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House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Documents Regarding Mission in AfghanistanRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief but I did not want to let this opportunity pass. I apologize to all my colleagues in the other parties for not being able to give notice of this ministerial statement.

I would like to inform you, Mr. Speaker, and all members of Parliament that I am very pleased to announce that there has been an agreement reached after very extensive negotiations over the last number of weeks. We had some 16 meetings with a lot of give and take and good faith on the part of everybody involved in these negotiations.

We have an agreement with three of the parties that were involved in those negotiations that respect not only the Speaker's ruling but also the need to preserve national security. My understanding is that in very short order that agreement will be signed by the Prime Minister and the leaders of the official opposition and the Bloc Québécois. We look forward to moving ahead on this issue of the Afghan documents.

Documents Regarding Mission in AfghanistanRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I can confirm, as the government House leader has indicated, that an agreement has been arrived at involving the government, the official opposition and the Bloc Québécois.

This has been a very serious and difficult subject for Parliament over the course of the last many months, in fact a period of some two or three years. We are hopeful that the agreement that has been arrived at will bring the matter to a successful conclusion.

However, I need to tell the government that, from the point of view of the official opposition, we will continue to be alert and vigilant in the process. The process depends very much upon the honest behaviour of all parties going forward. We will expect to see that kind of behaviour and will call the government to account based upon the information that will now become available to members of Parliament.

We think the agreement maintains the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, which you described so eloquently, Mr. Speaker, in your ruling in April. It recognizes the right of members of Parliament to know, to have the information and to use that information to hold the government to account. The agreement eliminates any unilateral or arbitrary government control over information and, at the same time, it protects national security. We intend to operate under the terms of this agreement in good faith in pursuit of the public interest, and we expect all other parties to do the same.

I would add one caveat. Now that we have proceeded this far and can take some satisfaction in achieving this agreement, it will be important to get the process going forthwith. Parliament and Canadians have waited a long time for this step to be taken and the time for waiting has passed. We now must see the agreement brought to life immediately following the party leaders signing the documents in the next number of hours.

Documents Regarding Mission in AfghanistanRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, after a month of negotiations and concessions by both sides, which is the very essence of any negotiation, as the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has announced and as you suggested, we have come to an agreement with the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, which we believe will enable Parliamentarians to access documents, while still protecting, as you said in your ruling the confidentiality of sensitive information and protecting our national security.

The Bloc thinks that this agreement is consistent with your ruling of April 27, 2010, and of the agreement in principle reached by the four parties on May 14, 2010. We must remember that this is a very serious issue, which is to enable Parliament to hold the government accountable on allegations of torture against Afghan detainees. It is a serious problem that required and will require the good faith of all those involved. We think that the agreement we came to this morning shows the good faith of the Liberals and the Conservatives.

We also believe that as a result of this agreement we will have access to the information we need to shed light on these allegations of torture. The Bloc firmly believes that this process will work well. The agreement contains a series of measures, for example, that the special committee of members of Parliament will be able to report back to the House as necessary. I am convinced that this process will enable Parliament to achieve its goal of getting to the bottom of the allegations of torture in Afghanistan. This is good news for democracy.

Documents Regarding Mission in AfghanistanRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the NDP.

Having heard the other parties, I would like to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that we in the NDP participated in this process and attended every meeting. We acted in good faith and put forward proposals on part of the negotiations.

However, Mr. Speaker, today our leader and our caucus came to the understanding that we could not sign this agreement that we heard about this morning because we believe there are significant flaws and problems, to an extent that we cannot sign on to this agreement.

I will say that at all times the NDP advocated a process that would protect legitimate national security concerns and the safety of our troops but we believe the process and the agreement that has been arrived at by the other three parties undermines the right of Parliament to hold the government accountable. That was central to your historic ruling, Mr. Speaker.

The committee that was set up was not even a parliamentary committee that will report back to Parliament. It is clear that there will not be full access to documents. The very fundamental issue of getting at the truth of what happened to the detainees in terms of torture and the Canadian government's involvement in that, we are very concerned that this agreement and this process that has been agreed to will not arrive at that truth. We therefore made a decision today that we could not participate in that agreement.

We will continue to do our work in this House to hold the government to account and to ensure the truth does come out.

Mr. Speaker, I know you are aware that in a short while the member for St. John's East will be rising in the House to present a motion. This will be happening in short order.

Marihuana Medical Access RegulationsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-539, An Act respecting the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Brossard—La Prairie for seconding my bill.

I am honoured to stand in the House today and introduce my private member's bill, an act respecting the marijuana medical access regulations. The bill would help ensure that marijuana, which is being produced for medical purposes, is being used only for medical purposes. It would require a background check for all individuals applying to grow medicinal marijuana for their own use, ensure the proposed production site is reasonably accessible by the individual holding the production licence, require an inspection of the production site before the licence can be renewed and require producers to notify other occupants when the production site is in a location with more than one commercial or residential unit.

This legislation would not limit anyone's ability to access medicinal marijuana under the current Health Canada program. It would simply close some loopholes in the production regulations and help prevent abuses in a very important program.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Holidays ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-540, An Act to amend the Holidays Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (St. John the Baptist Day).

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak today to introduce a private member's bill entitled An Act to amend the Holidays Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (St. John the Baptist Day). This bill aims simply to make St. John the Baptist Day a national Canadian holiday.

As Franco-Ontarians, my family and I have always celebrated this holiday, which is very important to us. Since being elected to Parliament, I have come to realize how important this holiday is for French Canadians across the country, and I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the rich culture of Quebeckers, Franco-Ontarians, Franco-Manitobans, Franco-Albertans or Acadians than making June 24 a day to celebrate St. John the Baptist Day from one end of the country to the other.

I am pleased that the bill is being seconded by my colleague from Timmins—James Bay.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Air Passengers' Bill of RightsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-541, An Act respecting the rights of air passengers.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce Canada's first air passenger bill of rights. The bill relates to laws and regulations already in place in Europe and the United States. This is a newly amended version of Bill C-310 and continues to focus on compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights, unreasonable tarmac delays, delayed flights and many other provisions. It would also require all-inclusive pricing, that being the total cost of a trip, and airline advertising.

The new version incorporates amendments suggested by the other parties during the first bill's year-long journey through the debates and committee rooms of Parliament. It now includes the following; it clarifies the process by which the airlines can appeal to the Canadian Transportation Agency to decide whether delays are caused by decisions made by an airport authority or other agencies; and it reduces compensation from the first bill for tarmac delays from $500 to $100 per hour but only up to the ticket price, and for denied boarding and cancelled flights by 50%, to $250, $400 and $600, depending on the length of the flight, and only up to the price of the ticket.

I introduced my first air passengers' bill of rights to Parliament just months before the Obama administration began changing its regulations and fining airlines for what was considered unfair treatment of passengers involving tarmac delays. The American fines now add up to $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays over three hours, with the money going to the government.

My bill has always been much more moderate in compensation, with the money going to the paying passengers who suffer the inconvenience. The bill is not meant to punish the airline industry but merely to correct bad behaviour. If the airlines follow the rules, they will not have to pay any compensation.

Air Canada and Air Transit are already operating under these kinds of laws for their flights to Europe. Today, Canadian passengers get better treatment when they fly to Europe than when they fly in Canada. Canadians want to know why they should not get first class treatment--

Air Passengers' Bill of RightsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. I remind the hon. member that on introduction of bills members are to give a brief summary of the bill. We are going on a little long sometimes on these.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Christian Orthodox Theological InstituteRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the House express its support for the reopening of the Christian Orthodox Theological Institute of Halki which is located in Halki, Turkey, and recognizes the institute as a significant part of the Christian Orthodox faith and world culture.

That is the motion and I seek everyone's support. At the same time, I want to thank our House leader for the great work he has done to bring this forward.

Christian Orthodox Theological InstituteRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Scarborough Centre have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Christian Orthodox Theological InstituteRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Christian Orthodox Theological InstituteRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Christian Orthodox Theological InstituteRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Christian Orthodox Theological InstituteRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Post-Doctoral FellowshipsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 15th, 2010 / 10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions today. These come mainly from Quebec and Ontario, and relate to the cancelling of the exemption of the post-doctoral fellows which took place in the 2010 budget. I have presented a number of these which represent the frustration of post-doctoral students and many others involved in the research community who fear that without having had discussions with the post-doctoral community that this decision is going to be a disincentive to research in this country.

It does not work well at all with a country that wants to increase its research and innovation, particularly with young researchers. They call upon the government to have some consultation with the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars before imposing such a punitive measure. I am pleased to present these two petitions today.

Former St. Vincent de Paul PenitentiaryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition, signed by 2,813 Laval residents, that calls for the old St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary to be converted to include affordable or social housing and space for community organizations, all in coordination with the Government of Quebec and the City of Laval. This penitentiary is in my riding and has been closed for 21 years. That is the petition I am presenting today.

Arts and CulturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table two petitions today signed by almost 80 folks who live in the area of Brandon, Manitoba, who continue to be concerned about the freedom of expression and the creative process with regard to arts and culture in Canada. They are very concerned that government support for the cultural sector, including film and video production, be objective, transparent and must respect the freedom of expression.

They note that no government official, no cabinet minister, should have the ability to make subjective judgments about artistic content that would limit the freedom of expression and they oppose that kind of censorship. They call on the government to have in place objective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression when delivering any program intended to support film and video production in Canada.

Public Transit SafetyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 45 British Columbians who are extremely concerned with the increase in violent assaults against public transit, school bus, para transit, and intercity bus workers across Canada. The petitioners request the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to amend the Criminal Code to recognize the growing incidence of violence against these same operators affecting their safety and that of the travelling public in Canada in the same fashion that peace officers are recognized in the Criminal Code.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to table petitions from citizens across the Prairies, from places like Indian Head, Fort Qu'Appelle, Regina, Saskatoon and Outlook, Saskatchewan and Sturgeon County, High Prairie, Deadwood, Edmonton, Red Deer and Peace River, Alberta, to name only a few,

The petitioners are calling upon this House to enact a Canadian environmental bill of rights because Canadians recognize that protection of the environment is critical to the long-term health of their communities. They wish broader rights to participate in environmental decision-making and the opportunity to hold the government accountable for enforcing the laws for their protection.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from thousands of Canadians across Canada who point out to the House that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. More Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial causes combined and yet, they point out that Canada continues to spend millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and also blocking international efforts to curb its us.

Therefore, these petitioners call upon the government to ban asbestos, in all of its forms, and institute a just transition program for the asbestos workers and the communities they live in, and end all government subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad.

They also call upon the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam convention.

Caffeinated BeveragesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first petition is signed by dozens of Canadians who are opposed to Health Canada's authorization of caffeine in all soft drinks. Health Canada announced, on March 19, that beverage companies will now be allowed to add up to 75% of the caffeine allowed in the most highly caffeinated colas to all soft drinks.

Soft drinks have been designed and marketed for years toward children and Canadians are already concerned over children drinking coffee and colas, as they acknowledge caffeine is an addictive stimulant. It is difficult enough for parents to control the amount of sugar, artificial sweeteners and other additives that their children consume, including caffeine from colas.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to reverse Health Canada's new rule allowing caffeine in all soft drinks and not to follow the deregulation policies of the United States and other countries at the sacrifice of the health of Canadian children and pregnant women.

Earthquake in ChilePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by dozens of Canadians who call on the Canadian government to match funds personally donated by the citizens of Canada for the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

Eliminating Entitlements for PrisonersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition today on behalf of residents of Abbotsford, Aldergrove, and Chilliwack, British Columbia, residents of the federal ridings of Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon.

The petitioners are concerned about the fact that mass murderer Clifford Olson does have access to old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. They are asking the House of Commons and the Government of Canada to pass my Motion No. 507, which requests that the government prohibit the payment of old age security and guaranteed income supplement payments to individuals serving life sentences for multiple murders and allocate the proceeds to a victims' compensation fund, administered by the provinces.

The residents of these three Fraser Valley ridings are obviously very concerned about the fact that the government has not taken action in this regard. Very clearly, they want to see an increase in victims' compensation. That is something that in this corner of the House, in the NDP caucus, we have been very strong on pushing the government to do the right thing and allocate increased victims' compensation, providing support for those victims of crimes of violence.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 229.