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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was indian.

Topics

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the government announced that it will violate the power of parliamentary committees to call for witnesses. We are now told that ministers will appear instead of their staff.

However, the Minister of Natural Resources, his predecessor and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities have all refused to appear before the government operations committee.

Will the Prime Minister now instruct those ministers and PSs to appear before committee instead of their staffers on June 2 at 3:30 p.m. in room 237-C?

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I wish my hon. colleague had listened to the answer to the question that was just put by the member from the Bloc Québécois. Quite clearly, the ministers are prepared to appear before committee.

With respect to the instances that she cites, those ministers had already proactively provided the information that was requested. In fact, they went beyond that and released all the correspondence that they had in relation to the issue that was under study at the committee.

Our ministers are prepared and will continue to be prepared to appear at committee and answer questions on behalf of their staff.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, is there anyone on the Conservative side who can give a straight answer. Just because they say so does not mean it is the truth.

Canadians are tired of the government's stonewalling.

Today at the ethics committee, the Minister of Transport tried to replace Dimitri Soudas, even though he is not his actual boss.

Will the Prime Minister, who actually is Mr. Soudas' boss and is supposedly accountable for Mr. Soudas' behaviour, appear before the ethics committee?

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we are giving straight answers. I just wish there would be a straight question.

The reality is that ministers will appear and answer the questions for staff who are responsible to them. The ministry as a whole, as members well know, is held accountable and therefore ministers will appear at committee as I have already indicated.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has been more than a month and a half and Canadians still do not know what the allegations were concerning the former minister for the status of women, allegations that the Prime Minister called serious and credible, allegations that caused him to boot her from cabinet and caucus and call in the RCMP.

What are the Conservatives trying to hide? What is it about the former minister that is so much worse than what has already been made public?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there are serious allegations, many of which are a matter of public record. They have been turned over to the relevant authorities so that they can make that determination. The Prime Minister acted expeditiously. The Prime Minister did the right thing.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government has been anything but transparent on this issue. The Conservative member for Saint Boniface has said that the government is sitting on all sorts of information. She said, “I can assure you that there is far more to come out.This isn't finished”.

When will that information be made public? How is it that the Conservative member for Saint Boniface knows all about it? Why can all Canadians not know about it?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let me give some news to our friend from Winnipeg.

The Conservative member for Saint Boniface knows a great deal more about a lot of things than that member. She delivers for the people of Saint Boniface and for the people of Canada each and every day. We are proud to have her aboard the team. She has accomplished a great deal. As usual, the very best is yet to come from the member for Saint Boniface.

TransportationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to fast-tracking construction of a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit, which is the busiest commercial crossing in North America and is set to become even busier. In the next 30 years, truck traffic in the Windsor-Detroit corridor is expected to triple and vehicle traffic will more than double.

Could the Minister of Transport please tell the House of the troubling comments by the Liberal critic with respect to this issue?

TransportationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there is an unprecedented consensus in central Canada that this bridge must be built. It is a bridge for jobs, for hope and for opportunity. Trade between Canada and the United States has skyrocketed over the last 20 years. Just about every forecast suggests that additional capacity is needed.

We need to defend our national security. That is why the provincial Liberals, the federal NDP and the federal Conservatives are on board; everyone is on board to get this plan done on the Ontario side except for the Liberal Party of Canada. Shame on the Liberals. That is why we are committed to getting the job done even without their support.

Offshore DrillingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Americans are rightly outraged that British Petroleum was given a pass on the standard environmental assessments in the gulf. When a government is too close to the oil lobby, rules get watered down, major tragedies occur and communities are the ones on the hook. In Canada this exception is now the rule. We all know that since 2005, offshore oil companies have not been subjected to a full environmental assessment.

Why will the Conservatives not stand up to protect Canadians and end the weakening of our offshore environmental rules and regulations?

Offshore DrillingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is outrageous to hear such things. The hon. member is trying to discredit the National Energy Board, an independent agency that conducts scientific and strategic reviews. The board has announced that it would be examining the situation in the Gulf of Mexico to better understand, to learn and to perfect the current regulations. We want no project to see the light of day unless we are convinced that workers' health and environmental protection are guaranteed.

Offshore DrillingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's talking points will not cut it anymore.

Today at committee we heard that the oil industry itself, the Inuvialuit and environmental groups came together with a plan to protect the Beaufort Sea. This plan for the Arctic has been sitting on the minister's desk for more than a year.

We now know that contrary to what the minister just said, the government has weakened environmental protection. A two-page screening just does not cut it for Canada's Arctic. How can Conservatives continue to stand by regulations that simply will not protect our environment?

Offshore DrillingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows full well that no drilling permits have been issued for the Beaufort Sea or the surrounding area. No project will see the light of day unless we are convinced that workers' health and the environment are protected. The industries are required to have contingency plans in place and that is what is happening. Enough with the fearmongering. Currently in Canada no drilling permit has been issued for the Beaufort Sea or for the Arctic.

Members' ExpensesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government was elected by promising more transparency. The Auditor General has asked for access to members' expenses to ensure that taxpayers' money is well managed, and now the Conservatives are dragging their feet. The Prime Minister must stop making excuses. As party leader, he can require his members to account for their expenses to the Auditor General.

Will the Prime Minister give the Auditor General access to Conservative members' expenses?

Members' ExpensesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, perhaps this question would be more appropriate for you as the chair of the Board of Internal Economy.

However, let it be said that all the hon. colleague has to do is turn to the gentleman sitting to her left, who is her representative on the Board of Internal Economy, and ask him about the discussions that have been taking place and that are ongoing at the board, as you know, as chair, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that she will find that the recent letter under your signature that went to the Auditor General actually invites her to come back, if that is her choice.

Members' ExpensesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member knows very well that all Bloc members have agreed to have their expenses audited.

By refusing to show leadership in this matter, the Prime Minister is confirming that transparency is fine for others, but not for him. The Auditor General simply wants to know if parliamentarians are using taxpayers' money properly.

Why are Conservative members refusing to answer the Auditor General's questions? What are they hiding?

Members' ExpensesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we have absolutely nothing to hide. In fact, our books are audited, as the member ought to know. If she does not, the expenses of all members of Parliament, including those of the Bloc Québécois, are posted on the parliamentary website. As you know, Mr. Speaker, there are performance audits ongoing by public servants who look constantly at MPs' expenses.

The issue really is one that is dealt with by all parties in a non-partisan way, or at least it was dealt with that way up until this moment.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages clearly indicated today that the Conservative government was taking a laissez-faire approach to official languages, for instance, letting the various departments take on major responsibilities without providing them with the necessary funding.

Why is the government abandoning its official languages responsibilities? Why such a blatant lack of leadership and reckless laissez-faire?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely not true. Mr. Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages, also said that the government has shown how important it is to strengthen official languages, that there was no question that the government had made significant progress in terms of official languages, and that there are official languages champions as well as clear accountability and reporting requirements.

That is what the Conservative government has delivered.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, he and I have obviously not read the same report.

How can the government justify official language minority community organizations sometimes having to use their own credit cards, that is, cards belonging to the organization's leaders, to ensure their survival because of unacceptable delays in funding payments?

How can the minister justify such laissez-faire?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of laissez-faire, but rather one of commitment. Our government promised during the campaign that it wold increase funding to help minority linguistic duality communities. We have increased our investments by 20%. The process has become clearer for a larger number of organizations on the ground. It is clear that we have to do our homework when taxpayers' money goes to various people, but the money always gets there to meet the needs of linguistic duality communities.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

May 25th, 2010 / 2:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, 1,000 people have lost their jobs in the Timmins area over the past month. Across Ontario people are still feeling the effects of the recession. Yet the government's response has been to close 15 employment insurance claims processing centres in Ontario.

The Conservatives decided to give tax breaks to oil companies and big banks, and have completely ignored the needs of workers.

Why is this government abandoning unemployed Ontarians?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong. We have done a great deal for unemployed workers and he voted against every one of our attempts to help them. This is what the mayor of Timmins said:

The mayor of the city of Timmins said, “I applaud the...governments for their quick and decisive action aimed at stimulating the economy during this global economic crisis”.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister did not understand the question.

We are talking about the cuts right across Ontario to the jobs for processing EI claims in 15 centres, in Brantford, Peterborough, Oshawa, Kenora, Timmins. This is about choice. The government gave massive tax cuts to the big banks and the oil companies while the Canadian government was bleeding red through the worst recession in memory, and the government is going to pay it off by slashing the civil servant jobs that are helping the unemployed.

Workers paid into employment insurance. Why is the government shutting down the offices across Ontario that are processing their claims? It is a simple question.