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House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Federal-Provincial RelationsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives came to power, all the provinces had surpluses. Today, eight provinces and territories are running deficits and those deficits are growing. This government's delusional prison plan will cost the provinces billions of dollars. Its broken promise to maintain health transfers is going to cost the provinces billions more.

Does the Conservative government plan to continue this crazy downloading onto the provinces by keeping our most vulnerable seniors on social assistance until the age of 67?

Federal-Provincial RelationsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, once again another question from the party that slashed transfers to the provinces.

We have fixed equalization. There was a real problem when we came to power and we fixed that. We made a commitment to the provinces that we would increase transfers to those provinces so they would not suffer like they suffered in the 1990s under the Liberals. The provinces appreciate that. They are able to deliver the health care services and social services that they are entitled to deliver to their constituents.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians witnessed a government betray its word and table a bill to undo an all-party consensus on refugee reform. Twenty months ago, working together, we created “a reform package that is both faster and fairer than the bill as it was originally tabled”, and a “monumental achievement”. Who said that? The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism said that.

Why is the minister betraying his word? Why is he turning his back on balanced legislation and injecting politics into a process that should be independent and fair?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

We are doing no such thing, Mr. Speaker. The bill adopted in 2010 was a significant improvement over the status quo. It now takes us several years to be able to remove a manifestly bogus asylum claimant from Canada, which is unacceptable. That is one of the reasons we are now getting thousands and thousands of fake claims coming from democratic rights respecting countries like those in the European Union.

Does the member defend the fact that we get more asylum claims from the European Union than from Africa or Asia, and that over 90% of those claimants go on to withdraw and abandon their own claims?

Canadians expect us to act, to defend the fairness and integrity of our immigration system, and that is what we are going to do.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, we came up with a number of ideas for improving the refugee system. They were in the all-party bill drafted two years ago. It was an historic compromise that the government has destroyed today. Instead, refugees from a number of countries will be caught in an unfair and discriminatory system based on the whims of the minister.

Will the minister withdraw this bill that betrays his word, and will he agree to work with the opposition?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, if the opposition has some common-sense ideas for amending Bill C-31, I am open to hearing them. With the reform we are proposing, the system will continue to be the fairest in the world. Canada is going to provide protection for real refugees within two months, instead of two years under the current system. At the same time, we are going to address the wave of fake claims for asylum from democratic countries. If the opposition has any ideas for achieving that goal, we are open to hearing them, but we have to enhance the integrity of Canada's immigration system.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

February 16th, 2012 / 2:45 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, they have no time for refugees but they have all the time in the world for oil executives.

Conservatives have attacked people who are concerned about jobs and the planet as environmental radicals and now they have placed environmentalists and aboriginals on a terrorist watch list. To Conservatives, a maple syrup boycott and a cardboard cut-out of Ontario's environment minister are now on the same threat level as al-Qaeda.

When will this minister stop using counter-terrorism as an excuse to silence Canadians?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, our country has an excellent environmental regulatory system in which the public can participate in a law-abiding way. However, any groups or individuals who resort to criminality or violence will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

My colleague opposite knows that we have a very robust environmental regulatory system here and policies whereby we invest in climate change or adaptation research. Yet she goes and lobbies against our jobs in the U.S.

That begs the question: Does she believe in job creation or is she a job-creation denier?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is not a robust environmental regulation for long.

Enbridge wanted approval before it told Canadians where it would build its pipeline. However, the government wants to go even further and shut Canadians out of the process altogether. Instead of actually submitting a route, companies will soon only have to submit a name for their pipeline and the Conservatives will approve it. Maybe it will be the protecting bitumen from Internet predators pipeline. I am sure the Conservatives will enjoy rubber-stamping that one.

Why are the Conservatives changing the review process? Why are they weakening protection for our communities?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the priority of our government remains jobs and economic growth in this country. The northern gateway pipeline is currently going through a careful and comprehensive review process. The member opposite knows that.

We want projects that are safe. We want thousands of new jobs in this country. We want to open up new export markets. We do not want unnecessary delays. Perhaps the NDP should be better known as the no development party.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that our immigration system, as the most fair and generous in the world, is open to abuse. Whether it is by bogus refugee claimants coming to receive taxpayer-funded benefits, human smugglers or foreign criminals, Canadians, including my constituents of Richmond Hill, have no tolerance for those who abuse our generosity and take unfair advantage of our country.

Can the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism please inform this House how the act, the protecting Canada's immigration system act, would help stop the abuse of our immigration system?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I thank that member for the question and the good work done by him on the immigration committee.

The reforms we propose today, in addition to the bill of 2010, would allow bona fide victims of persecution who are now forced to wait two years for protection to get a hearing before the IRB and get certainty of protection in two months' time. So someone who comes off a plane from Iran with the signs of torture on his back would get certainty of protection in Canada; but instead of taking several years to deport fake asylum claimants, they would be gone in a few weeks.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, workers who are losing their jobs should only have to wait a maximum of 28 days for their employment insurance claim to be processed, but because of the cuts this government made, families have to wait five times longer. The number of workers who are waiting for their employment insurance benefits has doubled because the minister cut jobs in the processing centres.

What does the minister have to say to families who cannot pay their bills because of these irresponsible cuts?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we sympathize with those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. That is why we are trying to get their benefits to them as quickly as possible. After we saw an unexpected rise in EI claims in January, we added several hundred people to the EI process to speed up the processing of claims.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that Canadian families and their children continue to struggle under this minister's watch.

New Democrats are touring the country to hear how waiting months for employment insurance is hurting families, families who cannot make their rent because their EI cheques are delayed, families who are wondering when help will come.

Why can this minister not address the real problem? Why can she not see how her cuts are hurting the families who desperately need their employment insurance?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, families do get their EI cheques as quickly as possible. That is why, after we saw in December and January an unexpected rise in EI claims, we added several hundred people to the EI process, and it is working.

The backlog is being whittled down. People are getting their cheques faster. We will continue to improve our performance for Canadians who need it.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that Canadian Heritage wants to use testimony received by the Standing Committee on Official Languages as a formal consultation mechanism leading up to the next Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality. That violates the Official Languages Act and constitutes fraudulent use of testimony that was given in good faith. The department must hold its own consultation in due form.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages commit to holding a formal consultation about the next roadmap, as required by law?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we certainly did hold consultations before tabling the roadmap a few years ago, and our commitment remains the same. We will hold further consultations. I will be in New Brunswick near my opposition colleague's riding to hold consultations and participate in round tables. We held consultations across the country. We will continue to do so with our provincial counterparts next summer as we fulfill our commitment to both protect and celebrate Canada's two official languages.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, last November, the government made a hasty announcement that it would create a committee to study the issue of the use of French in Quebec companies governed by federal law. It is now February 16, and there is still no sign of a committee—no chair, no budget, no mandate. In short, the government is not interested in francophone issues.

The NDP introduced a balanced bill that meets workers' expectations. Will the Conservatives stop dragging their feet and support our bill?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, French is an integral part of our history, our identity, our daily lives, and it is one of the founding languages of Canada. Our government is committed to promoting and protecting the French language in Canada.

We will launch a consultative committee and assess whether a problem exists with the language of work in federally regulated private sector businesses, and the committee will seek to use stakeholders to examine whether employees of federally regulated private sector businesses in Quebec are fully able to work in French.

Our government is proud of Canadian bilingualism and our cultural diversity, and we remain fully committed to promoting the French language in Canada and abroad.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada deserves a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development who will deliver results for aboriginal people. Instead, we have a minister who delivers aspirations.

Shamefully, the minister has called the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples an “aspirational” document. Last week, when the national panel on first nations education released its report, the minister called the recommendations “aspirational”.

It is time the minister replaced his aspirations with results. Will he admit today that the funding for aboriginal children on reserve is woefully inadequate and--

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The parliamentary secretary to the minister of aboriginal affairs.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our government will keep building on its progress in improving first nations education. We are engaged with first nations. Our government has signed five education partnership agreements with provinces and first nations. The minister was proud to sign the first nations education agreement with B.C. first nations and the province three weeks ago.

We will review the national panel's recommendations and continue to work for quality outcomes for first nation children and education.

Government CommunicationsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government cannot admit the truth that Conservatives are against free speech for scientists.

Yesterday Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' scientific integrity program, spoke about the muzzling of Canadian scientists calling it a scary thing, something that is happening quite frequently.

This completely contradicts what the minister told us on Monday. Maybe he cannot speak freely as well without permission from his political masters.

Government CommunicationsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I can say that we are very proud to promote the important work of our scientists and researchers, more work, by the way, since this government has funded science and technology to historic levels, which the opposition voted against.

I would point out that at that very conference the member mentioned, our scientists are presenting their work. They publish their work and lecture about their work at universities around the world, and we are thrilled to tell Canadians about the great work being done by our scientists.