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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.

Topics

Scientific ResearchOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada does and has supported climate change research. In fact, our country has invested in excess of $110 million on climate change research since 2000.

Certainly we have not closed the foundation of which the hon. member speaks. We think, however, it is appropriate for that foundation to report to the government on the progress that has been made with the dollars that have been invested and also what we have learned from the research that has been done. That is what we are directing our efforts to this year.

Scientific ResearchOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is abandoning research on climate change in the Arctic. Does the government understand the nature of research? Does it understand that research takes time and cannot be turned on and off like a tap without any impact? When a program is cancelled, the team that is in place is dissolved. Years of effort are lost, and sometimes the scientists themselves are lost to other countries.

Does the government understand what is at stake?

Scientific ResearchOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, there have indeed been years of effort and there has indeed been in excess of $100 million of taxpayer money expended over the last 10 years. Surely the hon. member and his party would support taking stock of what we have learned, what we have accomplished and what we need to do from here.

This foundation has not been shut down. In fact, I have extended the mandate of the foundation for an additional year, into 2012, to allow it to complete the accountabilities, the reporting on the work that has been done.

Canadian Food Inspection AgencyOral Questions

March 11th, 2010 / 2:55 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the HVP recall has affected more than 100 products already and could be the largest recall in North American history. Contaminated HVP was distributed for nearly a month and after the contamination was detected, it took another two weeks before Canadians were told.

The listeriosis crisis killed 22 Canadians, yet the government learned nothing. Canadians deserve rigorous food inspection to keep manufacturers honest but, more important, Canadians safe.

Why will the government not make protecting the health of Canadians a priority?

Canadian Food Inspection AgencyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the safety of Canadians and the food they eat is a priority for this government, unlike the member opposite who is mixing his signals. This government reacted immediately when we were notified by the FTA that there was a problem with this Las Vegas-based operation. We immediately started to react. We have since then removed a product off the shelves.

We have a tremendous amount of information up on our new website, foodsafety.gc.ca. Any Canadians who have concerns can find their answers right there.

Canadian Food Inspection AgencyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that immediacy is 14 days.

When the government's special investigator said that the food safety system needed serious repair, the government promised to invest $75 million. Not only was the $75 million missing in last week's budget, so were the words food safety, not a single mention. What is worse, the government cut funding to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that protects Canadians.

Could the minister explain where the $75 million he promised for food safety is and why the government plans to cut an already underfunded Canadian Food Inspection Agency?

Canadian Food Inspection AgencyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the member from the NDP just proved that he did not read either the throne speech or the budget. Food safety is mentioned in both of those.

As he should know, that $75 million was announced last summer. It is already in play. We have already worked toward hiring the 166 inspectors who were also mentioned in that. Guess what? The NDP did not vote for any of that product. It keeps voting against it. While we stand to rebuild the CFIA cratered by the Liberals, the NDP stands in the road constantly. It is shameful.

BurmaOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, human rights in Burma have long been a cause for concern for the international community, and that is putting it lightly. The military regime in Burma is by far one of the worst and most repressive regimes in the world. Unfortunately, even if Burmese citizens are successful in escaping the terror, many still face starvation and disease in the refugee camps of bordering nations.

Could the Minister of International Cooperation update the House on what our government is doing to help the refugees and migrants fleeing the Burmese regime?

BurmaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, yes, it is true that there is a tragedy happening in Burma and the Burmese continue to suffer. We have been supporting the Burmese border area program and it has achieved success by providing service to Burmese people. One million cases of malaria have been treated, 145,000 refugees are receiving service and over 500,000 people have received health care.

That is why I am pleased today to announce a renewal of the Burmese border area program by increasing the amount to under $16 million.

HaitiOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have all seen Canadians' and Quebeckers' extraordinary solidarity and generosity in the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. Action was urgently needed. People had until February 12 to make donations. What was the result? People donated $154 million, and the federal government created a $128 million emergency fund. Time was of the essence, according to CIDA, because this money had to be used quickly to meet urgent needs in Haiti.

If action was so urgently needed, why has not one cent of this fund, nothing, nada, been spent to date, when the minister has been in a position to spend this money for several weeks now?

HaitiOral Questions

3 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, quite contrary to nada, in fact, this government put forward $85 million immediately in the early days following the earthquake. We have also supported Canadian charities. There are over 357 charities in Canada that have received the support of generous Canadians and we know that the humanitarian relief needs are being met.

We are now confirming the contributions for the matching fund and the matching fund will go toward recovery and reconstruction in line with the plans of the government.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, now more than ever, a complete overhaul of the EI system is needed in order to improve it. In the meantime however, the government must renew transitional measures for workers in the Lower St. Lawrence and North Shore area. In these tough economic times, workers expect their government to support them, not to add to the uncertainty and anxiety of the situation.

My question is simple: will the transitional measures be renewed?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, we introduced transitional measures on September 5, 2008, for a period of 18 months. These measures allow the communities of the Lower St. Lawrence and North Shore area to work fewer weeks to qualify for EI and to receive additional weeks of benefits.

These are transitional measures and we have not yet decided if we are going to renew them. However, we have done a great deal to improve employment insurance.

Rights & DemocracyOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to the act of Parliament governing Rights & Democracy, board members must act honestly and in its best interests. Unfortunately, the actions of the current board and its chairman have caused a crisis in the organization. The chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has accused the board of destroying the institution. Clearly the chairman and his allies are in violation of an act of Parliament.

Will the government take immediate action to address the abuses of the board, uphold the law and protect Canada's international reputation?

Rights & DemocracyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Rights & Democracy is an arm's-length organization that is run by its board of directors and staff, and it is not part of the public service. This government takes very seriously Rights & Democracy and has appointed a new president to continue working to give a new direction to Rights & Democracy. We will be working with him in the foreign affairs committee to look at this issue.

The BudgetOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dona Cadman Conservative Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government is continuing our focus on economic growth and job creation. In year two of Canada's economic action plan, $19 billion in stimulus will be at work in the Canadian economy. Our plan has created 135,000 jobs since last July, yet the Liberals continually vote against our economic action plan.

Would the Minister of Finance please inform the House why the tax and spend Liberals continue to vote against our plan?

The BudgetOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have Canada's economic action plan. The Liberals have Canada's economic inaction plan. We are lowering taxes for Canadians. The Liberals want to raise taxes. We are protecting health and social transfers to the provinces. The Liberals were slashing those to the bone in the 1990s. While our plan will protect and create 220,000 jobs, the Liberal plan would kill jobs in Canada. How many jobs would the Liberal plan kill? Informetrica says 162,000 Canadian jobs would be lost with a 2% Liberal rise in the GST.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is Thursday, so it is time to look ahead to what will be on the government's agenda for the House of Commons next week.

First, I would like to ask the government House leader how he plans to fix one of the many problems the Prime Minister created by proroguing Parliament from December until March. I specifically refer to Standing Order 81(4), which provides that the government's main estimates for the coming fiscal year are deemed to be referred for scrutiny to the various standing committees of the House of Commons on March 1 of every year. This year, of course, the House stood prorogued on March 1. There was a prime ministerial padlock on the place. MPs were prohibited from doing their jobs here. The committees of the House did not exist, so Standing Order 81(4) was violated.

What is the government's plan for getting its main estimates referred to all of the standing committees? If that does not happen, there will be no main estimates and, therefore, no money for the government to operate on.

Second, I would like to ask about the business for next week. After all of that heavy recalibration the government went through while it was AWOL from December to March, I presume that we will see an agenda for next week that is just chockablock full of new government work, I repeat, new government work.

I would remind the government House leader that next week is one of those weeks that had been specifically scheduled by the House to be a constituency week for members of Parliament. The government instead insisted on shifting next week to Ottawa for essential, urgent, momentous government business. What is it going to be? I am sure it will be much more than a series of opposition days and the continuation of a rather pointless debate about a throne speech that is 95% recycled.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I really do not know where to begin. I think you would agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. House leader of the official opposition seems to be making the Thursday question longer and longer. In fact, he is ending up making speeches as opposed to just asking a question about future government business. Let me just add some points as briefly as possible, in response to some of the questions he posed.

First, on the issue of prorogation, I think I did reply at some length last week when his deputy House leader asked the question, because he was unfortunately detained, I am sure, somewhere and not able to ask the question himself last Thursday. I would not suggest, as he has, that he was AWOL, of course. At any rate, on the issue of prorogation, very clearly this is a mechanism that governments have used from the very beginning of Confederation. We have said this repeatedly. On average, it has been about once a year that prorogation has been used to end a session of Parliament and begin a new one.

I would point out to my hon. colleague that under a previous Liberal administration, it was used a couple of times and 15 sitting days were lost. He would be able to do the math. He alleged during his remarks that prorogation was actually from December to March. In fact, we only lost 22 sitting days and, of those, 10 have been restored. With the acceptance of all parties in the House, we have agreed to set aside two of the constituency break weeks and instead do the business of the House here in Ottawa. Therefore, in reality, we have lost 12 sitting days during this prorogation, unlike the Liberal Party in past parliaments that on more than one occasion lost 15 sitting days, and they did not think there was anything wrong with that. They thought that was the way they would go about doing their business.

As I said last week, very clearly what they are upset about is that prorogation was used once before to prevent Canadians from facing an illicit, and immoral, I would add, coalition of the three opposition parties to seize power just weeks after Canadians had gone to the polls and re-elected the Conservative government with an increased mandate. We want to be very clear about that use of prorogation.

I will get to the order of business, but first, we will continue today with our very important address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I note that the hon. House leader for the official opposition, even though his own leader spoke at some length this morning, does not think, obviously, that those remarks were worthwhile, because he questions whether we should in fact be debating the Speech from the Throne. However, we will continue with debate on the Speech from the Throne. There are many members, I am sure, on both sides of the chamber who want to make some points about that great speech.

Tomorrow we will debate Bill C-2, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week shall be opposition allotted days. I am looking forward with bated breath as to what the opposition parties think should seize the nation, what issues they will bring forward. I hope it is not to discuss things like prorogation, but rather some substantive issues with some policy suggestions of how they want to see Canada go forward. It will be interesting.

To the very point about allotted opposition days, the opposition House leader knows very well that he and his colleagues in the opposition parties got together and deemed it necessary to impose upon me as government House leader certain parameters where I have to allot certain opposition days in a certain timeframe. Hence, his allegations that he would not like to see opposition days are pretty ill-founded, when it was his idea that he cooked up to begin with.

To the other point on how to go about fixing the present situation where, because of the Standing Orders, we see that we should have begun the supply cycle on March 1, I would like to make the following statement, because we do, as he points out quite correctly, eventually need to fix the supply cycle with a special order.

As background I refer to pages 881 and 882 of O'Brien and Bosc where it states:

From time to time, circumstances may require a deviation from the normal supply process and cycle. For example, because of an unscheduled adjournment or a prorogation or dissolution of Parliament, the main estimates might not be tabled and referred to standing committees before the March 1 deadline, or the interim supply or the main estimates might not be concurred in by the June 23 deadline. In those cases, the Standing Order provisions relating to the business of supply (such as those respecting the timetable for the tabling of estimates, their reference to standing committees and their return to the House, the concurrence motions and the appropriation bills) no longer apply.

This is the exact situation that we find ourselves in today. We currently have no mechanism to vote on the main estimates and supply. O'Brien and Bosc offers a solution on page 882:

Such situations may be dealt with by temporarily suspending the relevant Standing Orders. There may be an arrangement worked out between the government and the opposition parties to finalize supply as expeditiously as possible. Typically, this involves adopting a special order--

We have a typical problem with a typical solution. It has always been worked out in the past. I am sure it will be again.

If the NDP, for example, is tempted to deny consent for a special order to protest against prorogation, I point out that prorogation is a legitimate constitutional right, as I have said, exercised by Conservative and Liberal governments at the federal level and, in addition, by NDP and PQ governments at the provincial level.

The average duration in fact of a session of the NDP government in Manitoba has been 9.7 months. Yes, members heard me right: 9.7 months on average. René Lévesque's record was 10 months. Both of those governments had six sessions in one legislature, meaning they prorogued five times in a single legislature.

None of the members of the coalition of the prorogation outrage could even meet their own standard, I would submit.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the House leader of the official opposition and the government House leader for their debate on the matter of House business.

I have a suggestion. The purpose of this question was to get a list of House business for the next week so members knew what was going to come up. We may have gotten that. There was debate on both sides, a lengthy speech, in my view, on both sides. If the House leaders could get together and have a practice round perhaps for this question and answer, I would be glad to preside and make suggestions for shortening the proceedings so we could get back to the meat of House business in this question, which is, after all, the purpose of it rather than cutting into debate time.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, actually on this matter that has just been raised, first of all I do have to say that that was the longest Thursday question and response that I have ever heard. This has now turned more into a debate which historically it has not been.

Since the government House leader raised the question of the main estimates and referenced the NDP, I do want to make it clear that we have been clear in our meetings that the government has to deal with the consequences of prorogation. It should have thought of these procedural matters and important questions like the main estimates when it made the decision to prorogue.

If the government House leader chooses, he can bring forward a motion to the House and there can be a debate. That is something that is entirely parliamentary.

Our position has been very clear and the government House leader knows that.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, since it appears that I am prompted to rise in debate on that point, first of all I would consider it completely irresponsible for the NDP potentially to hold up this much-needed assistance and the payment of cheques to people all across the land, public servants included, because those members seem to have their nose out of joint about the use of prorogation.

To use that in an irresponsible manner, I would suggest, is completely unwarranted. I referred the hon. member to the appropriate pages of O'Brien and Bosc. I suggest that she take that to heart, that she read those sections, and realize this is a normal course of events.

Furthermore, as to the member's point about bringing forward a motion, I would certainly be open to that. However, I would refer Canadians back to what the NDP was doing with the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement last fall and realize the futility of a minority government bringing forward a motion like that if it cannot get acceptance from all parties.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I think that concludes the discussion about House business for the time being. If hon. members want to have a debate, I would suggest they bring in a motion on the subject, perhaps on one of the opposition days, and have a long discussion about House business.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, there have been consultations with all parties, and I hope you would find consent for the following motion: “That this House condemns Israeli Apartheid Week for seeking to delegitimize the State of Israel by equating it with the racist South African apartheid regime, and that this House continues to support a peaceful resolution through a negotiated two-state solution that respects Israel's right to exist”.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?