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House of Commons Hansard #194 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in January the Prime Minister promised to work with first nations and to consult with them before introducing any policy changes. He broke that promise with unilateral changes to the Indian Act in Bill C-45.

On December 10, grassroots organizers of Idle No More will be gathering outside the constituency office of the Prime Minister, demanding more accountability from the government.

During these education funding negotiations, will the minister commit to a clear, open and honest process?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, since 2010, the minister has visited more than 50 first nation communities and has had hundreds of productive meetings with chiefs, councils and aboriginal community members across Canada. In fact, we conduct over 5,000 consultations with first nations every year. Our government respects its duty to consult and, where appropriate, to accommodate first nations.

We will continue to work with first nations to create the conditions for stronger first nation communities.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our reserve members play an integral part in the missions that Canada asks the Canadian armed forces to take part in. As a former reserve commanding officer, I can tell the House that reservists must be treated fairly and equitably, and be provided the best care and support when they are injured serving Canada.

The ombudsman had recommended that the accidental dismemberment insurance plan be amended to ensure equity between regular and reserve force members. The minister committed to moving quickly on this issue.

Can he provide the House with an update on this very important matter?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Etobicoke Centre for his service both as a soldier and parliamentarian.

Our government continues to improve programs designed to support our ill and injured military personnel and their families. As I indicated to the House, our government committed to ending the inequities between regular and reserve force members in cases of accidental dismemberment. This has now been done. We will be improving the accidental dismemberment program so that reservists who accidentally lose a limb will receive the same compensation as a regular force member.

This measure furthers progress toward fair and equitable treatment of reservists, who play such an important role in the defence of our country. It shows the tangible progress made on the ombudsman's report.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that the Minister of National Defence can actually get out of his seat.

The KPMG report will say that the costs of the F-35 are far closer to $40 billion than $15 billion, which is what the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence spun during the election. The Conservative government staunchly maintained that the F-35 was the only fifth generation plane available. For five years, the Liberal Party has been asking for an open, fair and transparent competition.

The Minister of National Defence has had multiple occasions today to stand up and do the honourable thing and resign. Instead, we got PS gibberish.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and put this minister out of his misery and fire him?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we are determined to follow through with our seven-point plan and with our thorough and transparent process to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fleet. The government will update the public before the House recesses.

EmploymentOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, this month, another 60 temporary foreign workers will arrive in Northern B.C. despite an ongoing court challenge to the visas.

It has been three years since the Auditor General identified serious problems with the temporary foreign worker program. Yet, the Conservatives are still mismanaging this file and Canadian jobs are still being given away.

The minister claims that the program is finally under review. Will she stop the issuing of the visas and tell Canadians who is involved in this so-called review?

EmploymentOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, issuing visas is not within the purview of the Human Resources and Skills Development Department. That happens over at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. That is just for clarity for the hon. member.

We are concerned that the system is not doing what we want it to do, namely to make sure that Canadians get first crack at every job in Canada. That is our goal and that is why we are working with the EI system and the TFW system to make sure that Canadians are aware of jobs that are available in their skill area within their geography. We want to help Canadians.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that a sound education leads to a good job, but first nation students are not graduating at the same rate as other Canadian students. Clearly, the current approach to first nation education is not working.

Can the hard-working Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development please update the House on what the government is doing and how it is working with first nations to ensure that students on reserve have access to quality education?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, that is a tough but fair question.

We are equipping first nation students with the tools they need to graduate from high school. Since 2006, we have built over 30 new schools, renovated over 200 more, provided communities with better computers and school supplies, and introduced new education programs to improve students' reading, writing and math skills.

We recognize the importance of a grade 12 education and are proud to work with first nation students to help them reach that goal.

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the transfer of research jobs from the Language Technologies Research Centre at the Université du Québec en Outaouais to Ottawa, the Outaouais region is losing vital scientific expertise. The region's business community is condemning the departure of these researchers. Taking this unique francophone expertise away from a region that really needs it could lead to lost investment opportunities.

Why are the Conservatives getting rid of scientific expertise that is so vital for the Outaouais?

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

Noon

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I have to tell the member opposite that there are still over 500 opportunities in Quebec for science to take place. However, I want to make a statement to our scientists, students and universities. On Wednesday of this week, the NDP voted against half a billion dollars for laboratory equipment, microscopes and so on. It voted against more money for our granting councils, some $37 million in ongoing funding every single year. The NDP voted against that. It also voted against $100 million for business research. On this side of the House, we stand up—

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers know that the gun registry saves lives. Community organizations and police forces want to keep it.

Yesterday, the Quebec government formally reiterated its commitment to introducing a bill to create a Quebec registry. All it needs is the data that the federal government is obstinately refusing to hand over.

Out of stubbornness, the Conservatives would rather wage an ideological and costly legal crusade than co-operate with a government that understands the importance of gun control.

What will convince the minister to put an end to this legal battle and simply hand over the data to the Government of Quebec?

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

Noon

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, when evaluating public policy, we must evaluate the outcomes, not the intentions.

On this side of the House, we know that the gun registry did not save lives in Canada. That is why we want to keep one of our election promises and abolish it. That is what we are going to do.

As for the Government of Quebec, it is free to create its own registry if it wants to. As far as we are concerned, this is not a way to save lives.

Regional DevelopmentOral Questions

Noon

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the budget slashes critical services in northwestern Ontario and throughout rural Canada. Service Canada's Thunder Bay EI staff were laid off, the citizenship and immigration office closed, the local Canada Revenue Agency service closed, Veterans Affairs is closing, the Coast Guard communication station is closing and grain inspections have been slashed.

When will Conservatives start helping northern Ontarians instead of making them fly to Toronto for services?

Regional DevelopmentOral Questions

Noon

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about who is helping whom in northern Ontario. The member has voted against restoring access for U.S. market softwood, and investments in forest product information—our great pulp—and the forestry long-term competitive initiative for workers, and against the green pulp and paper transformation program for workers in the environment.

One would think that before the member branched off into this line of questioning he would have understood the roots of his and his former party's position, the NDP. It appears that the only thing they know about northern Ontario and its great forest sector is that money grows on trees. Thank goodness that northern Ontarians leave northern Ontario issues with this government.

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member for Don Valley East, in a Standing Order 31, talked in glowing terms about CETA. However, Conservative members on the international trade committee have denied our request—

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. This is not a point of order.

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, treaties entitled: “Specific Annexes of the Protocol of Amendment to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, done at Brussels on 26 June 1999”; “Agreement on Social Security between Canada and the Republic of Bulgaria, done at Ottawa on 5 October 2012”; and “Administrative Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria for the Implementation of the Agreement on Social Security between Canada and the Republic of Bulgaria, done at Ottawa on 5 October 2012”.

An explanatory memorandum is included with the treaties.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 7th, 2012 / 12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 27 petitions.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development concerning the supplementary estimates (B), 2012-2013.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities concerning the supplementary estimates (B), 2012-13.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food concerning the supplementary estimates (B), 2012-13.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I move that the seventh report of the Standing on Foreign Affairs and International Development, presented on Wednesday, November 28, be concurred in.

Recently our committee passed a report on Syria. In the House today I brought up the issue of Syria. We have to be seized with this issue because it is an important one. The report we passed was not a long report. In effect, it was a motion asking the government to do three things. We asked the government to provide more aid to help the refugees, who are now spilling over the borders of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and so on. We estimate that this will continue to be a chaotic situation for those countries. We want to see more aid going to those countries, particularly Turkey. If members have been following the issue, they are probably aware that Turkey has made a proposal.

Before I continue, I should mention, Mr. Speaker, that I will sharing my time with my colleague, who seconded the motion, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

They key is that we need to follow the three committee recommendations. First, we need to provide more aid and humanitarian support to the refugees. Second, we need to ensure that we also support Mr. Brahimi's mission. Mr. Brahimi is a special envoy of the United Nations who has been in Damascus trying to find a political solution to this ongoing crisis and war. The third recommendation is that we fast-track those Canadian Syrians who have family members in refugee camps right now.

I listened carefully to the minister's response to my question in question period today. He is not dealing with the issue. The report and the motion were unanimously supported by the foreign affairs committee in which we asked to fast-track the applications from refugees. We are not talking about the backlog or the previous applications, of which the minister said that there were something like 200. We are dealing with the present situation, which is the thousands of refugees who have left Syria to find a safe haven. The committee members said that the Canadian government should be fast-tracking their applications.

We have to put the context of this issue on the record. The situation in Syria is getting worse. Many more people are spilling over the borders. We need to see more support from the government because these people are now facing harsh winter conditions, which is threatening their lives. There have been warning signs about the potential use of chemical weapons by the regime and this will cause more refugees to leave. There is also the danger of sectarian violence. That is why we need to ensure we support Mr. Brahimi's role as a special envoy, because we need someone on the ground who is aware of what is going on in Syria.

When the committee did its report that led to the motion, we looked at what was happening around Syria. We heard from representatives from neighbouring countries like Turkey and Lebanon. Most important, we heard from Syrian Canadians who had been in touch with people on the ground in Syria as well as those who were in camps. It was clear from their testimony that we could do more. We lauded the government for its initial provision of humanitarian support earlier in the year, but after hearing the reports from representatives from Turkey, Lebanon and the Syrian Canadian community, it was absolutely crystal clear that we needed to do more.

For instance, this is the situation on refugees as we heard from the charge d'affaires from Turkey. According to the UNCR, there will be about 261,114 recognized refugees. The numbers within the refugee camps are fluid. Turkey has 96,000, Jordan has 58,000, Lebanon has 65,000 and Iraq has 40,000. This information was received a couple of weeks ago, so it has now changed, but there were over 50,000 Syrians waiting at the borders who were wanting to be admitted into other countries, but they could not leave because they were undocumented. This is why we need to ensure we give more aid and support for the missions in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, et cetera.

None of us want to see these conditions continue. We want to ensure we are providing what we can, and that is why the members of the committee believe we should formulate a resolution to the House to ensure that the government will hear this message loud and clear. We have an urgent need to increase our humanitarian support.

To put this in a personal context, one of our witnesses, Faisal Alazem from the Syrian community in Montreal, provided the following testimony. He said:

Domestically, many members of the Syrian Canadian community are worried about the fate of their families in Syria or those exiled out of Syria, and they therefore request that in keeping with Canada's long-standing tradition of concern for the displaced and persecuted, our Canadian government facilitate bringing their family members to join them in Canada. Many members of the Syrian Canadian community are concerned that no priority processing or family reunification program is in place to assist their families affected by the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Such measures were taken in 2007 for Iraq;...in 2010 for Haiti...The Syrian Canadian community is also hoping that Canada will admit a limited number of political refugees who face grave danger in Syria and in the surrounding countries, especially those with family members in Canada.

A Concordia University student, Kinda Masri, told the media recently, “she can barely reach her family in the coastal Syrian town of Latakia by phone. She said that she wanted to bring her family to Montreal, but her efforts so far had been in vain. She said, “I read the name of my friend who had been captured by security forces, and after 12 days he was delivered to his family as a” corpse.

Surely, everyone in the House can feel the anguish that our Syrian Canadian citizens are feeling. We had co-operation at the committee to pass this motion, and I hope we do. We heard other stories that were gathered by members' testimony and brought to committee.

A Canadian citizen wanted to bring here parents to Canada. The following information was provided:

Recently the regime forces invaded my family's neighbourhood and forced them to get out of the house without taking any of their belongings. My family couldn't stay in the city...because it was no longer safe as the fighting between regime forces and rebels spread out allover the city neighbourhood. And now, they are still hardly finding any shelter to rent...

These people are caught in a trap between those rebel forces and government forces.

Another citizen who wants to bring siblings to Canada said that family members “live in suburbs of Damascus which is bombed and invaded by the Syrian army” so her brother and sister with their children have to keep moving from one building to another without any security or safety at all. They simply want to be able to sponsor them and bring them to safety here.

Another witness says, “I want to bring my brother and...(wife with two little children) because they are in danger in Syria”. They are living in Homs city and their house was attacked by the regime. They are displaced from their home and have been displaced for more than eight months now and they are moving from village to village and are in big danger.

Another witness spoke of her husband of four years. She said:

My husband is Syrian. He went [there] 1week before the situation changed in Syria and he's been there ever since. I would love to bring him to Canada to be with me (his wife of 4 years) and our daughters. He is in very difficult hardship. Nobody is there for him and he is going thru all the emotional and mental difficulties as all his family is in Syria.

These are testimonies and there is further testimony that we heard at committee about the horrific violence on the civilian population.

We are talking about the use of rape, civilians being bombed by their government and civilians being caught between both the rebels and government forces. They are innocent civilians. I want to underline that.

Our motion at committee asked that we provide more humanitarian support, that we fast track refugees and that we support the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Mr. Brahimi, in his mission. I hope the House will underline the importance of these three important initiatives. It is something we can do. Once we get to the vote, I hope members will vote unanimously in favour of this motion.