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House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

NortelOral Questions

April 13th, 2010 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, on January 1, a number of disabled Nortel employees will begin a new life of misery.

Because their benefits were not insured, they are at the bottom of the list of Nortel's creditors as that company goes through bankruptcy. The employees will lose 85% of their income as well as the medical benefits they cannot do without.

When will the government help these people by agreeing to amend the legislation?

NortelOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, certainly we are concerned about this situation, as well as the pension situation facing pensioners at Nortel. We continue to consult.

As a matter of fact, the finance committee will be hearing today from folks from Nortel who will bring forward their concerns. We will continue to consult and certainly wish to hear from our colleagues from all of the other parties in terms of how to address this issue.

NortelOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, by doing nothing, Parliament will be condemning many long-term disability employees to a life of poverty every time a company goes bankrupt. If we as legislators cannot protect Canada's most vulnerable citizens against such unfair situations, then what is Parliament for?

My question for the government is non-partisan. For purely humanitarian reasons, will the government immediately listen to the pleas of these workers and work with all parties to fix this broken law?

NortelOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as I just mentioned, we would like some co-operation from the other parties, bringing forward their concerns. We can have discussions.

On the issue of pensions, the Minister of Finance has recently launched cross-country consultations. In fact, the Canadian pension system is already recognized as one of the strongest in the world.

We are working to ensure what works best for Canadians and we welcome the input of members of all parties of the House in how to address the concerns of all Canadians on issues like this.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to accountability and Toyota, the government has abandoned public safety. In fact, Canadians have been forced, through their own private measures, to uncover the truth and get justice for themselves.

Now it appears that, contrary to their claims, Toyota executives have known about acceleration problems for the past five years.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act allows for a criminal investigation. This has been done in Japan and also in the United States. Will the minister commit to pursuing a criminal investigation so Canadian families can get the justice they deserve and compel Toyota to finally follow the law?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as the member said at the outset of his question, the safety of Canadian motorists and Canadians on our roads is the utmost priority for the Department of Transport and it has done a significant amount of work to ensure that vehicles are safe.

In Canada, cabinet ministers cannot direct criminal investigations. It would be a rather frightening prospect for members of this cabinet to launch criminal investigations against people or companies. Those are done by the non-partisan public service.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that excuse does not cut it. The Prime Minister can do so and his department can start to do some work on this file.

It is amazing when we look at what is happening out there in the rest of the world. Europe and the United States have been looking at this matter and Japan has been looking into it and actually bringing criminal investigations back to 2006.

Why will the minister not do anything when public safety is at risk and consumers are getting whacked by this? It is time for the minister to act and to do something for a change.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, if the member of the New Democratic Party had been to the transport committee he would know that Toyota officials and officials from my department have come forward and testified. They have talked about the significant number of investigations that have taken place with respect to Toyota and with respect to other motorists.

If the member wants to talk about action, this government has delivered more for Windsor in terms of infrastructure than any government in Canadian history, and we can be very proud of that.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has a solid record of unwavering support for our Canadian Forces members who put their lives on the line for our country and for their families.

Unfortunately, the rules for EI parental leave prevent some soldiers who are deployed from spending quality time with their new child.

Could the minister tell the House what our Conservative government has done to rectify this important issue that Liberal governments ignored for so many years?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nepean—Carleton for his tireless work on this important issue.

Yesterday I tabled the fairness for military families employment insurance act which would ensure that members of the Canadian Forces who put their lives on the line to protect us and our country will no longer be prevented from spending quality time with their new child.

I do hope the opposition will join with us in supporting this important bill so that our military get the support they deserve.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the interim Information Commissioner says that the right of Canadians to access to information is at risk of being totally obliterated because of delays. As she said, delays are tantamount to censorship. She said, “We used to be leaders in transparency. I think we should reclaim that space”, and that, “Canada is no longer a transparency leader”.

The government falsely claimed that it would be accountable. My question is for the President of the Treasury Board. When exactly will the government become transparent and accountable?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the analysis given to us by the Information Commissioner. There were about 40,000 requests that came to various government departments and agencies this year. The majority of those are answered within 30 days and about 12% of those take more than 120 days.

We are concerned about that, and so is she, and that is why we are putting in place mechanisms to ensure that particular percentage increases in terms of speed and that we get better at that.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2006, the government refused to join in the negotiations for a trans-Pacific free trade agreement because of perceived threats to supply management. Now Canada would be willing to take part in these negotiations.

Does that mean the government is prepared to make compromises on supply management, as it did during the negotiations with the European Union?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne, the government made its position on supply management very clear. We support farmers and we intend to defend supply management both in the discussions with the European Union and in the negotiation of free trade agreements.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation terminated a grant to the government's International Development Research Centre that was to be used for an anti-smoking campaign in Africa. Why? The IDRC chair, former Conservative cabinet minister Barbara McDougall, was until recently on the board of directors of Imperial Tobacco. This is not just a major conflict of interest; it is another embarrassment of the government on the international stage.

How did the government miss such a blatant conflict of interest? Will it demand Barbara McDougall's resignation from IDRC today?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, that is another quality mischaracterization from the fourth party.

Barbara McDougall is a former cabinet minister, with decades of experience in foreign affairs and international development as well as in the private sector. As a matter of fact, she resigned from the board of Imperial Tobacco last month.

Let me make clear that the International Development Research Centre, which is an independent crown corporation, has stated that the IDRC's board never discussed tobacco control while Ms. McDougall was serving on the board of Imperial Tobacco.

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, during today's meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, committee members formally expressed their displeasure with the antics of the Liberal member for Parkdale—High Park. As if it was not bad enough, his own party, the Liberal Party, has removed him from the committee as one of its permanent members.

Could the chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities please inform the House of the motion adopted this morning and when it will be reported to the House?

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, this morning the committee passed the following motion, “That the Committee... present a report to the House of Commons regarding a possible breach of privilege and/or action of contempt on the part of the MP for Parkdale-High Park in divulging privileged information from an in camera meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on March 25, 2010, against the will of the committee and with the intention of sharing this information with the public, and that the Committee ask the House to take whatever action it deems necessary”.

This will be reported to the House on Wednesday.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, access to information delays are widespread across the Conservative government and some departments' political interference is the norm. At NRCan, all but the most routine requests are held up by the minister's office. At CIDA, the minister's office saw all but the most basic administrative requests, amounting to about 98% of the 150 requests CIDA received.

Why does the President of the Treasury Board not get the message that political interference needs to stop in the access to information system?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of the 40,000 requests that come to departments are handled in less than 30 days. Further to that, there are about 10% of those requests which take over 120 days. We are concerned about that and would like to see that improved.

We have also increased funding to the Office of the Information Commissioner by 20%. We have added seven corporations that never before were analyzed for information because the Liberals refused to allow it.

There are more requests all the time, and we want to see the rate of response to those requests improved.

Status of WomenOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has consistently undermined the Status of Women portfolio. First he cut a critical $5 million in financing and then he reassigned the portfolio from a senior minister to a junior minister. Now, after having to remove the junior minister from her job, he has handed the portfolio to a minister who has other obligations.

Canadian women deserve a competent and dedicated minister, not a blundering junior minister and not someone for which this is a side duty.

When will the government finally stand up for the women of Canada?

Status of WomenOral Questions

3 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I have been an advocate of women's issues my whole life, whether it be in my community, as opposition, in cabinet and in caucus. I look forward to working with the hon. member and all women parliamentarians to address the issues that matter to Canadian women.

However, I hope she, like I, is very proud of the achievements women have made. In fact, Canadian women are achieving more than ever before. We have made incredible progress in terms of the amount of women in our public service, women leading corporations across the country and women seeking public office.

Again, let us try to find common ground and work together.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Trailbreaker project would bring tar sands oil to the United States by reversing the flow of the pipeline between Montreal and Portland, thereby increasing the potential for accidents.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources confirm for us that he will not allow any permits to be issued for that purpose until an environmental assessment is done by the BAPE and permission is received from the Government of Quebec?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is no doubt aware that the National Energy Board has some authority in this matter, if the pipeline is interprovincial.

All rules and regulations will be followed, as with any other project.

EthicsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the former Minister of State for the Status of Women, the government's refusal to shed any light on the situation makes its situation infinitely worse.

Why were the police called in in these circumstances? We must know that it was worse than a violation of airport security, worse than leaving government documents with a biker gang acquaintance, worse than going to a cocktail reception, while Brenda Martin languished in jail, and worse than using government offices and resources for private purposes.

Will the government not do itself a favour and simply answer the question?