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House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was consultants.

Topics

Food SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister failed in his promise of more inspectors and a more secure food inspection system.

Today, he admits he has no idea of what resources he has dedicated to food safety. Right now, meat headed to the U.S. is more vigorously inspected than meat sold here in Canada.

Let me repeat. We have just gone through a listeriosis crisis. Twenty-two Canadians have died. What will it take for the minister to act?

Food SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, that is simply a fact-free rant.

What I just told the member opposite is that we have increased the funding to CFIA by 13% this year alone. We have hired a net new inspector list of 538 people since we formed government. We have slowly been rebuilding CFIA after that dark period of 13 years under her government.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the spring, the Minister of the Environment called Dr. Schindler's data on pollution of the Athabasca River by the oil sands industry mere allegations and muzzled his own scientists on this matter. Ignoring science has become the hallmark of this Conservative government, which prefers to remain in the dark rather than face reality.

How does denigrating the research of a respected Canadian scientist with an international reputation help to improve the image of the oil sands in our largest export market for oil, the United States?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

September 23rd, 2010 / 2:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my hon. colleague to his responsibilities, which I understand is as critic for water.

Our objective as a country must be to be the most environmentally sustainable producer of all kinds of energy, and that includes the oil sands. I am well aware of Dr. Schindler's research. I have read his peer reviewed publications. In fact, I travelled via Edmonton last week and met with Dr. Schindler face to face.

As my hon. friend knows, the questions that he has raised relate to the state of the water monitoring regime that is in place in Alberta. Since that time, I have met with the Premier of Alberta and the minister of environment and have expressed my concerns to them. It is for this reason that we are moving ahead with a panel of Canada's most distinguished scientists to deal with this issue.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, why did it take photographs of deformed fish to get the minister to move on this only two weeks ago? Eighteen months ago, the minister was aware of Dr. Schindler's testimony before the environment committee that showed the oil sands industry was contaminating the Athabasca River and yet he continued to stonewall.

Will the minister adopt the 15 recommendations in the Liberal report on water and oil sands and will he begin enforcing, among other things, the Fisheries Act in the oil sands region?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, there is a fair bit of indignation from my friend from the Liberal Party when in fact most of the companies that produce oil and bitumen from the oil sands were approved under the environmental regime of the former Liberal government.

However, this government is dealing with the issue. We have struck a panel of advisers. We have also secured a piece of digital fingerprinting equipment that will allow us to trace any substances in the Athabasca River back to their original source. We are dealing with this. We will deal with it with the best scientists in the country and Canada will stand by its reputation to be the most environmentally conscious producer of energy.

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, having been a member of the RCMP for over 18 years, I was disappointed yesterday when the coalition voted to keep the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. Twenty coalition MPs who originally voted to scrap the long gun registry bowed under the pressure from their Ottawa bosses and voted to keep the wasteful registry. I will continue to work to scrap this wasteful and ineffective registry.

Could the Minister of Public Safety update the House on our efforts to scrap this registry?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his lengthy service in the RCMP. I am glad the member had the courage of his convictions to stand in this place and represent his constituents.

The voters will remember those 20 coalition MPs who flip-flopped on this issue. This is the furthest that we have come to dismantling the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry and we will continue to work with that member to in fact scrap the long gun registry.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are first nations, union partners, university and college students all rallying together on Parliament Hill today to celebrate education, but it is getting harder and harder to keep spirits up as fewer and fewer first nations are going on to post-secondary. The punitive 2% funding cap means that bands have to choose which students can go to school and which students are denied.

Will the government listen to the crowds outside and lift that 2% cap?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of the challenges. I joined the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan at the rally today. It is a very impressive group out there.

The government is committed to improving first nations' education and we are working with the first nations and with the provinces. There are some real issues that need to be looked at, including declining access to the fund right when the aboriginal population is growing. We are committed to ensuring students get access to this educational fund.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, although past governments created that cap in the first place, the Conservatives have used it to keep first nations begging for money to allow their children to go to school. Because of the neglect of the government, band councils are scraping together the money for education, finding money for guidance counsellors, putting computers in schools and putting books on shelves in their libraries, all things for which the current government has refused to pay.

Why is the government promoting two-tier education for first nations communities?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the government is engaged in a new approach to providing support for first nations and Inuit post-secondary students to ensure they receive the support they need. The new approach will be effective and accountable and will be coordinated with other federal student support programs. We will be working with aboriginal organizations as we move forward.

We are committed to ensuring students are supported and we intend to correct a program that is ailing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has just made public the number of Afghan detainees transferred by the Canadian army. Although the government claimed for four years that this information could jeopardize the safety of the troops, it has now done an about-face.

Why did it take the government so long to agree to provide the figures that would give an idea of the extent of the transfers, as the opposition had requested for months?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the decision to release this information, dated back to 2001, was made in consultation, of course, with military leaders. Operations on the ground could have been sacrificed and it could have put our soldiers, our civilians there, in jeopardy.

A decision has now been made to withhold the information for a 12-month period before release. The information is now available. It does disclose, in a transparent and open way, how Canadian Forces are continuing their operations there. We will continue to do so in a transparent and open way with all Canadians so that they can see how we are succeeding.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, to justify its decision to release the information requested by the opposition, the government is claiming that the level of risk has changed. However, on the ground, it is quite the opposite. Security is deteriorating and insurgent violence is escalating.

Will the government acknowledge that there was no justification for hiding this information from the public for four years?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not be worried about operational security but I am. Those are concerns, I think, shared by military leaders, and certainly other countries look at this situation similarly.

We have conducted a review and have determined that the risks to operational security are now minimal as long as the information is provided on an annual basis and it has been held by the Canadian Forces for a minimum of 12 months. This will eliminate the value of any information that Taliban insurgents could use to the detriment of our forces. I hope the hon. member will keep that in his head.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the third straight day we are forced to ask the Minister of Veterans Affairs whether veterans' benefits will be retroactive to 2006. For two days he has not answered the question. Veterans could be forgiven for concluding that the minister has no intention whatsoever of supporting veterans already in the system.

On behalf of courageous veterans, could the minister give this House a straight answer?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, as members know, four days ago we announced that more than $2 billion would be provided to support our veterans, especially recent veterans. We have put in place various additional assistance programs, including a stipend of $1,000.

How will it work? First, a bill will soon be introduced. I hope that the Liberal Party and the other opposition parties will quickly lend their support in order to provide our veterans with this assistance. Veterans of previous conflicts who are eligible for this program as well as recent veterans will receive these additional amounts.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, veterans are waiting and watching. They deserve better.

Since the minister will not answer the question, is he really telling us that a veteran injured in Afghanistan a few months ago is less worthy of Canada's help?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, we have just made two changes. This charter was introduced when the Liberal Party was in power. We are the ones fixing the problems they created, and we are injecting $2 billion to do that.

As for the veterans, a soldier who returns from Afghanistan and is in rehabilitation will be given 75% of his salary, with a minimum benefit of $40,000. In addition, there will be a lifetime stipend of $1,000 per month for veterans who are seriously wounded and cannot return to work.

There you have it. We care about our veterans and we are taking action to help them. I will be making more announcements in the days to come.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, cow-calf producers have been sorely neglected for many years. This year, flooding and drought are decimating producers but the government is too busy on other issues to listen to rural farmers.

Agristability is not working out. Crop insurance does not apply. There is nothing to invest in agri-invest and agrirecovery is a total bust.

While cattle producers are facing a huge loss and grain producers are not getting adequate compensation, the Conservatives are offering no hope at all.

When will the government wake up and focus on fixing these crucial farm support programs?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, with no thanks to the NDP, this government delivered the largest aid package to western Canadian farmers in the history of this country. This builds upon an estimated $1.4 billion in crop insurance, which is the first line of defence. Of course, agristability this year will pick up a lot of the slack in crops that we will not see harvested due to weather that is out there.

However, I do have some great quotes from some of the livestock folks out there. Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattle Association, says, “This quick response is impressive”. He agrees with us. I wish the member from the NDP would help us in this endeavour.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is not the message I am getting from farmers across Canada. Things are not getting better.

In Ontario, there are calls to include risk management in our assistance programs. In the west, farmers are saying that the time has come to do a comprehensive study of rail rates to ensure the transparency of the two major rail companies.

And in British Columbia, apple producers are threatened by the dumping of American apples in Canada.

When will the minister finally listen to what rural Canada is saying?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, if that member and his cronies across had listened to rural Canada last night, they would have all voted to end the obnoxious long gun registry.

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, like everyone else, our government knows that criminals do not register their long guns. We also know that the long gun registry is ineffective, that 98% of crimes are committed with unregistered firearms, and that it was unable to prevent the Dawson College tragedy. We also know that the Liberals and the proposals from the NDP are unconstitutional and infringe upon the rights of the provinces, including Quebec.

I will continue working to give our police forces an effective and reliable tool. Could the Minister of Natural Resources talk to us about measures to remove hunting rifles from the firearms registry?