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House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombia.

Topics

Aboriginal AffairesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, Hillary Clinton was right to condemn the fact that the first nations and three members of the Arctic Council were not present at the summit organized by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She spoke about how important it is that all coastal nations work closely together, particularly because Arctic sovereignty is a source of conflict.

How can the minister justify the fact that Finland, Iceland, Sweden and indigenous peoples were not invited?

Aboriginal AffairesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, we have been through this several times this week, but for my colleague's information, this meeting was convened for nations that have coastlines along the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Council chair, Denmark's foreign minister, will brief those members, and of course, our Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke with our territorial premiers and the indigenous leaders and will debrief them after this meeting.

Aboriginal AffairesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, do we really need a reminder that indigenous peoples live on the Arctic coastline? It is interesting to note that the countries that have not signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were in the majority at the Arctic summit. It is hard to not see the Conservative government 's intentions with that.

How can the Minister of Foreign Affairs seriously discuss the future of the Arctic in the absence of the member countries of the Arctic Council as well as indigenous peoples?

Aboriginal AffairesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, the answer remains the same.

Northerners do indeed play a fundamental role in Canada's Arctic sovereignty strategy. This includes indigenous peoples and all others who live in the Arctic.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, because of the new reform announced by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, refugee claimants from countries deemed to be safe will not have access to the appeal division. Yet, even in several democratic countries, minority groups are often persecuted. Think, for example, about women who are abused and about homosexuals.

Could the minister explain why these refugees will not have access to the same protection as others?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, under the balanced reform announced today, all refugee claimants will have access to a fair process consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with our international and national legal obligations.

Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that it is legitimate for countries to have an accelerated process for countries deemed safe, such as France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. They all have the same accelerated process as we do for claimants from safe countries of origin.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, by creating a refugee appeal division, the government acknowledges that its officials can make mistakes in the first instance. But the same errors can also occur with nationals from so-called safe countries who will not have access to an appeal mechanism.

How can the minister find it acceptable that refugees receive justice according to their country of origin?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I will quote Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

[T]here are indeed safe countries of origin. There are indeed countries in which there is a presumption that refugee claims will probably be not as strong as in other countries.

In his view, everyone should always have access to a hearing. That is what the balanced reform will make possible.

Last year, we received 2,500 claims from the country with the highest number of refugee claims and the acceptance rate was less than 1%.

Canadian Council on LearningOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Council on Learning is an organization that has lost all of its federal funding. That is a national embarrassment. Don Drummond has said that the CCL is a valuable service, and an official at the University of Alberta said that this is a terrible, short-sighted action. Even the Secretary-General of the OECD pledged his personal support for the CCL.

The CCL provides research on learning. It is independent, factual and evidence-based: all the things the government hates. Why is it reducing corporate taxes, which we cannot afford, and gutting the funding to the CCL, which we cannot afford to do without?

Canadian Council on LearningOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it was always very clear that the funding to the CCL was for a fixed term. That term has now expired. We do recognize the importance of acquiring good learning information. That is why we are working with the provinces to develop it beyond what StatsCan and our own data provides.

The results are evident. The results of our unprecedented investments in learning information are demonstrated in the most recent Conference Board of Canada report, which gives Canada an A when it comes to education and skills training.

Canadian Council on LearningOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the facts are that the CCL is recognized for its excellent work on serious issues: the need for serious early learning and child care, the need for a real strategy on post-secondary education, the lack of government action to address literacy levels, and the need for more robust workforce training. The government can stand for corporate tax cuts. Canadians want to stand for education. We will stand with Canadians.

The CCL is an evidence-based organization that would be a key resource to any government that was serious about education. Why did the Conservatives attack the CCL? Is it that when it comes to education, they cannot handle the truth?

Canadian Council on LearningOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about the truth when it comes to education. The truth is that his Liberal Party, when the Liberals were in government, cut $25 billion out of education and child care. That is the truth.

Here is the greater threat to learning and education: If the Liberals get their way and bring in corporate tax hikes, their carbon tax, and an increase in the GST, they will kill Canadian jobs so that the students who we will be educating will not have jobs to graduate into.

PensionsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week an Ontario court ruling was made that could eliminate long-term disability benefits for 400 Nortel employees, in effect, throwing hundreds of critically ill Canadians onto the street.

The clock is ticking, and people such as Josée Marin and Peter Burns are running out of options. They could be faced with having to decide between food, shelter or medicine.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing today and ask his newly minted senators to pass Bill S-216, amending the bankruptcy act?

PensionsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, of course, we do welcome the input on these very important issues.

As has already been mentioned, my colleague, the Minister of Finance, has launched a Canada-wide consultation on our pension system and on other acts, including the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in this very question. I encourage all Canadians to give their input.

I would mention that this is the government that implemented the wage earner protection program and amended the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act by creating a limited super-priority of up to $2,000 for unpaid wages.

We are acting and certainly we will take the hon. member's comments into account.

PensionsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are hiding behind procedures that they set up to justify the fact that there is no supplementary pension plan. That is unacceptable.

It would be easy for the government to change the law to protect long-term disability plans. That would protect sick people from having to declare bankruptcy through no fault of their own.

Why should we let these people declare bankruptcy when a simple solution is available? How can the Conservative government allow such an injustice?

PensionsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we have implemented a number of solutions. If the opposition wants to suggest ways to improve the process, we will listen.

The Minister of Finance announced a new mechanism to help all Canadians in that respect. Naturally, we can make more changes if they are in the best interests of Canadians.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, as part of Canada's economic action plan, our government has implemented economic policy designed to increase job growth in the midst of the worst global recession since the 1930s.

Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, our government has lowered corporate taxes, encouraged investment, and most important, created jobs.

With this in mind, could the Minister of Industry please inform us of the wonderful news that we heard today out of Alliston, Ontario?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, indeed I am pleased to rise in the House today and announce that Honda Canada is expanding production at its plant in Alliston, Ontario, creating more than 400 new jobs.

This, of course, is testament to Honda's strong commitment to Canada and confirms that our government is on the right track. While the opposition ponders how to raise taxes on businesses like Honda, this government has successfully created a low-tax environment that is creating jobs in this country.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, what does the government have against consulting with aboriginal people? Yesterday, a meeting of select foreign ministers from the Arctic Council ended in disaster with Hillary Clinton basically walking out. Why? Because this government failed to invite all stakeholders, including the six permanent indigenous organizations on the council.

Climate change, resource extraction and other looming issues will have a direct impact on the Arctic's indigenous population. Is there a reason that indigenous people were excluded from taking their seats at the conference?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question, but I fear she exaggerates. The question has been completely explained, but I will add that building a strong Canadian north is an essential part of building our nation. The government clearly understands the potential of the north more than any other government before it.

While the previous government talked an awful lot about the Arctic, we are taking action.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the old colonial attitude of this government toward first nations is disturbing.

Buried on the INAC web page yesterday was an announcement that the government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States on how to deal with indigenous peoples. This came as a surprise to many aboriginal people here in Canada.

Can the minister tell us what consultations were undertaken with the indigenous peoples of Canada who would be affected by this memorandum of understanding, and what impact will it have on their lives?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was a very good day. I met with Secretary Salazar here.

We have had discussions since I was down in Washington last year, talking about ways his government and ours can share best practices on things that we have learned on both sides of the border and errors that have been made on both sides of the border, so that we can make sure we design programs and work with aboriginal people. We have talked about everything from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the apology that was made here in the House of Commons and many other things.

It was the first time ever that the United States government and the Canadian government came to such an agreement. It was a great moment for aboriginals.

HaitiOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 26, 2010, the Quebec Forest Industry Council and its partners proposed to the Prime Minister that Canada should build 2,000 houses for Haiti. Since then, the industry has been calling on the government to promote this project at the conference on the reconstruction of Haiti, which begins Wednesday in New York. The forestry industry has yet to receive any response to its proposal.

Can the government tell us if it plans to promote that project at the conference in New York on the reconstruction of Haiti?

HaitiOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right that, on Wednesday, the countries of the international community that have been working in Haiti will be meeting. We will be reviewing, along with the government of Haiti, the next steps forward. We will be renewing our commitment to Haiti and to the Haitian people.

We will be coming back with advice and decisions that Canada will make as to the best contribution it can make.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government promised to fast-track family class applications in order to help the people of Haiti. The minister has said that he still has not received the 3,000 new applications from Quebec. But I am talking about the 1,600 applications that are already on his desk, waiting to be processed.

When will the minister issue clear directives to expedite the reunification of Haitian families?