This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.

Topics

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, what we have seen increasingly over the last number of days, weeks and months is our political staff subjected to bullying and intimidation at committees. Quite frankly, we find this completely unacceptable.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, despite the heckling from the other side, this is completely unacceptable.

It is ministers who are responsible for the actions of their staff and for the actions of their departments. It will be ministers who will be appearing at committee from now on to answer any and all questions. I would think that the opposition would support seeing our ministers more often at those committees.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the power to compel witnesses stems from the preamble and section 18 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which give Parliament the right to require witnesses to appear.

Does the government realize that if its approach were to be adopted, it would create two classes of people: Conservative political staff, who would not be required to testify, and everyone else, who would have no choice?

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, what the opposition coalition does not have the right to do is to bully and intimidate hard-working political staff appearing at those committees. We tried that route. They would not treat people respectfully. From now on the ministers themselves will appear at committee to defend the actions of this government and to defend their staff.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages is refuting the Conservatives' arguments regarding bilingual judges. He reminds us that when the Official Languages Act was passed 40 years ago, people claimed that bilingualism requirements would prevent people from western Canada from getting jobs. Yet the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is from Alberta, the most senior federal public servant is from Saskatchewan and one of the highest ranking soldiers in the armed forces is from Manitoba.

Instead of setting us back by 40 years, why does the government not insist that judges appointed to the Supreme Court understand French?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, our position on this issue is very clear and has not changed. Our government will continue to adhere to the principles of merit and legal excellence when selecting Supreme Court justices.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for official languages tried to justify the government's inaction by saying that the bilingualism requirement for judges will divide Canadians.

Can the minister elaborate on this? Is he telling us that he cannot enforce a bilingual requirement for Supreme Court justices because he is afraid of offending Conservative extremists?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is false. Once again, our government will continue to adhere to the principles of merit and legal excellence when selecting Supreme Court justices.

The Supreme Court has worked well for over 130 years in this country. It has been respectful of the linguistic duality of this country. This should not come under attack by the Bloc or anybody else who believes in federal institutions. The Supreme Court should be celebrated by all Canadians.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

May 26th, 2010 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, your ruling on the supremacy of Parliament was applauded by all sides of this chamber and beyond, but just a month later the Conservatives are trying to do an end run around the power of Parliament by blocking senior staffers from appearing before committee.

This new, out of the blue Conservative policy is yet another direct affront to the powers of Parliament; it is censorship and blocking of information.

When will the Prime Minister read the Speaker's ruling and understand that it is Parliament that is supreme, not him and not his government?

Committees of the HouseOral 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, as I already said in answer to a previous question, the fact of the matter is that the coalition opposition has been calling political staffers to appear before committees and then bullying, intimidating and attacking them and demeaning them.

Quite simply, we will no longer tolerate that type of abuse of our staff. We will uphold the precedent and the principle of ministerial accountability and responsibility. Our ministers will be appearing at committee. I would think that would be applauded by the opposition.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a complete fabrication. It is that party and that government that is the bully. It is not the opposition. It is that government and that Prime Minister.

The policy to protect Dimitri Soudas contravenes the principles of political sovereignty. The Conservatives are choosing which minister to send, even though that minister may not be from the same department as the invited employee.

How can the Minister of Natural Resources appear before one committee instead of his assistant and yet refuse to appear before another committee?

Committees of the HouseOral 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, on this side we believe in accountability and we believe in the principle of ministerial responsibility. That is why we will stand by our staff. We will no longer allow them to be abused by the opposition coalition at committee, which wants nothing but to intimidate, attack and demean them.

Cabinet ministers will appear at committee and they will answer questions from the opposition, as is their right and their responsibility.

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives white collar crime bill fails to address many financial crimes, which ruined the lives of honest Canadians. The government is doing too little, too late. We just need to ask the victims of Earl Jones.

Where is stock manipulation mentioned in the bill? Nowhere. The omission of large scale mortgage fraud from mandatory minimums in the bill means no response to the massive mortgage fraud in Alberta.

Will the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada stand up for Canadians and propose adding stock manipulation and mortgage fraud to the bill, yes or no?

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell the House how pleased I am that the Liberal Party has discovered the justice agenda. It is only once every four or five months that we get a question from Liberal members on this subject.

It is true that we have introduced a bill on white collar crime that sends out the right message. People who are victims of white collar crime are victims as much as anybody who gets beaten up in an alley. That is why we have introduced Bill C-21.

For once, I would hope the Liberal Party would stop its equivocation, get on board and start to support victims and law-abiding Canadians for a change.

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

A question once every four or five months, Mr. Speaker? We barely sit once every four or five months because of prorogation.

That minister did not mention mortgage fraud in his answer. I can understand why the Conservative Party does not want to bring it up.

Will the minister recommend the necessary amendments in his white collar crime bill, or will he continue to only provide lip service to the victims of crime? When will he do his job to present responsive and effective legislation, or will we over here have to do it ourselves?

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, those members seem sensitive about their record on crime. I actually agree with them. They should be sensitive on this issue.

Mortgage fraud is covered by the white collar crime bill. I would invite the member and his colleagues for once to read the legislation before they start complaining and opposing it.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the OECD released its spring 2010 economic outlook. According to the report, the Canadian economy is rebounding vigorously, helped by a recovering trade sector and policy measures.

The OECD has also pointed to and praised our government's economic action plan, with measures like the infrastructure projects under way across Canada and our proposal to make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers.

Could the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities please provide the House with further details about today's positive economic report?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the OECD expects this year and next year that Canada will be the fastest growing economy in the entire G7 and also beat the OECD forecasts for economic growth by a very wide margin. Clearly our economic action plan is working.

However, members should not believe me. Let me read what the report said. Listen to what one senior OECD official said about the good work on the Canadian economy, “I think Canada looks good - it shines, actually. Canada could even be considered a safe haven”. Is there any wonder why Canada has the best finance miniser in the world?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the cost of holding the G8 and G20 summits in Canada are becoming incomprehensible. In March Canadians were told that it would cost $179 million to hold these two meetings. Now, only two months later, that price is $930 million, five times the original amount. With the government in deficit, that means another $1 billion will be added to our national debt.

Could the government explain to Canadians why two meetings over four days will cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that $179 million was never the original estimate. The original estimate has been $930 million.

This is a plan that has been put together by the security experts. These are necessary costs in order to secure the safety of visiting heads of nations. We have that responsibility and we will carry it out.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is the same minister who costed the two-for-one bill at $90 million and 24 hours later said that it was $2 billion.

The irony is that one of the main topics at the G20 will be how to get government spending under control. I am sure one of our lessons will be not to hold the G8 or G20.

From the two locations to the locking down of Canada's busiest city in a critical tourist season, the government's handling of this event has been sloppy and irresponsible. In the end, it is Canadians who will be left paying for Conservative errors.

Could the government explain why these meetings will end up costing more than double any previous G8, G20 summits?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I do not think we have to take lessons from the Socialists on how to budget. The member for Toronto Centre knows that full well. He has indicated, on more than one occasion, that those are not people to take lessons from.

All costs have been budgeted and are on target. We have always stated that overall costs will be finalized at the end of both of these summits. Putting two of these summits together, back to back, has been unprecedented. We have relied on the experts to give us the costs. We are prepared to meet those costs in order to meet the security interests and the safety of heads of nations.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government says it does not wish to reopen the abortion debate. However, it was Conservative members who introduced bills to restrict access to abortion and it is the Conservative government that is proposing to stop funding abortion abroad. Even Msgr. Ouellet stated that he was prompted to make a public statement because the Conservative government had reopened the debate.

Will the government admit that it has reopened the debate on abortion to satisfy the religious fundamentalists of the Conservative Party?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has indicated this week and as our government has reiterated many times, this government has no intention of reopening this issue and we have no intention of introducing the supporting legislation on the issue.