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House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

LobbyingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised to require that ministers register their dealings with lobbyists. Once they came to power, they backed down. Only the lobbyists are required to register such contacts. It is impossible to know for sure which minister met with which lobbyist. If they had respected their election promise, Rahim Jaffer's kind of lobbying, secret lobbying, would be illegal.

Will this government, which preached transparency, amend the Lobbying Act to force ministers and their staff to disclose their dealings with lobbyists as they promised in 2006?

LobbyingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, that is entirely untrue. When we came to power, we introduced the Federal Accountability Act in the House. It was passed and it toughens the consequences for lobbyists who do not respect the conditions that are set out in the act. Lobbyists must be registered and they must respect the act. They must also report their activities each month. This is set out in the act, thanks to this government's leadership.

LobbyingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Lobbying Act is still full of holes. It still allows stealth lobbying and does not keep former Conservative members from lobbying the government. One huge hole in the act is the 20% rule, which means that lobbyists does not have to register unless their direct lobbying activities constitute more than 20% of their time.

Will the government amend the Lobbying Act to ensure that all lobbying activities are covered in the act?

LobbyingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I said, all lobbyists must report their activities each month and this includes communication with public office holders. They must be registered. The current Conservative government also took steps to give the lobbying commissioner tools, rules and, most importantly, the independence needed to fulfill the role.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the Canada Border Services Agency decided that British MP George Galloway was not going to be allowed into Canada, the immigration minister denied that he was involved at all, but it turns out that the whole thing started from his office. In fact, the minister's right-hand man sent instructions by email on March 16 declaring that Galloway was inadmissible and within two hours he was barred. It was clearly a political decision.

Why did the minister deny that his office had anything to do with barring the British member of Parliament from coming to Canada?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the question is entirely inaccurate. Decisions on inadmissibility under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are made by delegated officials at the Canada Border Services Agency, as was the case in this instance.

My understanding is that the CBSA made such a preliminary assessment of inadmissibility for the person in question perhaps because he admitted publicly to handing over tens of thousands of dollars to the leadership of a banned illegal terrorist organization called Hamas that uses money to buy explosives to attack innocent civilians.

EthicsOral Questions

April 26th, 2010 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister was behind the decision to ban British MP George Galloway from Canada. No matter how much they work on their culture of secrecy or how much they deny, it will not change the facts. We want the truth and we will get it.

We see the Conservatives taking the same approach with the Jaffer case. The Prime Minister fired a minister, dropped her from the Conservative caucus and called the police. Why? What does he have to hide?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Serious allegations were brought to the Prime Minister's attention. He did the honourable thing; he did the ethical thing and immediately forwarded the matter on to a competent authority, who will independently make this determination.

Let me tell the member opposite, none of the allegations that were brought to the Prime Minister's attention had anything to do with the government, and Mr. Jaffer received no government funding from the green infrastructure program.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, he did the expeditious thing.

Pardon us for not believing these stories, especially considering that lobbying has been taking place, even though officials and representatives of the government are denying it. There was lobbying involving the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, his parliamentary secretary and the Minister of the Environment, who finally got around to informing the House about it 10 months later.

Why do we not save ourselves a whole bunch of time and just ask all of those Conservative ministers who were lobbied by Mr. Jaffer and his friends to just stand up now so we can see what is really going on?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, order. The hon. Minister of Transport has the floor.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister acted expeditiously. He immediately referred serious allegations on to the relevant authorities so that they could make an independent determination. There were no funds with respect to the lobbying in question from my department.

Let me be very clear. All Canadians are required to follow the Lobbyists Registration Act. If someone is lobbying, he or she should register.

If the member opposite has any specific allegations he would like to make, he should take them to the independent commissioner of lobbying that this government established.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, in his election platform the Prime Minister promised, “A Conservative government will require ministers and senior government officials to record their contacts with lobbyists”. Guidelines by the commissioner of lobbying say public office holders should maintain a list of all meetings with lobbyists.

We know Mr. Jaffer was in contact with the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Industry, parliamentary secretaries and staff. Will the government table a comprehensive list of all contacts with Mr. Jaffer, or will it continue its culture of deceit?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is this government which made major reforms to the Lobbyists Registration Act and when we brought those reforms to Parliament, the Liberal Party tried to stop them dead in their tracks. Day after day, week after week, month after month the Liberal Party tried to slow down these important reforms.

Every Canadian is expected to follow the Lobbyists Registration Act. It applies to all Canadians. If the member opposite has any allegations, she should take them to the independent officer of Parliament that this government established.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

So the minister is not going to table a list, Mr. Speaker?

Investment Executive magazine reported that last September Mr. Jaffer organized a daylong meeting in Toronto between a group of banking executives and the Conservative financial services caucus, including the chair of the Commons finance committee. Transparency does not mean one tells only when one is caught. We know this meeting took place.

How many other such meetings did Mr. Jaffer organize for Conservative members of Parliament and what was promised or discussed?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government brought in important reforms for lobbyist registration. The culture of lobbying in the previous government was outrageous. This government, immediately upon taking office, brought in comprehensive reform and most importantly established an independent commissioner of lobbying who reports to Parliament through you, Mr. Speaker, so that Canadians can have confidence.

Every single Canadian is required to follow the Lobbyists Registration Act. If the member opposite has any allegations to make with respect to anyone, she should forward them on to the independent commissioner of lobbying that this government established.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on April 13 the infrastructure minister claimed, “Mr. Jaffer had no discussions with me about any of his commercial interests”. What he failed to say was that his office received two funding proposals from Jaffer and Glémaud and sent them to his department for formal review. The minister has also never explained why his parliamentary secretary was given the role of gatekeeper for his $1 billion green fund.

Under what authority did the minister delegate this power and why was it never made public?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the green infrastructure fund is administered by my department. At the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, I am the one responsible for it. I asked my parliamentary secretary to assist me with respect to this initiative, as he assists me with many initiatives in the House, in committee and in departmental business.

Let me be very clear. There are strict eligibility criteria for this fund and every single project is assessed by an independent and non-partisan public service. This green infrastructure fund is doing great things to have cleaner air, cleaner water and cleaner electricity generation right across the country.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is not enough that public servants wisely refuse to fund these proposals, they should never have been sent by the minister's office for formal review in the first place.

The minister and the parliamentary secretary should have blown the whistle on this scheme at the beginning instead of perpetuating the Conservative culture of deceit.

I ask the minister, how did Mr. Jaffer and Mr. Glémaud know that the parliamentary secretary was the gatekeeper for this fund when the fact was never made public?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. I totally reject the premise of the question asked by the member from Winnipeg.

It is not new for parliamentary secretaries to assist their ministers in the House, in committee and with departmental issues. It is no different in our government from what it was in previous governments.

I am the one, as minister, who is accountable for the fund. I am the one who makes decisions on the advice of the non-partisan professional public service.

On the green infrastructure fund we are doing remarkable things. We are doing clean electricity in northwestern British Columbia. We are having cleaner water in the Great Lakes working with the city of Hamilton. In every region of the country we are making great green investments to help our environment.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are desperately trying to put a lid on the issue of the torture of Afghan prisoners.

Their latest tactic is to shut down torture hearings at the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. The best way to ensure that the committee's work does not drag on is to make public all of the documents, in their original, uncensored versions.

Why does the government refuse to cooperate with the committee?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I think there has been a great deal of co-operation and all available documents will be made available to the appropriate authorities, whether it is to the MPCC or to the committee, and to the House. That is as it should be and it should have the support of the hon. member.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's repeated attempts to hide the truth are dragging out the committee's work.

In an attempt to protect the data related to the security of the country and the soldiers, the Bloc Québécois even proposed having an initial look at the government's documents behind closed doors.

Why is the government hiding the truth? What is it trying so hard to hide?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is very reassuring coming from the Bloc. I have to tell you though, Mr. Speaker, the government has always said that officials will provide all legally available documents. In addition, to assist with this process, we have appointed Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci to have a look at the documents.

I suggest to the hon. member to let the committee, Justice Iacobucci and the commission do their work. I think that is the appropriate course of action.

International CooperationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the G8 development ministers are meeting in Halifax to harmonize their policies on maternal and child health. We know that this government is ideologically opposed to abortion and that it would like to export its Conservative values abroad.

Will the government set aside its ideology and recognize that family planning measures, including abortion, help improve the health of women and children?