House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-30.

Topics

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the procedure and House affairs committee just finished reviewing the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations from the 2008 election.

He asked that Elections Canada be given the power to demand any documentation from any political party he deemed necessary to verify their compliance with the law. We agreed. The Conservatives did not.

How can Conservatives claim they want specific evidence brought forward when it suits them, then vote against giving the Chief Electoral Officer the very power he needs to demand that specific evidence be brought forward?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, of course Elections Canada has the full investigative ability and authority to look into these or other matters. However, for them to investigate, there has to be evidence.

What we are saying to the NDP is that if they have any evidence, any information any at all, they should provide it to Elections Canada. We are fully co-operating with Elections Canada and have no reason not to. We have done absolutely nothing wrong.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member did not answer the question at all. The issue is about whether the government's words that it wants Elections Canada to investigate everything that is brought forward to it is real or not.

We supported a recommendation brought forward that would have given the Chief Electoral Officer the absolute direct power to demand any documentation from any party to confirm that it was in compliance with the law. Why does the government talk one story about law and order, but then votes a different way when it is in its own interest?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our party is fully open, honest and transparent with Elections Canada. However, what we do know is that is not the case with the NDP. We still do not know who provided the massive union sponsorships during the NDP convention last spring. These were entirely illegal and contrary to the Federal Accountability Act, but the NDP has still not revealed who provided tens of thousands of dollars in illegal donations. If it wants full transparency, it can start providing some.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government has once again chosen patronage over the public interest, and now it is trying to cover its tracks.

Yesterday, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development maintained that her colleague, the Minister of Industry, did not play any role in choosing Thetford Mines as the location for the employment insurance processing centre, to the detriment of the very effective centre in Rimouski.

However, in August, the Minister of Industry was bragging that the opposite was true. Did the Minister of Industry interfere in this decision-making process?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

February 28th, 2012 / 2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member mentioned, yesterday, I said that the member for Mégantic—L'Érable did not play a role. The process for choosing the space was run by Public Works and Government Services Canada, and it was an open, fair and competitive process.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is my problem: in August, the employees of the employment insurance processing centre in Rimouski were told that they would not be affected by the consolidation of services. Three weeks later—boom—they learned that the centre in Rimouski would be closed in favour of the Minister of Industry's riding. When we add to that the fact that the Thetford Mines processing centre is currently located in a building that belongs to the minister's former business partner, who is also a Conservative donor, it seems that we are dealing not only with patronage but also with a conflict of interest.

Can the minister tell us what happened behind closed doors for her to do such an about-face?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I already explained this several times. The Department of Public Works and Government Services followed a process to choose this office—an open, accountable, fair and competitive process. That is standard practice, and if other choices about other space have to be made in the future, that is the process we will follow.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have some statistics for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. We know that there is currently a backlog of 80,000 employment insurance claims in Quebec and that $1.2 million in rent money is being wasted on offices that will soon be empty in Rimouski in order to do favours for the minister's friends. The numbers do not lie, but this government prefers to engage in patronage and give gifts to its friends.

Will the minister renounce the government's Duplessis-style approach and allow the employment insurance processing centre in Rimouski to continue its work?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have the right to receive services, such as employment insurance, in a financially responsible and efficient manner. We are in the process of modernizing and automating the delivery of employment insurance benefits. Of course, it will take time, but a consolidation process is in place to decrease the number of offices from over 100 to 22. We are going to put those offices in the most appropriate locations.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I represent the riding of Mount Royal that was targeted with false and misleading ten percenters before the election, which the Speaker characterized as a breach of privilege. It was targeted again with these flyers along with false and misleading calls during the election. It was targeted with false and misleading calls about my impending resignation after the election, which was characterized as a reprehensible act.

This is not about the absence of evidence, but about the absence of responsibility. Will the government do the honourable and responsible thing and apologize for this pattern of reprehensible acts in my riding and against the integrity of the House?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party of Canada does not place intentionally misleading calls to voters. We simply do not.

If the Liberal Party, which is conducting a smear campaign against members of this party without any evidence, completely baseless, has evidence, it should provide that evidence and information to Elections Canada. If the Liberals do not have any evidence of that, then they should apologize to the members of the House.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I heard from Guelph residents who were either too confused or too frustrated by voter suppression calls and simply turned around and went home. Just think about what that meant to Etobicoke Centre where the Liberal incumbent lost by only 26 votes, or Nipissing—Timiskaming where the margin was only 18 votes.

I turned in my evidence to Elections Canada. Will the Prime Minister stand in the House today and tell us why he stopped his internal investigation and is in fact now playing “catch me if you can?”

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party of Canada denies any involvement in Guelph whatsoever with the matter of which the member spoke. In fact, the Conservative Party of Canada is entirely co-operating with Elections Canada regarding that matter.

However, since he mentioned a couple of ridings, I may provide him with some facts with respect to those ridings. In the riding of Etobicoke Centre, 2,200 more votes were cast in the last election. In the riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming, 800 more votes were cast in the last election. There were more than 900,000 more votes in the last election. More Canadians voted in the last election in 2011 and not less. We should be clear on those facts.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have just learned that a court document has been produced from the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections saying that there were 31 phone calls between the Conservative campaign in Guelph and RackNine and that there were 40 calls between Conservative operatives in Ottawa and RackNine.

Could the government explain that information in conjunction with the statement that was just made by the parliamentary secretary?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the Conservative Party of Canada denies any involvement whatsoever in the matter pertaining to Guelph.

With respect to the question the member has just asked, he knows he is not being transparent in his question. He is trying to mix apples and oranges here. Were there calls between RackNine and members? Sure, there may have been, but the member knows full well that the matter with Guelph is entirely separate. The Conservative Party is co-operating with Elections Canada in that matter and will continue to do so.

JusticeOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer's report is unequivocal on the government's irresponsible prisons agenda and conditional sentencing: skyrocketing costs, ineffective results and fewer offenders will be convicted and will actually serve less time. Too bad the government did not do its homework. That is 15% less convictions, offenders serving one-third less time, all at 16 times the cost.

How much evidence do the Conservatives need before they realize that their costly prisons agenda is not making communities safer in Canada?

JusticeOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I guess if there are less convictions, I suppose that would make the NDP pretty happy, but I completely disagree with the premise of the hon. member's question.

We have been acting on our belief with respect to conditional sentences or house arrests in that they should not be available for such crimes as sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking, and we will stick by that.

JusticeOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want real answers, not empty rhetoric. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has shown that just one of the provisions in Bill C-10 will cost Quebec $40 million.

The Conservatives want to pass the cost on to Quebec. Even worse, the bill is completely ineffective. Quebec will pay more and put fewer criminals behind bars.

Given that Quebec and many other provinces have already said that they will not pay, who is going to foot the bill?

JusticeOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, any money spent on fighting crime would not have the support of the NDP. That being said, we will stand by our contention that house arrest should not be available for people who burn down someone's house and they should not be eligible to go home to theirs after sentencing. We will stand by that as well.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are alarmed that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism wants the sole power to say what countries are safe for refugees. Now we see that the minister wants the power to strip tens of thousands of permanent residents of their very status if he thinks conditions have improved in the countries they escaped. These people fled persecution and hardship and were given a promise from the Canadian government that they would be protected.

Is it the minister's intention to call into question the permanent residency status of tens of thousands of refugees living in Canada and, If so, why?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

No it is not, Mr. Speaker. As is often the case, the member is completely wrong. In fact, there is nothing in Bill C-31 that would give a minister power to revoke permanent residency from anyone. There is already in the Immigration Refugee Protection Act a power for the Immigration and Refugee Board. That would be an independent, quasi-judicial body that can revoke protected status and/or permanent residency from people who obtained it fraudulently.

Yes, we do believe that people who fraudulently obtain asylum or permanent residency should have that reviewed. If they obtained it fraudulently, it can and should be revoked by the IRB, not by the minister.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to fight fraud, but this bill will only concentrate power in the minister's hands. The proposed changes do not make sense. The government is not keeping its promise with respect to a process that everyone had agreed to and that assured asylum seekers that their applications would be dealt with quickly and fairly.

Furthermore, the government is creating a climate of great uncertainty for permanent residents, who will live in fear of a sudden change in their status. Permanent resident status should not be dependent upon the whim of the minister.

Will the minister revise this flawed bill?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the two NDP immigration critics have had a number of months to familiarize themselves with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I will again give them a basic briefing so that they will understand, for example, that since 2002 the Immigration and Refugee Board has been authorized under the act to revoke permanent resident status or protected person status from people who obtained it fraudulently. We believe that it is appropriate that the law give the IRB, an independent body, the power to revoke any status that has been obtained fraudulently.

International TradeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government understands the importance of international trade to Canada's economy. Thanks to our government's leadership, Canadian businesses and workers now have preferred access and a real competitive edge in more markets around the world than in any other time in history.

Among the many initiatives our government is undertaking in high growth dynamic markets around the world is a Canada-European Union trade agreement, which is a key component of our ambitious pro-trade plan for jobs and growth.

Could the minister update the House about the results of his discussions today with his provincial and territorial counterparts?