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House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentences.

Topics

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the impact of this environmental catastrophe in the gulf is going to have an impact for decades to come. People all around the world are very concerned.

The Prime Minister should call a meeting of the environment ministers of the G8 prior to the June meetings of the G8 and put this issue on the agenda.

In addition, in the wake of this disaster, Nunavut Tunngavik, Nunavut's land claim organization, has quite naturally asked for a conference on marine safety issues, including the whole question of oil spill response capacity off our Arctic communities.

Will the Prime Minister show some leadership and call these two conferences?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the situation truly is horrific. It is an environmental catastrophe unlike anything we have seen in quite a long time. The behaviour of the companies in question is completely unacceptable and would be completely unacceptable in this country.

There are strong rules in Canada. There are rules for relief wells. The National Energy Board does not allow drilling unless it is convinced that the safety of the environment and the safety of workers can be assured. Let me assure all members of the House that we will continue to enforce stronger environmental standards in this country.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, British Petroleum operates the oil rig that is causing this catastrophe. BP also recently acquired three licences in the Beaufort Sea for more than 6,000 square kilometres of drilling rights. At the same time, it is applying right now to weaken the environmental standards regarding drilling.

BP failed to prevent the worst ecological disaster we have seen since the Exxon Valdez and now it wants to have its way with our Arctic.

Will the Prime Minister state clearly here today that there will be no weakening of the environmental standards as requested by BP?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since coming to office, this government has toughened environmental enforcement in our Arctic. We will do no such thing in terms of weakening environmental standards.

As we have said before, the National Energy Board is clear. There is no drilling unless the environment is protected and unless workers are protected. That is the bottom line, and this government will not tolerate the kind of situation we see in the Gulf of Mexico.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's guide for ministers is very clear. It says that ministers may delegate policy development initiatives to a parliamentary secretary, but that only a minister, and I quote, “has authority to initiate departmental actions”. However, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities does not think these rules apply to him.

Can he confirm that the person who wrote “From Rahim – submit to dept.” on the Dragon Power proposal from GPG was none other his parliamentary secretary's assistant, Kimberley Michelutti?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, my parliamentary secretary is the member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca. I think everyone knows that. I think the member opposite knows that.

Let me be very clear. The ministers in our system of government are ultimately accountable at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. That is certainly the case with respect to infrastructure projects in my department.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister tried to protect himself by setting up his parliamentary secretary as the gatekeeper for a $1 billion fund. He did so in full knowledge that parliamentary secretaries are not bound by the same lobbying and post-employment rules as ministers and their staff.

Even with only a partial release of documents, we learned that the parliamentary secretary's office had extensive discussions with GPG and used an independent environmental consultant to review all green infrastructure fund proposals. Who is this consultant, who authorized their hiring and who paid for it?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of talk about the Lobbyists Registration Act. This government, as a matter of its first course of business, strengthened that act.

The government is receiving all kinds of advice. Some are suggesting we include all members of Parliament and senators in that act. Some people are even suggesting that we include the office of the Leader of the Opposition in that act.

Let me assure the House that we will be sure to keep all of those ideas in mind as we reflect on this.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the centre of the former Conservative caucus chair's unregistered lobbying for cash was the green fund and the Ministry of National Resources.

While the government has been finally forced to show its dealings with Mr. Jaffer and seven departments, we still have nothing but silence from the department and ministers most responsible.

Would the Minister of Natural Resources and his predecessor appear before committee as requested for two weeks to reveal their involvement in this affair, yes or no?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear for the member opposite.

Canadians can see the difference between this Conservative government and the unethical conduct of the previous Liberal government. When emails and the like came to the attention of this government, what did it do? It immediately forwarded them to the relevant independent authority.

When lobbyists contacted the previous Liberal government what did they get? Bags of cash.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, here are the facts.

The Prime Minister shields a minister that should have been fired for seven months. He hides serious, credible allegations that removed the minister from caucus. He said he referred the matter to the Ethics Commissioner. He did not. He claims Jaffer had no access. We now find that Jaffer had the run of seven departments, mingling with ministers whose offices helped push his schemes for government cash. This is what the Conservatives call doing the right thing, saying that we should be proud that Jaffer did not get his cash before scandal shut the whole thing down.

Will the ministers appear before committee, or do they have too much to hide?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are only having this type of detailed discussion on the floor of the House of Commons with respect to these types of contacts because this government did the honest, ethical and transparent thing and made all these documents public.

Let me tell the House something else we did. We also referred this matter to an independent authority. We have a lot of confidence that that authority will do its business and will ensure that the strong laws on lobbying that were adopted by this Parliament are fully implemented and that anyone who broke the law is held fully accountable.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the practice of constantly using “national security” as a pretext for keeping documents hidden from the public, particularly as we have seen in the case of torture of Afghan detainees, is being condemned by Canadian journalists.

Will the government admit that it has too often used the pretext of security to avoid accountability and avoid producing the documents demanded by the public?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, it is clear that there is plenty of information on the public record.

In fact, we heard last week from an important witness, arguably the most important witness from the Department of Foreign Affairs closest to the actual issue of detainees. He said on the issue of documents, “None of them contained specific information about facilities to which Canada was transferring detainees, and most importantly, in none of the messages did the embassy recommend substantive changes to the detainee policy”.

We act on the advice of individuals such as Mr. Gavin Buchan. Clearly, he had no such recommendation.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, a federal lawyer came before the Military Police Complaints Commission and stated that the Government of Canada is ultimately responsible for document retention concerning the torture of Afghan detainees. Barely 680 of the 4,000 pages of the requested document have been made public so far.

Instead of hiding behind false pretexts and putting the blame on civil servants, will the government recognize its responsibility to shed some light on this subject by producing all of the documents requested by the board of inquiry?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member who just asked the question as well as all other members that the government's lawyers are continuing to work with the Military Police Complaints Commission in order to provide all the necessary documents that are relevant to its mandate.

Oil IndustryOral Questions

May 3rd, 2010 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, while 38 million litres of oil have already spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, and while several coastal species and the way of life of local residents are threatened because of the negligence of the oil giant BP, we have learned that here in Canada, oil companies are asking the National Energy Board for more lenient regulations regarding Arctic development.

Is it not time, rather, to impose stricter regulations on oil companies?

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Our government, our country, has strict laws and regulations to protect the environment. What is happening in the United States is completely unacceptable. We will maintain strict laws to protect Canada's north. Our government has done a great deal in that region and will continue to do so.

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, although the National Energy Board is an arm's-length organization, nothing is stopping the government from imposing stricter regulations on oil and gas activities.

If the National Energy Board should exempt BP and Imperial Oil from drilling relief wells in the Arctic, would the government commit to taking every possible means to reverse such an irresponsible decision?

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, drilling is not going to occur until and unless the National Energy Board is clear and satisfied that the drilling plans are safe and that they do protect the environment. The review is currently under way. We will put a safety regime in place that is going to protect Canadians and the Canadian environment. We will work with industry and Canadians across the country to do that.

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have all been following the environmental horror unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a tragic reminder that no technology and no regulation can make offshore drilling or oil tankers 100% safe. Since 1972 a strong Liberal ban on inland oil tanker traffic respected by previous prime ministers of all parties has helped keep B.C.'s coasts safe.

Will the government also respect the long-standing moratorium banning tanker traffic from the Pacific north coast, yes or no?

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government has tough environmental laws to protect our air, our soil and our water. We have a special responsibility to protect those pristine ecologically sensitive parts of our country.

Let me be very clear. This government will make no effort that would compromise our environment. We will take every reasonable measure to ensure the environment is protected in this great country.

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a great example of the Conservative culture of deceit because actions speak louder than words. A number of Conservative ministers are publicly pushing initiatives to have hundreds of crude oil supertankers crowding B.C.'s north coast inland waters. These are some of the most turbulent and dangerous waters on the entire North American coastline.

Why is the Conservative government willing to put Canada's vulnerable coastal ecosystems at risk?

Oil IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Liberals should be talking about deceit. The member has never raised a question on that issue in the House before. Clearly, the drilling is being done in a difficult and sensitive environment. That is why it is important that there is a strong safety regime. That is one of the reasons why the NEB is currently reviewing its policies.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the government announced its decision to bury Quebec's forestry industry, thereby abandoning thousands of workers. It may take years for regions like Mauricie to recover.

For generations, forestry has been a key component of Quebec's economy, and we must help it to recover for the good of all Quebeckers. Will the Prime Minister reconsider his decision to abandon Quebec's forestry workers?