and environmental standards of any trade agreement Canada has ever signed and providing legitimate economic opportunity to wean them away from the narco-economy make the situation worse?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

It speaks for itself, Mr. Speaker, in a sense. We are entering into an agreement with a narco-economy. That is it. That is what we are asking our country to do right now. I oppose that. I think other provisions are needed. There has been some work done to help Colombia progress to a better position, but it has not yet worked.

So why would we enter into a trade agreement with a narco-economy? I ask the Liberal member, why would we want to engage in a narco-economy?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in a few moments I will get into the substance, thin as it is, of the questions from the member for Windsor West, but the record will clearly show that he did not answer my question, which asked him to clarify his statement where he says another government is allowing wholesale slaughter and murders. He did not address that.

He has responded to a question about a report from his colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster, who is always using the most horrifically misleading information related to this particular agreement. The report that was quoted in fact was denounced by the very people who commissioned it in the last decade, so not only is he totally out of date, he does not have the foggiest idea of the absolute unqualified nature of that support.

Canada is as prosperous as it is because we have always been a trading nation. We have realized since our very beginning that we can produce more than we can consume, so we trade with other nations. It is one of the reasons we are as prosperous as we are.

In any nation with whom we have entered a trading agreement, the results have been a corresponding increase in industry, jobs, GDP and trade back and forth between those two nations. I am not saying freedom of trade is the answer or the panacea to every single problem we face. It clearly is not, but in every case where a free trade agreement has been struck, the standard of living goes up, jobs increase, and trade increases in every situation.

We believe in the World Trade Organization, the WTO. We are a partner to that. There are over 150 countries in that particular organization. So as members can well imagine, completing a round of negotiations is difficult at the best of times, and the present Doha round is emblematic of that. We are committed, though, to seeing ongoing changes at the WTO. We think we can see those, and we are committed to that organization.

Meanwhile, because we realize that sometimes that organization can move slowly just because of its sheer size, we also engage in a positive way with other countries in bilateral agreements, sometimes multilateral within a particular region or an organization. So it is that we have been engaging with Colombia, as our record also shows.

I will be speaking tonight at a reception at the Peruvian embassy, where we will be celebrating the fact that we have completed a free trade agreement with Peru. We have one with Costa Rica. We can list quite a significant number of agreements.

I was in Jordan at the end of June and early July and signed a free trade agreement there. The Prime Minister signed off on the final negotiations on a free trade agreement with Panama. Of course, we have a free trade agreement as well with the United States and Mexico, and on and on it goes.

Therefore, following that pathway of prosperity, we continue to want to see a conclusion here in Parliament of the discussions and a ratification of the trade deal with Colombia.

It is important when we are looking at countries with whom we deal that we do not take a snapshot in time, one that is maybe 20 years old, which the NDP seems to dwell on with its old black-and-white Polaroids, drawing out relics from the past. We need to ask, in which direction is a government moving; in which direction is the country moving?

I would just reflect on some data. This is not our data. This is data that is internationally confirmed in terms of a number of indicators in Colombia that would speak to us about whether that country is seeing improvement or movement in the right direction at all.

Between 2002 and 2008, kidnappings decreased by 87%. Do they still happen? Yes, they do. They still happen in Canada, too.

Homicide rates have dropped by 44%. Are people still being murdered in that country? Yes, they are. They are still being murdered in Canada also, not at the same rate, thankfully, but the rates are dropping because of the vigorous pursuit and the prosecution of people involved in those murders.

The median poverty line has fallen from 55% to 45%. Colombia has attained coverage of 94% in basic education and 31% in higher education.

Right now, 90.4% of the population enjoys some form of health care. Is it as high a percentage as in Canada? No, but some form of health care is available to 90.4% of the population. The goal that Colombia seems about to reach is universal health coverage by 2010—and just to inform the NDP, which is still hopelessly trapped in its past rhetoric, the year is 2009.

More than 350,000 internally displaced persons have now received comprehensive protection and access to basic social services.

Training programs for more than 12,000 civil servants have taken place on the new Colombian law on children and adolescents.

There has been a reintegration of 80,000 children and adolescents into the community through education and community-based services. These 80,000 children are among those who were frightfully exposed to a country that was for too long devastated by the effects of the narcotics trade and severe revolutionary actions, some of the left-wing revolutionary movement, that devastated so much of that country. Many of these situations have been improved on, resulting in the reintegration, thankfully, of some 80,000 children. There is more to do, but Colombia is moving in the right direction.

More than 900 community justice officials have now been trained in terms of how to resolve conflicts at the local level. They have a record of some 45,000 of those conflicts having been resolved at the local community level.

Aid has supported environmentally sustainable agriculture products for more than 4,500 farmers, giving them alternatives to illicit crops. They were previously at the mercy of the narcotics dealers and revolutionary groups, and now they have alternatives. That has benefited more than 30,000 people.

Our own labour projects have provided technical assistance in Colombia, including $400,000 for the modernization of labour administration and $644,000 for the enforcement of labour rights.

Is it perfect in Colombia? No, but it is certainly moving in the right direction.

We have seen news releases as recently as today from labour organizations in Canada that say we are moving precipitously. They say we are rushing into this particular agreement and ask why we are doing that. I would like to quote some timelines that are important.

It was over seven years ago that the former federal Liberal government began to enter into informal discussions with the Andean community. Formal negotiations began June 7, 2007, with the government itself, in a formal way.

The Standing Committee on International Trade completed its study on the Canada-Colombia FTA in June 2008. That committee brought in many witnesses from all sides of the equation.

I have met with leaders of civil society groups in Colombia, including those who, at great risk to themselves, staged marches and protests in that country about the things that matter most to them. These people are very much concerned about the people they represent.

The FTA itself and the side agreements were signed on November 21, 2008. We are well into 2009 and approaching 2010. Since 2008, the full text has been available on the Internet and at the request of any individual. Yet, with all of this, the NDP and a few labour leaders are saying this is being rushed into.

We have taken a very prudent path in pursuing this particular agreement. It is something that is totally dismissed, time and again, by the NDP and certain others who are ideologically opposed. We should be clear about that. They are plainly and simply ideologically opposed to the notion of free and fair trade with other countries. They might make notions or motions in another direction, but I understand it is an ideological problem they have.

With the recent difficult times we are having with the United States on the buy-American provisions, what has been the NDP response? Those members want us to build walls around the country. They want us to build walls so that we just sell stuff to each other. That has been the NDP response, and historically, of course, that has proven to be devastating not just to economies but to workers.

So here we are with this free trade agreement that has been signed but quite rightly needs to be ratified.

I would ask that the NDP consider something here. I wonder why its members were mute, why they were silent while Colombia signed free trade agreements with European countries that do not even have the high-grade labour and environmental provisions that we have in our agreement. The NDP was silent on that. There was no opposition. Why are its members silent today when just last Friday the United States indicated that it is going to release the funding that goes before it moves toward ratification of a free trade agreement? The U.S. has been withholding certain funding based on its concerns about the situation in Colombia, has done a thorough review of that situation, has now attested also to the improvements it has seen, and has released important funding that it has been holding back until now. I wonder why the NDP did not comment on that.

It is very disturbing to me that the NDP has no problem at all with Canadian farmers, workers, producers now being at an economic disadvantage when it comes to dealing with Colombia because Colombia has signed deals with European countries. I say congratulations to them for that and well done to the countries that have signed agreements with them. However, in these cases, now Canadian producers, Canadian workers who want to sell their product into Colombia are at a serious disadvantage because the tariffs on those products, which our workers face, have been removed by European countries, and, I would dare say, at some point soon if we do not get moving on this, we will also be at a disadvantage with the United States. However, it does not seem to be of any concern to the NDP that our Canadian workers are at a disadvantage because of free trade deals Colombia has signed with European countries, which the NDP did not protest against at all, and here we are with a labour side accord and environmental accords which the European agreements with the Colombians do not even contain.

We are committed, and now, by signing, Colombia is committed, to the declarations of the International Labour Organization, declarations that cover everything from child labour laws to occupational health and safety laws, and that have to do with minimum wage, the workday itself and hours of work. Colombia is committed to the same guidelines Canada faces in terms of environmental protection.

I would submit that this is the highest-grade free trade agreement between Colombia and any other country.

The NDP members continue to say they are embarrassed about Canada. We hear that at regular intervals and, frankly, it is disheartening to hear that, but they regularly say how embarrassed they are about Canada.

I am proud of this free trade agreement.

They will not be able to produce a higher-grade free trade agreement than the one we have with Colombia right now. However, they are content to see our workers lose jobs because our produce and our products and the innovation of our hard-working labourers here in Canada are at a distinct disadvantage. When we sign this, if we get this through, 84% of all the tariffs on agricultural goods, which our producers face right now, will be removed and it will open up more doors of opportunity for workers in Colombia.

Not every problem in Colombia has been settled. Nor has every social problem in Canada been settled. However, this agreement would hold not just the current government in Colombia but any future government to account with guidelines that are transparent, that are provable and that have sanctions, such as fines of up to $15 million for violations of either the labour or environmental designations in this particular free trade agreement.

I ask the NDP members to address these questions directly, and I would ask them to stick to the facts.

We still have not had an apology from the member of Parliament for Burnaby—New Westminster who, on a number of occasions, has stood and said that the new trade agreement in Canada -- and usually it is said that in debate it is folly even to repeat the ridiculous comments that are made which would be camouflaged as true debate by our opposition, but I have to expose the ludicrous nature and the panicked state into which the NDP has fallen. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster continues to say that someone who commits murder in Colombia is subject to a fine, and that is a result of the free trade agreement. My respect for him will increase marginally the day he apologizes for using utterly false information.

It would be far better for NDP members to stand and say they are ideologically opposed to this and most free trade agreements, and that they do not like it, and to maintain that position. I respect that, but then they should allow the vote to take place, because members have looked at this now for years. They have heard from their constituents. They have heard a variety of things. They have heard that some constituents are for it and some are against it. There probably are not too many more members whose minds will be changed on this, so I would ask members of the NDP to at least allow the democratic thing to happen now on something that has been discussed as far back as 2002, to allow the vote to come to the House of Commons. Do not hold back the working people in Colombia who want to see this move ahead. Do not hold back Canadian workers who have products and services to sell that are the best and most competitive in the world and that are being held back because of this. NDP members should stand and say they do not like the deal, that they think it is bad, and continue on with their misleading rhetoric if they want. But I would ask that they do the democratic thing and allow it to come to a vote .

When I was in Colombia a number of years ago I was standing in a tourist area marketplace. I was trying to exchange my money at a cash machine and it was not working. Two young women who were probably in their twenties told me that the machines in the tourist area did not work but there was one in the commercial area a few blocks away which they offered to take me to. I have to say there was a tinge of suspicion. I thought maybe they would want a tip for their work, and that I would be leaving that particular area and going into the commercial area. However, they looked trustworthy and they took me a few blocks away to a local bank and showed me the machine and helped with the instructions which of course were not in English. They stood back while I put my card in so they could not read my PIN number. I got my cash. I offered them some money for their help and they refused but asked if I could find my way back to the area I had just left. I said I thought I could. They said that I was probably wondering why they did this. I said to be honest I thought they would want some money for giving me directions and I would have been pleased to give them that. They asked if I was from the United States. I said that actually I was from Canada. They said that probably did not make any difference. They said that I had probably heard about all of the narcotics and the devastating revolutionary activity in Colombia. I said that of course I had. They wanted me to know that most Colombians are decent, hard-working people who just want a chance to prove themselves and move ahead, and that is the message they left with me.

I do not know who those two university students are. I did not get their names, but I would say they are two ambassadors for Colombia who did a very effective job. I would ask the NDP and others to simply let the majority of decent, hard-working people who live in Colombia have a chance to move ahead. That is what we are asking for today.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the minister back in the House. I will be charitable and say he must be somewhat disoriented after being away for a few months because in his entire speech he was not able to get any facts right at all. As human rights organizations have indicated, the death rate in Colombia is going up, not going down. In fact there were 18% more murders of trade unionists last year than there were in the previous year.

My colleague from Windsor West mentioned the number of murders that have taken place this year. It is not just the number of murders that is so worrying. It is the number of false positives by the Colombian military and the number of disappearances as the murder rate has climbed and also the number of disappearances of the Colombian union leaders and teachers who simply disappear and are never found again.

The second point that is important to mention is what is actually happening around the world. The minister spoke very vaguely about some indications of perhaps some agreements happening somewhere. As minister, he should know full well that the United States Congress has refused to ratify the Colombia trade deal. It has simply said “no”. In Norway the government pulled back and said it does not want to be seen as implicitly endorsing Uribe's government. Britain has stopped providing training and support to government security forces. These governments are doing the responsible thing.

Why are the Conservatives endorsing murder by trying to push this trade deal through?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has clearly been caught in the headlights of his own glaringly ridiculous rhetoric. He is still trying to avoid the fact that he continues to say, and I quote him as saying this, that if you murder someone in Colombia, the free trade agreement says you will be fined for that. The member has not yet apologized for that. He has not yet said, “Okay, I got a little carried away. Sorry, it does not say that”. Until he does that, I will question everything he brings forward.

It is one thing to feel passionate about something, as the member does. It is one thing to vigorously debate, albeit with false information, but when the president of Colombia was here and in an unprecedented way went to that committee to answer questions, the member brought out this horrifically misleading information. President Uribe asked just one thing. He asked the member, if, simply out of respect, he would look him in the eye when he brought forward those false allegations.

The member could not even look him in the eye. Would he please look us in our collective eyes, look Canadians in the eye and say, “Hey, that thing I said about the free trade agreement having a fine for murderers was not fine for me to say.” I wish he would just say that.

Then I could possibly look at his other information as possibly having a modicum of correctness to it.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for raising those issues that are very important to Canadians.

I was in Colombia when the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster was there. We raised the issues that the minister has raised about Colombia. I can say that they have made great progress on that front, and we are looking forward to this particular treaty.

For the past many years, we have not signed a single agreement with Asia or Asia-Pacific nations. What steps are being taken by the minister to make sure that we make some progress on that front as well?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the debate on free trade agreements, my colleague has asked a pertinent question. I appreciate that.

There are tremendous opportunities throughout Asia. We are doing a number of things to pursue those opportunities. We are working hard on expanded trade agreements, for instance in China and India.

My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, just presided over the opening of yet another trade office in India about a week ago and also represented Canada very well at WTO discussions going on there.

It is my hope, and I say that carefully because we do not know what is going to happen here in the next couple of weeks, that should I be able to be in India about two weeks from now, we will be opening yet another trade office there.

We are working on a foreign investment protection agreement with India. We are getting closer. It has gone back and forth a number of times. We are working on a nuclear cooperation agreement with China. We are also pursuing similar initiatives.

I will use one example and then I will close on this. The former minister of trade in India expressed India's concern about their agriculture which is mostly subsistence-level farming competing against an industrialized country like Canada which has a very mature and sophisticated agricultural industry. India does not want to embark on a full and formal free trade agreement. They are open to enhanced trade.

We look at the areas where we can improve, and though a free trade agreement may not be imminent we are able to expand our trade opportunities with many of these Asian countries.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for recognizing me in this discussion of the implementation of the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia.

I feel that this debate is very important because we do not all agree by any means with this treaty, neither the members of the House nor the people of Canada and Colombia. The government will not change its mind as a result of this debate, but at least it will not be able to pretend it did not know what parliamentarians really think.

We are still wondering whether the government is paying any attention to what we say. Even though I was not yet in the House a year ago, I know that the international trade committee submitted a report on the free trade agreement with a number of recommendations. As a member of this committee now, I would like some assurances that the government read the report and responded to it. But that still has not been done.

It seems, unfortunately, that the Conservative government has turned a deaf ear and wants to proceed with this agreement even though there is a total lack of conditions conducive to it.

We tried in vain to find some valid reasons for signing such an agreement. There are none. The Conservatives and Liberals alike have only one argument to make: free trade brings prosperity.

No one is against prosperity, of course, but it is wrong to think it can be achieved by signing bilateral agreements without any serious criteria.

Whenever we enter bilateral trade agreements, we should familiarize ourselves with the realities of the countries with which we are dealing. We should take the time to assess the consequences of our decisions, both within Canada and within our partner, and not just from a commercial point of view.

In the case of Colombia, it turns out that the effect on trade between our two countries will be negligible in comparison with the damage that could be done to Colombia’s ability to defend the interests of its own people. Even the prosperity argument collapses if we take a close look at who will really benefit from an increase in exports.

The connection between free trade and the common weal has never proved completely true. Any positive impact of an increase in exports on the standard of living and human rights in Colombia is debatable. Some Colombian organizations tell us that their country’s auditor general stated just a few years ago that half of the arable land belonged directly to the paramilitary and drug traffickers.

We need, therefore, to be aware of the current situation in Colombia and take it into consideration. In addition to the opinions of some of my colleagues, who went personally to see the conditions there, we also have the stories of many eye witnesses, Colombian citizens, who have told us about their experiences. Their stories are very troubling and very moving. These people have to deal every day with the violence, the lack of freedom of speech, and the absence of the most basic of human rights.

As a farmer myself with a background in the farm movement, a shiver runs down my back at the thought that at this very moment, trade unionists in Colombia are being attacked and are targeted simply because they continue to assert the rights of working people. There are still people today in Colombia who pay with their lives for their determination to fight for their rights.

We must remember that armed conflicts often occur in rural areas, in more remote areas where the inhabitants are often dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. In these regions, the conflict consists of armed struggles for control over the land and the resources and its severity has led to the displacement of populations. Currently, there are four million displaced people in the country. Many people are forced to abandon their homes and land and arrive in the city without work and destined to live a precarious life.

Contrary to what some may think, free trade is not always welcomed by the agricultural sector. For small farmers in Colombia, an increase in trade also means an increase in imports. The free trade agreement with Canada, which provides for the immediate elimination of duties on wheat, peas, lentils and barley, among others, would be devastating for Colombian agriculture, which accounts for 11.4% of GDP and 22% of employment in Colombia.

Some organizations, such as the Canadian Council for International Co-operation maintain that, as a result of the free trade agreement with Canada,“12,000 livelihoods will be undermined by Canada’s industrially-produced wheat and barley exports” and that “the value of domestic wheat production in Colombia is expected to drop by 32%, leading to losses of 44% in employment levels and wages”. That is the real situation.

Another potential consequence of the competition and the progressive loss of market share is that it will favour the establishment of coca plantations because coca is becoming the only product with a strong export market which, unfortunately, remains profitable.

The sale of coca, and consequently drug trafficking, guerillas, paramilitary forces, the ties to power, corruption and so forth, this is a cycle that is difficult to break and one that victimizes the innocent. Colombia must adopt the means to break this cycle and Canada can help. However, in our opinion, a free trade agreement is not the route to go.

The agreement before us has some serious shortcomings and goes beyond a decrease in customs tariffs. This agreement reproduces the chapter on protection of investments from NAFTA. The many lawsuits that have been filed by investors against governments should have taught us that this chapter should be revised, or even withdrawn from NAFTA, or at least should not be reused in other trade agreements. But with this, various foreign investors will have a number of advantages and the state's power to legislate for the well-being of its people will suffer as a result. Thus, in the current context of systematic violations of human, labour and environmental rights, the investors will have powers that will only serve to make certain already disadvantaged groups even weaker, and will eventually eat away at democracy.

It can obviously be interesting for Canada to have this investment protection provision. In fact, Canadian businesses operating in Colombia will benefit from strong protection of their investments through this free trade agreement. This agreement will allow Canadian companies involved in mining, for instance, and whose human rights record is less than stellar to sue the Colombian government, should it ever implement legislation that affects their profits. Substantial compensation is provided for in the event of nationalization or expropriation. In other words, the power to legislate as it sees fit within its jurisdiction is taken away from the state.

In Quebec, we now have a fine example of a company abusing power that is suing the Government of Quebec, because the government decided to prohibit a type of pesticide in an effort to protect the health of Quebeckers. I think this is an inconceivable situation. In regards to the agreement with Colombia, what would Canadian mining companies do if the Colombian government decided to improve some national labour standards? Would they sue the Colombian government because the implementation of this law would cost the company money and would decrease profits? This could happen. The Canadian government has the means to better regulate the activities of Canadian companies operating abroad, but it does not do so.

Once again, it is clear that the government has chosen to ignore everyone else's recommendations. Plenty of recommendations arose from the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries, but the government's response has fallen short of the mark. When asked to adopt mandatory social responsibility standards for Canadian mining companies abroad, the government decided to adopt voluntary standards instead. When asked to create an independent ombudsman who could conduct impartial investigations to validate complaints, the government created the Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, who reports directly to the minister and investigates only if authorized by the mining company. In other words, the government chose to ignore all of the recommendations it received.

The Canadian government wasted a perfectly good opportunity to truly improve the living conditions of Colombian workers. This same government says that it can help Colombians prosper simply by selling them more goods at better prices.

Of course the Colombian government is perfectly capable of passing its own laws governing mining companies operating within its territory, but enforcing such laws is something else entirely. Enforcement requires the kind of resources, infrastructure and territorial control that Colombia does not necessarily have.

We have to bear in mind that Colombia is a developing country and that it is very hard to sign trade agreements between countries as different as Canada and Colombia.

Every time we talk to people involved in social movements in Colombia, we are amazed by the stories of brave men and women who carry on fighting despite the threat of assassination. Last February, my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I met with the coalition of Colombian social movements and organizations, which includes several human rights protection organizations operating at various levels. It took a lot of courage for members of the coalition to come to Canada, hoping to raise awareness of their plight among Quebec and Canadian MPs.

Closer to me, last week, at my constituency office, I personally met with six Colombians, including a couple who had left four of their children behind in Colombia and lost track of them. They were crying and asking what I could do to help them find out what happened to them and bring them to Canada so that they can have some kind of family life.

That is the sort of thing Colombians are going through, as I have learned firsthand in recent weeks. My meeting with these people was both absolutely amazing and incredibly depressing. I think that, as members of Parliament and parliamentarians, we have to do everything in our power to lend them a helping hand, so that humanitarians conditions in a country like Colombia can improve.

Mark my words. These people who have every interest in seeing life improve in Colombia came to us, asking that we not support that free trade agreement. Canada's stand on this issue is of great importance, not so much commercially as morally, to them who are very interested in and affected by it.

Everyone in this House should clearly understand that, with our vote for or against this bill, we will send a message to Colombia and to the rest of the world as well.

It is clear in the Bloc Québécois's mind that this message should be: we will not sign any preferential trade agreement when there is a risk of making an already precarious situation, in terms of working conditions and the environment, deteriorate further and when there is not a minimum level of respect for human rights.

That is the least Canada should require of its trading partners.

To all those who say that our approach would isolate rather than help Colombia, we say that, on the contrary, trade between these two countries will continue and that even without a free trade agreement, the flow of trade between the two countries has increased. So why is the government bound, bent and determined to make Colombia a preferred trade partner? The figures show fairly limited trade between the two countries. Quebec and Canada do business with a number of other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that would be better placed than Colombia to become a preferred partner. Why Colombia? Why stubbornly go ahead with a proposal that is causing so much controversy here and elsewhere?

The only possible answer we can see is that the Government of Canada is determined to protect its investors abroad, at the expense of the local population's well-being.

Another factor we must not overlook is the environmental impact. The environmental side agreement falls far short of the expectations of those who are concerned about meeting environmental standards. This agreement does not provide for any sanctions for non-compliance with the most minimal requirements and could ultimately cause Colombia not to go ahead with adopting new environmental protection measures. The report of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation states “The ESA not only fails to provide a credible vehicle for enhancing and enforcing environmental laws and regulations, but it also fails to mitigate the corrosive pressures the CCFTA will exert on existing environmental and conservation measures and may in fact provide a further disincentive for environmental law reform.” That is deeply concerning.

Given all this information and all these concerns about the signing of this free trade agreement, we are opposed to it.

In addition, the Conservative government's approach in negotiating with Colombia showed contempt for our democratic institutions and this Parliament. At the time when the agreement was made public, a study on the subject matter was under way at the Standing Committee on International Trade. The opinion of elected parliamentarians was never taken into consideration as part of the discussions between our two countries.

This prompted the Bloc Québécois to introduce in this House a motion asking that “ the House refuse to give second reading to Bill C-23, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, because the government concluded the agreement while the Standing Committee on International Trade was considering the matter, thereby demonstrating its disrespect for democratic institutions”.

Unfortunately, in spite of all the points we raised and all the evidence suggesting that this trade agreement is not a desirable one, it would seem that the Liberal members are still unable to state clearly what position they will take on the issue. Based on what we heard Liberal members of the Standing Committee on International Trade say, however, we would think that they are aware of many problems in Colombia that such an agreement might make worse. They even expressed concerns about President Uribe's plans to change the country's Constitution to secure a third mandate as president. I wonder what more they need to check before finally opposing this agreement. The facts speak for themselves. Refusing to accept them will not make them any less true.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House today to speak to the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Listening to the debate there is obviously a divergence of views in the chamber. The minister made an important point that is worth repeating and which I will probably repeat a couple of times in my intervention today.

It is worth repeating that this is not a brand new agreement. It is not an agreement that was just tabled before the House and laid in front of all the members. This agreement has been in the informal stages of negotiations since 2002-03 and has been a formal agreement since 2007. It passed through the chamber. The committee actually went to Colombia and heard first-hand from Colombians in all parts of the country. Whether they were people involved in commercial businesses or government organizations, whether they were NGOs or they represented the International Labour Organization, we heard from dozens and dozens of Colombians.

We walked the streets of Bogota, Colombia which a few years ago would have been unsafe. I think Colombia has made great strides and that a good portion of that forward momentum is the direct result of increased trading links with the rest of the world.

However, for some reason or another, we have two parties in the chamber that want to condemn the Colombians for actually moving forward and advancing their own country.

This agreement is an important part of our Conservative government's strategy to make the Canadian economy stronger. In these difficult economic times, it is important to keep doors open in the region and around the world for our producers and our exporters. Our government has provided leadership internationally in encouraging free trade and open markets and discouraging protectionism. Our government knows that trade and investment agreements play a critical role in creating new opportunities for companies and helping the global economy recover.

That is why we are committed to an aggressive trade agenda in the Americas and beyond. The Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, along with the related agreements on the environment and labour co-operation, is an important part of this broader trade agenda.

Canada currently has long-standing free trade agreements in force with the United States and Mexico under the NAFTA agreement, as well as agreements with Israel, Chile and Costa Rica. Under this government, we have very recently implemented new free trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association and Peru on July 1 and August 1 respectively.

Earlier this year, Canada also signed a free trade agree with Jordan and, of course, this free trade agreement that we are currently debating here in the House of Commons with Colombia.

On August 11 our government successfully concluded free trade negotiations with Panama. At the announcement of the conclusion of these negotiations, the Prime Minister emphasized our government's commitment to strong trading relationships and partnerships.

We are also looking ahead to other important partners around the world. At the Canada-European Union summit in May our government launched negotiations toward a comprehensive economic and trade agreement and on Friday the Minister of International Trade met with a group of trade ministers from the Caribbean communities to discuss the way forward for our trade negotiations with them.

Those are yet further examples of how hard this government is working to pursue bilateral and multilateral trading relationships that work for Canadians.

We also remain dedicated to advancing our ongoing free trade negotiations with other partners, including South Korea, Singapore, Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.

Our trade agenda will continue to be ambitious. We have started exploring deeper ties with India and Morocco and are currently involved in technical discussions with Japan.

What does this very active trade agenda mean for Canada? To be more concrete, let us take a look in more detail at just some of what we have achieved so far this year.

The bottom line of what this ambitious trade agenda means is jobs, opportunity, more exports, more products for Canadians and more choice for consumers. It would not only help Canadians but it would help other nations that become our closer trading partners.

The Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement is a first generation agreement with an emphasis on tariff elimination. Implementing this agreement, the first free trade agreement Canada has ever completed with European countries, will open more doors for Canadian producers and exporters by increasing their access to these wealthy and sophisticated European markets.

Canada's producers and exporters will benefit immediately from the elimination of duties on all Canadian non-agriculture merchandise exports upon the coming into force of the free trade agreement. Tariffs will also be eliminated or reduced on selected Canadian agricultural exports such as durum wheat, frozen french fries, beer and crude canola oil. As well, Canadian companies will be able to access innovative technologies and other inputs from EFTA markets, including through the importation of machinery and scientific and precision instruments.

With the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement, there are also considerable benefits for Canadians. Canadian producers will benefit from Peru's immediate elimination of tariffs on 95% of current Canadian exports, with most remaining tariffs to be eliminated over a five to ten year period. Products that will receive immediate duty-free access to Peru include wheat, barley, lentils, peas and selected boneless beef cuts, a variety of paper products, and machinery and equipment.

This agreement also provides enhanced market access in service sectors that are of interest to Canada, including mining, energy and professional services. Canada's banking, insurance and security sector will also benefit from the greater access to the Peruvian marketplace.

The free trade, labour co-operation and environment agreements signed with Jordan in June of this year are not yet in force but the legislation will be forthcoming. We can still look at what the free trade agreement will offer Canadian producers once implemented.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on over 99% of recent Canadian exports by value to Jordan, directly benefiting Canadian producers and exporters. Key Canadian sectors that would benefit from this immediate duty-free access include forestry, manufacturing and agriculture and agri-food sectors in which Canadian companies are global leaders.

The free trade agreement with Jordan would improve market access for both agricultural and industrial goods and help to ensure a level playing field for Canadian exporters vis-à-vis competitors that currently benefit from preferential access to Jordan's market. The parallel labour and environmental agreements would help to ensure progress on labour rights and environmental protection.

It is simple: By bringing down barriers to trade and investment, the Conservative government will help Canada's business compete in an ever more competitive world and stimulate the Canadian economy.

A closer economic partnership with Colombia would similarly reduce tariffs for Canadian exporters. The Canada-Colombia free trade agreement would also expand opportunities for Canadian investors and service providers. This agreement would also help Colombia build a more prosperous, equitable and secure democracy, a democracy that can contribute to growth and economic stability in the region.

From the start of the global economic downturn, our message has been clear. Ensuring free and open trade is vital to the international effort of strengthening the global economy. Canadians can count on their government to lead these efforts and to take every opportunity to oppose protectionism and defend free and open trade on the world stage. They can also depend upon our efforts to help Canadians through and beyond the current economic difficulties.

Protectionism is not the answer and it has never been the answer. Partnerships and reaching out in a broader trading agenda are at least part of that answer. This is why I ask for the support of all hon. members for the Colombia-Canada free trade agreement.

I have a bit of time left and there are a couple of things that have been hinted at in debate. Some of them were discussed in a little more detail, but it is important for all members of this House to take a look at the Uribe government.

When we were in Colombia with the committee, we were granted an audience with President Uribe and his entire cabinet. Those audiences seldom ever occur, even when free trade agreements are being negotiated. We had a very open, frank discussion about politics, free trade and the challenges Colombia is facing.

I would ask all members to take a look at President Uribe's cabinet and the president's own background. They face formidable obstacles and challenges in Colombia, but everything that has occurred in Colombia under President Uribe's watch has been positive. I know some will take exception to that statement, but it has been extremely positive.

The president witnessed violence first-hand as a young child. Many of his cabinet members have been kidnapped by FARC and some were held for a year and a half or three years. Others have been kidnapped by the right-wing paramilitaries. His cabinet is not made up of right-wing ideologues, which the opposition continually wants us to believe. That is far from the truth. He actually was able to reach into Colombian society and draw people from all over the political spectrum to his party and his cause. That is an accomplishment that not many people can match.

The reason is very clear and simple: Colombians wanted to get out of the dire straits they saw their country in. They wanted to have personal safety and the ability to travel throughout the country. The roads were not safe. They wanted to have some type of police presence that would avoid the continuing kidnappings; not that they do not still occur, because they do still occur, but there are markedly fewer than there were even a few years ago.

The politically motivated murders have decreased, not increased. We have seen better labour standards brought into place because of that government. We have seen a better adherence to the justice system because of that government. There are safer streets and highways and freedom of travel in Colombia that did not exist 10 years ago. It was absolutely impossible to travel between communities and cities in Colombia without jeopardizing one's life.

Why did Canada negotiate a free trade agreement with Colombia? It will open new markets and export opportunities for Canadian companies and will supply Canadian jobs. We have to do that because other countries are already ahead of us. As the minister said, we believe that the United States will be opening up its agreement very quickly to deal with the Colombians. The EFTA countries have signed an agreement with Colombia. The European Union is looking at signing an agreement with Colombia.

It should be noted that none of these agreements have the same level of labour and environmental parallel clauses that our Canadian agreement has. Ours is far superior and far more protective of labour and the environment than any free trade agreement by any other country in the world. It is important.

Even though our present level of bilateral trade with Colombia is fairly low at around $1.2 billion, that trade is growing exponentially. We have tremendous opportunity not just in Colombia but throughout South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

When our government came to power in 2006, we had a time of opportunity in this country with a very robust trading arrangement with the United States of America and Mexico in the NAFTA agreement that allowed for good times. That trading agreement is under more pressure today because of the worldwide economic downturn. That trading agreement has been threatened from all sides.

What was our government's answer? We looked beyond our immediate borders and, quite frankly, we followed the money. Canadian foreign direct investment in the Americas was already there ahead of us. Canadian companies, whether in the extractive sector, whether in agriculture, whether in manufacturing, were already in South America, Central America and the Caribbean with a tremendous amount of Canadian foreign direct investment. We followed that investment.

We are seeking not just opportunities. I do not want this to sound callous and that it is simply about Canada. It is absolutely about Canada, but there are also tremendous benefits for the countries with which we are signing these agreements.

Why would we not look at the Americas, our neighbours, those in the same hemisphere and the same time zones? Why would we not look for enhanced trading relationships in Central America?

Why would we not look at the opportunities for growth and the opportunities that our political cousins in the Americas are facing in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras? These countries have huge, growing economies. They have huge populations. They have great challenges. They have tremendous poverty. The only way for them to move forward is to trade with the rest of the world. They have to seek beneficial, comprehensive trading agreements.

The Liberal critic asked a question earlier about rules based trading. It is a very simple concept. Rules are in place that apply both to Canada and to the country being traded with for the benefit of both, for the protection of investment by both countries.

There are a number of issues and a number of them have already been spoken about. The extractive sector continually comes up in the discussion on free trade with Colombia. For a few moments I would like to talk about the Canadian extractive sector.

Our extractive sector is absolutely a world leader. Canada represents about 40% of the mining business around the world. Canadian companies operate in 148 countries. We are the preferred operator.

I was privileged to be at the WTO in India and I spoke to the minister of trade from Ecuador. The first comment was that Ecuador wants to work with Canada.

We have a big extractive sector. Canadians respect the environment, respect the rules and respect labour. We have great companies doing great work. We continually hear negative comments. We continually hear NGOs saying that none of this occurs. We should be extremely proud of the work that our companies are doing around the globe. There are companies from every province in Canada and they are doing good work.

We should be reaching out beyond our closest neighbours and outside the NAFTA agreement. We should be looking at the European Union and places like India and China and places in our own hemisphere such as South America, Central America and the Caribbean where there are tremendous opportunities for Canadian trade, for Canadian jobs, and for Canadian security. At the same time we will benefit our neighbours and our trading partners who desperately need the foreign currency and the market.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my Conservative colleague. As always, the Conservatives—and I find this terrible and extremely dangerous—present only part of the facts to try to sell their proposal.

My colleague is singing the praise of the Uribe government in Colombia when it is clear that crimes committed by paramilitary groups increased by 41% in 2008, compared to 14% in 2007. Over 30 members of Congress are currently under arrest, and they are generally close to the president. Crimes committed by the country's security forces have increased by more than 9%. Since 1990, 2,690 trade unionists have died, including 39 in 2007 and 46 in 2008. According to the U.S. State Department, nearly 3,500 people will be displaced.

I would like my colleague to comment on those figures.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question because it is particularly important, when talking about numbers and facts, that one has all of the numbers and facts.

Without question, Colombia is still a dangerous country. It still has tremendous challenges. It takes a different point of view to see where it was 10 years ago, 5 years ago or 2 years ago. Without question, Colombia is headed in the right direction.

Between 2002 and 2008, kidnappings decreased by 87%. The 13% that are still occurring are unacceptable, but kidnappings have decreased by 87%. That country is moving in the right direction. Homicide rates have dropped by 44%.

Does Colombia still have a lot of violence in the country? Absolutely, it does. Is it diminishing? Yes, it is. Moderate poverty has fallen from 55% to 45%. All of the signals are headed in the right direction. Life and security are improving for Colombians.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's realizes what his comments sound like when he says that we should be embarking on a free trade agreement with Colombia because Colombians are killing people with less frequency, speed and rapidity than they used to.

My good friend and colleague, Dick Martin, who is no relation, was the president of the United Steelworkers Local 6166 in Thompson, Manitoba. He became the head of the Federation of Labour in Manitoba and then became the head of ORIT, which is the organization of trade unions for Central and South America.

Dick Martin went to Colombia a number of times and came back with firsthand reports of the wholesale mass assassination of trade union leaders in that country. The total figure, and I am not exaggerating, was 3,200 murders: the head of the teachers' union, the head of the carpenters' union, the head of the steelworkers' union, the head of the miners' union, and on and on. These people were shot in their driveways as they left their homes by government-sponsored hit squads. And the Conservatives want to enter into a trade agreement with that country.

Trade with Canada is not a right, it is a privilege. Colombia has to deserve the privilege to be in a free trade agreement with this country. Its behaviour, the experience and empirical evidence is such that we should be boycotting Colombia, never mind entering into a free trade agreement with that country.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, after that outburst, I am almost at a loss for words.

The first answer is quite simple. The NDP is not supporting this free trade agreement. It has never supported any free trade agreement. The NDP has no intention of ever supporting a free trade agreement. It is as simple as that.

The NDP will take whatever numbers, statistics and facts it can find along the way and twist them into some type of a warped little package to support what its members are saying. I really do take exception to that because I know exactly what I am talking about and exactly why we should be moving forward on trade with Colombia and other nations around the globe.

The member talked about labour rights. This specific agreement is accompanied by the labour co-operation agreement, which commits all parties to respect and enforce standards such as the freedom of association, the right to bargain collectively and the elimination of child labour. It commits parties to provide protections for occupational safety and health, employment standards such as minimum wages, overtime pay, and non-discrimination. It goes on and on.

It is supported, by the way, by the International Labour Organization, which has an office open in Colombia today. It has a full-time presence in Colombia. It is constantly inspecting the agreement.

We have promoted labour rights and environmental rights. Is the situation in Colombia perfect? No one is saying that. No one is attempting to say that. Is the situation improving and headed in the right direction and will we end up with a better Colombia down the road because of this agreement? I truly believe we will.

It is embarrassing that the NDP cannot separate the wheat from the chaff in this agreement and agree with the good things that will come out of it.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, in June 2008, the Standing Committee on International Trade recommended that legal provisions be added to the agreement to force Canadian companies working there—mining companies—to act responsibly towards local populations with respect to human rights, the environment and sustainable development.

The government's response to the national roundtable recommendations is inadequate. At present, complaints are only filed with the Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor if the mining company agrees to such a request.

Could my colleague on the other side of the floor talk about this and explain how the government would proceed if there were a problem in a remote area in Colombia?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Again, Mr. Speaker, this is a totally separate debate from this discussion, but the part of the debate in which the member wants to engage is a whole question about extraterritoriality.

The Canadian government is not the sovereign government in Colombia or in any other country with which we do business, nor should it be. We deal professionally with political governments around the world. Our mining companies, as I said earlier, have some of the highest standards of corporate social responsibility of any group in the extractive sector. They are the companies that most countries want to attract, because of those standards of corporate social responsibility.

We encourage our extractive sector and Canadian business community in the development and implementation of corporate social responsibility initiatives, including involving local labour unions and local NGOs. We support the extractive industry's transparency initiative, which supports governance and transparency in developing countries through the full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues for oil, gas and mining industries.

We have put a number of checks and balances in place to make sure not only that Canadian companies quite frankly talk the talk, but that they also walk the walk, respecting the full political rights of other countries. We would not want some other country telling Canada what to do, nor do we want to be in the position of telling them what they should be doing.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, this debate should not be about ideology, it should be about people: the people of Colombia whose lives have been ripped apart and turned upside down by civil war and narcopolitics. The good, decent and proud people of Colombia deserve a better future and the kind of economic opportunities provided by legitimate trade.

Colombia has made real economic, social and security progress in recent years, but it is a fragile progress, under the constant threat of FARC terrorists, drug gangsters and hostile attacks from the Chavez regime in Venezuela.

Colombia's external trade has helped real people piece their lives back together despite these threats. These are people I met, like Valentina, who lived on her family's farm until 10 years ago when FARC murdered her brother and drove her family off the farm. Valentina now works in the flower trade and helps to provide food and a home for her family.

I met Maria who was pregnant with her first baby 14 years ago when FARC murdered her brother and mother and took their farm. Maria and her three children and husband now live in a house they own because of exports and a housing subsidy from her Colombian employer. Maria dreams of her children getting the education that war and narcoterrorism have denied her.

Carlos became a member of the paramilitary because it was the only clear economic opportunity he had as a youth. His violent life in the paramilitary fuelled by drug money was cut short when an ambush attack rendered him a paraplegic. Today, as part of the Uribe government's paramilitary demobilization efforts, Carlos is now involved in peace and reconciliation and he is getting an education.

Carlos told me he believes the FTA agreement with Canada is needed to give young Colombians legitimate economic opportunities, which he was denied, to save them from the violence of the narco-economy.

It is about people like Gerardo Sánchez, Luis Fernando, Walter Navarro, Colombian union leaders who support the FTA with Canada and believe it will be good for Canada, good for Colombia and good for their union members.

Colombia is a country with good people, tremendous natural beauty and resources. It is a good country where things have gone terribly wrong for over 40 years. It has been paralyzed and divided by a civil war that began along ideological lines, but it has more recently evolved to a narcowar with no ideological fault lines, only greed, desperation and violence.

Since 2002, there has been tremendous progress. Progress has been made particularly in terms of security. Eight years ago people were afraid to walk the streets of Bogotá and 400 municipalities were controlled by FARC.

There needs to be more progress, but the progress has been steady. The Uribe government's progress on security is one of the reasons it enjoys a 60% approval rating. Success is not where one is at, it is how far one has gone from where one started. Based on any reasonable analysis, the Uribe government has made progress.

Still, more needs to be done in Colombia, and they need our help. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, evil flourishes when good people do nothing.

If we refuse to engage a country like Colombia that is making progress, where civil society leaders, unions and government and victims of both paramilitary and FARC guerilla violence are all trying to move forward, and if we isolate Colombia in the Andean region and leave Colombia exposed and vulnerable to the unilateral and ideological attacks of Chavez's Venezuela, we will be allowing evil to flourish.

Canadians, as good people, cannot morally justify doing nothing. If any member of Parliament or any Canadian is concerned about human rights in Colombia, we have an obligation to engage Colombia more deeply.

The FTA establishes an ongoing rules-based system to monitor and help govern and improve labour rights, human rights and environmental progress in Colombia. Labour rights and labour rights issues in Colombia have occurred in the absence of a free trade agreement. There is already a commercial relationship between Canada and Colombia, but there is little in terms of a rules-based system to guide that relationship.

SNC-Lavalin just opened up an office in Bogota. Brookfield Asset Management recently established a $500 million fund to invest in Colombia. Again, this is occurring outside of a robust rules-based trade agreement.

The question we must ask ourselves as Canadians is how a new free trade agreement, with the most robust labour and environmental provisions of any trade agreement that Canada has ever signed, can do anything but strengthen our capacity to positively influence human rights and labour rights in Colombia.

In late August the member for Toronto Centre and I completed a four-day visit to Colombia. We met with civil society groups, union leaders, trade industry representatives, UN and OAS officials. We met with senators, economists, think tanks, as well as President Uribe and members of his cabinet. We visited a flower production facility and a project supported by MAPP-OAS, Mission to Support the Peace Process, an OAS organization in Medellin. We met with both supporters and opponents of the free trade agreement, and we sought out both sides of the debate.

On balance, most individuals and groups, including human rights NGOs, believe in the ratification of the free trade agreement with Canada. They do not believe this agreement would have a negative impact on economic or human rights conditions in Colombia. Many believe the agreement could in fact improve Canada's monitoring of labour and indigenous rights through its rules-based framework and the two side agreements on labour and the environment.

We saw first-hand the challenges faced by the Uribe government in its fight against drug production and trafficking, the FARC and emerging criminal gangs.

We met with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights representative, Christian Salazar. We discussed with Mr. Salazar cases of false positives or extrajudicial executions. He told us how the UNHCHR is working with the ministry of defence towards establishing an independent monitoring system to help uncover other possible cases and prevent future ones. He told us how violence against trade unionists has decreased significantly over the last three years with the demobilization of paramilitary groups. In his view the Colombian government has made progress in its fight against impunity by increasing the number of cases being investigated. At the same time he cautioned us about former paramilitary members regrouping into criminal groups. He welcomes the Colombian government's recent invitation to participate in the investigation of these criminal groups.

We met with members of the second commission on international affairs of the senate. Some senators were in favour and some were against the FTA, which frankly demonstrates that Colombia has a well-functioning democracy.

We heard from Senator Pinaque. He occupies one of the senate seats reserved under the constitution for indigenous representatives, which is more than we do in Canada for indigenous peoples. He expressed concerns that he has not seen economic progress for indigenous people in Colombia. The concerns he expressed were legitimate, the same concerns we hear in Canada from aboriginal and first nations people: the need to ensure that economic progress comes with equitable distribution. These are the kinds of concerns we are dealing with in Canada as we ensure that first nations and aboriginal communities are full partners in developing resources in Canada. Frankly the challenges we face in Canada around economic engagement of our aboriginal and first nations communities are the kinds of co-operation and dialogue that could benefit both Colombia and Canada. We both face similar challenges on how to ensure that economic growth happens equitably and is shared with our first nations people.

The majority of the senators we met with expressed confidence that the FTA with Canada would help create jobs and prosperity for Colombians. The agreement would help Colombian producers who export to Canada while lowering import costs for all producers, especially the manufacturing sector.

One senator from Cúcuta on the Venezuelan border stressed the need for Colombia to diversify its trade relationships beyond Venezuela and Ecuador in order to mitigate the risk, particularly from Venezuela and the Chavez regime, of shutting its borders unilaterally and ideologically to Colombian exports. Canada faces a similar need to diversify our trade relationships, but for different reasons. We simply cannot isolate Colombia in the Andean region with the Chavez regime being as dangerous as it is.

Most of the senators felt that the FTA would improve labour conditions in Colombia through increased investment and economic engagement with Canada. They see Canada as a positive force. They believe that Canadian companies have been strong practitioners of corporate social responsibility, and they believe there has been progress in the protection of unionized workers and their leaders. Eighteen hundred union leaders are currently under special protection, full-time security provided by the Government of Colombia.

There has been progress in the disarming of paramilitary groups. There has been a reduction in violence overall and specifically violence toward trade unionists. The senators also spoke to us about the tripartite commission in Colombia that is made up of government, unions and employers. This commission, under the supervision of the ILO, is helping Colombia comply with its international labour the ILO commitments. At the 2009 annual meeting of the ILO, the ILO noted that progress is being made in Colombia.

Finally and most importantly, most senators acknowledged that a FTA with Canada would strengthen and improve living conditions in Colombia. It would help reduce poverty, prevent the resurgence of illegal armed groups, and help prevent more Colombians from entering the narco-economy.

We met with a group of Colombian economists who spoke in favour of a rules-based free trade agreement with Canada. They emphasized Colombia's need to move forward with this FTA, particularly now that countries like Chile and Peru have successfully ratified FTAs with key trading partners of Colombia including Canada. They stressed the importance for Colombia to diversify its trade relationships, again away from countries like Hugo Chavez' Venezuela. The Chavez threat to Colombia was a common theme repeated to us throughout our meetings in Colombia. We also learned that FARC guerrillas are increasingly being based in Venezuela, that they are being harboured by the Chavez regime to continue their attacks on Colombia and on companies and individuals in Colombia.

The labour movement is supported, in fact, by several private sector unions in Colombia. The labour movement in Colombia represents 6% of the workforce and the opposition to this agreement largely comes from the public sector components of that labour movement. As such, these public sector union members in Colombia have nothing to lose in pursuing an ideologically rigid anti-free trade position, but those who have the most to gain from the FTA are the workers currently in the informal economy which represents 56% of the labour force. These Colombians may be able to join the formal economy if Colombia's exports and foreign direct investment continue to grow.

There is general agreement among the economists that the security situation in Colombia has improved dramatically under the Uribe government and that the demobilization of paramilitaries is on track. During our trip to Colombia, we met with civil society groups focused on human rights. We heard concerns about former paramilitary members in Colombia now reorganizing as criminal gangs involved in the drug trade. We met with a representative from Colombia's national indigenous organization who spoke about the need for greater consultation with indigenous communities over investment and free trade, and the protection of biodiversity.

Human rights groups told us that Canada's FTA with Colombia needs to be robust in areas of labour rights. During our trip, we met with union leaders and industry representatives. We learned that much of the narco-trafficking is in large cause because in poor parts of Colombia, particularly in rural communities, there is no other opportunity but the narco-economy and that legitimate trade opportunity is required. Many Colombians feel that the FTAs will lead to work in the legal economy, that trade is the best way to move Colombia forward. They believe that FTAs will not only lead to increased protection of Canadian investment but also increase protection for Colombian workers.

We met with Canadian private sector firms regarding corporate social responsibility. They view the FTA with Colombia as not just protecting Canadian investment but in improving their capacity to effect positive change as Canadian practitioners of corporate social responsibility in Colombia. Our mining and extraction companies in Colombia are guided by strong principles of corporate social responsibility. Canadian companies like Enbridge have won labour safety awards. Enbridge has been recognized for human rights training that is has provided to security personnel which are required to protect its investments and its workers against FARC.

During our trip, we heard repeatedly how the involvement of Canadian corporations in the Colombian economy has raised corporate social responsibility standards in Colombia. Canadian entrepreneurs in Colombia are making a real difference in ensuring that Colombian labour standards continue to progress. The fact remains that labour laws in Colombia are actually stronger in many areas than they are in Canada.

The challenge is around enforcement. Colombia needs more inspectors. There are only 430 labour inspectors in the entire country, but the Canadian government is providing funding to significantly increase the number of inspectors and that needs to be a priority for us.

Unlike other countries in the region, in Colombia 85% of royalties paid by the Canadian extractive firms go back to local communities. These royalties help these communities pay for social investments like health, education, and infrastructure like roads and safe drinking water.

We met with think tanks in Colombia to discuss the challenges on peace, security and human rights including labour rights. Again, it was felt that Canada could help as a bridge builder, that there is a toxic relationship now between governments and many of the unions, organizations and the NGOs, and that Canada could in fact be a very positive bridge builder between these groups by being a responsible corporate social citizen in Colombia.

Outside Medellin we met with flower cultivation factory workers, 500 workers in fact. As part of Asocolflores, the national flower production association, this flower factory has made a huge difference in providing employment to people who need it, people who were displaced from their lands by the drug trade, people who did not have any other legitimate opportunities until this company provided them, through trade, with the opportunity to improve their living conditions and those of their families and to strengthen their security.

We met with union leaders from the private sector and public sector in Medellin. A majority of them in fact supported the FTA and viewed it as being essential to strengthening Colombia's standard of living. They characterized their views as not ideological but pragmatic, recognizing that globalization is unavoidable and a rules-based FTA such as this one with Canada can be beneficial.

We participated in a session convened by the OAS-MAPP, Mission in Support of the Peace Process with victims, ex-combatants and local institutions. We discussed the need and the important role of the OAS and Canada's support in terms of the reintegration process in Colombia. Victims and ex-combatants talked about the challenges they face in returning to their communities.

Now is the time for Canadians who are sincerely concerned about the well-being of the Colombian people to economically engage them, not ideologically abandon them. Evil flourishes where good people do nothing. Legitimate trade can help the people of Colombia replace the forces of evil with the forces of hope. Now is the time for the good people of Canada to reach out to the good people of Colombia, to help them build a more peaceful, more prosperous and fairer future.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, this summer I took the opportunity to travel to every area of Kootenay—Columbia, talking to my constituents and taking pictures with them hard at work on projects and programs funded through Canada's economic action plan.

The Conservative government has been getting shovels in the ground and projects energized for the benefit of all my constituents. We have multiplied the effect of our economic initiatives by using a very wide variety of programs. From one end of the riding to the other, I heard people voicing cautious optimism. They appreciate our economic action plan and what it means to their families and our communities throughout Kootenay—Columbia.

As we work our way out of this worldwide recession, my constituents give the Conservative government an A plus.

However, without exception, they are angry with the useless, counterproductive, dangerous, opportunistic election talk by the opposition coalition. My constituents give a massive F for failure to the Liberal, NDP and Bloc coalition.

Donald Marshall, Jr.Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, recently in August, the Mi'kmaq Nation lost a great man and reluctant hero in Donald Marshall, Jr. Affectionately known as Junior to his friends and family, Marshall was one of 13 children of Caroline and Donald Marshall, Sr., former grand chief of the Mi'kmaq Nation.

Donald Marshall, the man, was only a boy when he was wrongfully convicted of murder, a crime he did not commit. He was acquitted. A subsequent inquiry found that the system was not working for the aboriginal people.

Donald Marshall was thrust into the spotlight once again when he simply went fishing. The fishing trip resulted in the landmark Marshall ruling by the Supreme Court, upholding treaties with the Mi'kmaq people and upholding their rights and traditions.

I attended Donald Marshall's funeral and I think the life of Donald Marshall was best outlined by Grand Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations. He said that Donald Marshall was “a man who carried himself in a humble and dignified manner, a man who believed in his people”.

Tackling Economic CrimeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, today the Bloc Québécois will introduce a bill designed to abolish parole after an offender has served one sixth of his sentence.

This practice allows white collar criminals who are guilty of economic crimes to get out of prison after serving only one sixth of their sentence. In effect, it turns harsh sentences into a few months in jail.

Given the economic scandals that have made the headlines in recent weeks, we must do away with this practice. The Bloc Québécois bill is simple and reflects a broad consensus. It is one of a series of measures designed to tackle economic crime. We are counting on all the parties to show good faith and help fast-track this bill starting tomorrow.

Climate ChangeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, in just 83 days, the world's leaders will gather in Copenhagen to finalize an action plan on climate change. Yet, here in Canada, where is the action? The government drags its feet on concrete measures while the Arctic melts, the Prairies burn or flood, and communities suffer severe weather and unprecedented forest fires.

As emissions rise, so does regulatory risk. Investors are looking elsewhere. Our renewable energy sector flounders. Where, they ask, are the long-awaited federal targets and standards for greenhouse gases and pollutants? Where is the opportunity to review these rules?

The New Democrat climate change accountability act is now at committee. It prescribes the promised science-based achievable targets committed to by other G8 countries. It offers a framework for accountability.

Thousands of concerned Canadians have contacted their MPs seeking swift passage of this bill. They want their MPs to put the future of Canadians ahead of partisan interests.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the MP for Oakville, I report back to the House of Commons today that in these challenging times the residents of Oakville are very pleased that their government is working to create jobs and build a stronger Oakville in Ontario.

Since the last budget, they are happy to see the federal government invest $15 million to help build a new Oakville transit facility, $15.5 million for 1,000 long overdue parking spots at Oakville's GO station, $8 million for a new water treatment plant, and $15 million for Oakville's Sheridan College. They also know that there is more to come.

These investments demonstrate our government's commitment to stimulating the Ontario economy by getting shovels in the ground to create jobs for Ontarians. These projects will improve transportation efficiency, support a healthier environment, enhance local facilities and stimulate further investment.

Thanks to the hard work of our government, Oakville is on the right track for its economy to grow immediately and thrive into the future.

Honoré-Mercier Secondary SchoolStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud and excited to extend my congratulations to the 50 young people from École secondaire Honoré-Mercier who took part in the June launch of a CD entitled “Un chant d'espoir”.

This CD of songs that the students themselves wrote and performed, with the support of artists from Nuits d'Afrique, is the culmination of a Secondary IV French project. The songs address social issues that affect these young people, who come from various cultural communities.

Julie Patenaude, who instigated the project, also deserves recognition for the work she did on the CD. Her perseverance and creativity were vital to the success of this wonderful venture and speak volumes about the quality of the teaching staff at the school.

I wish them the best of success in the coming school year.

Portage Plains United WayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise and pay tribute to the Portage Plains United Way.

I was pleased to attend its kick-off luncheon last week and to see first-hand the commitment these people have to giving back to their community.

This United Way donates 100% of all funds raised to organizations in Portage la Prairie and the surrounding area. These organizations include Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada, the MS Society, the Portage Family Abuse Prevention Centre and many others.

I want to congratulate it and wish it great success as it begins its fall fundraising campaign.

The leadership that groups like this show can set an example to all of us in the House as we begin our fall session.

Let us commit to putting the needs of Canadians above all else. Let us all commit to serving Canadians instead of asking Canadians to serve our own political agendas. I believe we can do it and Canadians deserve it.

Deaths of Soldiers in AfghanistanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay my respects for the courage and commitment of the soldiers who recently died while carrying out their duties in Afghanistan.

People were deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of Major Yannick Pépin and Corporal Jean-François Drouin, both of the 5th Regiment of Combat Engineers based in Valcartier, and of Patrick Lormand, member of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment from Valcartier.

This terrible situation reminds us once again of the risks our soldiers are exposed to every day.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I offer my sincerest condolences to the families, loved ones and colleagues of these men killed in action. I hope you will find the strength and courage needed to get through the grief you are feeling right now.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week the World Economic Forum once again confirmed Canada's position as home to the world's soundest banks, backing what we have been saying all along: Canada is a model for the rest of the world. It also ranked Canada as having the ninth most competitive economy in world, a big jump from fourteenth under the previous Liberal government.

The world is taking notice. France's finance minister gushed with praise for Canada's economic stability at a recent G20 finance ministers meeting when she said:

I think...we can be inspired by...the Canadian situation. There were some people who said “I want to be Canadian.”

Canadians should be proud that during these trying times other countries are looking at us with envy and admiration.

The government wants to fight the recession. The Leader of the Opposition wants to fight the recovery. This just proves that he is not in it for Canadians; he is in it for himself.

Jerry YanoverStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, this summer Canadians lost a parliamentary treasure with the passing of Mr. Jerry Yanover.

For four decades, Jerry served as a trusted adviser to every Liberal leader and caucus. His expertise in the rules and traditions of the House, his encyclopedic knowledge of politics, his brilliant approach to strategy earned him not only the deep gratitude of Liberals, but also the genuine respect of all political parties, House officials, public servants, the media, academics and many others.

Jerry loved our system of government, respected its values and institutions and dedicated his life to making this place function at its best.

Always focused on the future, he built himself a living legacy in all the young people he encouraged to become engaged in the governance of their country.

An extraordinary mind, a tower of strength, Jerry Yanover is gone too soon. The Parliament of Canada will deeply miss one of its finest advocates.

Canadian FlagStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, like many Canadians, I was shocked to see the Liberal Party's latest attack on the Canadian flag.

The message that Canadians should not be proud of our flag, the symbol of our nation and our sovereignty, has no place in this country's political system. What is perhaps even more shocking is that the Liberal Party is using hard-earned tax dollars to send this offensive literature around.

Despite what some in the Liberal Party may think, Canadians still go abroad wearing our Canadian flag with pride. In fact, over 2,500 Canadian men and women are abroad in Afghanistan risking their lives daily. No wonder military families at CFB Gagetown are outraged at receiving this anti-flag postcard.

It is disrespectful to the families of these men and women to imply that their lived ones should be anything but proud wearing our Canadian flag abroad, although we should not be surprised, considering the Liberal leader once referred to our Canadian flag as “a pale imitation of a beer label”.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the summer, constituents from my community and others from across Canada shared with me how the government's employment insurance program was failing them.

With as many as 60% of unemployed workers not qualifying for EI, in particular thousands of women, part-time and short-term employees also not meeting the qualifying criteria, it is left to the municipalities and the local community to provide a social safety net.

In communities like Windsor—Tecumseh that safety net is strained to the breaking point by the weight of the government's failed employment policies, employment policies, by the way, that have resulted in my community suffering an official unemployment rate over 15% and a real unemployment rate approaching 20%.

My community calls upon the government to take immediate action to help those unemployed and to alleviate that human suffering.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition wants to trigger an election in the middle of a recession. The Liberal leader is prepared to jeopardize the economic recovery just to advance his own interests. The Liberal leader is thinking only of his political career. What a lack of wisdom. It is not surprising that the member for Papineau also thinks that his leader is lacking the necessary clarity and wisdom.

The member for Papineau said out loud what a number of his colleagues are thinking.

On this side of the House, we are rarely in agreement with the member for Papineau, but this is one exception.

The Leader of the Opposition absolutely does not have the necessary wisdom to lead Canada.

Festival of WordsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, an event known as Moulin à paroles was held to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Biz and Batlam of Loco Lacass and Brigitte Haentjens organized the event to share their perspectives on the consequences of the historic battle.

As Ms. Haentjens said, “For five centuries, words have been spoken, shouted and whispered [...] We will give those words new life; we will sing them once again”. Poet and singer Raôul Duguay described the momentous gathering as “—a victory for words. There would be no show, no rock'n'roll, without words”.

While some detractors predicted that things would get out of hand, this “literary marathon” attracted the enthusiastic participation of members of the public and everyone, both audience members and presenters, enjoyed the event. It brought people together to learn about the history and consequences of the conquest of 1759 while celebrating Quebec's literary heritage.

Thank you, and congratulations on this wonderful event.

Conservative Party of CanadaStatements By Members

September 14th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have learned over the past four years that if they want to know the Prime Minister's real agenda, they have to listen to what he says behind closed doors.

In public, his comments are an inconsistent mess. First, it was no recession and no deficit. Now we know he has the biggest deficit in the history of this country. However, in private, when the Prime Minister knows the cameras are not rolling, or thinks they are not rolling, he is completely consistent. Recent video has exposed his real agenda.

He needs absolute power so he can teach his enemies a lesson, and he makes it clear just who his enemies are: women, minorities, anyone who dares to fight to protect their charter rights.

Regarding the courts, the Prime Minister had the audacity to characterize one of the most independent and impartial judiciaries in the world as “left-wing ideologues”: Conservative Party in public, Reform Party in private.

Liberals will stop accusing Conservatives of having a hidden agenda when Conservatives stop talking about it behind closed doors.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not want an election. They want politicians to put their differences aside and focus on economic recovery. Two recent polls make that point very clear.

A Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey shows 73% of Canadians are against having an election. An EKOS poll shows more than 70% of Canadians are against a fall election, yet the Leader of the Opposition is intent on forcing one.

Our economic action plan is working and forcing an election would interrupt our work on the economy. We cannot risk our progress and our recovery with an unnecessary election now. The international consensus is that no country should get sidetracked on its stimulus plans.

The government wants to fight the recession. The Leader of the Opposition wants to fight the recovery. This just proves that he is not in it for Canadians. He is in it for himself.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today we pay tribute to Pte. Patrick Lormand, who was killed in Afghanistan yesterday. We pay tribute to his sacrifice.

Last week, behind closed doors, the Prime Minister stated that if there were an election, he would like to teach Canadians a lesson. Those are his own words.

After four years of failure, after a record deficit, a record unemployment rate and a record bankruptcy rate, does he really feel he is in a position to teach Canadians a lesson?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition began by mentioning the death of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan.

These soldiers are doing a great job for us. They are protecting our values and our world from great dangers. Our prayers and our thoughts are with their families and comrades.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I find it curious that after weeks of berating the idea of a coalition, the Prime Minister seems to be hard at work forming one himself and with people whom he referred to, until this morning, as socialists.

I am just wondering whether the Prime Minister could confirm his new-found love for socialism and does he not think it prudent to change his attack ads?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is flailing around trying to invent reasons why Canadians should have another election in less than a year, four elections in five years.

The fact of the matter is that Canadians do not want an election, Canada does not need an election and an election is not in this country's best interest. We have important economic measures before Parliament. All the parties in Parliament should be focused on those measures and on the economy. The Leader of the Opposition should focus on our country's best interests.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, just a year ago, the Prime Minister promised Canada five years of surplus and then told us that his recession would be a great buying opportunity. He then slapped Canada with a $32 billion deficit. Whoops, that went to $50 billion and now it is $56 billion and he will make Canadians pay for it with higher payroll taxes.

How can Canadians trust a government with this record? The problem of instability, Mr. Prime Minister, is you.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Leader of the Opposition knows not to make direct references to other colleagues.

The right hon. Prime Minister.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada has been affected by the global recession that has affected every country. At the same time, Canada's performance has been admired by many around the world. Canada is in a very strong position. Our deficits, while large, are, nevertheless, some of the smallest in the developed world. They are necessary to help people, but our stimulus spending must end at the end of this recession and we must return to surplus.

I would invite the Leader of the Opposition, since he has yet to table any comprehensive economic agenda at all, which I have invited since the budget last January, if he has anything to say on the economy to bring it here so we can debate it.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Prime Minister.

In light of the extraordinary attacks on our health care system by the people who apparently have given the Prime Minister such spiritual inspiration over the years, I would ask the Prime Minister if he is proud of our health care system?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Yes, Mr. Speaker. It is the only system my family has ever used and we are depending on it in the future.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in light of that answer, perhaps the Prime Minister could explain the astonishing silence of the Government of Canada when our system has been under consistent attack for several months by right-wing forces in the United States. In particular—

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The Speaker is having a very difficult time hearing the question and I would appreciate some assistance from my colleagues. The hon. member for Toronto Centre.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Prime Minister a very simple question. Does the government plan to launch a significant defence of the Canadian system in light of the attack that is being made on it in the United States of America?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we intend to let the United States make its own decisions on domestic debates.

I will say that the Canadian health care system will not only survive attacks by right-wing commentators in the United States but has even survived one by left-wing incompetents in Ontario.

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as Vincent Lacroix's trial gets underway today, and as the number of victims of white collar crime continues to grow, concrete action is desperately needed to tackle corporate crime. Today the Bloc Québécois is introducing a bill to remove the provisions that allow white collar criminals to be released after serving only one-sixth of their sentence. With a little political will, our bill could pass in one day.

Will the Prime Minister finally put his words into action and support the Bloc Québécois bill so it can passe by Tuesday?

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I should point out that this is a major shift in the Bloc's position. When this government proposed the elimination of house arrest and allowing white collar criminals to serve their sentences at home, the coalition of the Bloc, the Liberals and the NDP opposed it and quashed those proposals in the House of Commons. Now the Bloc has introduced a bill. We will examine the bill carefully. We will consider it and submit our proposals soon.

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister never proposed eliminating the possibility of release after serving one-sixth of a sentence. What he just said is completely false. Our bill addresses only release after one-sixth of a sentence. Thus, there is no poison pill here, as there usually is with the Conservative government. Furthermore, there is consensus in Quebec concerning this proposal.

Will the Prime Minister act in good faith on Tuesday and support this Bloc Québécois bill aimed at eliminating the release of criminals after only one-sixth of their sentence?

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no need for parole when the offender is under house arrest. That is why we proposed eliminating the latter. I recently met with Quebec investors who asked not only for tougher sentences for white collar criminals, but also for a national securities commission to prevent such incidents. That is what we are proposing, and the provinces can participate in that system on a voluntary basis.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is necessary to go after tax havens to ensure that white collar criminals cannot hide there the money stolen from small investors. The Liberals and the Conservatives have shown absolutely no desire to go after tax havens.

In the most recent budget, for example, which the Liberals supported, the Conservatives reneged on their promise to go after the practice of double deduction and continue to refuse to go after the tax schemes involving Barbados.

Will the minister finally establish measures with teeth to deal with the problems of tax havens?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, as we know, the issue of tax havens is a concern of our government. We are working on the matter. Recently, we have seen the UBS file resurface. For the information of the hon. member, I point out that, since we have been making progress in this direction, 12 people of 38 who use tax havens abroad have made a voluntary disclosure, which means revenue of $4.5 million for the government. People know already that we are headed in the right direction. We want to make progress in the matter of tax havens and ensure that people who evade taxes know we will catch up with them.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, tax havens are responsible as well for the erosion of government revenues. This is a matter for the minister. Instead of dipping into the pockets of the unemployed, as the Liberals so often did, the government should begin by going after those who are not paying their taxes.

Will the Minister of International Trade commit to not signing free trade agreements with the countries accused by the OECD, as is the case at the moment with Panama?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker--

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, it is nevertheless interesting to see that there is considerable discussion on the matter of tax havens. I mentioned 12 cases completed of the 38 which have begun the process of voluntary disclosure. The situation is the same for other offshore jurisdictions. Seven of 23 cases are already underway. As regards eBay, 2 of 36 have made a voluntary disclosure. People see that our government is responsible. We are continuing in that direction.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when Canadians elect a minority government, it is the Prime Minister's responsibility to work with the other parties. The lines of communication must be open. This Prime Minister insists on governing as though he had a majority.

Does the Prime Minister realize that, because of his attitude, we are on the brink of an election less than a year after the last one?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that people do not want an election. The country does not need an election. An election is not in the country's best interest. The priority for our government and for the people of Canada is the economy. The government has put some significant proposals about the economy before the House. I encourage all parties to examine and debate those proposals.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister goes around insulting people and calling them names. He will not work with other members of Parliament or other parties. Maybe he is used to this carte blanche that he has had with 79 votes in a row from the official opposition without even getting anything in return.

The fact is that Canadians are reeling from the impact of this recession. They are looking for action, they are looking for help and they are looking for it now.

Is the Prime Minister willing to work with other parties or will he continue with his attitude of his way or the highway?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the public's number one concern is the economy. It is certainly not an election.

The population has been very supportive of the economic measures this government has brought forward. This government is bringing forward additional measures today. I hope all parties will examine those measures.

I think the population has a right to expect that all parties in the House will honestly examine those measures and decide whether or not they are good for the economy before deciding whether to vote for or against them.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a minority situation, parliaments can get good things done. We had medicare adopted, the Canada pension plan adopted, and the Canadian flag adopted. The list is long of what minority parliaments can do. Even the Liberal Party managed to get something done in a minority parliament on things like transit, housing, and post-secondary education when it chose to work with New Democrats.

It is the Prime Minister's choice. Will he lead us down the road to an election, or will he work with other parliamentarians? Will he work with us, or will he provoke an election campaign? Which is it going to be?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely clear that this government will be voting to proceed with Parliament and proceed with the economic agenda. This party will be voting against an election campaign. That is exactly what Canadians expect.

A lot of good things are being done, such as infrastructure projects across the country, help for the vulnerable, and improvements to employment insurance benefits. All parties should get behind these positive things for the Canadian economy and not waste our time with an opportunistic and needless election campaign.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Prime Minister that, on September 7, 2008, he broke his own law about fixed election dates.

The Prime Minister says that judges are “left-wing ideologues”. He also called women fighting for equality “marginal left-wing groups”. Women are not a marginal group.

When will the Prime Minister admit that all he really wants to do is impose his right-wing reform agenda on Canadians?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have been focused since January on the economy to help Canadians who need it most. We are creating jobs for them through our significant investments in infrastructure. We are preserving jobs through expansion of our work-sharing program, which is now protecting the jobs of over 165,000 people. We are bringing forward even more measures to support those who have been hardest hit by the recession.

We hope that the opposition will support these movements so that we can support Canadians who need it.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, that minister, like her government, is not credible, period.

The Prime Minister finally revealed in his closed-door speech his real feelings about what he calls fringe groups, but the door has been opened for Canadians.

The Minister of Industry recently ordered bureaucrats to scrutinize tourism events directly related to gays, lesbians, women's groups, and so on.

Will the Conservatives now tell Canadians exactly which groups are on their blacklist for special scrutiny?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, that is not only an incorrect allegation but an odious one for the first day back in this session. For that member to accuse me or our government of homophobia and of misogyny is her party's stock-in-trade, perhaps, but it does not make it the truth.

In fact, we have an orderly transfer of delegated authorities. It was always contemplated on this side of the House as a procedural transfer of authority. Yet the Liberals create these conspiracies and this fallacy that we have an anti-women or anti-gay agenda.

It is not true, and in fact, that member should apologize to those groups right now for marginalizing their true issues.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week's economic update called for a substantial increase in EI premiums for Canadians.

In July, when the Prime Minister was asked if he would increase taxes, he said that was a “very stupid policy”.

Now that his own Minister of Finance has decided on a major increase in taxes, does the Prime Minister still think it is a stupid policy?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in budget 2008 we put forward a proposal to have an independent, arm's-length employment insurance financing board that would determine premiums independently so that they would be on a break-even basis over a length of time. That was approved by this Parliament, so going forward, that will be the way that rates are set.

What we will not do, however, is set premiums so that we have a great surplus, as the Liberals did, which they spent on their pet political projects.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, these Conservatives say they will not raise taxes, while imposing what the C.D. Howe Institute says is a 43% increase in employment premiums. Canadians understand that EI premiums do not go up by magic. They go up because the Conservative government wants them to go up. A tax hike is a tax hike is a tax hike.

When it comes to simply telling the truth, how can Canadians believe anything the government tells them?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, let us face it, to stimulate our economy within our economic action plan, we froze EI premiums for two years. That has two advantages: one, it helps employers keep their employees without incurring additional costs; and two, it makes sure that Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money during these tough economic times.

The opposition supported that. We support that going forward. The Employment Insurance Financing Board will set rates at arm's length so that the fund will be balanced on an ongoing basis and not used, as the Liberals did, for pet political projects.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives, like the Liberals, propose the same lame solutions to eliminate the deficit, and once again want to siphon money meant for EI to achieve their goals. While unemployed workers are struggling, the oil companies are pocketing billions of dollars that the government is handing them through tax breaks.

We are in the middle of an economic crisis. How can the government justify giving obscene tax breaks to oil companies that clearly do not need them, and making unjustified attacks on unemployed workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the question that the member should be asking is whether her party will support our government and long-tenured workers, while we are proposing changes today to support long-tenured workers who have lost their jobs. I am thinking, for instance, of workers in the forestry industry. We want to give five to 20 additional weeks of EI benefits to these long-tenured workers who have been contributing to EI for a long time.

Will you support these workers, yes or no? Will you support the government, yes or no?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need a comprehensive reform of the employment insurance system.

Once again, the Conservatives who promised to do things differently are copying the Liberals and making the unemployed and the contributors to EI pay for the current deficit.

Instead of once again going after the unemployed by dipping freely into the fund, why does the government not look for ways to help workers by supporting the Bloc's Bill C-308, for instance, which we debated just this morning in the House?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to remind the member that we confirmed this morning that EI rates would remain the same for 2009-10, meaning that the premiums for workers will not increase.

Second, a few months ago, we implemented a measure granting an additional five weeks, to support workers during a time when our country is experiencing economic difficulties in this global recession. We also helped workers by allowing them to do job-sharing, a measure that 165,000 people have taken advantage of.

With respect to transitioning workers, we also helped those who want to take training. We gave $1.5 billion to the provinces to help them do so. There are all kinds of measures—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Joliette.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, after much delay, the government finally seems to have decided to pass the home renovation tax credit, a measure that the Bloc Québécois had previously proposed. This delay concerns people who have renovated their home and could hurt the program and the economy.

Will the Conservative government dispense with trickery and put forward a ways and means motion this week to implement this tax credit without lumping it in with other measures that it knows the Bloc Québécois or other opposition parties do not agree with? That is the question.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we are going to continue to implement budget measures. Yes, the home renovation tax credit is a very important part of the economic action plan for Canada. It is very well known around the country and many people want to use it, so I hope the House will support this budget measure when it is presented to the House by way of a notice of ways and means.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, as for the renovation tax credit, the government can act quickly by supporting the Bloc Québécois bill, which would increase the use of wood in federal buildings. The minister responsible for economic development said that he wanted to look at this bill first. It has now been three months since the bill was introduced, and a coalition to promote the use of wood will be launched tomorrow in Quebec.

Can the minister tell us today whether his government will support the Bloc Québécois bill?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, speaking of real measures that give results, Public Works and Government Services had a budget of $400 million, including $323 million for building renovations. That is how to stimulate the economy. Additional work is creating an increased demand for wood. It is the same thing with the home renovation tax credit.

But once again, the Bloc voted against these fine economic measures that produce results. It is shameful.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the Prime Minister, after analyzing his government's infrastructure promises, we now know why there has been so little real construction. It was his cabinet ministers arguing among themselves that has delayed things for months.

Of the top 10 ridings in Ontario receiving infrastructure funds, four are represented by his cabinet ministers, including the minister responsible, the Minister of Transport, and a fifth by his parliamentary secretary.

How does the Prime Minister explain to the 408,000 Canadian families who became unemployed since last fall that his cabinet is too busy trying to buy votes to create the jobs that are needed?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we of course are not a government that makes decisions unilaterally. We work on these projects with other premiers, such as Premier Williams perhaps, Premier McGuinty, and former premier Doer, and municipal leaders of all political stripes. Indeed, these projects are going across this land, not only in the ridings he mentioned; but of course, last weekend there were more projects for Cape Breton and Halifax, and new projects for Toronto, with half a billion dollars for more than 500 projects throughout the 416 region.

That is what we are doing for Canada. That is what we are doing for these regions and we are proud of it.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the Prime Minister stayed glued to his seat, because the minister who got up gave himself 28 projects, five times as many projects to fix recreation centres as the average.

Across the country, the Minister of Transport's riding and the ridings of his two colleagues in Ottawa have an unemployment rate that is half that of the rest of the province, yet they are giving themselves two to four times as much money for infrastructure stimulus. They are leaving 400,000 people, a workforce the size of New Brunswick, abandoned across the country.

When his cabinet ministers are stimulating the country, why should anybody trust this government to help—

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Industry.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we are all proud of our constituencies, and I am proud of the hard work that I do for the people of Parry Sound—Muskoka, but perhaps the hon. member would like to know that the highest per capita spending anywhere in the country on infrastructure is in Windsor, Ontario.

Everybody gets to benefit. That is why this government is a government for all the people.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, time and again, this government fails to stand up for Canadians with names like Abdelrazik, Suaad Mohamud, and Abdihakim Mohammed.

Canadian citizenship means that the Prime Minister must stand up for Canadians, whoever they are, wherever they may be. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, but with his record, how can Canadians trust the Prime Minister to provide them equal protection abroad when they are in trouble?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure everyone in this House that, yes, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and that this government will stand for all Canadians anywhere, at any given time. Our record is very clear on that issue, and we want to make it very clear to everyone out there that this government will stand behind any Canadian, wherever he or she may be.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government's record belies the contention just made.

I am a proud Canadian, and I have children and grandchildren who are proud Canadians. Given that he has failed in his duty to protect some Canadians abroad, can my children or their grandchildren trust the Prime Minister to stand up for them if they ever need help abroad?

In the eyes of this government, are some Canadians not really Canadians? For the Liberal Party of Canada, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. Why does he not get it?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the hon. member that I also am very proud to be Canadian, so are my children, and so is everyone here, not only him.

Let me also assure him that, when he is talking about Mr. Abdelrazik and about Omar Khadr, it happened when his party was in power.

This government will stand for all law-abiding Canadians, and I want to say, yes, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and he is a Canadian.

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, hon. members may be aware that there was a very objectionable piece of literature circulated last week by an opposition member and a former cabinet minister suggesting that Canadians are no longer proud of our flag and stating that this government has turned its back on proud Canadian traditions of diplomacy, peacekeeping, human rights and international development.

Could the minister inform the House about our government's reaction to this insinuation?

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, indeed that piece of literature was circulated to my riding of Fredericton, home to Canada's largest military base, CFB Gagetown. For a member of this chamber to suggest that Canadians should not be proud of their flag has no place in this country's political system. The tactic of the party opposite to try to erode the pride that Canadians have in their country and the good work that it does abroad is despicable. It is particularly offensive to make such disparaging remarks to members of the Canadian Forces and their families, the men and women who risk their lives every day for our country, who proudly wear the Canadian flag on their shoulders.

Our government is proud of our country, our men and women in uniform and the good work they do.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, after dithering for months before coming to the assistance of the unemployed, the government has finally decided to take a step in the right direction. However, thousands of workers have been left without a safety net in this unprecedented crisis.

The failure of the closed door negotiations with the Liberals was foreseeable. It was the Liberals who caused most of the employment insurance problems.

We need to make further changes to the system. When will we see comprehensive proposals to solve the unemployment insurance problems created by the Liberals?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the member is right to point out what is happening on the Liberal side because, as you know, we were supposed to have a bipartisan committee. They were supposed to work in good faith with us. They abandoned the committee. They abandoned the unemployed.

Today we are showing that we take this matter seriously and that we intend to help long-tenured workers. We will give them an additional 5 to 20 weeks. I would also like to tell the member that we will soon have more to say about our desire to help self-employed workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that it is not the end of the recession for the unemployed. According to the TD Bank, job losses for workers aged 25 to 54 have in fact deteriorated faster over the past 10 months than they did during the 1980s and 1990s recessions. Too many have been left behind already.

When is the government going to complete the job and introduce the legislation to help the self-employed just referred to, to protect pensioners, something we all agree upon, and to protect consumers from gouging by banks and credit card companies?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are very sensitive to the needs of the unemployed. That is why in our economic action plan we brought in an additional five weeks of regular benefits. We increased the maximum time people could collect by an extra five weeks. We expanded work sharing and we are helping people get back to work through unprecedented investments in training. I should point out that the NDP voted against every single one of those initiatives to help our unemployed.

Securities IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously in favour of demanding that the federal government respect Quebec's jurisdiction with regard to securities.

The parties also all unanimously voted to ask for the transfer of ownership of the federal land in front of the National Assembly, as well as financial compensation in connection with the harmonization of the Quebec sales tax and the GST.

Does the Conservative government plan to respond favourably to the National Assembly's unanimous votes, or does it plan to do as the Liberals did and ignore Quebec's legitimate requests?

Securities IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we finally have a government that practises open federalism. As we have said, negotiations on tax harmonization will not be held in the public arena. They will be held in good faith. That is also what the Government of Quebec has said. In addition, on June 24, the Prime Minister reiterated the fact that he was ready to begin discussions regarding the land in front of the National Assembly.

Lastly, regarding the securities commission, I repeat once again for those who have not already heard, it would be a voluntary system; yes, I mean voluntary. Accordingly, there is no interference in jurisdictions—

Securities IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government's recognition of the Quebec nation was meaningless. Conservatives and Liberals alike feel that, sure, Quebec can have a presence on the international scene, as long as it keeps its mouth shut. Quebec is welcome to attend the Copenhagen climate change conference, but Ottawa has warned Quebec that Canada will speak with a single voice, just like at UNESCO.

How is anyone supposed to believe that the government recognizes the Quebec nation when it refuses to allow the nation to speak up at international venues about issues that affect it directly?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. I met with Premier Charest. Our government promotes federal-provincial collaboration, but Canada will speak with one voice. We will fight climate change without compromising our economic recovery. We will target all greenhouse gas emitters. When it comes to dealing with this issue, we will not just sit on the sidelines like the Bloc.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the subject of employment insurance, the Conservatives seem to be on the brink of a death bed conversion. Under the previous Liberal government, the employment insurance premium rate was reduced 12 times consecutively. Just last July, the Prime Minister was calling the idea of increasing EI rates stupid.

So, what does he call the Minister of Finance's decision to raise premiums?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to point out we indicated clearly this morning that premiums would not be increased in 2009, or 2010. They will remain unchanged for all workers.

The question that is worth asking, though, is this. Why did the Liberals abandon the unemployed when, at the end of June, they were prepared to sit on a committee to suggest measures to help them? They abandoned them, not us. Today we are in fact proposing help to long-tenured workers so that they may extend their employment insurance by 5 to 20 weeks.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government heard none of our proposals. Employment insurance is a total mess. The Minister of Finance tells us that EI premiums will increase. The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, however, would have us believe that the changes she says she wants to make will not raise premiums.

Is it because the Minister of Finance had already undertaken to raise them that she could appear today to be so generous?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, allow me once again to point out all the measures we have put in place in recent months to help workers.

First, we extended the EI period by five weeks. Then we helped companies and employees by extending the job-sharing period from 38 to 52 weeks. Today we are announcing other measures to help long-tenured workers, those who work in mining, the manufacturing, automobile and forestry sectors, among others, those who have paid premiums for years. We want to help them by giving them an additional 5 to 20 weeks.

Will the opposition support us in this measure?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is said there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. The finance minister wants to hit both with his HST scheme, and the B.C. Liberals have foolishly signed on. Now British Columbians will have to pay 7% more for essentials such as food, haircuts, vitamins, and even funerals.

Why is the Conservative government hellbent on raising taxes at a time when many British Columbians are struggling to pay their bills every day? Why are the Conservatives foisting this tax on the people of British Columbia?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the decision by any particular province of whether or not to harmonize is a decision for that provincial government to make. It is not a decision made by the federal government.

The proposal with respect to harmonization has been in the budgets repeatedly. Years ago, under the Liberal government, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and other provinces chose to harmonize. Some additional provinces are now making that decision. It is a decision for them to make.

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister wants people to believe that he had nothing to do with raising their taxes and yet he offered the McGuinty Liberals in Ontario $4.3 billion if they harmonized their sales tax. That bribe worked and Ontario families will now be paying 8% more on vitamins, transit tickets, power bills and, yes, even funerals.

Increasing the tax burden on hard-working families is simply the wrong approach. Will the finance minister stop playing Ontarians for fools and end this Liberal-Conservative tax grab?

TaxationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

As I said, Mr. Speaker, the same proposal is there for all of the provinces that have not yet harmonized and that is their decision.

I say to the member opposite it is passing strange that she is arguing about tax reductions. Her party is the party that voted against reducing the GST, which we have reduced twice since we took office.

This is a party that reduces taxes. That is the party that raises taxes.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the leader of the Liberal Party continues to put his personal aspirations ahead of Canadians with talk of an unwanted election, our Conservative government is working to deliver results for Canadians hit hardest by the global recession. Many of these workers are in my riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Could the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development tell us what our government is doing for those workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is proposing additional support to workers who have paid EI premiums for years while they look for jobs in our recovering economy.

We intend to table legislation that will provide up to 20 weeks of additional EI regular benefits to unemployed long-tenured workers because it is the fair and right thing to do. By contrast, the Liberals would continue to push the irresponsible and very expensive 45-day work year. That is not for us.

Search and RescueOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador today are reeling from another tragedy at sea. As rescue efforts continue for one missing crew member, questions are again being asked about the adequate availability of search and rescue service.

I ask the minister responsible for search and rescue, given this most recent tragedy off our coast, will the minister now do a total review of search and rescue service in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador?

Search and RescueOral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, like the member opposite and, I am sure, all members of the House, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected by the loss, the ongoing search and those affected by the sinking of the Sea Gypsy.

We monitor regularly conditions with respect to search and rescue. This particular issue around the placement of search and rescue assets has been one that has required a great deal of attention.

I assure the member opposite that one Hercules aircraft is on standby in Sydney now. We continue to work with the Coast Guard with respect to this particular situation. I assure the member opposite that we will--

Search and RescueOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

HealthOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals and the Conservatives are responsible for the current crisis with the supply of medical isotopes. The federal government, which is responsible for this crisis, has an obligation to compensate the provinces, which, for the past several months, have had to contend with the disastrous consequences of the incompetence of successive federal governments.

Will the government confirm that it is prepared to welcome any request for financial compensation from the Government of Quebec?

HealthOral Questions

3 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we are working very closely with the provinces and territories on this issue. In fact, I will be meeting with the provincial health ministers this week in Winnipeg to discuss this very issue.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

'Mr. Speaker, nine million sockeye salmon vanished during this summer's migration to the Fraser River. A drop of the same magnitude is the collapse of the Atlantic cod, nothing less than a catastrophe, yet the minister has evaded responsibility in taking no effective action.

Courts have clearly ruled that the management of west coast fisheries is a federal responsibility. The government must make it a top priority.

Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans convene immediately an emergency summit on salmon in B.C. with all stakeholder groups, including local governments, fishers, first nations, environmental organizations, and put in place an action plan now?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, we are concerned about the low return of sockeye salmon in British Columbia. Conservation, I can tell the member, is our number one priority.

I want to inform the hon. member that I was in British Columbia just last weekend and had a meeting with a number of industry stakeholders and we will plan the best way forward from there. I had a round table with them and they presented plenty of ideas for discussion. We will be planning a way forward from discussions with the industry.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. George Prime, Senator and Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs for Grenada.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Notice of MotionWays and MeansRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1) I wish to table a notice of ways and means motion to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and to implement other measures.

I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(b) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 129 petitions.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 109, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the second report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology entitled, “A Study of the Crisis in the Automotive Sector in Canada”, tabled in the House of Commons on March 31, 2009.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-434, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (day parole—six months or one sixth of the sentence rule).

Mr. Speaker, this bill is extremely short. It has only two clauses of less than three lines each because the objective is to obtain the unanimous consent of this House.

I am convinced that all members of this House are against the provisions of the law that allows offenders to be released after serving one sixth of their sentence. We may disagree on other measures. The different parties have a number of suggestions for dealing with white-collar crime. However, if there is one thing everyone agrees on it is this bill. In fact, we could get off to a start by unanimously adopting these provisions tomorrow.

Therefore, I intend to introduce a motion tomorrow to have this bill pass all stages as of tomorrow.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am tabling two petitions calling for the resumption of full Canada Post services in the south end of Sainte-Julie. Eight hundred and forty-seven citizens living in this neighbourhood signed the petition, and 813 signatures have been duly certified.

According to the petitioners, the closing of the Domaine des Hauts-Bois outlet in Sainte-Julie deprives approximately 10,000 people of postal service in the vicinity of their homes and requires them to use a busy road to cross highway 20 in order to take advantage of this public service.

Many people have rightly demonstrated that action is urgently needed in this sector because of a new seniors residence with several hundred units.

PovertyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people from all across Canada who are concerned about the growing poverty in our country.

Whereas there are millions of people in Canada who are poor, including both individuals who work and have no work, and the inequality and social exclusion they face prevent them from leading full and productive lives for the good of themselves, their communities and our country, they are asking the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to join the provinces, territories and municipalities in showing leadership by creating and successfully implementing a national poverty plan for our country.

Rights of EmployeesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by over 12,000 former employees of Nortel.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to amend the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to protect the rights of all Canadian employees and to ensure that employees laid off by a company receiving pension or long term disability benefits during bankruptcy proceedings obtain preferred creditor status over other secured creditors.

They also call upon Parliament to amend the Investment Canada Act to ensure that employee-related claims are paid from proceeds of Canadian asset sales before funds are permitted to leave the country.

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present yet another petition on the broken income trusts promise.

The Prime Minister said that there was no greater fraud than a promise not kept. Two elections ago, he emphatically promised that he would never put a tax on income trusts. The Conservative government recklessly broke that promise and imposed a 31.5% draconian tax on income trusts. Independent experts subsequently provided Parliament with clear evidence that the finance minister's decision on income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions.

I think we have presented well over 10,000 petitions in the House asking the Government of Canada to acknowledge that the financial justification for imposing the tax was flawed, to apologize to Canadians who were unfairly harmed by the reckless broken promise and, finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Rights of the UnbornPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition in which the petitioners note that Canada is a country that respects human rights. It is included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that everyone has the right to life. They note that it has been 40 years, since May 14, 1969, when Parliament changed the law to permit abortion. Since January 28, 1988, Canada has had no law to protect the lives of unborn children.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

Rights of the UnbornPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of petitions to table. The first is from a number of constituents from the Fraser Valley who call upon Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

Identity TheftPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the other petition is to combat identity theft in Canada which is a very serious problem.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 226 to 228, 242, 247, 253, 255, 258, 260, 266, 272, 296, 302, 305, 308, 310, 312 to 315, 324, 329, 337, 342 to 344, 346, 348, 350, 353, 360, 364 to 366, 370, 371, 373, 378, 382 to 385, 387 and 395.

Question No. 226Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With regard to the human swine flu: (a) when exactly was the government first approached by Mexico for help in managing this serious health issue; (b) how many fatalities did the Mexican authorities attribute to this respiratory disease at the time they first notified Canada of their situation; (c) how many victims, that were not fatalities, were they treating when they first approached Canada on the swine flu; (d) what were the official concerns cited by the Mexican authorities in seeking Canadian and international assistance in managing this emergency; and (e) when did the Canadian government undertake the requested assistance?

Question No. 226Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the Government of Canada was first approached by Mexico for laboratory testing assistance on April 17, 2009.

In response to (b), Mexican authorities did not disclose the number of fatalities attributed to the respiratory disease at the time they first notified Canada of their situation. Events were very unclear at that time.

In response to (c), when Mexican authorities first approached Canada on the H1N1 flu virus, they advised Canada that a number of outbreaks were occurring in different regions in Mexico, with approximately 600 suspect cases of influenza-like illness.

In response to (d), Mexican authorities contacted Canada as they were experiencing what appeared to be a late influenza season with higher than normal rates in health care workers, as well as some severe illness which they assessed as unusual. Laboratory testing in Mexico had failed to yield the diagnosis.

In response to (e), the Government of Canada responded April 17, 2009 offering laboratory and technical assistance to Mexico

Question No. 227Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

With regards to motion M-426 (rare diseases and disorders), in the name of Mr. Bell (Vancouver North), adopted by the House on May 6, 2008, since that time: (a) has the government acted on this policy and, if not, why not; (b) how much contact has the government initiated and had with stakeholder groups such as Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders to enact this policy; (c) what financial resources has been set aside for this policy; (d) what assurances can the government give Canadians with rare disorders that they have a right to and can access effective therapies and medications; and (e) what actions will the government take to make Canadians aware of this program?

Question No. 227Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

In response to (a), the motion called for exploratory work related to research, regulation and reimbursement of drugs for rare diseases, in collaboration with provinces and territories and stakeholders. The Motion did not establish a program or policy. Initial analysis on motion no 426 was undertaken after it was adopted in May 2008 and before Parliament was dissolved. The Government continues to consider the issue of drugs for rare diseases and the need, if any, for action in areas of federal responsibility. Further work in this area will require the active engagement of provinces and territories, who, as noted above, have primary responsibility for drug coverage.

In response to (b), No stakeholder consultations on the motion were held before the dissolution of Parliament. However, Health Canada officials have discussed related issues with stakeholders, notably the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders CORD, on numerous occasions. CORD has been an active participant in formal consultations with respect to legislative and regulatory modernization since 2006. The organization has identified data challenges in the review and authorization of products for small populations as a key concern. They have been very supportive of efforts to modernize the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.

In response to (c), Past analytical work related to the motion and the broader issue of drugs for rare diseases has been conducted within existing resources.

In response to (d), The federal government recognizes the challenges faced by Canadians with rare disorders, and will continue to examine issues related to treatments for rare disorders within the scope of federal role and responsibilities. For example, Health Canada is looking at the regulatory challenges posed by drugs for rare diseases, as part of the department’s ongoing work on regulatory modernization. CORD and other stakeholders have been consulted in this work. It is important to note that prescription drugs provided outside of hospital are outside of the scope of the Canada Health Act and hence, provincial and territorial governments determine, at their own discretion, whether, and under what terms and conditions, to publicly finance prescription drugs, including drugs for rare diseases. The only exceptions are federal populations, e.g., first nations and Inuit, military, veterans, for which the federal government directly provides services. However, the federal government continues to pursue constructive and collaborative work with provinces and territories, including finding ways to better assess drugs for rare diseases for potential reimbursement by our respective drug programs.

In response to (e) To clarify, no program was established through this motion, which called for exploratory work only.

Question No. 228Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Since coming to power, (i) what has the government done to promote and help get started the Alaska Highway gas pipeline, (ii) what meetings have been held with stakeholder groups, (iii) what has been the total government expenditures to date on this project, (iv) what is the target date for the construction of this gas pipeline?

Question No. 228Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, in resonse to (i), there are two separate proposals to build an Alaska Highway pipeline, AHP. Both project proponents are benefiting from single window access into a streamlined regulatory approvals process, either through a re-staffed Northern Pipeline Agency, NPA, or else through the Major Projects Management Office which was created to improve regulatory performance through a more accountable, predictable, transparent and timely regulatory review process for major resource projects. On March 5, 2008, the then Minister of Natural Resources Canada, NRCan, wrote to the Governor of Alaska expressing support for an AHP. NRCan has publicly expressed the government’s support for an AHP at large conferences including the Alaska Resource Development conference in Anchorage, Alaska, in November 2008, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission Conference in May 2008, and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association’s Annual Dinners in 2008 and 2009. Recognizing the importance of first nation engagement and consultation, the Government of Canada is engaging first nations along the proposed pipeline route. The government has both funded and participated in aboriginal workshops organized by the Alaska Highway Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition, AHAPC. Currently, federal departments including NRCan, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the NPA and the National Energy Board, NEB, are conducting a series of Yukon and first nation community visits along the Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway to raise awareness and answer questions related to the proposed pipeline.

In response to (ii), since January 2006, NRCan has had several meetings with the proponents for an AHP. Meetings have taken place at all levels from working level through to ministerial. First nations are important stakeholders and the government has been actively meeting with them. To date there have been three aboriginal workshops hosted by the AHAPC, which is a service organization to Yukon first nations along the proposed route. Similar, though smaller meetings, have also taken place in British Columbia. In addition to formal workshops, NRCan has met separately with the chair of the AHAPC. Until recently, NRCan chaired an AHP Director General Steering Committee which met semi-annually to share information with key federal departments. The committee’s most active sub-group was the Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Working Group, EARWG. The EARWG met regularly with provincial government representatives as well.

In response to (iii), many AHP related expenditures have been routine business including preparing briefing material and monitoring project developments. However, NRCan did provide approximately $18,000 toward funding an Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition workshop in 2007. Approximately $3,000 was spent to attend each of the three workshops. Attending the round of community visits currently under way will add additional expenses. NRCan also sent several attendees and speakers for large conferences including the Alaska Resource Development Conference and the Interstate Oil and Gas Commission conference. Such conferences cost approximately $3,000 to $5,000 per person attending, including travel. Finally, NRCan houses the NPA, which has responsibility for the Foothills Alaska pipeline project. However, all NPA’s expenditures are cost recovered from the owner of Foothills, TransCanada Pipelines.

In response to (iv), both the TransCanada and the Denali projects have estimated first gas to start flowing in 2018--best case scenarios.

Question No. 242Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With regard to Employment Insurance: (a) has the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development been provided any documents or departmental briefing notes that outline changes to the processing time of Employment Insurance cheques; (b) under the rules, how many days does an unemployed worker have to wait for his or her first cheque; (c) on average, how many days does an unemployed worker currently wait for his or her cheque; and (d) how many service telephone lines are available to workers looking for information, and how many of those telephone lines are staffed at one time?

Question No. 242Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the minister has received various products that have discussed and outlined measures to maintain the standard for processing Employment Insurance, EI, claims given the significant increase in EI applications over the last eight months. A number of them have dealt with the additional resources and measures that are being added to EI processing such as: redistributing workloads across the country; increasing processing staff by over 900 and adding another 400 over the next few months; increasing overtime on a voluntary basis; reassigning staff from other areas of the department that are not involved in processing benefits; recalling recent retirees; increasing the level of automation of claims processing; and extending the regular hours of operation for EI call centres from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday and Fridays and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In response to (b), the standard of service is to have 80% of clients who file for benefits receive their first payment or a non-payment notification within 28 days of the date their claim was filed.

In response to (c), for the first seven months of 2009, the average number of days from the date of application until payment or notification of non-payment was 23 days.

In response to (d), the service has 1,041 telephone lines with up to 821 staff available at any one time. Call centre telephone line capacity always exceeds the number of telephone lines staffed to enable incoming calls, queuing of callers until agents become available, and internal call transfer capabilities.

Question No. 247Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

With regards to the measures announced in Budget 2009 concerning assistance for consumers of financial products by enhancing disclosure and improving business practices in respect of credit cards issued by federally regulated financial institutions: (a) which government departments, agencies, government officials and their titles were involved in the consultation process and drafting process in regards to this measure and when did they begin; (b) were there any consultations with any of the Credit Card companies who operate in Canada and, if so, when did these meetings occur and who was present; and (c) which other organisations or stakeholders were involved in the consultation process and with which government officials and when did they occur?

Question No. 247Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in advance of the budget presented to the House of Commons on January 27, 2009, the earliest in modern history, the government launched unprecedented consultation across Canada. These steps were taken to ensure as many Canadians as possible from members of Parliament, business leaders, economists, industry associations non-profit organizations, public interest groups, community groups, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and most important, everyday citizens were consulted, such as:

an online consultation open to all Canadians was launched at www.fin.gc.ca;

a series of roundtable discussions was held with business leaders, economists, academics, industry leaders, community and labour organizations in cities across Canada from Saint John to Victoria;

the Minister of Finance held town hall meetings in locations across Canada to hear from Canadians personally;

meetings with finance ministers and first ministers from all provinces and territories;

the establishment of a non-partisan Economic Advisory Council of prominent Canadians from across the political spectrum for advice on the budget and on the economy in the months ahead;

meetings with leading representatives of other political parties, including the official opposition Liberal Party of Canada, to ask for their ideas; and

the Minister of Finance wrote every member of Parliament asking them to consult with the people in their communities and report what they heard back to him.

As members are likely aware, the Minister of Finance released the aforementioned proposed Credit Business Practices Regulations this past May for comment. The relevant news release and backgrounders are available online at http://www.fin.gc.ca/n08/09-048-eng.asp. To summarize, the proposed regulations would:

mandate an effective minimum 21 day, interest-free grace period on all new credit card purchases when a customer pays the outstanding balance in full;

lower interest costs by mandating allocations of payments in favour of the consumer;

allow consumers to keep better track of their personal finances by requiring express consent for credit limit increases;

limit debt collection practices that financial institutions use in contacting a consumer to collect on a debt;

prohibit over-the-limit fees solely arising from holds placed by merchants;

provide clear information in credit contracts and application forms through a summary box that will set out key features, such as interest rates and fees;

assist consumers to manage their credit card obligations by providing information on the time it would take to fully repay the balance, if only the minimum payment is made every month; and

mandate advance disclosure of interest rate increases prior to their taking effect, even if this information had been included in the credit contract.

With respect to the reaction to the proposed regulations, following is a small sampling of analysis by public interest groups or commentators:

Bruce Cran, president of Consumers' Association of Canada, said “All of the things that [the finance minister has] done in there are actually just what we asked for …overall, I’ve got to congratulate [the finance minister]”.

Mel Fruitman, vice president of Consumers' Association of Canada, said, “[They] will solve some of the most egregious practices of the credit card companies … it's a big step in the right direction towards helping us control the amounts we pay on our credit cards. We think it will greatly improve the situation”. A Toronto Star editorial stated, “[the] finance minister … has introduced some welcome regulatory changes that will both introduce more transparency to the [credit card] system and save consumers some money”. A Burnaby Now editorial stated. “[the finance minister’s] new regulations … aim to give consumers more rights when it comes to the credit card industry. One of those regulations … involves forbidding card issuers from increasing credit limits without the written consent of cardholders. We hope this and the other proposed regulations - which include a 21-day interest-free grace period on all new transactions when consumers pay their balance in full by the due date - gain approval in Ottawa”.

Additionally, please note, the aforementioned regulations were published in the Canada Gazette on May 23, 2009 and interested persons were invited to make representations to the Financial Institutions Division of the Department of Finance concerning the proposed regulations within 21 days. The deadline for submissions was June 13, 2009.

Regarding the development of the important budget 2009 measures to help consumers of financial products and the subsequent detailed proposed credit business practices regulations, officials from the Department of Finance, the Department of Justice, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada were involved in the development and drafting of these measures.

Question No. 253Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

With regard to the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB) announced in Budget 2008, and the subsequent Nominating Committee announced July 21, 2008: (a) have the Nominating Committee identified candidates for appointment to the CEIFB and, if so, (i) has a list of potential members been presented to the Governor in Council for appointment, (ii) has the Governor in Council appointed members for the CEIFB, (iii) who were the individuals listed or appointed, (iv) what is the home province or territory for each individual; (b) what has the CEIFB done since being founded to fulfill their responsibilities, including (i) implementing Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate-setting mechanism to ensure EI revenues and expenditures break even over time, (ii) using any excess EI revenues in a given year to reduce premium rates in subsequent years, (iii) maintaining a $2 billion cash reserve fund to support rate stability measures; and (c) has a contingency fund been established, if so, (i) has the transfer of $2 billion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund into a contingency fund occurred, (ii) what is the current balance in the established contingency fund?

Question No. 253Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a) (i), yes, the nominating committee has submitted a list of candidates for the board of directors to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, HRSD.

In response to (a) (ii), yes, five members of the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, CEIFB, were announced by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development on June 26, 2009. A sixth member was announced by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development on August 5, 2009. The remaining member is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

In response to (a) (iii and iv), the six directors who were named to the board of directors include Ms. Elaine Noel-Bentley, Alberta; Mr. David Brown, Ontario; Mr. Jacques LeBlanc, Quebec; Ms. Janet Pau, British Colombia; Mr. Pankaj Puri, Ontario; and Mr. Tim O’Neill, Prince Edward Island.

The board of directors will be chaired by Mr. David Brown, whose qualifications include 29 years as a senior corporate law partner with the firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg. He was also the chairman and chief executive officer of the Ontario Securities Commission, OSC, for seven years, where he led the expansion and reorganization of the OSC to meet the increasing demands of a changing market.

In response to (b) and (c), the CEIFB is not yet fully operational, and as such the CEIFB reserve has not yet been established.

In order to maintain a competitive advantage and to support employers and employees, the government has frozen EI premium rates for 2010 at $1.73 per $100 of insurable earnings, the same level as 2008 and 2009, providing an economic stimulus of $10.5 billion, as confirmed in Canada’s Economic Action Plan: A Second Report to Canadians, June 2009.

With the appointment of the board of directors, the CEIFB is taking the necessary steps toward setting EI premium rates on a break-even basis, beginning in 2011. The creation of a separate account will ensure that excess premiums will be held and invested until used for EI purposes only. The creation of the CEIFB ensures that EI funds are managed independently and used to pay for EI benefits, premium rates reflect actual program costs, and the program is on firm financial footing going forward.

Question No. 255Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

With respect to the Police Officers Recruitment Fund: (a) how does the government track how many new police officer positions are created and filled from the fund; and (b) how many positions has the fund created and how many of those positions have been filled?

Question No. 255Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), establishing the first-ever Police Officers Recruitment Fund is a considerable investment that marks an important step forward in a way that respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction for policing while ensuring maximum flexibility. The government concluded its active role in the Police Officers Recruitment Fund on June 22, 2008, with the establishment of trust accounts for each jurisdiction. Consistent with their responsibility for policing, it is up to the provinces and territories to allocate funding as they see fit to their municipal and provincial police services. Provinces and territories are able to use the trust fund in a way that is best suited to address their local public safety priorities and policing needs. Provincial and territorial governments have been encouraged to report directly to their residents on the expenditures and the outcomes achieved. It is through public media releases made by provinces and territories that the Government of Canada is kept apprised of how jurisdictions choose to allocate their funding.

In response to (b), to date, seven of the provinces--Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and New Brunswick--have, through public media releases, announced their intentions with the funding. Publicly announced hiring includes 30 new positions in Saskatchewan, 45 officers in Nova Scotia this year as part of a plan to hire 250 officers by 2011, 329 officers in Ontario, 83 officers in Alberta and 168 officers in British Columbia. Prince Edward Island is using its share to staff and launch its Criminal Intelligence Service Bureau, and New Brunswick is investing its portion to improve regional integrated intelligence units to fight organized crime, establish a police cadet graduate bursary to attract recruits, as well as establish a safer communities and neighbourhoods enforcement unit. Further details on provincial or territorial expenditures should be directed to the responsible provincial or territorial minister.

Question No. 258Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to the wage earner protection program WEPP, (a) how much money was spent on this program in 2008-2009; (b) how many individuals received payments of any kind eligible under the program; (c) were payments in (b) more or less than budgeted; (d) what was the average payment per individual; (e) how many claims were made last fiscal year; (f) how many claims are expected this year; (g) has the government planned for an increase in bankruptcies and insolvencies this year; (h) what are the administrative costs of this program; (i) how many staff are employed to administer this program; and (j) does the department plan to hire additional staff in the face of the current economic crisis to administer the WEPP?

Question No. 258Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, all data in the responses below were compiled from the Common System for Grants and Contributions. The custom data tabulation was provided to the labour program by Service Canada.

The wage earner protection program, WEPP, was created on July 7, 2008.

In response to (a), $6.82 million in payments were issued to eligible WEPP recipients between July 7, 2008 and May 31, 2009.

In response to (b), the total number of WEPP reimbursement recipients between July 7, 2008 and May 31, 2009 was 4,802.

In response to (c), total payments made between July 7, 2008 and May 31, 2009 have been less than budgeted for but demand for the program has been steadily increasing in recent months.

In response to (d), the average WEPP payment made per recipient between July 7, 2008 and May 31, 2009 was $1,420.

In response to (e), between July 7, 2008 and May 31, 2009, the number of Canadians who filed claims for WEPP support was 5,751.

In response to (f), given that this is a new program, and one that was recently expanded as part of Canada’s economic action plan, it is difficult to estimate precisely the number of claims expected in the first full year of operation.

In response to (g), budget 2009 added greater protection for workers by extending the WEPP to cover severance and termination pay. The enhanced protection and increased demand for the program due to the uncertain economic climate is estimated to cost $25 million per year. The expanded program provides financial assistance to Canadian workers. The WEPP was originally budgeted for $31.2 million. With the additional $25 million from budget 2009 the total budget for the WEPP is now $56.2 million.

In response to (h), annual ongoing administrative costs for the WEPP are $3.5M.

In response to (i), at present there are approximately 30 staff members administering the WEPP. Of these, 9 work for the labour program and 21 work for Service Canada.

In response to (j), the labour program added two staff members and Service Canada added six staff members to support the WEPP expansion as part of budget 2009. WEPP demand is closely monitored and staffing is adjusted accordingly.

Question No. 260Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to replacement workers: (a) has the government reviewed subsection 94 (2.1) of the Canada Labour Code which prohibits the use of replacement workers if these workers are used to undermine a trade union’s capacity to engage in bargaining and represent its member; (b) has the use of replacement workers ever been prohibited under subsection 94 (2.1); (c) has the government compared federal legislation to provincial legislation as it relates to replacement workers and, if so, what were the findings and conclusions; (d) has the department held consultations or provided information to the Minister of Labour to define what services would be deemed essential under federal jurisdiction in the event of a labour dispute should a ban on replacement workers be implemented; (e) does the government intend to take any action on replacement workers in 2009-2010; and (f) has the department provided the Minister of Labour with any documentation indicating that the number of work stoppages would increase and last longer if a replacement worker ban were implemented?

Question No. 260Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the effectiveness of section 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code regarding replacement workers has been continually reviewed by the government.

In addition, the replacement worker issue was recently considered in Peter Annis’ 2008 independent report to the Minister of Labour, entitled “Work Stoppages in the Federal Private Sector: Innovative Solutions”. Mr. Annis found that there is no conclusive evidence that banning replacement workers or modifying section 94(2.1) would lead to a decrease in the incidence or duration of work stoppages.

Finally, the government tracks the number of complaints filed with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, CIRB, alleging a violation of section 94(2.1). Since the provision was enacted in 1999, only 23 complaints have been filed alleging unfair use of replacement workers. Of these, 18 were eventually withdrawn by the union, four were dismissed and one is pending. These statistics suggest that the use of replacement workers to undermine a union’ bargaining ability is not a pressing problem in the federal jurisdiction.

In response to (b), to date, the use of replacement workers has not been prohibited under section 94(2.1). It only prohibits the use of replacement workers where their presence in the workplace is intended to undermine a union’s representational capacity.

In response to (c), only two provinces have labour legislation which restricts the right of employers to use the services of replacement workers during work stoppages. Such restrictions have been in force in Quebec since 1977 and in British Columbia since 1993. While Ontario enacted similar provisions in 1993, they were repealed in 1995.

Despite this kind of legislation, a number of complaints concerning the use of replacement workers during work stoppages are filed each year in both Quebec and British Columbia. In 2007-08, 25 complaints were filed in each province respectively. Of the 25 complaints filed in Quebec, 10 were upheld by the provincial labour board. In British Columbia, 5 of the 25 complaints were upheld.

Peter Annis’ 2008 independent report to the Minister of Labour, “Work Stoppages in the Federal Private Sector: Innovative Solutions”, found that there is no conclusive evidence that banning replacement workers would lead to a decrease in the incidence and duration of work stoppages.

In response to (d), the code does not deal with “essential services”; rather, it includes a requirement, under section 87.4, that, in the event of a work stoppage, goods and services continue to be supplied to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious threat to public safety or health. Currently, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on maintenance of activities, the Canada Industrial Relations Board, CIRB, will decide what services must be maintained.

There have been no consultations on what services would need to be maintained in the event of a labour dispute specifically in the context of a replacement worker ban.

In response to (e), the government does not intend to make any changes to the labour relations provisions of the Canada Labour Code without broad agreement among stakeholders.

In response to (f), no. Data suggests that there is no significant difference in the number or duration of work stoppages whether or not there is a replacement worker ban in place. For the period 2006 to 2008, data indicates that the average duration of a work stoppage in Quebec was 52 days and in British Columbia 55.4 days, while in the federal jurisdiction, the average duration of a work stoppage was 49.2 days.

Question No. 266Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

With respect to the Government’s agreement with the Government of Ontario to harmonize the Goods and Services Tax and Ontario Provincial Sales Tax: (a) what additional classes of goods and services will the new harmonized sales tax apply to that the GST does not; (b) what additional classes of goods and services will the new harmonized sales tax apply to that the Ontario provincial sales tax does not; (c) owing to this agreement, on an annual basis, how much sales tax revenue does the government project it will lose from (i) corporations, and (ii) consumers; and (d) owing to this agreement, on an annual basis, how much new sales tax revenue does the government project it will collect from (i) corporations, and (ii) consumers?

Question No. 266Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a) and (b), in the 2009 Ontario budget, “Confronting the Challenge: Building Our Economic Future”, which is available online at http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/budget/ontariobudgets/2009/papers_all.pdf, the Government of Ontario announced its decision that, starting July 1, 2010, Ontario’s retail sales tax, RST, would be converted to a value-added tax structure and combined with the federal goods and services tax, GST, to create a federally administered single sales tax, subject to the approval of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The Memorandum of Agreement, MOA, Concerning a Canada-Ontario Comprehensive Integrated Tax Co-ordination Agreement, signed by the governments of Canada and Ontario specifies that Ontario agrees to adopt the goods and services tax, GST, tax base for the Ontario portion of the harmonized sales tax. However, the MOA allows the province to designate a limited number of point-of-sale rebates for the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax, not exceeding 5%, in aggregate, of the value of the GST base in the province. The MOA commits both governments to a comprehensive integrated tax coordination agreement, CITCA, that will elaborate on the provisions of the MOA, such as those relating to provincial tax policy flexibility, e.g., point-of-sale rebates.

In response to (c) and (d), under the MOA the federal portion of the harmonized sales tax in Ontario is 5% , and, therefore, equivalent to the current GST rate. As a result, it is not anticipated that the Government of Canada will see any change to the revenues it currently collects with the GST.

Question No. 272Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

With respect to the Police Officers Recruitment Fund: (a) how much has been allocated to the fund since its inception; (b) how much has been allocated to each jurisdiction since inception; (c) is the government aware of how many new police officers have been hired with this fund and, if so, how many in each jurisdiction; (d) what plans does the government have to help jurisdictions retain new recruits beyond the conclusion of this fund; and (e) what controls has the government put on the fund?

Question No. 272Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), as part of our safer communities strategy, this government has delivered on a key platform commitment by making funding available to provinces and territories to support the recruitment of 2,500 new front-line police officers. Budget 2008 set aside $400 million to assist provinces and territories with the hiring of new front-line police officers. This money has been invested in a third-party trust for provinces and territories, allocated proportionately, to meet this objective.

In response to (b), all provinces and territories chose to participate in this initiative, and on June 22, 2008, the $400 million was allocated as follows: Newfoundland and Labrador, $5.9 million; Prince Edward Island, $1.6 million; Nova Scotia, $11.2 million; New Brunswick, $8.8 million; Quebec, $92.3 million; Ontario, $156 million; Manitoba, $14.4 million; Saskatchewan, $11.7 million; Alberta, $42.4 million; British Columbia, $53.3 million; and each of the three territories received $800,000. Provinces and territories have the flexibility to draw down all of these funds at any time over five years.

In response to (c), to date, seven of the provinces--Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and New Brunswick--have, through public media releases, announced their intentions with the funding. Publicly announced hiring includes 30 new positions in Saskatchewan, 45 officers in Nova Scotia this year as part of a plan to hire 250 officers by 2011, 329 officers in Ontario, 83 officers in Alberta and 168 officers in British Columbia. Prince Edward Island is using its share to staff and launch its Criminal Intelligence Service Bureau, and New Brunswick is investing its portion to improve regional integrated intelligence units to fight organized crime, establish a police cadet graduate bursary to attract recruits, as well as establish a safer communities and neighbourhoods enforcement unit.

In response to (d), establishing the first-ever Police Officers Recruitment Fund is a considerable investment that marks an important step forward in a way that respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction for policing while ensuring maximum flexibility. Consistent with their responsibility for policing, it is up to the provinces and territories to allocate funding as they see fit to their municipal and provincial police services. Provinces and territories are able to use the trust fund in a way that is best suited to address their local public safety priorities and policing needs. The government concluded its active role in the Police Officers Recruitment Fund on June 22, 2008, with the establishment of trust accounts for each jurisdiction.

In response to (e), consistent with their responsibility for policing, it is up to the provinces and territories to allocate funding as they see fit to their municipal and provincial police services. Provinces and territories are able to use the trust fund in a way that is best suited to address their local public safety priorities and policing needs. Provincial and territorial governments have been encouraged to report directly to their residents on the expenditures and the outcomes achieved.

Question No. 296Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

With regard to the Agriculture Minister’s 2008 request for his then-Parliamentary Secretary Guy Lauzon to conduct a study on the future of agriculture, trends in agriculture and how to attract youth to agriculture: (a) what were the findings of this report; (b) when was the report completed and presented to the Minister; (c) what communities were visited by the Parliamentary Secretary as part of the research, (i) who did he meet with in compiling his information, including their names, positions, associations represented and stakeholders in the agriculture industry, (ii) what documents were submitted for this report; (d) what were the dates, times and locations of town hall meetings held in researching this paper; (e) what were the costs associated with producing this report, including travel, meals, hospitality, meeting venues, support staff, and accomodation; (f) why has the study not been tabled in Parliament; and (g) what are the government's plans for acting on this report?

Question No. 296Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), (b), (f) and (g), no report was produced as the 40th General Election occurred ending the activities of the 39th Parliament.

In response to (c), the parliamentary secretary visited Chilliwack, British Columbia; Calgary, Alberta; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Ridgetown, Ontario; Vineland, Ontario; St. John’s, Newfoundland.

In response to (i), the parliamentary secretary met with a select group of young farmers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario (two sessions), and Newfoundland and Labrador. The sessions averaged between 8 and 12 participants.

The young farmers were chosen as individuals based on the recommendations of regional representatives from the following four organizations: Canadian 4-H Council, 4-H; Canadian Farm Business Management Council, CFMBC; Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ Program, COYFP; and Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum, CYFF.

Neither the parliamentary secretary nor his office was involved in suggesting or choosing participants.

The participants were chosen for their ability to engage in a frank and open discussion on issues and concerns that most directly affect young and new farmers. Participants were not chosen as representatives of any association or stakeholder organization, or in any other official capacity.

Sections 19(1) and 21(1)(b) of the Access to Information Act preclude us from sharing the names of the participants.

In response to (ii), no documents were submitted as no report was produced due to the 40th general election occurring ending the activities of the 39th Parliament.

In response to (d), the dates, times and locations of town hall meetings held in researching this paper are: Chilliwack, British Columbia, Best Western Rainbow Country Inn, July 7, 2008, 09:00 to 11:00; Calgary, Alberta, Ramada Hotel, Downtown Calgary, July 9, 2008, 09:30 to 11:00; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, University of Saskatchewan, July 10, 2008, 09:00 to 11:00; Ridgetown, Ontario, Ridgetown College, University of Guelph, August 19, 2008, 09:00 to 11:00; Vineland, Ontario, Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre, August 21, 2008, 09:00 to 11:00; and St. John's, Newfoundland, Quality Hotel Harbourview, August 28, 2008, 14:00 to 16:00.

In response to (e), the costs associated with producing this report, including travel, meals, hospitality, meeting venues, support staff, and accommodation were $15,931.22

Question No. 302Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

With respect to political meetings held at Blatchford Lake Lodge, Northwest Territories, on the weekend of February 27 to March 1, 2009, which led to the creation of a political declaration for the Northwest Territories (NWT Declaration): (a) was the Manager, Indian and Northern Affairs Aboriginal Economic Development, Northwest Territories (Mr. Altaf Lakhani), in attendance at these meetings and, if so, why was a senior civil servant in attendance at a political meeting; (b) what, if any, role did Mr. Lakhani play in organizing these meetings; (c) what, if any, role did Mr. Lakhani play at the meetings; (d) what, if any, activities did Mr. Lakhani take part in following the meetings which were connected to the meeting or the NWT Declaration; (e) was Mr. Lakhani involved in any follow-up meetings or activities either flowing from these meetings or in connection with the NWT Declaration and, if so, when and where were these meetings held; (f) if Mr. Lakhani took part in any activities following the Blatchford Lake meetings what were these activities; (g) were government funds provided either directly or through another person or organization to organize, conduct or carry out follow-up activities related to this or other meetings or the NWT Declaration; (h) if government funds were dispersed, what were the amounts; (i) which persons or organizations received these funds; (j) under which government programs were such funds dispersed; and (k) if any government funds were dispersed, who authorized the release of these funds?

Question No. 302Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), Mr. Altaf Lakhani was in attendance as a private citizen, not in his capacity as a public servant.

In response to (b), Mr. Lakhani was an invited participant and did not play any role in organizing the meetings.

In response to (c), Mr. Lakhani was invited for the exchange of ideas.

In response to (d), there was no further involvement by Mr. Lakhani following these meetings connected to the NWT declaration.

In response to (e), there was no further involvement of Mr. Lakhani in any follow-up meetings or activities.

In response to (f), there were none.

In response to (g), government funds were not provided either directly or through another person or organization to organize, conduct or carry out follow-up activities related to this or other meetings or the NWT declaration.

In response to (h), there were none provided.

In response to (i), there were none.

In response to (j), none were dispersed.

In response to (k), none were released.

Question No. 305Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

With respect to phytosanitary management, what measures, if any, are in place to prevent the transmission or spread of potato wart and golden nematode: (a) from Newfoundland to Labrador; (b) within Labrador; (c) from Labrador to any other part of Canada; (d) if no such measures are in place, are any such measures being planned or otherwise under consideration; and (e) if so, what are they?

Question No. 305Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s, CFIA, mandate and priorities include preventing the spread of quarantine pests within Canada. Control of such pests is pursued primarily under provisions of the Plant Protection Act and, for potatoes, relevant provisions of the Seeds Regulations Part II. Newfoundland and Labrador is designated as a quarantine area in relation to potato wart, PW, and potato cyst nematode, PCN, with provisions in place to mitigate the spread of these pests from and within the province.

The primary control measures to prevent spread of PW and PCN within Newfoundland and Labrador have been the planting of pest-free seed potatoes combined with the use of varieties that are resistant to these pests. The CFIA, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the provincial government in Newfoundland have also implemented programs to support and encourage private gardeners to plant PW- and PCN-resistant varieties.

The mainland areas of Newfoundland and Labrador, commonly referred to as Labrador, have been surveyed for PW and PCN. PCN has not been found in mainland Labrador. PW is present but only in private gardens and is not found in any of the commercial agricultural fields that exist. Measures are in place to suppress PW and prevent its spread, including soil surveys, encouragement of the use of potato varieties resistant to PW, and agricultural extension that includes good management practices that will assist in pest suppression. These measures are pursued in partnership with the provincial government.

PCN and PW are both present on the island of Newfoundland. The movement of soil, potato wart and PCN from Newfoundland is restricted legislatively under the Plant Protection Act and its regulations. In addition, under this legislation, the CFIA has the authority to impose individual notices restricting movement of regulated articles from specific gardens or fields known to be infested with PCN or PW.

Existing CFIA plant protection activities designed to prevent the spread of PCN and PW are routinely reviewed. In addition, the CFIA monitors for any changes that may indicate an increased risk of the spread of these pests to non-infested agricultural areas of Labrador or other Canadian provinces. If an increased risk were to be identified, alternative measures could be developed and implemented to mitigate the risk appropriately.

The current PCN and PW measures have proven to be effective in mitigating the risk of spreading PCN from the island of Newfoundland to Labrador and other parts of Canada, and of PW from Newfoundland and Labrador to other Canadian provinces.

Legislative restrictions for PW and PCN are specified in schedule I and schedule II of the Plant Protection Regulations, SOR/2001-287, s. 1; SOR/2004-80, s. 18.

Schedule I, entitled “Prohibited Movement within Canada”, contains the following movement restriction intended to prevent potato varieties susceptible to PW from being produced on the island of Newfoundland:

3. Movement of potato varieties with blue or purple skin (except for the varieties: Brigus, Blue Mac, A.C. Blue Pride and A.C. Domino, and any potato variety to be used for research purposes by a government, an educational institution or a corporation) is prohibited from the rest of Canada into Newfoundland.

Schedule II, subsection 50(3) and sections 51 and 52, of the Plant Protection Regulations, SOR/2001-287, s. 1; SOR/2004-80, s. 18., is entitled “Restricted Movement within Canada”. The relevant provisions relating to PW and PCN are provided below:

29. All plants produced within Newfoundland are restricted from moving to all other areas of Canada, based on the requirement for a movement certificate.

38. Soil, compost material, peat moss or anything with soil, compost material or peat moss attached are restricted from moving from Newfoundland to all other areas of Canada by the requirement for a movement certificate.

43. In order to be moved from Newfoundland to other areas of Canada, used bags, boxes, containers and other articles used to move root-crops, soil, compost material or peat moss are required to be free from soil, compost material and peat moss, or to have been subjected to a treatment or process to eradicate PCN and PW.

49. Used vehicles and equipment that are or may be infested must be free from soil and must exit the island of Newfoundland through an inspection centre with washing stations at Argentia, Port aux Basques, St. John’s or Cornerbrook.

Question No. 308Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

With respect to the Algoma Tankers Limited application to the Department of Finance regarding a remission order for the recently paid import duty on the new petroleum product tankers, Algonova and AlgoCanada: (a) when will a decision be rendered on this application; (b) what are the qualifications necessary for a successful application; (c) have there been any consultations with any of the following organizations regarding this application, including, the Shipbuilders Association of Canada, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the Canadian Shipowners Association, the Chamber of Marine Commerce and the Ontario Marine Transportation Forums and, if so, what has been the result of those consultations?

Question No. 308Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), this application for duty remission on the two tankers imported by Algoma Tankers Limited is currently under review by the Department of Finance. Once the review is completed, the department will make its recommendation to the Minister of Finance for his consideration.

In response to (b), in any remission request, the applicant is asked to provide the department with evidence supporting its request, including, inter alia, the effect the payment of the duties would have on its operations. As part of the process, the department also consults with all relevant stakeholders to seek their views on the remission request. Each application is reviewed on its own merits to determine whether duty remission is in the overall economic interest of Canada. A number of factors are taken into consideration in this review, including, inter alia, the results of consultations with all relevant stakeholders. Once the review is completed, the department makes a recommendation to the Minister of Finance for his consideration.

In response to (c), as part of broad consultations undertaken by the Department of Finance on this remission request, views were received from the following stakeholders: Shipbuilding Association of Canada, Canadian Shipowners Association, Chamber of Marine Commerce, Algoma Central Corporation, Imperial Oil, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the Ontario Marine Transportation Forum. The department also consulted officials at Industry Canada and Transport Canada. The views of all stakeholders will be fully considered as the department prepares its recommendation to the Minister of Finance.

Question No. 310Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

With respect to the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), will the government: (a) conduct an internal and external audit, as requested in a letter to the Minister of Transport outlined by four directors of the TPA, on the management of the Port Authority by the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) during 2008; (b) disclose the legal advice to the Board of Directors of the TPA, as obtained by the former CEO in 2008; (c) order the minutes of TPA meetings from 2008 be released from abeyance; (d) provide a justification of the $80,000 in hospital and travel expenses in 2007 and part of 2008, incurred by the CEO, while operating a deficit; (e) provide a justification for changing the constitution of the TPA by expanding two extra members onto the Board; and (f) ensure no board member has a conflict of interest, and that all board members act in an ethical manner?

Question No. 310Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), section 41 of the Canada Marine Act requires that Canada port authorities undergo a special examination every five years, to allow an examiner to report on the port authority’s practices and protocols, including those related to financial management and control. The Toronto Port Authority has indicated that it will soon undertake its second special examination under this provision, and it should be completed prior to the end of this fiscal year. These reviews are conducted by a qualified, independent auditor.

In response to (b), the legal advice provided to the board of directors of the Toronto Port Authority belongs to the authority, and the decision to disclose the advice provided rests with the board.

In response to (c), paragraph 7(2)(b) of the Port Authorities Management Regulations requires any port authority to “prepare and maintain … at its registered office or at such other place in Canada as the board of directors thinks fit, a record of the minutes of meetings and resolutions of the board of directors and committees of directors.” This requirement to keep minutes of board meetings is consistent with good governance practices. This provision does not require Canada port authorities to make minutes of meetings public. Furthermore, the minister does not hold copies of the minutes.

In response to (d), the member of Parliament for Trinity--Spadina has been provided with a listing of travel and hospitality expenses incurred by the former chief executive officer of the Toronto Port Authority in 2007 and 2008, Question No. 61, February 19, 2009.

In response to (e), section 8 of the Canada Marine Act stipulates that the board of directors of a Canada port authority shall consist of between seven and eleven members. In December 2008, the Toronto Port Authority’s supplementary letters patent were amended, as permitted under the act, to increase membership on the board of directors from seven directors to nine.

A significant increase in airport operations and the need to ensure adequate representation of all port stakeholders led the government to increase membership on the board of directors at the Toronto Port Authority. The operation of an airport, in addition to a working port, requires additional governance oversight. The increase in membership was taken in the interests of strengthening the authority’s governance structure and the board’s ability to deal with complex issues facing the Toronto Port Authority. The individuals added to the board need to be people that know local issues and have valuable experience to bring to the table.

In response to (f), members of the board of directors at the Toronto Port Authority have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the port. The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities takes allegations of conflict of interest on the board very seriously, and will consider the findings of any reviews or investigations related to the Toronto Port Authority.

In April 2006, the then minister of transport requested that a review of the Toronto Port Authority be undertaken to ensure that the principles of accountability and good governance had been upheld in decisions and actions taken by the Toronto Port Authority. The review of the Toronto Port Authority resulted in a comprehensive report on the Toronto Port Authority and satisfied the former minister that the board and management of the Toronto Port Authority had upheld the principles of accountability and good governance.

Question No. 312Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

With respect to section 162 of the Federal Accountability Act passed on December 12, 2006, what expenses were incurred by the office of the head of each department or ministry of state in fiscal year 2006-2007 for: (a) personnel; (b) transportation and communications; (c) information services, and (d) professional and special services?

Question No. 312Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this information was not centrally tracked prior to the coming into force of the Federal Accountability Act. Data gathering and reporting procedures were amended to report this information in the Public Accounts of Canada on a go forward basis commencing for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Question No. 313Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

With respect to the government's decision to increase the lowest personal income tax bracket from 15% to 15.5% in Budget 2006: (a) what was the justification for the increase; (b) what was the total revenue generated by the tax increase; and (c) why the government felt it was necessary to lower the rate back to 15%?

Question No. 313Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), the lowest personal income tax rate remained at the legislated level of 16 per cent until following the budget tabled in the House of Commons on May 2, 2006.

Budget 2006 announced a permanent reduction in the lowest personal income tax rate from 16 per cent to 15.5 per cent effective July 1, 2006. Subsequently, this reduction was legislated in C-13: an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006, Royal Assent given on June 22, 2006.

More information on budget 2006 is available at www.fin.gc.ca/budget06/bp/bptoc-eng.asp.

In response to part (b), as explained in part (a), only following the budget tabled in the House of Commons on May 2, 2006 was a reduction in the lowest personal income tax rate legislated. No revenue was generated by the measure. Indeed, as detailed in the budget 2006 document (see Table 3.6), reducing the lowest rate provided total tax relief of about $6.3 billion over the 2005-06 to 2007-08 period.

In response to part (c), the lowest personal income tax rate was reduced further to 15 per cent in the economic statement tabled in the House of Commons on October 30, 200, available at http://www.fin.gc.ca/budtoc/2007/ec07_-eng.asp.

The motivation for this reduction was clearly stated in that document (please see page 7), “Canada’s economic and fiscal fundamentals are rock solid, yet the world economy is experiencing turbulence and increased uncertainty. Given this global economic uncertainty, now is the time to act. Our strong fiscal position provides Canada with an opportunity that few other countries have—to make broad-based tax reductions that will strengthen our economy, stimulate investment and create more and better jobs”.

Subsequently, this reduction was legislated in C-28: an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 and to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2007, Royal Assent given on December 14, 2007.

A vast array of public-interest groups heralded this important reduction. For instance, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation cheered that “all taxpayers are benefitting today on the personal income tax side. This is certainly a very good announcement today, and it is an amount that is going to be felt and noticed by Canadian taxpayers." The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce also proclaimed, “Canadians are overtaxed and (the economic statement 2007) announcements take concrete measures to address the situation in an immediate and bold fashion. These measures are particularly welcome as global competitive pressures intensify and underscore the need for international tax competitiveness… the reduction in the lowest marginal personal income tax rate to 15 per cent will help stimulate work effort, saving and investment, all of which have a direct bearing on productivity, competitiveness and prosperity”.

Question No. 314Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

With respect to government action in the case of Mr. Muhammad Kohail, what was every official communication with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, while respecting Mr. Kohail's right to privacy by not revealing the substance of the communication and, specifically, (i) who initiated the communication, (ii) who was involved on behalf of the Canadian government, (iii) who was involved on behalf of the Saudi government, (iv) what was the date of the communication, (v) what was the method of communication?

Question No. 314Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, since his arrest in Saudi Arabia in January 2007, consular officials in Ottawa and in Saudi Arabia have been actively providing assistance and support to Mohamed Kohail, his brother, Sultan, and their family. In March 2008, following the death sentence imposed by the Saudi Court, the Government of Canada announced that it would seek clemency for Mohamed Kohail.

The Government of Canada has raised Mohamed Kohail’s case at the ministerial level at every opportunity. During a trip to Saudi Arabia in March 2008, the then Minister for Public Safety raised the case with Prince Muqrin, President of the Saudi General Intelligence Service. The Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote and spoke to his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud Al-Faisal in May 2008. The Minister for Natural Resources raised the case with the Saudi Oil Minister while in Jeddah in late June 2008.

In December 2008, the Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the case during a phone call with Prince Saud al-Faisal. During a visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2008, the Parliamentary Secretary met with senior officials at the Saudi Human Rights Commission and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to raise the case. The Parliamentary Secretary also met with the Saudi Minister of Justice to reiterate the Government of Canada's concerns. In February 2009, the Minister of Agriculture raised the case to his Saudi counterpart during a visit to Saudi Arabia. Finally, in June 2009, the Minister of International Trade raised the case with the Governor of Jeddah and the President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission during a visit to Saudi Arabia. The minister also met with the Kohail family to reiterate the Government of Canada’s commitment to pursuing all avenues to provide assistance to their sons.

Consular officials at the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh continue to closely monitor Mohamed Kohail’s case and remain in regular contact with Saudi authorities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by means of diplomatic notes and meetings. They are also in regular contact with prison officials in Jeddah to ensure that concerns regarding Mr. Kohail’s welfare are promptly addressed. When allegations of mistreatment were brought to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ attention in 2007, consular officials immediately raised the matter with Saudi authorities, including by diplomatic note, to request a thorough investigation into the matter.

The former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the current Chargé d’Affaires have raised the case with senior level Saudi authorities both in writing and in meetings, including the Saudi Minister of Justice, the Governor of Mecca, and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Deputy Minister for Consular Affairs.

During an April 2008 trip to Saudi Arabia, the Director of the Consular Case Management Division and the Director of the Gulf and Maghreb Division met with key officials including the Director of Judiciary Affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In November 2008, at the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ instruction, the Director General of the Consular Operations Bureau and the Director General of the Middle East Bureau met with the Saudi Chargé d’Affaires in Ottawa to raise the case. The Director of Gulf and Maghreb Division met with the Head of the Legal Department at the Saudi MFA to raise the case in November 2008.

In accordance with the Access to Information Act, Section 15, detailed responses to questions (i) to (v) could be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, and will not be released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Question No. 315Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Since the government announced plans for the construction of a $720 million polar ice breaker to be named HMCS Diefenbaker: (a) what progress has been made to date on this project; (b) have design contracts been awarded and, if so, to whom; (c) has the government altered its plans on the Diefenbaker by shelving the project and, if so, (i) when was the decision made, (ii) on who’s recommendation, (iii) what is the rational for the curtailment, (iv) why was this information not made public; (d) what is the latest estimated cost for the Diefenbaker; and (e) has the government decided to reassess the plans for the Diefenbaker in favour of recapitalizing the Coast Guard fleet on a more useful basis, with the support of the Canadian Armed Forces?

Question No. 315Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, budget 2008 providing funding of $720M to procure a Polar Icebreaker to replace Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Louis S. St. Laurent, currently Canada’s most capable Heavy Icebreaker, at the end of her planned operational life in 2017. The Polar Icebreaker will provide Canada with an enhanced Arctic capability to operate farther North and over a longer period each year than is currently the case.

In response to (a), to date the following progress has been achieved:

(1) Establishment of positions and hiring of key project personnel;

(2) Broad consultation with internal and external project stakeholders to develop a preliminary mission profile for this new class of vessel; and with project definition phase of the project.

In response to (b), design contracts have not yet been awarded.

In response to (c), the procurement process for the acquisition of the Polar Icebreaker, to be named CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, is unfolding on schedule. The government has not altered any plans in this regard and remains fully committed to this project as a key component of Canada’s Northern Strategy initiative.

In response to (d), the total estimated cost for the project is $720 million.

In response to (e), the government has not reassessed its plans regarding the Diefenbaker. The project remains on schedule and delivery is planned for 2017. The Canadian Coast Guard’s current approach to fleet operations is that all vessels are multi-tasked as the most efficient and effective means of maintaining its assets and delivering on its mandated programs and providing support to and working closely with other government departments and agencies.

Question No. 324Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

With regards to passenger rail in Northern Ontario: (a) have there been any proposals, initiatives, reports or studies on expanding service to Thunder Bay since 1990; (b) what is the estimated cost of expanding service to Thunder Bay; (c) what would be the estimated boost in ridership with extension to Thunder Bay; (d) what is the total cost of current Via Rail operations in the region; (e) what is the total revenue from the region; (f) what capital assets are owned in the region; and (g) what is the proportion of freight traffic to passenger traffic in the region?

Question No. 324Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), in August/September 2000, VIA Rail undertook a preliminary internal review of a number of train service proposals including the re-routing of “The Canadian” through the Thunder Bay/Lake Superior route on Canadian Pacific Railway infrastructure. This would also necessitate the introduction of a Capreol-Hornepayne-Winnipeg local service to maintain access for remote communities along the present route of of “The Canadian” on the Canadian National Railway line.

In response to (b), the incremental costs of introducing this combined service change, based on the 2000 estimate, would be $5.9 million annual operating costs plus capital expenditures of $17.9 million for rolling stock and stations.

In response to (c), a market assessment of the potential impact on ridership levels has not been undertaken.

In response to (d), the total annual operating cost of VIA Rail operations in the area (i.e. Sudbury – White River service) is $2.6 million.

In response to e) Total revenue from the region (i.e. Sudbury – White River service) is $183,000.

In response to (f), capital assets owned in the region include station facilities in Washago, Sudbury Junction, Capreol, and Foleyet.

In response to g) VIA does not have information with respect to the proportion of freight traffic.

Question No. 329Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

With respect to Health Canada and the Canadian Apheresis Group: (a) is the Minister of Health going to submit a Treasury Board submission that would renew the mandate for funding that was given by the Canadian Blood Committee and the Canadian Blood Agency (October 1997); and (b) since existing funding is expected to expire on March 15, 2010, will the government show a renewed commitment to this group by granting permanent funding?

Question No. 329Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the 1997 federal-provincial-territorial memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the National Blood Authority, Health Canada provides funds to the Canadian Blood Services, CBS, for research and development on blood safety and effectiveness ($5M/annum since 2000-2001). Beginning in 2008, Health Canada also provides funds to CBS to improve the delivery of organ and tissue donation and transplantation activities in Canada ($3.58M /annum between April 2008 and March 2013).

Funding to the Canadian Apheresis Group ended in 2003. There is no current funding agreement between Health Canada nor the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Apheresis Group.

Question No. 337Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

With regard to the November 2006 funding announcement made by then-Health Minister Tony Clement detailing a five-point plan for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) funding in Canada, what are the details regarding: (a) the status of the commitment to sponsor an ASD stakeholder symposium; (b) the status of the commitment to establish a chair focusing on interventions and treatment for ASD; (c) the status of the commitment to undertake a consultation process to see how an ASD surveillance program could be set up through the Public Health Agency of Canada; (d) the status of the commitment to establish a dedicated web page on the Health Canada website with ASD information and resources; (e) the status of the commitment to designate the Health Policy Branch of Health Canada as the ASD lead for actions related to ASD at the federal health portfolio level; and (f) how much federal funding these and other autism programs will receive during the fiscal year 2009-2010?

Question No. 337Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), with regard to the commitment to sponsor an ASD stakeholder symposium, in November 2007, a national symposium on autism research was hosted by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, CIHR, to share knowledge and to support dialogue on future research priorities. The report from this Symposium is now available on the CIHR web site.

In response to (b), with regard to the commitment to establish a chair focusing on interventions and treatment for ASD, funding for an autism research chair to address issues related to treatments and interventions was announced at Simon Fraser University on October 20, 2007. This joint initiative with the Government of British Columbia is being supported with $1M in federal funding over five years. Efforts to establish a Chair are currently underway by Simon Fraser University.

In response to (c), between November 2007 and May 2008, the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, undertook a consultation process to examine options for the development of an Autism Spectrum Disorders, ASD, surveillance program in Canada. This process was guided by a steering committee comprised of ASD experts, and included three components:

1. an environmental scan of the current scope of ASD surveillance activities in Canada;

2. a technical workshop on the information needs and data collection options for ASD surveillance; and

3. a broader stakeholder consultation on the information needs of ASD communities and how they would like surveillance information disseminated to them.

The results of this consultation process will be used by PHAC as it undertakes a new national surveillance system for developmental disorders such as autism. This initiative, a component of the federal government’s 2008 action plan to protect human health from environmental contaminants, will be a national sentinel surveillance program to track and assess the linkages between environmental contamination and developmental disorders such as sensory impairments, autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Using centres for surveillance expertise, data will be collected from a variety of local sources such as schools, hospitals, community paediatricians, and other health professionals.

In response to (d), with respect to the commitment to establish a dedicated web page on the Health Canada website with ASD information and resources, the website has been created. It provides facts and information on ASD, as well as links to Canadian and International autism organizations. The website can be found at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/dc-ma/autism-eng.php As well, in 2007-08 Health Canada provided $50,000 to the Offord Centre for Child Studies (a research centre dedicated to improving the life quality of children with mental health and developmental problems) to support the dissemination of the latest evidence pertaining to autism through the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network, CAIRN, via the Network’s website. The Canadian Autism Intervention Network, CAIRN, is a group of parents, clinicians and scientists working to conduct research in early intervention in autism, and is part of the Offord Centre for Child Studies. The web page on the Health Canada website links to the CAIRN website in order to direct Canadians to evidence-based information of a more clinical nature, and complement the content on the Departmental site.

In response to (e), with respect to the commitment to designate the Health Policy Branch of Health Canada as the ASD lead for actions related to ASD at the federal health portfolio level, this was done in 2007. Since then, the Health Policy Branch has become the Strategic Policy Branch, and the Chronic and Continuing Care Division within the Branch holds the lead on the ASD file.

In response to (f), with respect to federal funding for autism related initiatives during fiscal year 2009-10, the federal government has committed $200,000 to Simon Fraser University, as part of the $1M over five years for the Autism Research Chair. In addition, the federal government has a multi-year contribution agreement with the Offord Centre for Child Studies, with $25,000 in 2008-2009 and $50,000 in 2009-10, for a total of $75,000 over two years. This funding will support the development and dissemination of research priorities in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ASD, among parents, policy makers, researchers, health professionals, health educators and individuals with ASD. This work will be accomplished through a national on-line survey, a national conference in fall 2009, and by further updating the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network website, which is the primary bilingual source for disseminating evidence-based information about ASD in Canada. In fiscal year 2009-10, CIHR has currently committed approximately $3.4 million towards autism research.

Question No. 342Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Concerning the establishment of future permanent full service passport offices throughout Canada: (a) does Passport Canada have a long term plan to increase the number of permanent full service passport offices, (i) if yes, what is the break down and timeline for the establishments of these offices, (ii) if no, is Passport Canada looking at developing such a plan; (b) has Passport Canada considered opening full service passport offices utilising the infrastructure that currently exists in local Service Canada outlets; (c) has Passport Canada considered using the trained staff that are tasked as frontline customer service worker to staff new regional full service passport offices; and (d) has Passport Canada looked into regional disparities in obtainning passports in relation to their current full service offices, (i) if yes, what recommendations were presented, (ii) if not, does Passport Canada intend on conducting such a study?

Question No. 342Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am informed by Passport Canada that in response to (a), Passport Canada finances its operations from the fees charged for passports and other travel documents. The agency must generate sufficient revenues to meet expenditures. It periodically reviews demand patterns to evaluate whether it is feasible to open new offices. Where demand is not sufficient to sustain a passport office, the agency now offers passport services through partnership agreements. In 2003, 30 passport offices were operating across the country. Since then, the agency has opened three additional passport offices and, through partnerships with Canada Post and Service Canada, now has 230 passport points of service. Consequently, 95 per cent of Canadians now have in-person access to a passport point of service within 100 km of their residence.

As a Special Operating Agency, Passport Canada does not receive an annual parliamentary appropriation-- the service the Agency provides is supported by applicants rather than taxpayers. Passport Canada operates under a revolving fund which allows it to accumulate an annual surplus (or deficit) of up to $4 million. Passport Canada can also carry over surplus revenues from year to year to offset future shortfalls.

(ii) Other than a new regional office in Kelowna, British Columbia, scheduled to open in 2010, Passport Canada’s long-term plan does not include the opening of additional permanent full-service passport offices.

In response to (b), the cost to adequately equip and provide the security required for a full-service passport office ranges from $1.2 million to $4 million. Were Passport Canada to extend full-service status to all 320 Service Canada outlets, the required investment would be significant. The existing Service Canada network would also require substantial physical modifications to accommodate additional applicant volume and to meet security criteria. Current and new employees would also need considerable training to perform their new duties.

In response to (c), front-line examiners are trained to make decisions about whether a passport can be issued. The training is intensive, in-depth and is part of the expense required for each new regional office. Passport Canada’s human resource practices are fair and transparent. Positions are posted as they become available and all applicants are screened against a series of criteria including skills, knowledge, education and abilities.

In response to (d), Passport Canada’s receiving agent network has considerably broadened access to passport services throughout the country, especially in rural, remote and northern locations. Given the existing broad access to service, any passport expansion would result in marginal improvements in service to the majority of Canadians at a significantly higher cost.

(i), the Passport Canada Mobile Passport Unit, created in 2007, has increased accessibility in rural regions and border communities. This minimizes delays due to incomplete applications. Since January 2007, the Mobile Passport Unit has held 166 clinics and accepted more than 42,000 applications.

Passport Canada continues to explore ways to improve client services while prudently managing its funds.

Question No. 343Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

With respect to the defence of the former lieutenant governor of Quebec, Ms. Lise Thibault, regarding the allegations of her spending while in office: (a) how much has the government spent on legal fees associated with the defence of the former lieutenant governor of Quebec; and (b) how much will the government spend on legal fees associated with the defence of Ms. Thibault?

Question No. 343Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice Canada is not implicated in the defence of Mrs. Lise Thibault.

If proceedings are eventually undertaken against Mrs. Thibault, employees from Canadian Heritage may be called as witnesses. Counsel from our office could then be consulted to advise government employees of their rights and obligations and of the progress of the proceedings.

In certain cases, if the situation and interests of the Government of Canada require it, government employees may be accompanied by Justice counsel.

We estimate that the time and fees incurred by the Department of Justice in this case will remain minimal and will be incurred only to preserve the interests of the Government of Canada and its employees.

Question No. 344Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

With regards to Bill C-48, An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, passed during the First Session of the 38th and: (a) the Post-Secondary Education Infrastructure Trust, (i) does the government know which projects received funding, (ii) what are the amounts involved, (iii) to what were allocated; (b) the Public Transit Capital Trust, (i) does the government know which projects received funding, (ii) what are the amounts involved, (iii) to what were the funds allocated; (c) the Affordable Housing Trust, (i) does the government know which projects received funding, (ii) what are the amounts involved, (iii) to what were the funds allocated; (d) the Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Trust, (i) does the government know which projects received funding, (ii) what are the amounts involved, (iii) to what were the funds allocated; and (e) the Northern Housing Trust, (i) does the government know which projects received funding, (ii) what are the amounts involved, (iii) to what were the funds allocated?

Question No. 344Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, trusts are financial vehicles used by the Government of Canada to transfer funds to provinces and territories in order to meet urgent, short-term pressures in areas of shared national priority. The trust mechanism gives provincial and territorial governments the flexibility to withdraw funding in support of the identified objectives, according to their respective needs and priorities, over the lifespan of each trust.

In response to (i) and( ii), trusts established pursuant to Bill C-48, five trusts were established pursuant to Bill C-48, An act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, which received Royal Assent in July 2005. These trusts were highlighted in the budget presented to the House of Commons on May 2, 2006:

$1 billion for the post-secondary education infrastructure trust, to support investments to promote innovation and accessibility, including investments in university and college infrastructure and equipment. The funding is notionally allocated over two years on an equal per capita basis among provinces and territories;

$900 million for the public transit capital trust, in support of capital investments in public transit infrastructure both as a means to reduce traffic congestion and to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions. The funding is notionally allocated over three years on an equal per capita basis among provinces and territories;

$800 million for the affordable housing trust to help address short-term pressures with regard to the supply of affordable housing. The funding is notionally allocated over three years on an equal per capita basis among provinces and territories;

$300 million for the off-reserve aboriginal housing trust to help provinces address short-term housing needs for aboriginal Canadians living off-reserve. The funding is notionally allocated over three years among provinces based on the provincial share of the aboriginal population living off-reserve; and

$300 million for the northern housing trust to help meet short-term pressures with regard to the supply of affordable housing in the North. The funding is notionally allocated over three years among the three territories as follows: $50 million each for the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, plus an additional $150 million for urgent needs in Nunavut.

Payments to the trusts were made on September 27, 2006, after the Government was able to confirm that sufficient funds were available from surpluses in the two fiscal years 2005-06 and 2006-07.

In response to (iii), Projects receiving funding, allocation, and amounts involved, operating principles were established for each trust. Once the funds have been transferred to the trustee, the trustee, and subsequently the provinces and territories, are accountable for the distribution and use of those funds.

Question No. 346Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

What funds, grants, loans and loan guarantee has the government issued through the Department of Canadian Heritage, over $1,000, since January 1, 2006, and in each case where applicable: (a) the name of the recipient; (b) the constituency of the recipient; (c) the program for which the grant, loan, or loan guarantee was given; (d) the date the application was received; (e) the amount of the individual grant, loan, or loan guarantee; (f) the date the payment was made; and (g) the total amount from all programs received by the recipient in that calendar year?

Question No. 346Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Canadian Heritage’s information systems do not capture financial information by federal riding.

Question No. 348Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

With regard to government advertising, since January 24, 2006: (a) how much was spent per print advertisement, listed alphabetically by supplier; (b) in which constituencies were the print advertisements distributed; (c) what dates did the print advertisements run; (d) how much was spent per radio advertisement, listed alphabetically by supplier; (e) on what stations did the radio advertisement air; (f) on what dates and times did the radio advertisements air; (g) how much was spent per internet advertisement, listed alphabetically by supplier; (h) on what websites were the internet advertisements posted; (i) how many hits did each internet advertisement receive; (j) how much was spent per television advertisement, listed alphabetically by supplier; (k) on what stations did the television advertisement air; and (l) on what dates and times did the television advertisement air?

Question No. 348Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the information requested in question No. 348 is too voluminous and costly to produce. The data required to adequately respond to the question is contained on 29,472 pages, in English only. Furthermore, given the magnitude of this question, it is not practical or cost effective for the government to translate these documents.

The Government of Canada produces an advertising annual report which provides information on the process used to manage government advertising, annual expenditures, and the major campaigns undertaken to support government priorities.

These annual reports are available at the following link: http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/pub-adv/annuel-annual-eng.html

Question No. 350Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

With respect to the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD): (a) is the 2010 compliance deadline purely an internal deadline or one that should be of concern to product license applicants; (b) is the current deadline is not enforced given the current large unaddressed backlog of applications; (c) will the backlog be solved simply through wholesale product rejection; (d) are reasonable application reviews taking place so that Canadians can enjoy access to safe, high quality natural health products; (e) will the government amend the Food and Drugs Act to establish a separate regulatory category for natural health products; and (f) will the government provide long term funding to the NHPD to act as the regulator for natural health products?

Question No. 350Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), Health Canada has set a goal for itself to address the Natural Health Product, NHP, product licensing backlog by March 31, 2010. This date is not set out in law or regulation--it is an internal deadline adopted by Health Canada. The only date set out in the regulation is December 31, 2009 at which time all natural health products which were previously issued a drug identification number under the Food and Drug Regulations will be required to have a product licence, as per Section 108 of the Natural Health Products Regulations.

Health Canada is confident that, building on our progress to date, we can address the backlog by March 31, 2010.

In response to (b), the Natural Health Products Directorate, together with the Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate, are currently developing a compliance strategy for 2010.

Significant progress has been made to address the backlog of applications: as of June 2009, 47% of the product licence application backlog has been completed or is in the process of being completed and of the remaining 6661 applications, 48% have been addressed--meaning that the applicant has received at least one deficiency notice from NHPD as part of the assessment of their application. Of the product licence applications not considered in the backlog, 59% have been completed or are in the process of being completed and of the remaining 4836 applications, 25% have been addressed--meaning that the applicant has received at least one deficiency notice from NHPD as part of the assessment of their application. Of all product licence applications received since 2004, NHPD has completed or is in the process of completing 70%.

In response to (c), Health Canada continues to review applications and issue regulatory decisions. Some of those decisions will be refusals. To date, however, there have been more licences than refusals.

The Natural Health Product Regulations, NHPR, require that an applicant submit information to support the safety, efficacy and quality of a product for assessment by the NHPD. An estimated 25-30% of applications received do not include enough information or relevant information to allow the directorate, on behalf of the minister, to conclude that the product is safe and effective.

An applicant that does not include sufficient information in an application, to allow a licence to be issued is provided with an opportunity to submit further information to support the licensing of the product; in 26% of submissions, the applicant chooses not to take this opportunity and does not respond to a request from the NHPD to do so.

In response to (d), Health Canada’s priority is to protect and promote the health of Canadians by ensuring access to natural health products that are safe, effective, and of high quality. Only NHPs that are supported by adequate levels of evidence and carry appropriate labels will be authorized for sale and issued a product licence.

The safety and efficacy evaluation of a natural health product, NHP, includes an assessment of its recommended conditions of use and the existing totality of evidence related to the NHP.The information that is considered acceptable by NHPD in reviewing applications includes a range of data including:

(i) safety and efficacy information that is developed by the NHPD and made available to product licence applicants such as ingredient and product monographs and labelling standards (nearly 150 of these are now available and has been used by applicants to allow for the licensing of thousands of products);

(ii) reference to safety and efficacy information published reference texts and pharmacopeia (e.g., texts for homeopathic medicines and traditional chinese medicines);

(iii) reference to safety and efficacy information from small-scale trials that is publicly available from a variety of sources;

(iv) reference to relevant decisions made by other regulatory agencies.

In response to (e), Bill C-51, An Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act, died on the Order Paper with the dissolution of Parliament in September 2008. Consultations with stakeholders resulted in revisions and additions to the Bill, which were to be introduced during review by Committee.

One proposed addition was the introduction of a definition for NHPs at the level of the act, clarifying that NHPs are separate from drugs. It is important to note that the proposed amendments to the Food and Drugs Act would not have affected the way that NHPs are regulated in Canada. Under the Natural Health Products Regulations, NHPs are already regulated separately from drugs. The standards of evidence used to assess the risks and benefits of NHPs will continue to incorporate history of use, traditional uses and cultural practices.

In response to (f), Health Canada remains committed to ensuring safe, effective and high quality NHPs. In budget 2008, $33 million over two years was dedicated to implement a new approach to the regulation of NHPs and ensure the safety of Canadians. The government is committed to ensuring that the regulation of NHPs balances the protection of consumers’ health and safety with the freedom to choose alternative products.

Question No. 353Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

With regards to the Canadian Institute for Health Research: (a) how much has their budget been for each year since their inception; (b) how much of that has been spent each year on research related to reproduction technologies; (c) how much of that has been spent each year on research related to stem cell research; and (d) how much of that has been spent each year on embryonic stem cell research?

Question No. 353Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s, CIHR, total parliamentary appropriations since inception are as follows:

2000-01: $401.3 million

2001-02: $553.8 million

2002-03: $651.2 million

2003-04: $696.9 million

2004-05: $757.9 million

2005-06: $813.1 million

2006-07: $863.5 million

2007-08: $993.7 million

2008-09: $974.1 million

CIHR currently estimates its 2009-10 total appropriations to be approximately $983.9 million, $973.1 million of which has already been approved by the Treasury Board.

In response to (b) total estimated funding for reproductive technology per fiscal year since inception to 2008/09 is as follows:

2000-01: $294,000

2001-02: $341,000

2002-03: $1.2 million

2003-04: $2.8 million

2004-05: $3.4 million

2005-06: $3.4 million

2006-07: $4.2 million

2007-08: $5.1 million

2008-09: $5.0 million

In response to (c), total estimated funding for stem cell research per fiscal year since inception to 2008/09 is as follows:

2000-01: $7.9 million

2001-02: $10.2 million

2002-03: $13.9 million

2003-04: $17.1 million

2004-05: $20.3 million

2005-06: $23.6 million

2006-07: $29.9 million

2007-08: $35.0 million

2008-09: $38.0 million

In response to (d), total estimated funding for embryonic stem cell research, a subset of stem cell research, per fiscal year since inception to 2008/09 is as follows:

2000-01: --

2001-02: $189,000

2002-03: $492,000

2003-04: $619,000

2004-05: $766,000

2005-06: $770,000

2006-07: $1.2 million

2007-08: $2.3 million

2008-09: $3.6 million

Question No. 360Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

With regard to interest on advance deposits from corporate taxpayers: (a) what is the total amount of outstanding deposits; (b) what are the 30 largest amounts of outstanding deposits by company; (c) what has been the amount of interest paid over the last five years; and (d) over the last five years, which companies have refused to be repaied outstanding deposits?

Question No. 360Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, with respect to advance deposits from corporate taxpayers, what follows is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, to the above-noted question. Please note that the CRA’s reply includes information from fiscal years 2004-2005 to 2007-2008.

In response to (a), the total amount of outstanding advance deposits from corporate taxpayers, as of May 31, 2008, was $4.4 billion.

In response to (b), please note that the confidentiality provisions of the Income tax Act, specifically Section 241(1), prohibit the CRA from either directly or indirectly disclosing “taxpayer information”. As a result of this prohibition, the CRA cannot provide the information in the manner requested.

In response to (c), as the CRA data banks do not separate refund interest related to advance deposits from any other type of refund interest paid to corporate taxpayers, the information cannot be provided in the manner requested. However, the total amount of refund interest paid over the previous five years, 2004-2008, including interest on advance deposits, was $3.1 billion.

In response to (d), please note that the confidentiality provisions of the Income tax Act, specifically Section 241(1), prohibit the CRA from directly or indirectly disclosing “taxpayer information”. As a result of this prohibition, the CRA cannot provide the information in the manner requested.

Question No. 364Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

With regard to the Joint Supply Ship program: (a) what is the total amount of spending to date on the project; (b) what is the current staffing level of the project; and (c) what are the expected costs of a possible cancellation?

Question No. 364Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), total expenditures on the joint support ship project as of 17 June 2009 were $44 million.

In response to (b), the staffing level of the joint support ship project as of 17 June 2009 was 31 personnel.

In response to (c), as the only contracts currently in place are for engineering and management support on an as required tasking basis, there would be no costs associated with any project cancellation.

Question No. 365Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

With regard to National Defence Public Affairs: (a) for the previous 12 months, what is the total number of media requests received; (b) what is the average time of response to questions; (c) what is the total number of questions which did not receive a response; and (d) what number of requests came from international media?

Question No. 365Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), readily accessible departmental records indicate that the total number of media queries received by the Department of National Defence between June 23, 2008 and June 23, 2009 was 2,900, which includes all queries received at National Defence Headquarters and those reported through the regional and local offices.

In response to (b), the average response time was 12 hours.

In response to (c) approximately 17% of the total number of queries were not answered by the reporter’s stated deadline.

In response to (d) readily accessible departmental records do not provide information on the origins of the media requests; therefore, it was not possible within the time allotted to determine which requests came from international media.

Question No. 366Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

With regard to Canadian participation in the Joint Strike Fighter program: (a) what has been spent on the project, broken down by year and program component; (b) what have been industrial regional benefits associated with the program, by year and project component; and (c) what would be the future costs of becoming a level two participant in the program?

Question No. 366Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in response (a), total Department of National Defence expenditures to date (29 June 09) on the joint strike fighter program are US $142.57 million. Spending is not tracked by year and project component but rather by phase as outlined below.

i) For concept development, which occurred between 1997 and 2001, the Department of National Defence spent US $10 million.

(ii) For the system design and development phase, which began in 2002 and will conclude in 2013, the Department of National Defence has spent US $94.35 million. No further payments are required for system design and development.

(iii) For production sustainment follow-on development, commencing in 2006 and continuing until 2051, the Department of National Defence has spent US $38.22 million.

In response to (b), to date, the total value of joint strike fighter program contracts awarded to Canadian companies is CND $325 million.

In response to (c), level II participation was only possible in the system design and development phase of the program. The program no longer distinguishes between levels of partners.

Question No. 370Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

With regards to the case of Omar Khadr, currently held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: (a) what recommendations have been made by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade or any other government agency to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or his staff, with regards to Omar Khadr; (b) in which meetings was the topic of his legal situation and future plans for reintegration raised and in what capacity; and (c) what documentation exists in this regard?

Question No. 370Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the case of Omar Khadr, like other consular cases, is the subject of regular advice from and discussion among officials, including legal counsel in light of ongoing litigation. These discussions and any documents generated in connection therewith cannot be disclosed given the ongoing litigation, Privacy Act concerns as well as other protections afforded to information exempt from disclosure under the Access to Information Act.

Question No. 371Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

With regard to the operation and budget of Canadian diplomatic missions: (a) which embassies and consulates have experienced budget cuts since 2006; (b) which embassies and consulates have experienced personnel downsizing; (c) which embassies and consulates have been closed since 2006; and (d) how many Canadian diplomatic missions, including embassies and consulates are there around the world?

Question No. 371Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), diplomatic mission budgets are subject to constant fluctuations due to evolving operational requirements. Budget increases and decreases occur regularly in-year and from one year to the next for a variety of reasons including position creation and deletions, currency fluctuations, adjustments to previous year's anomalies in reference level, incremental positions to support growth of representation from other government departments, among others.

In response to (b), since 2006, 26 diplomatic missions have experienced a decrease in personnel.

Abidjan (Ivory Coast)

Alma Ata (Kazakhstan)

Athens (Greece)

Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei)

Bangkok (Thailand)

Brasilia (Brazil)

Bratislava (Slovakia)

Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Colombo (Sri Lanka)

Conakry (Guinea)

Denver (Usa)

Dusseldorf (Germany)

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Lisbon (Portugal)

Lusaka (Zambia)

New Delhi (India)

Oslo (Norway)

Prague (Czech Republic)

San Jose (Costa Rica)

Seoul/Pusan (Korea)

Tallinn (Estonia)

Tehran (Iran)

Tunis (Tunisia)

Vatican Vienna -- Embassy (Austria)

Warsaw (Poland)

In response to (c), since 2006, 11 diplomatic missions have been closed, namely: Phnom Penh (2009); Hamburg (2009); Tucson (2009); Cape Town (2009); Sarajevo (2009); Lilongwe (2009); Milan (2007); St. Petersburg (2007); Fukuoka (2007); Osaka (2007); and Libreville (2006).

In response to (d), there are currently 318 diplomatic missions abroad. These include: Embassies; High Commissions; Embassy/High Commission of Canada Program Offices; Offices of the Embassy / High Commission; Representative Offices -- Multilateral or Permanent; Consulates General; Consulates; Consular Agencies; and Honorary Consulates.

Question No. 373Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

With regards to Canada’s involvement in Pakistan, has the government offered support to the Pakistani government to combat the incursion in the north and, if so, (i) how much money has been dedicated and through what economic channels, (ii) to which initiatives was it directed, (iii) what documentation exists in this regard?

Question No. 373Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Pakistan’s government and long-term development, as both are important factors in achieving regional and global stability and security. The Government of Canada is not providing direct monetary support to the Pakistani government specifically to combat the incursion in the north. However, Canada remains concerned for the fate of millions of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the pressures on the Government of Pakistan as a result of the military offensive against the Taliban. In support for these displaced persons, Canada has pledged $8 million for the crisis and we continue to monitor the situation to assess whether further assistance will be required. Canada also has a long-standing and diverse development cooperation relationship with Pakistan which includes the Canada-Pakistan Debt For Education Conversion valued at $117 million. Our total bilateral aid allocation to Pakistan last fiscal year was $44 million, and Canada has also provided approximately $10 million to support reconstruction activities following the 2005 South Asia Earthquake. Our core bilateral assistance to Pakistan is also expected to rise to $50 million per year in coming years. CIDA’s bilateral program is currently focused on supporting the transition to civilian government and promotes national cohesiveness by focusing on democratic governance, basic public education, equality between men and women, and stimulating sustainable economic growth. This government is committed to working closely with the Government of Pakistan in addressing the challenges it faces and their implications for regional and global security.

Question No. 378Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With regard to aid for the Atlantic Canada Fishery: (a) how much funding has been allocated to each province from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ recent $65 million funding announcement; (b) what sectors of the fishery will receive the funding; (c) has any funding been allocated to support loss of income among fishermen; (d) does the government plan to contribute funding for the retirement of lobster licenses; (e) does the government plan to implement changes to the Employment Insurance system that will assist workers in the fishery sector; (f) has any new funding been allocated for industry infrastructure; (g) has any new funding been allocated toward research and development; (h) has any new funding been allocated toward easing access to credit for those in the fishery; and (i) what is the breakdown of the funding for each fiscal year from 2009 through 2014?

Question No. 378Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, on June 10, 2009 the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced $65 million in new funding to help the Atlantic lobster fishery. These measures will help harvesters adapt to the extraordinary market conditions created by the global recession. This funding includes $15 million in immediate, short term support to assist qualified low-income harvesters severely harmed by the collapse in market demand for their products. This funding also includes $50 million in longer-term financial assistance to support industry to develop and implement sustainability plans.

With regard to (a), the availability of this funding will be based on eligibility criteria, which is currently being developed. While the programs are available to eligible lobster harvesters in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the funding will not be allocated by province.

With regard to (b), these programs, the short term transitional measures and the Atlantic lobster sustainability measures will be made available to licenced lobster harvesters in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

With regard to (c), the short term transitional measures comprise $15 million of the announced funding and are for licenced lobster harvesters who have experienced a significant drop in income from lobster harvesting in 2009. This program would only be available for the 2009 fishing season.

With regard to (d), the details of the program are currently being developed.

With regard to (e), changes to the employment insurance program are not part of this initiative.

With regard to (f) and (g), the government has also made other efforts to support the lobster industry. On May 22, 2009, thegovernment announced that it is directing $10 million from the Community Adjustment Fund, CAF, to the Atlantic provinces and Quebec for activities to improve marketing, assist in innovation and develop products and technologies in the lobster industry. This CAF funding may also be used by fleets to organize and develop sustainability plans for consideration for funding under the Atlantic lobster sustainability measures. CAF will be implemented by through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.

With regard to (h), the current economic situation is also creating difficulties for the industry to access capital. To help alleviate this challenge, Budget 2009: Canada’s Economic Action Plan provided many measures which improve access to credit, including new funding to the Business Development Bank of Canada, the creation of a Business Credit Availability Program and a new Canadian Secured Credit Facility.

With regard to (i), the program details for the short term transitional measures and the Atlantic lobster sustainability measures are currently under development.

Question No. 382Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

With respect to Canadians who suffer severe and life-threatening adverse reactions to synthetic insulins and are unable to obtain domestically an alternative and reliable supply of animal-based insulin at a reasonable cost and pursuant to our previous Order Paper question: (a) has the Minister pursued or will the Minister pursue an agreement with the United States Food and Drug Administration to harmonize the regulations regarding approval for animal insulin, thereby enabling manufacturers to enter the North American market; (b) has the Minister pursued or will the Minister pursue a concerted education effort on animal based insulin by Health Canada aimed at both physicians and patients; (c) has the Minister pursued or will the Minister pursue a discussion with the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), which enjoys charitable tax status, to ensure that the treatment protocols that are sponsored by manufacturers include a clear statement on the safety and efficacy of animal insulin and that the CDA indicate what steps patients should take to obtain animal insulin in the event of adverse reactions; and (d) has the Minister pursued or will the Minister pursue subsidies for patients who are unable to afford animal insulin because of the excessive price?

Question No. 382Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), despite encouragements and repeated discussion with three manufacturers of animal insulin preparations, and despite the fact that these manufacturers were made aware of the potential financial incentives to them, including the reduction, even to zero, of fees charged for review of therapeutic products, they indicated that, without a sufficiently large, and guaranteed, market, none of the incentives offered were of sufficient interest to them.

It should be noted that two pork derived insulin products are already approved for market in Canada. Nonetheless, should there be additional applications for animal insulins and simultaneous filing in both Canada and the United States, in line with a memorandum of understanding and ongoing collaboration on a wide-variety of issues with the US, Health Canada would ensure that all regulatory requirements are harmonised between the two countries. Harmonisation of regulatory approaches and requirements is already an ongoing activity, and would not be limited to a single class of product(s).

In response to (b), Health Canada is working actively on an educational plan and materials to ensure that the medical community is aware of the issues surrounding the use of insulin of animal origin vs. biosynthetic insulin. These activities are directed at both physicians and patients.

In response to (c), Health Canada does not have the authority to pursue statements in treatment protocols through the Canadian Diabetes Association, CDA. As a professional body, the CDA is independent of the federal government. Despite this, Health Canada can introduce appropriate statements on the labels for all insulin products. The intent of these statements would be to inform physicians in a continuous manner of the reported issues surrounding animal vs. biosynthetic insulin products. Since labels contain a Consumer Information Section, patients would also be informed.

In addition, Health Canada is considering the publication of a short article on the subject in the Canadian Adverse Reaction Bulletin and even send letters to the editors of several continuous medical education publications to reinforce the messages. Finally, there may be an opportunity to update the Fact Sheet, published by Health Canada, on the treatment of diabetes.

In response to (d), the Canada Health Act requires provinces and territories to provide coverage of medically necessary pharmaceutical drugs administered in hospitals. However, there is no federal legal requirement for them to provide such coverage outside of a hospital setting. Provinces and territories of their own accord have developed publicly-funded pharmaceutical insurance plans, including insulin, and decide the terms and conditions for such plans for their residents, including eligible population groups, formularies, and pricing. The 2004 Health Accord has provided substantial additional funding to strengthen health care over a 10-year period to provincial and territorial governments, which they may use to enhance and expand publicly-funded drug plans, including coverage of increased drug costs for their residents.

Question No. 383Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Regarding the progress achieved thus far by the Department of International Cooperation and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in the implementation of The Development Assistance Accountability Act, 2008: (a) what steps have the Minister and CIDA taken to implement the Act, specifically, what consultations, meetings, and reviews have the Minister and CIDA conducted in order to examine how future Official Development Assistance (ODA) disbursements by CIDA are to accord with the Act; (b) how many programs now accord with the mandate of the Act and what percentage of Canada’s ODA expenditures now accord with the mandate of the Act; and (c) if no progress has been made in implementing the Act, what measures will the Minister and CIDA adopt to ensure accordance with the Act?

Question No. 383Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), after the act came into force in June 2008, a vice president-level steering committee on the implementation of the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, ODA AA, was created to provide strategic guidance to the agency and to consider act-related policy decisions. As a result, CIDA employees have conducted the following consultations, meetings and reviews to ensure that future ODA disbursements are in accordance with the act:

(i) Reviewed strategic documents to ensure that the requirements of the act were reflected in key policy and programming documents. Key documents include: the department performance report, the report on plans and priorities, country development programming frameworks, and thematic strategies.

(ii) Developed a consultation directive to provide formal direction to CIDA employees. The development and revisions of the directive involved considerable internal consultations and meetings.

(iii) Held two interdepartmental meetings with other government departments impacted by the act. The purpose of the meetings was to provide an overview of the ODA AA, discuss the requirements under the act, and set key milestones for the process. The meetings were followed by continued support by CIDA to OGDs on the implementation of the act.

(iv) Increase consultations in the field by CIDA staff serving in countries abroad with local civil society, government, industry, businesses and community leadership.

Over the next few months and into the fall, the agency will engage partners and stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, the private sector and academia, in support of the development of strategies for CIDA’s thematic priorities. These consultations are intended to improve the agency’s knowledge and to seek advice on possible future directions.

In response to (b), the act states that international assistance can be reported as ODA if the competent minister is of the opinion that it: contributes to poverty reduction; takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and is consistent with international human rights standards. Given that the CIDA mandate is to reduce poverty, the act is already fully integrated into CIDA’s current CIDA programming.

The act also requires that CIDA prepare two annual reports on the Government of Canada’s official development assistance activities: a summary report and a statistical report. CIDA will submit the first Government of Canada summary report to Parliament on ODA activities in September 2009. The first statistical report will be published in March 2010. At that point, CIDA will be able to provide a more accurate breakdown of the percentage of Canada’s ODA expenditures.

In response to (c), progress has been made and CIDA is currently in compliance with the act. CIDA is reviewing its strategic documents to ensure that the requirements of the act are reflected in key policy and programming documents. The agency is taking measures to ensure that CIDA employees are aware of the requirements under the act through a consultation directive and to continue dialogue on the reporting requirement (i.e. the summary and statistical reports). CIDA is also providing guidance to other government department’s reporting obligations under the act, in a whole-of-government approach.

Question No. 384Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

What is the current funding allocation to the Service Canada Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program at the Willow Park location in Scarborough, Ontario and will the funding for the program continue, if funding for the LINC program changes, what is the reason for the change and if funding will not continue, why will it not continue?

Question No. 384Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, Scarborough Willow Park Jr. Public School has provided language instruction for newcomers to Canada, LINC, training services under a contribution agreement between Citizenship and Immigration Canada, CIC, and the Toronto District School Board, TDSB.

Through this agreement, since 2007, just over $550,000 has been provided for services at Scarborough Willow Park Jr. Public School.

CIC and the TDSB are currently negotiating a new contribution agreement for LINC and associated services to be delivered by the TDSB. Allocations to the various TDSB sites will be determined by the TDSB, in consultation with CIC, on the basis of local needs

Question No. 385Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

With regard to the Minister of Finance’s current budgetary deficit projection for fiscal year 2009-2010 of more than $50 billion, in light of current expenditures and revenue projections, does the Minister of Finance expect an increase in current deficit projections and, if so, by how much?

Question No. 385Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the June 2009 second report to Canadians on Canada’s economic action plan provided an update to the fiscal forecast for 2008-09 and 2009-10. The report is available online at http://www.fin.gc.ca/pub/report-rapport/2009-2/index-eng.asp. Canadians can follow progress on the government’s website for the economic action plan at www.actionplan.gc.ca. As outlined on page 218 of that document, based on economic and fiscal developments since budget 2009, the deficit has been revised up by $2.9 billion for 2008–09 and $8.1 billion for 2009–10. This deterioration reflects, in part, the impact of automatic stabilizers, such as EI, which provide support to the economy by automatically raising spending and lowering tax collections as the economy slows. In addition, loans to the auto industry and the Canada health transfer top-up increased the deficit projection by $8.5 billion in 2009-10, so that the total projected deficit is $3.9 billion for 2008-09 and $50.2 billion for 2009-10.

The Fiscal Monitor, the most recent of which was released July 24, 2009, provides monthly highlights and details of the government’s fiscal performance. For the first two months of the fiscal year, there was a budgetary deficit of $7.5 billion.

Question No. 387Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

With regards to government advertising: (a) how much money has the government spent on newspaper and magazine advertising to provide information to the public about government programs, services, or initiatives, since January 1, 2006, giving particulars of (i) how much has been spent by each department or agency of government, (ii) the subject and nature of each advertisement, (iii) the newspaper or magazine in which each ad was published, (iv) the name and publication location; and (b) what are the dates of the newspaper or magazine issues in which the advertisements were published?

Question No. 387Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the information requested in question No. 387 is too voluminous and costly to produce. The data required to adequately respond to the question is contained on 2,232 pages, in English only. Furthermore, given the magnitude of this question, it is not practical or cost effective for the government to translate these documents.

The Government of Canada produces an advertising annual report which provides information on the process used to manage government advertising, annual expenditures, and the major campaigns undertaken to support government priorities.

These annual reports are available at the following link: http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/pub-adv/annuel-annual-eng.html

Question No. 395Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

With regards to government advertising, how much money has the government spent on television and radio advertising since January 1, 2006, giving particulars of (i) how much has been spent by each department or agency of government, (ii) the subject and nature of each advertisement, (iii) the broadcast outlet on which each ad was broadcast, giving the name and location of the station, (iv) the dates on which the advertisements aired?

Question No. 395Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the information requested in question No. 395 is too voluminous and costly to produce. The data required to adequately respond to the question is contained on 27,170 pages, in English only. Furthermore, given the magnitude of this question, it is not practical or cost effective for the government to translate these documents.

The Government of Canada produces an advertising annual report which provides information on the process used to manage government advertising, annual expenditures, and the major campaigns undertaken to support government priorities.

These annual reports are available at the following link: http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/pub-adv/annuel-annual-eng.html.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 173, 175, 176, 178, 179, 181, 184, 185, 187 to 189, 191 to 195, 197 to 203, 206 to 209, 211, 213 to 215, 217 to 219, 221 to 225, 229, 232 to 237, 239 to 241, 243 to 246, 248 to 252, 254, 256, 257, 259, 261 to 265, 267 to 271, 274 to 276, 278, 280, 282 to 293, 295, 297 to 301, 303, 304, 306, 307, 309, 311, 316, 318 to 321, 325, 330 to 336, 338 to 341, 345, 347, 349, 351, 352, 354 to 359, 361, 362, 367 to 369, 372, 374 to 377, 379, 380, 381, 386, 388 to 394 and 396 to 399, and Starred Question No. 363 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 173Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Sault Ste. Marie, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 175Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Thunder Bay—Superior North, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 176Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Halifax, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 178Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

With respect to the 28 federal departments that spent more than $15 million to purchase and provide single-use water bottles and water coolers between the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 fiscal years: (a) what was the total government expenditures for bottled water contracts in facilities where access to safe drinking water was readily available; and (b) with respect to the above figures, how much was spent by each of the 28 departments?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 179Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Elmwood—Transcona, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 181Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Burnaby—Douglas, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 184Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Toronto—Danforth, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 185Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

With regards to the Public Sector Pension Investment Board: (a) what are the private market benchmarks used by the Board and in what way do they reflect the underlying credit risk, liquidity risk, leverage and beta of the underlying investments; (b) does the Board invest in hedge funds and, if so, (i) what are the Board’s benchmarks for these hedge funds, (ii) how do the benchmarks accurately reflect the underlying credit risk, liquidity risk, leverage and beta of the underlying investments; (c) who is the officer responsible for the policy portfolio; (d) what is the total active risk the board is allowed to take and how is this risk monitored; (e) what is the risk management policy to deal with portfolios that are losing money; (f) are there steps to cut losses in public markets when they reach a certain level, and how are they made clear; (g) what are the detailed policies for (i) mitigating the risks of private markets, (ii) whistleblower protection, (iii) compliance with diversity laws; (h) what has been the turnover in funds of the last four fiscal years; and (j) has the board been audited or evaluated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 187Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 188Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2006 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Acadie—Bathurst, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 189Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

With respect to federal investments in infrastructure in New Brunswick since 1999: (a) what is the detailed breakdown of the funding allocated for rebuilding roads in New Brunswick; and (b) what is the detailed breakdown of the funding allocated for airport infrastructures?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 191Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

With respect to the Wage Earner Protection Program, on a yearly basis: (a) what funds have been allocated to this program; (b) what funds have been disbursed since its inception; (c) how many employees, by province, have benefited, (i) what was the average payment sought by claimants, (ii) what was the average payment received; (d) from which businesses did employees seek to claim back wages, vacation, severance and termination pay they were owed by their former employers, on what dates did each company declare bankruptcy or go into receivership under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and how many employees did each company lay-off; (e) what is the average wait time between a person making a claim under the Wage Earner Protection Program, and them receiving payment; and (f) how many claims have been denied and what is the most common reason for a denial in claims?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 192Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of London—Fanshawe, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 193Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

With respect to the motion passed by the House on March 10, 2009 concerning Employment Insurance, what actions has the government taken since to: (a) eliminate the two-week waiting period; (b) reduce the qualifying period to a minimum of 360 hours of work, regardless of the regional rate of unemployment; (c) allow self-employed workers to participate in the program; (d) raise the rate of benefits to 60% and base benefits on the best 12 weeks in the qualifying period; and (e) encourage training and re-training?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 194Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

With respect to the Employment Insurance program, and by Employment Insurance economic regions, how many applicants did not qualify for benefits because (i) they did not have the minimum qualifying hours of work, (ii) they were self-employed?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 195Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

With respect to the Employment Insurance program, and by Employment Insurance economic regions: (a) how many recipients have exhausted their regular benefits since October 31, 2008; (b) what is the government’s estimate of how many recipients will exhaust their regular benefits in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011; and (c) what assistance and guidance is the government offering or is prepared to offer to recipients who have exhausted their regular benefits?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 197Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

With respect to the Fall 2008 purchase by the government of $150 billion in mortgage securities from Canadian banks through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC): (a) what conditions were sought and received from the banks by the government in return for extending this credit swap, and what conditions, if any, were sought by the government but rejected by the banks; (b) were any conditionalities sought on executive compensation; (c) did the federal government seek assurances of interest rate cuts or greater credit access by consumers and companies in return for the credit swap and, if not, why not; (d) what oversight measures are in place to monitor how the banks use the credit; (e) how was the $150 billion sum disbursed, (i) which banks or financial institutions accessed funds, (ii) on what dates, (iii) in what amounts; (f) what was the presumed economic stimulus of this bailout; (g) how long does the government anticipate holding these mortgages and what is the anticipated return from this credit swap; and (h) in the event of a mortgagee defaulting on their loan, what are the financial liabilities and responsibilities borne by the government?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 198Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Thunder Bay—Rainy River, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 199Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

With respect to government funding announcements since the January 2009 Budget: (a) how many such announcements have been made; (b) what was the location, purpose, and amount of each announcement and which Ministers and Members of Parliament were in attendance; (c) what did each announcement cost to stage, including all travel and hospitality expenses incurred for each Minister, MP, and their staff to attend the announcement; (d) did any involve previously announced funds and, if so, which ones and in what amount; and (e) for each announcement, what amount has since been transferred to each recipient, on what date were each transfer made and if such funds have yet to be transferred, what factors account for the delay?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 200Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Sudbury, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 201Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

With respect to the redecorating and renovations of Ministers’ parliamentary and departmental offices in the National Capital Region for the last five years: (a) what amount has each department spent on such improvements, on an annual basis; (b) on which date was each project approved and completed; (c) what was the nature of the renovations undertaken in each instance; (d) what is the normal approval process for such work; (e) which projects were undertaken at the demand of a Minister or their political exempt staff; (f) when were they undertaken and at what cost; (g) how much has been spent on buying or renting art work for each Ministers’ office, on an annual basis; (h) what art work was purchased, when, and for how much; (i) how much has been spent on flowers or plants for each Minister’s office, on an annual basis; (j) how much has been spent on new furniture for each Minister’s office, on an annual basis; (k) what furniture was purchased, when, and for how much; (l) how much has each Minister spent on purchasing new technology for their office, on an annual basis; and (m) what new technology items were purchased, when, and for how much?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 202Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

With respect to the purchase, either by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) for departments, agencies and Crown corporations, or by the individual departments, agencies and Crown corporations, in the fiscal years 2007-2008, and 2008-2009, namely, (i) media and public relations training, (ii) public opinion research, (iii) promotional materials related to press conferences only, (iv) hairstylists and estheticians, (v) spas and suntanning salons, (vi) sporting events, (vii) dry cleaning, (viii) taxis, (ix) retreats at resorts or conference centres: (a) by department, agency or Crown corporation, how many items or services in each category were purchased; (b) what was the total cost spent by either PWGSC or another department, agency or Crown corporation on each category; and (c) with respect to media training, what was the date and cost of each contract and who was the recipient of the training?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 203Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

With respect to the following categories of items purchased either by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) for departments, agencies and Crown corporations, or by the individual department, agency or Crown corporation in fiscal years 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, namely, (i) hybrid vehicles, (ii) televisions, (iii) flowers, (iv) carbon off-set credits for air travel, (v) blackberries, (vi) tickets to sporting events, (vii) tickets to culture related galas, (viii) tickets to entertainment events, (ix) golf balls and golf tees, (x) business ties, (xi) candies, (xii) alcoholic beverages, (xiii) flags, (xiv) land mines and cluster bombs, (xv) games, toys and wheeled goods, (xvi) DVDs and CDs, (xvii) perfumes, toilet preparations and powders, (xviii) clothes and footwear for Ministers of the crown and their staff, (xiv) sporting goods, (xx) Tim Horton’s coupons, (xxi) plane and helicopter rentals: (a) by department, agency or Crown corporation, how many in each category were purchased; (b) what was the total cost spent by either PWGSC or another department, agency or Crown corporation on each category?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 206Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2005-2006 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of British Columbia Southern Interior, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 207Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

With respect to Employment Insurance claims made by residents of the constituency of Vancouver Kingsway: (a) what is the number of claims that have been made since January 2008, (i) broken down by month, (ii) in total; (b) what is the percentage of claims that have been approved since January 2008, (i) broken down by month, (ii) in total; and (c) what has been the average period of time it has taken to process the claims that have been made since January 2008, (i) broken down by month, (ii) in total?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 208Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

With respect to the Canada Summer Jobs program administered by Service Canada: (a) what was the amount of funding allocated to each federal riding (i) for 2009, (ii) for 2008, (iii) for 2007; and (b) what are the criteria used to determine the funding amount for each riding?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 209Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

With respect to applications to sponsor family members for visitor visas made by residents of the constituency of Vancouver Kingsway: (a) what is the average processing time for applications made to sponsor family members from (i) China, (ii) the Philippines, (iii) India, (iv) all countries aggregated; (b) what is the approval rate for applications made to sponsor family member from (i) China, (ii) the Philippines, (iii) India, (iv) all countries aggregated; and (c) what are the top five main grounds for denying claims and their rates of usage for applications made to sponsor family members from (i) China, (ii) the Philippines, (iii) India, (iv) all countries aggregated?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 211Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 1998-1999 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituencies of Edmonton-Mill Woods--Beaumont, Edmonton Centre, Edmonton East, Edmonton-Leduc, Edmonton-St. Albert, Edmonton-Sherwood Park, Edmonton-Spruce Grove, and Edmonton Strathcona, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 213Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Regarding the government’s “Turning the Corner” strategy released on April 26, 2007: (a) what progress has the government made on the development of regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions; (b) what studies, analyses, polling, or modelling has the government commissioned or prepared on the development of greenhouse gas regulations, (i) who conducted the aforementioned studies, analyses, polling or modelling, (ii) what did each of these cost, and when specifically were they conducted; and (c) when, specifically, is the government going to issue its regulations on greenhouse gas emissions?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 214Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Regarding Canada–United States discussions on energy security and climate change: (a) what specific issues have been discussed by Canadian and United States government representatives bilaterally on energy security issues since 2004; (b) what policy documents have been commissioned by or prepared for the Canadian government to support those discussions; (c) has the Canadian government begun to develop a domestic energy security plan and, if not, why not, and if so, when will it be completed; (d) has the Canadian government conducted an analysis of the effects of a disruption of oil supplies on Canada; (e) have there been discussions with the United States government or its representatives on the development a bilateral energy security plan with the United States government or have there been discussions of a continental energy security plan to include the parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); and (f) has the Canadian government done any analyses or studies on the vulnerability of Canada as the only NAFTA party without an energy security plan in the event of a disruption in oil supplies and, if not, why not, if so, (i) who conducted the studies, (ii) when were they commissioned and completed, (iii) what did they cost, (iv) what are their titles?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 215Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

With respect to acknowledging and addressing the link between youth unemployment and youth homelessness, using the age range of 15-24: (a) what is the youth unemployment rate over the past three years, broken down by month and by province; (b) what was the impact of the 2006 Human Resources Development Canada investment in youth employment; (c) how much money does the government plan to invest in 2009-2010 to address the problem of youth unemployment; (d) how many additional homeless youth will be caused by the increase in youth unemployment; (e) what is the youth homelessness rate over the past three years, broken down by month and by province; (f) how much money the effects of youth homelessness cost the government in 2009-2010; (g) how much money will the government invest in 2009-2010 to address the problem of homeless youth; and (h) what is the government’s position on committing additional funds for youth internships and work study programs?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 217Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Churchill, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 218Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

With respect to educational grants and awards issued by the government for the last five years: (a) how many grants have been awarded annually; (b) what was the average amount awarded to each grant recipient from (i) Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), (ii) Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), (iii) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); (c) what is the gender split for awardees from (i) NSERC, (ii) CIHR, (iii) SSHRC; (d) what is the provincial breakdown for funding awarded by (i) NSERC, (ii) CIHR, (iii) SSHRC; (e) how many NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC grants are anticipated to be awarded in the next three years, on an annual basis and what is the estimated average value of these awards, on an annual basis; and (f) with regards to changes in SSHRC funding announced in Budget 2009, what was the rationale behind orienting funding toward business-related degrees or areas of study?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 219Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2006-2007 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Vancouver East, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 221Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

With respect to contract number C1111-050673/001/PR and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC): (a) when was this contract first awarded, by whom and to whom was it awarded; (b) in what amount was it first awarded; (c) for what product or service was it first awarded; (d) for what reasons was the contract amended six times between December 2006 and February 2009; (e) what amendments were made in each amendment; (f) was the contract competitively tendered following Glickman Fulleringer Executive Promotions’ withdrawal from the contract; (g) if it wasn’t amended, why wasn’t it amended; (h) was any penalty paid by Glickman Fulleringer for pulling out of the contract and, if so, what was the penalty, if the penalty was financial, in what amount was it and was the penalty paid; (i) on what date did Glickman Fulleringer advise the government of their intention to withdraw from the contract and what was the reasoning behind this decision; (j) on what date did 6768997 Canada Inc. assume control of the contract in question; (k) how was 6768997 Canada Inc. chosen by PWGSC; (l) who in PWGSC made the decision to award the contract to 6768997 Canada Inc.; (m) did any persons at 6768997 Canada Inc. formerly work at Glickman Fulleringer and, if so, whom and what role did the presence of this person play in the PWGSC decision to award the original contract to 6768997 Canada Inc.; and (n) what is the government’s position on awarding a contract for the production of maple leaf flag pins that are distributed by parliamentarians to an American-owned company that subsequently outsourced the job to China?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 222Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

With respect to the Office of Protocol Official Events (XDS) and Official Visits (XDV) at the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the last five years: (a) what is the annual cost of travel, hospitality and any miscellaneous expenses incurred by each, on a monthly basis; (b) what amount was incurred hosting official delegations in Canada, on a monthly basis, what amount was incurred for foreign travel by Canadian officials, on a monthly basis and on what date and to what locations did each trip occur, stating the purpose of each trip; (c) in regard to such expenses incurred by Ministers of the Crown, their political staff, and any accompanying family members, what did each trip cost and on what date and to what locations did each trip occur stating the purpose of each trip; (d) in regard to special envoys and members of expert panels named by the Prime Minister, what expenses were incurred by each, on what date and to what locations did each trip occur, stating the purpose of each trip; (e) what expenses were covered for domestic travel by Canadian officials, whose expenses were covered, on what date and to what locations did each trip occur, stating the purpose of each trip; (f) in regard to hosting foreign delegations, which delegations were hosted, on what dates and what travel, hospitality and miscellaneous costs were incurred by each delegation; (g) why are expenses of Ministers, their staff and other VIPs, routed through XDS or XDV and not listed in proactive disclosures required in Treasury Board guidelines; and (h) what is the government’s position on listing travel and hospitality expenses incurred by ministers and their staff on foreign trips in their proactive disclosures?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 223Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 1998-1999 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Winnipeg North, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 224Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With respect to federal spending in the constituency of Scarborough Southwest, what was the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2005-2006 up to and including the current fiscal year, itemized according to: (a) the date the money was received in the riding; (b) the dollar amount of the expenditure; (c) the program from which the funding came; (d) the ministry responsible; and (e) the designated recipient?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 225Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With regard to the patient wait time pilot project announced in Budget 2007, what is the total amount of government funding since 2007 up to and including the current fiscal year, itemized according to: (a) where each pilot project is located; (b) the name of the institution; (c) what the money was used for; (d) the date the money was received; and (e) the effect on, if any, wait times?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 229Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With regard to the Atlantic Gateway initiative: (a) how much federal funding has been announced to date; (b) how many funding expenditures have been approved to date under this program, (i) what is the federal contribution, and matching contribution from provincial or private partner sources for each expenditure for a total project cost, (ii) where is each expenditure located, (iii) what are the criteria for the approval and anticipated outcomes of each expenditure; (d) what are the amounts given to each province since the creation of this funding; and (e) what are the projected economic benefits for the Atlantic Region?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 232Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With regards to the expedited processing of family class sponsorships for people in Sri Lanka: (a) what date was the High Commission in Colombo instructed to expedite family class sponsorships; (b) what additional resources have been allocated to the High Commission to facilitate the expedited processing of family class sponsorships; (c) what criteria are used to identify the cases to be expedited; (d) how many cases have been identified for expedited processing; (e) how many applications have been completed since the instructions were issued; and (f) does the government have a comprehensive and detailed plan to send human resources directly to the camps in Sri Lanka in order to facilitate the completion of the documentation required to expedite family reunification for those who cannot make their way to Colombo?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 233Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

With respect to military contracts of over $100 million awarded since January 2006 that include industrial and regional benefit (IRB) requirements, for each contract: (a) what is the name of the principal contractor; (b) what is the name of the Canadian company that concluded a partnership agreement with the principal contractor under the IRB Policy; (c) briefly, what is the project's description; (d) where will most of the project be carried out; (e) how long will the project take; and (f) what is the project’s IRB value in terms of the IRB Policy?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 234Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

With regards to the government’s animal welfare policies: (a) to which projects, programs and organizations has funding been allocated; (b) what is the amount pledged for each project, program and organization; (c) what total amounts have been allocated towards animal welfare in the last 4 fiscal years, and what proportion was directed to regulatory enforcement or to other kinds of programs; (d) what relevant government regulations have existed and currently exist now; (e) has the government (or its agencies and departments) conducted consultations on animal welfare issues since January 23, 2006 and, if so, which groups have been consulted; (f) what mechanisms does Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency use to obtain input from valid animal welfare groups on animal welfare issues; (g) what amount has the government allocated to the National Farm Animal Care Council for this fiscal year and the last 4 fiscal years; (h) what amount has the government allocated to the Canadian Council on Animal Care for this fiscal year and the last 4 fiscal years; (i) what amount of the $1.3 billion allocated to the government’s Growing Forward program is dedicated exclusively to animal care and animal welfare; (j) what sections of the Growing Forward framework will allow for ongoing funding of animal welfare programs and enforcement in Canada; and (k) within Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, what departments address animal welfare issues?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 235Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

With regards to the Canadian airports and night flights: (a) how many Canadian airports are designated as international airports, and what are their names; (b) by month, over the last 5 years, what is the number of flights that, between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. and between midnight and 6:00 a.m., (i) take off, (ii) land, (iii) weigh more than 45,000 kilograms, (iv) weigh less, (v) are regularly scheduled flights, (vi) are charter flights, (vii) are caused by weather delays, (viii) are for emergency medical reasons, (ix) are for military operations, (x) are for delays beyond a carrier’s control; (c) for each of Canada’s international airports, what is the specific legal or regulatory requirement for public consultation concerning the creation of new flight corridors or the modification of existing ones; (d) which organizations are the relevant airport governing bodies required to consult with before the creation of a new flight corridor or the modification of an existing one; and (e) what legal or regulatory requirements exist, if any, that oblige Canada’s international airports’ governing bodies to take into account public health factors when modifying or establishing flight corridors or increasing the number of night flights?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 236Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 1998-1999 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 237Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Regarding the telecommunications infrastructure in each of Lanaudière’s regional county municipalities: (a) what licences have been issued with respect to physical infrastructure in these jurisdictions; (b) who holds each of these licences; (c) what is the physical telecommunications infrastructure (cable, copper wire, optical fibre and other networks) inventory in these jurisdictions; and (d) who, specifically, owns this infrastructure?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 239Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

With regard to government funding for research and development activity: (a) what research and development projects have received federal funds in Newfoundland and Labrador in the past fiscal year; (b) how many of these projects have required matching provincial, municipal, or private funding and what is the breakdown of funding matched for each project; (c) how much federal research and development funding has gone into each province and territory on a per capita basis; (d) as a percentage of the gross domestic product, how much federal funding has gone into research and development funding in each province and territory; (e) what reports have been prepared to analyze or make suggestions related to strategies for increasing research and development activities in the Atlantic Region, and what are the contents of these reports; and (f) what reports have been prepared to analyze or make suggestions related to strategies for increasing research and development activities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and what are the contents of these reports?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 240Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

With regards to the boundary dispute between France and Canada related to the seabed off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador near the islands of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon: (a) what actions has the government taken in relation to this dispute; (b) what correspondence has been exchanged between Canada and France on this issue, and what are the contents of this correspondence; (c) what correspondence has been exchanged between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on this issue, and what are the contents of this correspondence; and (d) have any reports been prepared on this issue for the government, and what are the contents of these reports?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 241Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

With regards to the support of the sealing industry in Canada: (a) what actions have been taken by the government to correct misinformation being spread concerning the seal harvest by animal rights extremists; (b) what correspondence has been exchanged by the Government of Canada and other governments related to the seal industry, and what is the contents of this correspondence; (c) have any reports or briefing notes been prepared on this issue and, if so, what are the contents of these reports; and (d) how much has the government spent in marketing and advertising in support of the seal industry in 2007-2008 and in 2008-2009?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 243Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With regard to the Veteran’s Independence Program: (a) how many applications were received in the years 2007, 2008, and 2009 to date; (b) how many of these applications were approved to receive assistance; (c) how many of these applications were refused; (d) does the government plan to expand the program to include all Second World War and Korean War veterans’ widows; and (e) has the Department of Veteran’s Affairs been provided any documents or departmental briefing notes with regard to a cost-benefit analysis for expanding the program?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 244Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

With respect to the $ 1 billion Community Adjustment Fund announced in Budget 2009: (a) what economic studies were conducted by the government with respect to the creation of the Community Adjustment Fund; (b) when did these studies begin; c) which stakeholders, organizations, provincial governments and municipal governments were consulted; (d) have any rural groups, organizations, stakeholders been consulted in terms of scope or mandate of this new Fund; (e) have any Aboriginal communities been consulted; (f) what is the planned date for the implementation and distribution of funds for the first year of the Fund; (g) what is the base amount each province will receive; (h) will the territories receive funding from the Fund and, (i) if so, what is the base amount they will receive, (ii) if not, will they receive funding through a different program; (i) which annual population figure will be used for the calculation of the per capita sharing for the remainder of the funds which are to be allocated in annual payments in each of the two years to the provinces; (j) what amount, excluding the base amount, is to be allocated to Ontario based on the calculation of the per capita sharing for the first year; (k) as the funding will be provided through regional development agencies, what amount will be provided to FedNor; (l) what federal ridings will be under the jurisdiction of FedNor regarding the Community Adjustment Fund; (m) what limitations, stipulations or regulations will be attached to the requirements for the provinces to receive and distribute the funds; (n) what, if any, are the specific programs the Fund have already committed to support and in which town or cities are these programs based; and (o) what specific programs will the Fund invest that will help workers, communities and businesses in Northern Ontario position themselves to take advantage of opportunities, as economic growth recovers in Canada and around the world?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 245Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

With respect to federal spending in the constituency of Nipissing—Timiskaming, what was the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2005-2006 up to and including the current fiscal year, itemized according to: (a) the date the money was received in the riding; (b) the dollar amount of the expenditure; (c) the program from which the funding came; (d) the ministry responsible; and (e) the designated recipient?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 246Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

With regard to funding applications submitted to FedNor, the Federal Economic Development Initiative in Northern Ontario, for each fiscal year from 2003-2004 to 2009-2010: (a) which projects were submitted under each agency program; (b) which projects were approved; (c) what amount was allocated to each of these projects; and (d) which projects were not processed?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 248Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

What is the government's strategy to counter the important increase in illegal cigarette sales?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 249Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Don Valley East, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 250Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

What is the total impact on government revenues due to the 2006 new tax on income trusts?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 251Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

What are the names of all government appointments to federal boards, agencies and associations in Nova Scotia for the years 2006 to date?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 252Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

With regard to project applications and approvals in the constituency of Avalon under the Job Creation Partnership, through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: (a) how many applications were submitted; (b) who were the applicants; (c) what were the projects identified in the application; and (d) of the projects that were approved, how much funding was approved and what was the breakdown of funding to each specific project for wages, overhead and materials for the time period January 1, 2007 to April 30, 2009?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 254Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

What is the total amount of government funding since fiscal year 2006-2007 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Don Valley West, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 256Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

With respect to the Community Futures program, what Community Futures projects have received funding, since 2006, within British Columbia, but outside the Greater Vancouver area and, for these projects, which have repaid any loans they received?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 257Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

With respect to the Building Canada Fund, which applications have received funding since 2006 within British Columbia, but outside the Greater Vancouver area?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 259Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to the government's public consultations to modernize Part III of the Canada Labour Code: (a) how many groups have made submissions; (b) how many individuals have made submissions; (c) how many face-to-face or telephone meetings has the Minister of Labour had with groups and individuals in relation to these public consultations; (d) what are the names of groups and individuals of (c); (e) what are the names of groups and individuals that have made submissions; (f) what is the budget of this public consultation process; (g) what is the cost so far of these consultations; and (h) is the legislation to modernize Part III of the Canada Labour Code being drafted?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 261Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to the Employment Equity Act: (a) has the progress of the Act been evaluated since the last parliamentary review of the legislation and, if so, what were the findings of this review; (b) did Human Resources and Social Development Canada develop a workplace equity integration strategy for persons with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples; (c) have these two under-represented groups in the public service increased in numbers; and (d) how has employment equity progressed in workplaces covered under the Federal Contractors Program since 2002?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 262Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

With regard to government investments in drinking water filtration and sewage treatment infrastructure: (a) how much has the government spent or allocated for these in fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 (budgeted amount); (b) what is the provincial-territorial breakdown of this spending in each of the aforementioned years; and (c) how much investment has this spending leveraged, or will leverage, from other levels of government, including provincial, territorial and municipal?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 263Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

With regard to the environmental industries sector in Canada: (a) what were the sales of water and waste-water treatment firms for the five most recent years; (b) what proportion of these sales were for equipment and systems as opposed to services; (c) what were the sales for the environmental industries as a whole in the same years; (d) what proportion of the water sector's sales were export sales in each of the years in question; and (e) what proportion of these export sales were for equipment and systems as opposed to services?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 264Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the City of Hamilton, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 265Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Hamilton Mountain, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 267Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Windsor West, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 268Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

With regard to the Shiprider Project: (a) at what stage are the negotiations with the United States; (b) is there a deadline for the signing of the permanent agreement and, if so, what is it; (c) on what date did the discussions about this project begin and by whom were they initiated; (d) which Canadian government departments or agencies, and which officials have participated in the negotiations; (e) which United States government departments or agencies and officials have participated in the negotiations; (f) were other stakeholders consulted and, if so, who; (g) when did these consultations occur and what was discussed; (h) what is the mandate of this project; (i) what are the rules under which this project operates; (j) which government departments are funding this project, both here and in the United States; (k) what is the total dollar amount spent by the government on this project since its inception, broken down by year; (l) what is the total dollar amount spent on this project since its inception, broken down by year; (m) which government departments will operate and fund this project should it become permanent, both in Canada and the United States; (n)what is the total anticipated cost of this project should it become permanent; (o) how much of that anticipated cost is being covered by the Canadian government and how much will be covered by the American government; (p) how many Canadian vessels and how many American Coast guard vessels are participating in this project currently; (q) how many Canadian vessels and how many American Coast Guard vessels will participate when and if this project becomes permanent; and (r) what precautions have been taken to ensure that Canadian sovereignty is not violated?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 269Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

With regard to the ministerial directions provided to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS): (a) what are the new operational guidelines provided to CSIS; (b) when were they provided and when did they come into force; (c) how did they amend the previous CSIS guidelines; (d) why was a revision of the guidelines initiated and when was it initiated; (e)who was consulted in the revision of the guidelines and when; (f) do the new guidelines address the concerns raised about CSIS’ operations and procedures in both the O’Connor and Iacobucci inquiries and how; (g) do the revised guidelines address the issue of information sharing, and how; (h) do the guidelines specifically address the issue of information sharing with countries that have questionable human rights records or are known to use torture, and how; (i) do the revised guidelines specifically address the issue of labelling, and how; (j) will there be a mandatory review of the revised guidelines to ensure that they have effectively responded to concerns raised by the O’Connor and Iacobucci inquiries, and if so, when; and (k) what are the government’s intelligence priorities for 2008-2009, as outlined in the new guidelines, and what are the government’s intelligence priorities for 2009-2010?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 270Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

With respect to the government’s policy of arming Canada’s border guards; (a) how many border guards are currently armed, broken down by region and border crossing; (b) how many border guards still remain to be armed; (c) what is the government’s current schedule for the training and arming of the remaining border guards, from the present until the scheduled date of completion; (d) has the schedule been amended and, if so, how, when and why; (e) what is methodology is being used to determine the order in which border guards are armed; (f) what is the current budgeted cost of arming border guards; (g) has this amount changed and, if so, why, when and by how much; (h) what is the detailed breakdown of money spent to implement this policy, broken down yearly, to date; (i) what is the total dollar amount budgeted for this project since its inception, broken down by year, from now until completion; (j) which department or agency is supplying the funds for the arming of border guards; (k) who did the government consult before initiating the arming policy, and when; (l) are these consultations on-going as this policy is rolled out and, if so, at what point do the consultations occur and how are they conducted; (m) was the government provided with advice or studies to support their claim that the arming of border guards will improve border security and, if so, by whom and how were their conclusions reached; (n) was the government provided with any advice or studies that did not support their claim that the arming of border guards will improve border security and, if so, by whom and how were those conclusions reached; (o) was the government provided with advice or studies that recommended other policies as more effective at improving border security, and if so, by whom where they provided, what were they, how were their conclusions reached and, what were their detailed cost breakdown; (p) what is the government doing with border guards who do not wish to be trained to carry a gun or who do not have the competency to do so; (q) what is the detailed cost to the government, broken down annually, of accommodating those guards; (r) what is the current pay scale of an unarmed guard as compared to an armed guard; (s) how many times have armed border guards had to upholster their guns to date, how many time have they had to fire their gun, and what were the circumstances surrounding each situation; and (t) is the government considering extending the arming policy to include national park wardens and, if so, when will that occur and what is the detailed cost of this policy?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 271Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

With respect to proposed provisions contained in bills C-2, C-14 and C-15: (a) has the government done a detailed cost analysis for these bills and, if so, please provide it; (b) what is the projected growth rate of inmates in our federal correctional institutions over the next five years, broken down yearly, and are costs associated with proposed provisions contained in these bills factored into that calculation; (c) what is the government’s plan to ensure that our corrections facilities can accommodate the additional surge of inmates resulting from the changes that these bills would bring; (d) what funds have been spent on corrections infrastructure, annually, since 2006; (e) what funds are being allocated to address corrections infrastructure over the next five years, broken down annually; (f) what funds have been spent on programming for inmates in federal corrections institutions, broken down by program, annually, since 1993; (g) what funds are earmarked to be spent on programming for inmates in federal corrections institutions, broken down by program, annually, for the next five years? (h) did the government consult with the provincial and territorial governments before bringing forward these bills and, if so, (i) when did the consultations occur, (ii) what form did the consultations take; (i) will the government be providing funding to the provinces and territories to help them pay for the additional costs being placed on their correctional institutions and, if so how much, and when can they expect to access the funding; and (j) what are the government’s plans for the land that is currently used by the Prison Farm Program, and will it be used to accommodate the growing number of inmates in our federal institutions and how?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 274Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

What is the total amount of government funding, since fiscal year 2004-2005 up to and including the current fiscal year, allocated within the constituency of Timmins—James Bay, listing each department or agency, initiative, and amount?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 275Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to the Agency for Status of Women Action Plan: (a) what individuals, organizations and government bodies have been consulted; (b) what individuals, organizations and government bodies are still to be consulted for the development of the Action Plan; (c) what mediums are used for the consultations and are they written, in person, by video conference or any other mean; (d) is the Minister of State meeting with consultation participants in every province and territory; and (e) were there guidelines or criteria developed for consultation and, if so, what were they?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 276Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to Military Resource Centres: (a) how many are there across Canada; (b) where are they located; (c) how many staff are employed in each centre; (d) what are the programs listed in each centre; (e) how many early learning and child care spaces are available in each centre; (f) how many children occupy those spaces; (g) how many children are on the wait list; and (h) what is the criteria to access spaces available?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 278Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

With regards to the proposed changes to the Food Mail Program: (a) how will the expenditures specifically be used to improve the program’s efficiency; (b) how are the elimination of personal orders and the reduction of small retail orders expected to improve the program’s effectiveness; (c) how will the elimination of personal orders and a reliance on large retailers impact those people with specific dietary and health needs; (d) how does the government plan on fulfilling its duties to consult with both Inuit women and men about the proposed changes to the program; (e) how does the government plan on publicizing the changes in services and the relocation of entry points to the affected population; (f) what are the plans for ensuring that the retailers will pass on the subsidy savings to consumer prices; and (g) how does the government intend to increase transparency within the program and monitor how government funds are specifically spent?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 280Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to the $18 million committed to the restoration of Lake Winnipeg: (a) how much of the committed amount has been spent; (b) what projects has the money been allocated to; (c) how much has each project received; (d) what organizations have received funding; (e) how much has each organization received; (f) what are the intended outcomes for all funding that has been allocated; (g) over what period of time are outcomes expected of each project; (h) has all the money been committed to; and (i) what government departments are overseeing the spending expenditures?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 282Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

With respect to Canadian bilateral aid to Afghanistan, on an annual basis since 2002: (a) what projects have been so funded and in what amounts; (b) which branches of which departments, were involved in approving and overseeing each project; (c) how much is considered tied aid, in percentage and dollar amounts; (d) which projects were sole-sourced contracts; (e) which projects have been audited by independent auditors hired by, or on behalf of, the government; (f) which accounting firms were hired; (g) what was the cost, and submission date, of each audit; (h) by which department or agency was the audit received; (i) were any contracts awarded to auditors without a competitive tender and, if so, which ones, and why; (j) on the basis of what criteria do auditors determine a project to be satisfactory or unsatisfactory and which ones were so designated and why; (k) how many projects have had funding revoked, reduced, or not renewed, because of concerns related to their fiscal or project management and which were so affected, and for what reasons; and (l) which audits referenced projects that lost aid due to corruption, and what was the estimated loss in percentage and dollar amounts?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 283Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

With respect to the deportation of foreign nationals from Canada, for the last five years: (a) on an annual basis, how many people are deported and to which countries; (b) how many were deported after having been deemed a national security threat, violated immigration rules, or received a criminal conviction; (c) how many countries does the government not deport people to due to concerns of violating the principle of non-refoulement, as codified in international law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention; (d) to which countries does Canada not deport people and why; (e) with regard to countries that have well documented human rights violations, what consideration is given to their records and their potential implications for deportees prior to Canadian government officials making final determinations on whether or not to deport persons, (i) which departments would be involved in such a consideration, (ii) which department is the final authority in making a determination; (f) on what basis would the need to deport a person trump concerns for that person’s welfare after they are deported; (g) with regard to countries that are in the midst of a civil war, what consideration is given to this and its potential implications for a deportee prior to Canadian government officials making a final determination on whether or not to deport a person; (h) what is the annual travel costs of repatriating deportees, as a global figure and a median basis; (i) what is the annual cost of housing deportees in detention prior to their deportation; (j) what is the average time a deportee remains in custody prior to deportation; and (k) currently how many people are waiting to be deported?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 284Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP