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 #39 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lobbying.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Lobbying ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have to support any measure that makes our profession more transparent. I am not aware of the specific example that the member gave. Earlier, I heard him say that we need tougher lobbying rules. I think that it would be appropriate for people in general, not just parliamentarians, to know exactly how much all of these lobbying firms are spending and what they are spending the money on.

As I said, it is not illegal. It is easy to point fingers at lobbyists and firms that are hired to lobby the government and MPs and make presentations to them. If we have a proper framework and strict rules in place for this kind of work and if, as the member said, there is greater transparency in disclosing the amounts spent on certain campaigns, the people will be well served and interest groups that need these lobbyists to advance their causes will improve their image.

Opposition Motion--Lobbying ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, what I am very concerned about is that this motion does not go far enough.

I am very concerned about the Liberal, Bloc and New Democrat MPs who lobby me on behalf of individuals who they do not identify. I am wondering why it is that they can carry out secret instructions from various organizations that they do not then disclose. I do not know who I am dealing with other than the Liberal MP who comes to me and says that he or she has a proposal. On whose behalf are they doing this and how does this particular motion address that very significant problem? I am wondering what the opposition members have to hide.

Opposition Motion--Lobbying ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the minister and his party vote against this motion, they are the ones with something to hide. It worries me to hear an elected member of the House cast aspersions on the work of other members who have a legitimate mandate by calling them lobbyists. We were democratically elected to the House to represent people, and it is our job to talk to ministers about various issues in our ridings. If the minister does not represent his constituents well, he is not doing his job. What we do is nothing like what lobbyists do.

Opposition Motion--Lobbying ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak today to our opposition day motion put forward by the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl. I congratulate her for bringing this motion forward.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Brossard—La Prairie.

I have had the opportunity to look at the Lobbying Act through my work on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and I look forward to a review of the act in the fall.

The omission of parliamentary secretaries from the list of designated public office holders is either a deliberately concocted loophole or a glaring omission that the government should be falling over itself to rectify.

I fully support the motion to call on the government to immediately close this loophole and require parliamentary secretaries to comply fully with the Lobbying Act in the same manner as ministers are currently required to do so.

I would think that the Conservative government would embrace the opportunity to fulfill its 2006 platform promise to require ministers and senior government officials, including parliamentary secretaries, to proactively record and report their contact with lobbyists.

The Lobbying Act's definition of a designated public office holder is extensive, including ministers, ministers of state and their staff, deputy heads and assistant deputy ministers, and those of comparable rank. It is a long list of people who have considerable influence on the decisions of the Conservative government.

It is a mystery as to why that list does not include parliamentary secretaries. There is no doubt that parliamentary secretaries have privileged access. They serve the ministers' role in question period, in meetings with stakeholders, in relations with the departments, and perhaps most importantly they have the ear of the ministers. They too have influence on the decisions made by the government. I would argue that influence is considerably greater than that of members of the House.

The Lobbying Act defines activities that when carried out for compensation are considered to be lobbying. Generally speaking, they include communicating with public office holders with respect to changing federal laws, regulations, policies or programs, obtaining a financial benefit such as a grant or contribution, and in certain cases obtaining a government contract or arranging a meeting between a public office holder and another person.

When a lobbyist meets with a ministers seeking support for a project, there are two fundamental requirements of that lobbyist, that he or she is a registered lobbyist and that he or she provides a monthly communication report.

Canadians have on-line access on the registry of lobbyists, to the lobbyist's name and business, as well as details of the subject the lobbyist is to discuss with the minister, and also the name of the department and/or other governmental institution in which any public office holder with whom the individual communicates or expects to communicate. Therefore, it is wide ranging.

Let us say the minister, for example, was detained and unavailable to meet with the lobbyist, so the parliamentary secretary is called upon to fill in, in that particular meeting. The same lobbyist sits down with the minister's parliamentary secretary and pitches the very same project and all the paperwork disappears.

Lobbyists need to be registered. Nothing more is asked of them through the Lobbying Act. The parliamentary secretary meets up with the minister later that day, gives him or her a briefing, an update on the proposal, and offers a full endorsement of the project.

What do Canadians know about this meeting that took place? Absolutely nothing.

There is no reason that these two meetings should be treated so differently by the Lobbying Act. If the government is truly committed to transparency, it needs to ensure that all lobbyists and decision-makers are obliged to follow the same rules.

The rules of the Lobbying Act were put in place to meet the goal of increasing accountability. Any lobbyist who communicates with a designated public office holder must file a monthly report, including all arranged communications, telephone calls, meetings or any other communications arranged in advance.

The report must disclose for each communication that took place in a given month, the date of the communication with the designated public office holder, the name and title of all designated public office holders who were the object of the communication, and the subject of the communication.

Simple, straightforward information that should be readily available to Canadians, especially when we are talking about access to taxpayers' dollars.

We know that each minister and parliamentary secretary have unique arrangements in terms of the level of authority and departmental access that is provided to the parliamentary secretary, and it varies from department to department. We acknowledge that. However, we cannot dispute the fact that the opportunity exists for a minister to delegate a significant amount of decision-making authority to the parliamentary secretary should the minister choose to do so.

The Lobbying Act, as it stands today, creates an environment where lobbyists can meet extensively with the Conservative government's key decision makers without anyone ever knowing it happened. It is troublesome that government members will stand here today and boast about the government's record on accountability and transparency while we only have to look at a newspaper over the last couple of months to see it has taken advantage of the loophole to get around the law as outlined in the Lobbying Act.

Opposition Motion--Lobbying ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member will have four minutes left to conclude her remarks, but now we will move on to statements by members.

The hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.

Mental Health WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week is a time when we turn our attention inward to ensure that we live balanced, focused lives, and help those around us to do the same.

The Canadian Mental Health Association supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness and this year it launched the 59th annual Mental Health Week.

Across the country, the Canadian Mental Health Association is encouraging Canadians to cultivate harmonious relationships with their colleagues and neighbours, as well as their family and friends.

Forging harmonious relationships helps us develop the resilience needed to deal with the stresses and demands of everyday life.

Important to the House is the fact that Canada loses some $51 billion a year on lost productivity due to mental health problems. Studies continue to reveal that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness some time during his or her lifetime.

I would like to congratulate the CMHA and wish it every success this week and all year long.

Maternal and Child HealthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, May 9 is Mother's Day. In honour of mothers and caregivers everywhere, bold leadership is required to stop the preventable deaths of women and children around the world. This year, an estimated 8.8 million children under the age of five will die from largely preventable causes and over 300,000 women will die because of pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.

Canada and other G8 leaders must lead the way through bold and urgent steps to catalyze global efforts and save the lives of these women and children. In order to be truly effective, this effort must include full access to safe reproductive care and not influenced by ideology.

During this week leading up to Mother's Day, CARE, the Canadian Association of Midwives, Plan Canada, Results Canada, Save the Children Canada, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, UNICEF, and World Vision are joining forces in Ottawa to get the attention of government.

This Mother's Day the greatest gifts we can give mothers around the world are the tools that they need, so they can access the health care they need close to home, where it is most effective.

Lanaudière 2010 Desjardins Tourism AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the recipients of the Lanaudière 2010 Desjardins tourism awards. Most of the winners come from my riding.

Arbraska Rawdon won in the outdoor and leisure category, and Bergerie des Neiges took top place for farm tourism and regional products. The award for tourist attractions with less than 100,000 visitors went to the Musée d’art de Joliette. Winners in the various “Accommodation” categories included Auberge du Vieux Moulin, Bergerie des Neiges, Pourvoirie Domaine Bazinet, and Les Chalets du Lac Grenier. The human resources tourism leaders of tomorrow award went to Benjamin Vallée from Auberge du Lac Taureau and the human resources tourism supervisor award went to Josée Beauregard from that same establishment. Finally, La Source bains nordiques took home the sustainable tourism award and Mario Boisvert received the Réjean-Gadoury personality of the year award.

Congratulations to the winners, who are a testament to the vitality and quality of tourism in the Lanaudière region. Looking forward to seeing them this summer.

Police FundingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 2006 the Conservative government promised funding for 2,500 new police officers. Municipalities like New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody were counting on this money for their police forces. Coquitlam, for example, has one of the lowest police to population ratios in the country, at one member for every 939 people.

Last month, I met with members of the Canadian Association of Police Boards, who were in Ottawa for the fourth year in a row asking the government to live up to its promise of adding 2,500 new police officers to Canadian streets and provide long-term, stable funding to continue to fight crime.

The CAPB represents more than 75 municipal police boards, employing in excess of 33,000 police personnel, and has repeatedly called on the government to provide dedicated funding for policing.

Police officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. It is time for the Conservative government to deliver on its promise and give municipalities stable, long-term funding.

Multiple SclerosisStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, as MS Awareness Month begins, I would like to recognize this cause that is so important to many of my constituents and many Canadians across the country.

The Sherwood Park MS Community Group is the largest MS group in the country. It works tirelessly to educate the community and raise awareness about multiple sclerosis. This group holds many events throughout the community, and actively provides information and support to the families and friends of those with MS.

I am pleased to say that funding by the Government of Canada for MS research is making a real difference. These investments are building our overall understanding of multiple sclerosis toward more effective treatment and, ultimately, a cure.

MS is an unpredictable and often disabling disease. I am proud to have such a large group of strong individuals in my riding that are fighting the disease and who live by the motto that MS is not the end but the beginning of a new journey.

Naturopathic MedicineStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, each year during the first week in May, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors leads a national awareness week in support of naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic physicians are primary health care professionals with a minimum of seven years post-secondary education. They practise naturopathic medicine, which is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of the disease.

Each year during Naturopathic Medicine Week, naturopathic doctors hang up their lab coats and teach communities across Canada about naturopathic medicine, how naturopathic doctors can be valuable additions to health care teams, and how they work with patients to identify the most effective solutions to individual health needs.

Naturopathic Medicine Week is an excellent opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about achieving optimum health. I encourage Canadians to visit their local naturopathic physician in their communities.

Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate CareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has an aging population that will present intense challenges to our health care system in years to come.

At the front line of these challenges are those who need palliative or compassionate care, those who are depressed, those who cannot speak for themselves and Canadians living with disabilities, in other words, our most vulnerable Canadians.

Members across party lines have come together to address this challenge with a message of hope.

Margaret Sommerville of McGill University noted that, “Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit; without it our spirit dies, with it we can overcome even seemingly insurmountable obstacles”, including our last great act of living, dying.

These are issues of life and death. These are issues of basic human dignity.

I invite all members of Parliament to join the parliamentary committee on palliative and compassionate care.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

It is difficult for this Conservative government to recognize and to ensure implementation of official bilingualism policies.

It has been unable to ensure that both official languages are deemed equal. This was evident at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic Games and also in its rejection of the bill for mandatory bilingualism of Supreme Court justices.

It has also massacred French in its official communications. Yesterday's poorly translated press release from the Minister of Public Safety is one of many examples. It states: “[...] M.P.s de tous les partis politiques tiendra un événement sur la Colline de Parlement dans le soutien de troupes canadiennes [...]. L'événement doit lever de l'argent [...].”

If Quebeckers truly want their language, French, and their culture to be respected, the only solution is a sovereign Quebec.

International Co-operationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government is proud that Canada has taken the lead on the issue of maternal and child health as the focus of our G8 meeting in Muskoka. All G8 members lauded Canada's initiative to champion healthier mothers and healthier babies and to reduce maternal and child mortality.

With agreement on a set of principles to guide the leaders of G8 countries, we believe progress will be made to reduce the number of deaths and to keep mothers and children healthy.

A limited number of interventions can prevent most maternal and newborn deaths. With better prenatal care, the presence of a skilled health assistant during birth, care for newborns and some antibiotics, we can make a real difference.

A number of Canadian NGOs and experts have called on the opposition to see the big picture. As we get ready to celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, let us put partisan politics aside and focus on what really matters.

Canadian Naval CentennialStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I joined the Canadian navy at the age of 16, lured by the dream of adventure on the high seas.

I rise today to commemorate the Canadian Naval Centennial. On this day in 1910 the Canadian navy came into existence when the Naval Service Bill received royal assent under the leadership of Wilfrid Laurier. Two old cruisers, HMCS Niobe and HMCS Rainbow, were purchased and the naval college was opened in Halifax.

At the beginning of the second world war, Canada had only 13 ships. By the end of the war, the Canadian navy had the third-largest fleet in the world, with more than 400 ships.

Each year we commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic, during which our ships escorted supply convoys to Europe under the constant threat of German submarines.

We can all be proud of our Canadian navy. It will continue to serve us proudly and with distinction around the globe.

As we in the senior service are proud to say, ready, aye, ready.

Workplace SafetyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to highlight North American Occupational Safety and Health Week and our government's actions to further protect Canadians in the workplace.

With many young workers finding their first job or returning to a summer job, it is important to teach our children that they have rights in the workplace and that they can speak up about unsafe working conditions.

On Monday in Charlottetown, the Minister of Labour launched two new online tools to reduce injuries in the workplace. The first is a new guide on preventing workplace violence, and the second is an e-tool for individuals on how to reduce musculoskeletal injuries. Both of these tools are available, free of charge, to all Canadians on Labour Canada's web page.

Hard-working Canadians are the backbone of our country. That is why we have introduced these new measures to further protect workers, strengthen our workforce and strengthen our economy.

Maternal and Child HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is Mother's Day. As we celebrate, mothers in other places across the globe are at risk. More than 300,000 women die each year due to pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications, yet maternal, newborn and child health accounts for only 3% of global aid.

While New Democrats applaud that maternal and child health will be a priority at the G8 summit this June, it is disheartening to know that the government refuses to fund the services necessary for maternal and child health, including a complete range of family planning services that include access to safe abortion. The government has made it abundantly clear what services and initiatives it will not fund, but it has not been equally forthcoming about what it will fund.

On Sunday, as we honour our mothers and caregivers, the greatest gift the government could give to women in Canada and around the world would be action. We have had enough empty promises. We need the fulfillment of these promises, concrete commitments and leadership to ensure the health of mothers and children here in Canada and around the world.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, by turning its back on honest hunters and farmers in Quebec who want to see the useless and expensive long gun registry scrapped, the Bloc is showing, yet again, that it does not have a monopoly on Quebec values.

After 20 years of resistance and empty debate from the Bloc's leader, it is high time that his more taciturn disciples tell us why they are really here in Ottawa: to undermine Quebec's interests.

What do the Bloc members have to say to citizens in the regions, such as Abitibi—Témiscamingue, Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, Gaspésie, the Lower St. Lawrence and the Côte-Nord, that would begin to justify their disdain for the real concerns of Quebeckers?

While the Bloc members take it easy in Ottawa, doing nothing except respond to the every whim of the Bloc's head office—to the detriment of their electors—the Conservative members are working to defend the interests of Quebec's hunters and farmers. We on this side are defending the interests of all Quebeckers.

International Co-operationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, World Vision and other organizations are gathering on Parliament Hill to promote awareness of child and maternal health, which, as we know, is a very serious issue that affects the poorest regions in the world.

The Bloc Québécois believes that if it truly wants to help these women, the Conservative government must adopt a strategy that takes in the full range of health care services these women are entitled to in terms of family planning, including access to contraception and abortion. These services play an integral role in the fight against infant and maternal mortality.

Yet, according to a Conservative senator, it seems as though the more we talk about this, and the more we push the Conservatives to take action, the more this government will dig its heels in and turn this into a political issue that will overshadow the basic issue of maternal health.

This reformist government must stop pushing its backwards ideology and must understand that what is good for women here is also good for women worldwide.

High-Speed InternetStatements By Members

May 4th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, the goal of 100% high-speed Internet for all Canadians has been talked about for a decade, but the Conservatives have never committed to it and after four and a half years have done nothing to bring us closer to this goal.

Too many rural areas simply do not have the same access to essential services such as education, health care or economic development, that many Canadians take for granted, because these regions do not have digital infrastructure.

The Liberals, on the other hand, are committed to changing this Luddite path the Conservatives are leading us down. Today in Thunder Bay, our leader committed to the goal of 100% high-speed Internet connectivity within three years of being elected and to expansion of mobile coverage for rural and remote Canada.

The Liberals are convinced that all Canadians should have the same level of service, whether they live in Powassan or Winnipeg. We believe in a united Canada where urban Canada and rural Canada work together.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Elections Canada released the first-quarter fundraising results, and the Conservative Party predictably has raised more money than the three opposition parties combined. One year after the Liberal leader's coronation, the trend is clear. The Liberal leader has seen three straight quarters of declining financial support.

Maybe it is because the Liberal leader has repeatedly been caught making contradictory promises to different audiences. He threatened an election, promised to raise taxes including the GST and a job-killing business tax, fired his staff and started over again, split his own caucus on more than one occasion, played politics on sensitive issues and took Frank Graves' advice to the Liberals to start a “culture war”. Or maybe it is because Canadians know that he is just in it for himself.

We know it is not going all that well for the Liberal leader, but while he is fundraising, Canadians are still waiting for the other $39 million stolen during the sponsorship scandal.

Maternal and Child HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to try to find the words to ask this question.

Yesterday, Senator Ruth gave perhaps the pithiest, sharpest description one can imagine of Conservative political policy that we have all heard in a long time. Her advice to groups that are criticizing the government or that have an issue with the government or might want to raise the issue was, and I am not going to quote entirely, quite simply, shut the F up.

This is what the current government has come to. This is the culture of intimidation that has now been established by the Conservative Party. If someone has a disagreement with the government, just shut the F up.

Maternal and Child HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, obviously that type of language is completely unacceptable.

Let me tell members this. Canadians do not want to drag the abortion debate into the maternal and health discussions.

This government and the Prime Minister are focused on how to make a positive difference in the lives of mothers and newborn children in the developing world. We want to find ways that unite Canadians, not divide them. This is an excellent initiative for Canada to provide a meaningful role on the world stage.

Maternal and Child HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is not about the senator's language, it is about what she is describing—a culture of intimidation. We have spoken about the Conservative's culture of deceit; today, we are dealing with a culture of intimidation.

Why this freeze on discussions with groups throughout the country? Why this hostility towards democracy in Canada. That is my question for the government.

Maternal and Child HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is self-evident that view does not represent the view of the government. It is self-evident that is unacceptable.

Let me tell members what is equally unacceptable. It is the culture war the Liberal Party wants to impose on Canadians, to seek to divide rather than to unite. The priority of the Prime Minister, the priority of the government as we enter the G8 summit and the G20 summit, is to promote maternal health and the health of newborns. That is an admirable goal. It is one all Canadians can get behind.