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House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was investment.

Topics

Search and RescueOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that we must conclude that the search and rescue system failed 14-year-old Burton Winters and his family in Makkovik. Both search and rescue aircraft that could have responded had mechanical problems and the maritime rescue sub-centre in St. John's was not even contacted, even though its expertise and local knowledge may have made a difference and produced a different result.

Will the minister now commit to an independent review of the government's decision to close the maritime rescue sub-centres in both St. John's and Quebec to avoid further tragedy?

Search and RescueOral Questions

3 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the tragedy that occurred last week was very unfortunate but it had nothing to do with the search and rescue centre in St. John's. We will not review our decision. It is as it stands.

TransportOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it has been over five years since the Conservatives promised to give back the surplus land that was expropriated by Transport Canada to build Mirabel airport. This was supposed to be resolved back in December. Several files are still dragging on and the farmers fear that not all 11,000 acres of land will be given back.

Will the government act quickly to give back all 11,000 acres to the farmers of Mirabel?

TransportOral Questions

3 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the airport was built in the early 1980s, and it took until 2006 for a former transport minister in this government to initiate the process to return the land. Thus, it took over 20 years to begin the process.

The process is proceeding normally, and our team in the cabinet, in the department, continues to work hard on this file. Of course, much like the land owners, we would prefer this to move more quickly. We are working hard on this and we will continue to do so.

National ParksOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, millions of people from all around the world visit our national parks in Canada every year, and why would they not? They are national treasures. In fact, in 2008-09 as a result, $3 billion was pumped into the Canadian economy. They are creating sustainable jobs for thousands of Canadian families. The private sector partnerships are also very important in our parks. They run the ski hills and look after hospitality and services.

Would the Minister of the Environment update the House on the latest exciting partnership that we have with the private sector?

National ParksOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Yellowhead for a good question regarding great news for his riding.

I am pleased to inform the House that we are moving ahead with Brewster Travel on Canada's proposed glacier discovery walk on the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park. For over 120 years, Brewster Travel has been a model corporate citizen welcoming more than one and a half million visitors a year.

This is a positive development for all Canadians. The glacier discovery walk is bound to offer yet another awe-inspiring opportunity to experience one of Canada's most--

National ParksOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The member for La Pointe-de-l'Île

Air CanadaOral Questions

February 9th, 2012 / 3:05 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the City of Montreal decided to fight to keep Air Canada's headquarters by unanimously passing a motion calling for direct action. We are talking about 140 jobs that are very important to Montreal's economy, particularly since the city just lost hundreds of jobs with the closure of the Mabe and AstraZeneca plants. The fact that the headquarters is located in Montreal also plays a vital role in ensuring that Air Canada provides services in French.

Will the government and this minister decide to take action in order to help Montreal keep good jobs and protect bilingualism at Air Canada?

Air CanadaOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we once again have to correct the facts. There are 5,000 Air Canada employees in Montreal, not 140. Air Canada is an independent company that operates in accordance with the laws and market conditions. Air Canada is required to have a headquarters under the law, not because of a motion by the municipal council.

We will continue to do our job, but members must have their facts straight. Unfortunately, business decisions are made based on the market. Perhaps if the figures had been correct, it would have been easier to answer the question.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, with no public debate, significant Canadian energy resources have been sold to Chinese state enterprises.

Where were our national security reviews? Where were the foreign investment reviews while significant elements of Canadian sovereignty were traded away?

Now we find there are investor state provisions in the new trade deal involving the right of Chinese state enterprises to sue any level of government, whether municipal, provincial or federal, that passes health and safety regulations the Chinese do not like.

When will all these issues be brought before this House for full and transparent debate?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, if the member had followed what happened in 2009, she would know that the national security aspect was included in the law.

We improved transparency and we are still working to make sure that we will have foreign investment with net benefits for Canada.

Instead of fear-mongering, the member should stand with us and make sure we work for economic growth and jobs.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

That concludes question period for today.

Just before the Thursday question, I understand the chief opposition whip would like to propose a point of order.

Business of SupplyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions between the parties and I believe that if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the Opposition motion in the name of the Member from London--Fanshawe, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Monday, February 13th, 2012 at the end of Government Orders.

Business of SupplyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the opposition whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business of SupplyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of SupplyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of SupplyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of SupplyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives told Canadians in one election after another that they would come to Ottawa and change Canadian politics and be more accountable, more democratic and more transparent. Instead, they have undertaken a sustained attack on centuries of parliamentary tradition, the most serious attack, I honestly think, we have seen in the history of our country and Parliament.

The procedural guillotine, the use of time allocation and closure motions to shut down debate in this chamber, was designed to be used as an extraordinary mechanism in extraordinary circumstances, not as a routine measure. That is what it has become, a routine measure.

There is a word for the abuse of power to change laws and muzzle the opposition: tyranny. Yes, the tyranny of the majority. I do not know if the member is aware that misuse of closure is a radical departure from the traditions of this House and of other British parliamentary systems around the world. I do not know if the Conservatives believe that their majority gives them the right to act without the opposition and without debate in which views differing from their own are expressed.

I finish with this question. Will the government House leader commit to the House to cease using this measure? He has used it repeatedly, a record majority of times now. Will he cease using it and stop using the anti-democratic process he has used over 15 times now?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by re-extending my invitation to the opposition House leader to actually move forward on some of the most non-controversial bills before the House. For example, Bill C-28, the Financial Literacy Leader Act, will help to promote and enhance the financial literacy of Canadians. I know this is an issue that the NDP has often raised in the past, especially the member for Sudbury. I look forward to hearing a proposal from the NDP on how much debate it would like to see on that non-controversial bill before moving it to committee.

What will disappoint Canadians is what we saw this morning when the NDP rejected a responsible work plan based on the views actually expressed by all parties right here in debate last week to pass Bill S-5, the Financial System Review Act, before Canada's banking laws expire in mid-April. Again, the NDP House leader is apparently blocking the will of the members of his own party, who are responsible for the legislation, on how it should be dealt with in the House.

Nevertheless, we will give the NDP another chance. We have asked for a debate on this bill next Tuesday. I hope that we will be able to move forward then and refer the bill to committee.

When we returned to Parliament last month, I laid out our government's plan for a productive, hard-working and orderly House of Commons. We are going to continue in that direction. Unfortunately, we have also seen the NDP lay out its own plans for the House. It wants to force the government to resort to time allocation in every case possible in the hope of running up the score. It wants to be able to quote the number of times the government has been forced to resort to time allocation to get bills advanced in Parliament. For this, it has refused to agree to processing even the most non-controversial bills, or in the case of the copyright bill, one that had only seven hours of debate before we all agreed to send it to committee in the last Parliament. This time, even after 75 speeches on the identical bill, it refuses to let it go to committee for detailed examination.

While the NDP hopes that this statistic, the running up of the score that it is forcing, will somehow help it in the next election, what the number actually stands as proof of is the NDP's commitment to paralyze Parliament, to obstruct and delay to the maximum and to refuse to co-operate on even the simplest, most straightforward and broadly supported legislation.

We demonstrated that yesterday with Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act. We had to take action once we realized that a co-operative solution was not viable. Seventy-five speeches later, the end was still not in sight. During the previous session, an identical bill was sent to committee after just seven hours of debate, as I said.

Tomorrow, we will have the eighth and final day of debate on second reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, which would protect high-quality jobs in the digital and creative sectors. This bill is important to Canada's economy. Today, we will complete debate on the New Democrats' opposition day motion.

I am pleased to inform the House that on Monday and Wednesday we will deal with third reading of Bill C-19, Ending the Long-gun Registry Act. Next Wednesday night, we will have a momentous vote to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I can advise that I will be scheduling Friday, February 17, as the day, pursuant to Standing Order 51, on which the House will hold a day of debate taking note of the Standing Orders and the rules of this House and its committees. I also want to say that Thursday, February 16, will be the third allotted day.

Canada's economic stability and advantage in these uncertain times depends on political stability and strong leadership. That is why we will continue to manage the country's business in a productive, hard-working and orderly fashion.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. Upon further investigation, the station in La Ronge is open. There was a retirement in March of 2010 and then a rehire in the spring of 2011. That person is in the office as we speak. I would ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages to check his facts.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It sounds to me like a continuation of debate and not a question of privilege. I am sure the member for Jeanne-Le Ber will have other opportunities to pursue this matter in future question periods perhaps.

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen SoundPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order relating to the apology offered by the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound for two references to Hitler.

While the House heard an apology and, through you, Mr. Speaker, accepted it, the member has since said, “just in order to take the buzz off and what have you, I partially retracted the statement in the house”, adding, “what I said was the truth” and adding also “the similarities between the gun registry and what Adolph Hitler did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear and obvious”.

I realize that points of order are not used for points of debate and, as such, I will confine myself to the merits of the matter in the parliamentary context.

First, Mr. Speaker, I believe that you must find the language unparliamentary, to say the least, in several respects, something which has not yet happened but must be done, lest such references be seen as acceptable conduct in this place. Language is what we are all about and offensive language must be sanctioned.

I draw the attention of all members to a ruling given on December 11, 1991, and found at pages at 6141 and 6142 of the Debates, wherein Mr. Speaker Fraser, as paraphrased by your predecessor. Mr. Speaker Milliken, reminded members that “offensive remark linger and have a suffocating effect on the fair exchange of ideas and points of view. Anything said in this place receives wide and instant dissemination and leaves a lasting impression. Offending words may be withdrawn, denied, explained away, or apologize for, but the impression created is not always as easily erased”.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, while the matter might have been seen as laid to rest, as you yourself put it, the member's subsequent retraction of his apology and, indeed, with even more odious language, reignites the issue and, I submit, warrants sanction.

Indeed, as O'Brien and Bosc clearly note on page 619, the withdrawal of unparliamentary language must be done, and this is the key point, “unequivocally”. It has not only not been withdrawn unequivocally, it has been reaffirmed in all its incendiary language and comparisons. Indeed, the unparliamentary nature of the language is evident in several respects.

First and foremost is the actual language used, in particular, the odious and obscene comparisons to Hitler, the paradigm of radical evil.

I draw to your attention the extensive list in the sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada wherein terms such as “Nazi” were found to be unparliamentary in this place as early as 1962, and the comparisons here, Mr. Speaker, go beyond that.

I believe all members of the House would be in agreement that references to other persons, such as the former minister of justice or the senator in the other place, as being Hitler, or acting as Hitler might have, or thinking as he might have, are as unacceptable as they are offensive.

Indeed, in 2007, in a point of order regarding comments by the member for Winnipeg Centre comparing a minister to Mussolini, the then chief government whip even said, somewhat prophetically one might say:

Let us just imagine if this is allowed to stand. What will be next? There will be people in this place compared to Adolf Hitler. That is where this is headed. The hon. member knows that.

That is from Hansard.

In ruling on that incident, Mr. Speaker Milliken recalled for the House that, as per Marleau and Montpetit, one of the most basic principles of parliamentary procedures and proceedings in the House be conducted in terms of a free and civil discourse.

It is clear that such references to Hitler thereby trivializing and demeaning the Holocaust and attributing or ascribing what has become a metaphor for radical evil to those who comment on or conduct matters that have no relation or comparison to Hitler's crimes of mass atrocity are as odious as they are ignorant and have no place in the House.

On this point, let there be no mistake about it: Hitler did not take away guns from Jews, Mr. Speaker, Hitler murdered Jews, who had no guns. Any suggestion otherwise is odious and obscene.

Beyond the Hitler references, the member referenced two individuals, the former minister of justice and a former member of the other place. I would note that O'Brien and Bosc clearly states, on page 617:

Members have a responsibility to protect the innocent, not only from outright slander, but from any slur directly or indirectly implied, and that Members avoid as much as possible mentioning by name people from outside of the House who are unable to reply in their own defence.

Clearly, the member's implied slur is beyond the pale and neither of the two individuals so maligned have the opportunity to rise in this place and defend themselves.

Moreover, what the member said about the former member of the other place was unparliamentary as per O'Brien and Bosc, at page 615, “it is out of order the question of Senator's integrity, honesty or character”. While that senator is no longer serving, the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound referenced actions of that senator while she served and thus I believe the protection hereto must be extended.

Mr. Speaker, you said, during discussion of this point when first raised that “it is the practice of the House that once a member withdraws a comment or apologizes it is left at that”. I believe the practice of the House is also that a member cannot say he or she apologizes in here and then retracts the apology or undermines it and indeed in fact repeats the odious reference outside this place.

In essence, the member did just that by offering an apology that was insincere, by his own admission offered only “to take the buzz off” and, per his own clarification, is only a partial retraction.

The House will recall again that should the Speaker find language to be unparliamentary, as per page 619 of O'Brien and Bosc, the member “will be requested to rise in his or her place and to withdraw the unparliamentary word or phrase unequivocally”. Thus, Mr. Speaker, while you cannot change the member's mind, you can ask that he withdraw the remarks, something which he did not do.

Furthermore, with respect to the retraction of his apology, I believe stronger sanction is warranted and urge you, Mr. Speaker, to, in line with the precedence outlined in the sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, name the member or inform him that he will not be seen by the Chair until he appears at the bar of the House to apologize for these obscene and odious remarks and comparisons.

Simply put, the member has not sincerely and completely apologized for his remarks. Indeed, he has even reaffirmed them in a more hateful form and they remain as he did not withdraw them. This cannot be an acceptable practice or precedent that we can allow to stand in the House. Redress and sanction are warranted. I implore you, Mr. Speaker, to exercise your necessary authority in this regard so that the integrity of the House and its members be protected so that those who are maligned outside the House would also be protected and, indeed, that the memory and meaning of the Holocaust be protected and preserved.

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen SoundPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:25 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, I thank my hon. colleague from Mount Royal for his intervention. I would simply ask that should you determine that you wish to respond to the point of order, that you give the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound an opportunity to respond to this point of order that was made today.

I anticipate that should the member wish to make certain responses, it will be done in the next few days.

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen SoundPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Given the request to allow the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound time to at least speak to this issue, I would point the House to O'Brien and Bosc, at page 614, which states:

The Speaker has no authority to rule on statements made outside the House by one Member against another.

We know that outside the chamber, when a member or anyone may say something that would offend or call into question someone's character, there are remedies that are not available inside the chamber. That is usually why the authority of the Speaker does not extend outside the chamber for things that are said.

Therefore, given the intervention by the parliamentary secretary, we will hear the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Does the member for Mount Royal have a follow-up statement he would like to make?