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House of Commons Hansard #37 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, new information released today by Statistics Canada shows that homicides in Canada are at a 45-year low. The main factor is fewer deaths caused by rifles. Yet, on this very day, the Conservative government wants not only to turn its back on police, but also to burn all the data that helps keep the homicide rate in Canada low.

Why is the government putting a divisive ideology ahead of our communities' safety?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the registry has done nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. In order to protect the privacy of law-abiding long gun owners, records held by the Canadian firearms program on currently registered long guns will be destroyed.

Let us be clear. The only reason the NDP wishes to retain these records is to reinstate the long gun registry whenever it is in the position to do so. What we will do is abolish the long gun registry once and for all.

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer is no excuse to destroy life-saving data that would help police keep our streets safe. The Conservative government's plan is tantamount to a $2 billion bonfire. It wants to destroy the data that police use 17,000 times a day and which the police have asked the government to keep. The police deserve a fighting chance against gun crime in Canada. If provinces also want to maintain this information for their own use, they should have the right to do so.

Why is the government handcuffing law enforcement in Canada by burning all the records?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as one woman from the Georgian Bay Women's Outdoors Workshops stated:

As a woman, the long gun registry does not make me feel any safer or more secure. It is wasteful, ineffective and reduces funding to do real things. The 2 billion dollars that have already been spent would have been better used on programs like healthcare, childcare, women's issues and allocating moneys to policing agencies to fight criminal and real crime.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has been an important officer of Parliament for 20 years and has always been bilingual. Even the new position description published in the Canada Gazette stated that proficiency in both official languages is essential.

How does the government explain that its nominee is not bilingual?

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the government voluntarily sought bilingual candidates for this position. In the end, this candidate was chosen on the basis of merit. Mr. Ferguson has made a commitment to become a fluent speaker of both official languages and has begun taking courses. We commend him for that.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has put the House in a difficult position. When the Prime Minister asked the leaders of the opposition parties for their views on this particular candidate, the government did not disclose the fact that he was unilingual. It did not tell us that fact. Now we are facing a situation where we find that this is the case.

We had assumed that because it was in the Canada Gazette, the government was going to meet the criteria which it itself had set out in the Canada Gazette when it was advertising for this position.

For the last 20 years, the Auditor General of Canada has been bilingual. Every single officer of this Parliament has a working capacity in both languages. Surely the government--

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member is out of time.

The hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Again, Mr. Speaker, the government voluntarily sought candidates who were bilingual. This candidate, after an exhaustive process with many candidates, was identified as the most meritorious candidate--

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

That's unbelievable.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. Members will come to order.

The hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, the government voluntarily sought candidates who were bilingual. There was an exhaustive selection process. The most meritorious candidate in the process was selected. It is clear from the leader of the third party's remarks that he was found to be a quality meritorious candidate. Mr. Ferguson has undertaken to become proficient in both of our official languages and he has already begun taking courses to do so.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is incorrect. I told the Prime Minister in my correspondence with him that I had no basis upon which to judge the qualifications of the individual in question and that it was going to be up to the House to make that decision. Members can look at the official correspondence if they want.

We were never told that the candidate was unilingual. That remains a fact.

Is it the position of the government that there is no competent, qualified and fully meritorious candidate in this entire country who is bilingual? Is that the government's position? It is a ludicrous--

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Again, Mr. Speaker, there was an exhaustive selection process. Many candidates were considered. Mr. Ferguson was identified as the best qualified candidate for the position. He was selected on that basis. Of course, the candidates are referred to the House for this position.

I would underscore that Mr. Ferguson has committed to become proficient in both of our official languages and has already begun the process to do so.

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, information obtained by the NDP reveals just how out of touch the Conservative government is with families in need. Almost 25% of people who call Service Canada about their EI hang up because they cannot reach anyone. Half of all seniors who call for help do not even get an automated message. Now, Conservatives want to take an axe to Service Canada.

As the economy slows down, why is the government cutting services that struggling families rely on?

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in fact, we are doing just the opposite. While our priority is to ensure we create jobs and growth in the economy, for those who do need to access EI, we are modernizing the service. We are automating the service so Canadians can get better service, so they can get it faster, and so it is more affordable. We are working on that and we are making good progress so we can help Canadians.

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians who have lost their jobs and who so desperately need help are losing hope. Almost 25% of people who call Service Canada about their EI hang up because they cannot reach anyone to get answers to their questions. That is unacceptable. Imagine the problems that there will be when EI processing centres close.

Families who have lost their jobs deserve better. Why is the Conservative government abandoning families when they need help?

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we want to help those who need access to EI. We are modernizing and automating the system so that Canadians can get better service, so they can get it faster and so it is more affordable.

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, seniors who built this country are being left out in the cold by the government. Half of all CPP-related calls to Service Canada are completely ignored. There is no one to help, not even an automated message. Seniors are looking to their government for the help they deserve, but all they find is a dead phone line.

Why are Conservatives proposing more cuts after they have already failed to provide even basic services to seniors?

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has her facts wrong. We are consolidating and improving the service for seniors and indeed for all Canadians. We are working right now, and have been working for some time, with some very old, outdated systems, very cumbersome paper systems.

That is why we are automating systems, to make the service faster, more effective and more efficient, so we can indeed help seniors and all Canadians get access to the services and benefits to which they are entitled.

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the facts are simply not in line with the government's answer. The Conservatives are going to cut services that are already broken. They refuse to lift seniors out of poverty, and now Service Canada will not even answer the phone. Our seniors deserve better from their government. Canadians are just learning about those service reduction problems, but the Conservatives have known about it all along.

Will the government cancel the cuts to Service Canada, or just keep ignoring our seniors' calls for help? The phones are ringing.

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as I explained, we are consolidating the processing of employment insurance. That will have absolutely no impact on services to seniors such, as CPP and old age security. Why are we doing this? Because we are dealing with an antiquated paper system that needs to be replaced and automated so we can provide services faster, more accurately and more affordably.

As for Service Canada, we are keeping all of our front-line personnel in place, so Canadians can get access to the services they need.

Service CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, if this is the government's response, perhaps the government does not understand what people are going through.

In September, nearly one in four Canadians was unable to reach anyone at Service Canada about their EI. Half of all seniors calling about CPP and old age security had to hang up because they could not reach anyone. Meanwhile, the government continues to make cuts at Service Canada.

Do the Conservatives consider these cuts to services acceptable when more and more people are unable to get through and have to hang up?