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House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservatives.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

Noon

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority is job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. The government is making improvements to the EI program to ensure that it is fair, continues to meet the needs of Canadians and is responsive to local labour market demands. As we face unprecedented skill shortages, it will be critical that we work to help Canadians find available jobs as quickly as possible.

We will work to better the Canadian EI system and give Canadians the tools they need to obtain gainful employment.

International CooperationOral Questions

Noon

NDP

Sana Hassainia NDP Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the environment that was put on the back burner in this budget. The Conservatives confirmed that they will once again slash spending related to foreign aid and diplomacy.

By 2014, Canada's foreign aid to GDP ratio will be the lowest it has ever been.

Why are the Conservatives balancing their budget at the expense of the poorest people in the world? Why not improve Canada's position on the international stage and try to make a difference in developing countries?

International CooperationOral Questions

Noon

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to aid that is focused, effective and delivers results for people on the ground. However, first and foremost, we are accountable to hard-working Canadians whose tax dollars we are spending.

We are building on our successes and lessons learned to provide the best aid for our aid dollars. It is about making a difference. It is about results, and we are delivering those results.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month the world was shocked to read about the excesses of the Assad family shopping for crystal shoes and golden candlesticks, literally while Syria was burning.

Despite months of empty promises, Assad and his regime have failed to deliver on promises of peace and restraint.

On April 1, our Minister of Foreign Affairs will be in Istanbul, Turkey to participate in the Friends of Syria meeting. In advance of this meeting, would the minister please update the House on the recent steps Canada has taken to bear pressure on the Assad regime?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada is standing with the Syrian people in their hour of need. Canada is, today, imposing our seventh round of sanctions against the brutal and increasingly out-of-touch regime in Damascus.

These latest sanctions target those who profit from their association with the regime, those closest to Assad, including his wife Asma and his mother. We are joining the European Union in putting sanctions against those two individuals and others.

Assad's family members may be kept shielded from the misery of the average Syrian, but they will not be immune from the international will. Our position remains clear that Assad must go and we are committed, particularly on the humanitarian front, to providing support to the Syrians.

National DefenceOral Questions

Noon

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, almost a quarter of the cuts in yesterday's budget affect defence and the Canadian Forces. Our armed forces and their families are wondering how they will be affected by these cuts. There is a cloud of doubt hanging over many military bases across the country, including the base in Bagotville, in my riding. There is nothing in yesterday's budget to reassure the families who depend on military bases to earn their living.

Can the government finally be transparent and tell us the extent of the cuts that will be made to our military bases? It is the least it can do.

National DefenceOral Questions

March 30th, 2012 / noon

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this government has made unprecedented investments in the Canadian Forces in recent years. In fact, since 2006, the defence budget has grown by an average of over $1 billion annually. Over the past two years, we have examined ways to implement cost-saving measures to ensure efficiency and effectiveness combined with the end of the combat missions. National defence will now return to a more normal pace of operation.

Departments will be informed, unions and employees, about the specific changes and we will communicate those accordingly.

The BudgetOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance tabled a shameful budget that will hurt Quebec and the regions, as well as all seasonal workers in the tourism, forest and fishing industries, who are losing five weeks of unemployment.

The government is punishing seniors by increasing the retirement age to 67. Quebec is being saddled with the cost of justice, public services are being reduced, the CBC's budget is being cut, funding for Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions is being cut by $62 million. There is nothing for agriculture or housing. What is more, the government is making drastic cuts to forestry programs.

My question for the government is simple: how could it be any worse?

The BudgetOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our budget focuses on Quebeckers' real priorities: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. This budget maintains transfers to Quebec. Health transfers will continue to increase steadily and more quickly than provincial expenditures. We will create long-term jobs through research, innovation and responsible investments, which will benefit all Quebeckers.

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is with regard to the members' statements that began this session.

I have been here for eight years. I take quite a bit of delight in bringing attention to events and people in my riding who do wonderful things. I am sure every member in the House does much the same for all the right reasons.

Members' statements that preceded question period were shameful. It was all an extension of debate in the House that we should be doing during debate. It is 15 minutes in a day. Could we not talk about the people and events of this great country for just that period of the day?

Could you please make a ruling on that, Mr. Speaker, and come back with an opinion?

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

As the member knows, members are given a great deal of latitude during statements to discuss issues that they feel are important to them or things in their constituencies. I did not hear anything today that would cause the Chair concern, but I am happy to get back to the member after reviewing the blues.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

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 five petitions.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to a study of the Trade Commissioner Service.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Criminal CodePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour of presenting several hundred petitions in support of my Bill C-310, which will go to third reading today. These petitions were totally unsolicited by me.

I am pleased to see that these people are supporting the bill, as are all members on all sides of the House.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to present a petition signed by literally tens of thousands of Canadians who call upon the House of Commons to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known.

The petitioners point out that more Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial and occupational causes combined and yet this country remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. They also point out that Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to ban asbestos in all of its forms and institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities in which they live. They also call upon government to end all subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad. Finally, and perhaps most important, they call on the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Air CanadaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present two petitions today.

The first petition deals with the Air Canada and Aveos concern. Across Canada, literally thousands of individuals are now unemployed because of the government's refusal to take legal action against Air Canada.

The petitioners, in this case from the province of Manitoba, call on the government to take the necessary action to hold Air Canada accountable to the Air Canada Public Participation Act.

Old Age SecurityPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my second petition deals with the OAS.

The petitioners call upon the government to revisit the issue of increasing the qualification age from 65 to 67, recognizing that individuals should be able to retire at the age of 65. They believe very firmly in that.

AbortionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a petition from 27 members of my community.

The petitioners state that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion and that Canada's Supreme Court has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation.

Therefore, they call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

HousingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it seems a little ironic to stand today to present petitions on issues that are so pressing and which were so completely ignored in yesterday's budget.

The first petition deals with the need for affordable housing. The petitioners had hoped to see something in the budget that would allow for the tax benefits that once existed for purpose-built, affordable rental housing.

The petitioners are from the Ottawa area, and they ask the House to continue to look at the need for affordable housing.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition deals with the issue of allowing full, fair, appropriate environmental reviews to take place, specifically with respect to the Enbridge project, the great pipeline of China, to deliver bitumen crude to tankers which will take it to foreign refineries where foreign workers will benefit from the jobs.

Of course, this is an area specifically targeted in yesterday's budget, not to ensure full, fair, transparent and unbiased review, but to call for fast-tracking and railroading toward a government objective that flies in the face of the best interests of this country economically and environmentally.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 459 and 462.

Question No. 459Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

With respect to Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts: (a) what steps did the Minister of Justice undertake to conduct a review pursuant to sbs. 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act to ensure Bill C-10’s constitutionality and compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (b) will the Minister table the review mentioned in subquestion (a) before the House; (c) did the Minister review Bill C-10 in light of section 7 of the Charter regarding cruel and unusual punishments; (d) did the Minister conclude that Bill C-10 respects section 7 of the Charter; (e) has the government undertaken cost projections with respect to litigating challenges to C-10’s constitutionality and, if so, how much has been allocated; and (f) does the government plan to amend Bill C-10 in light of the R. v. Smickle decision?

Question No. 459Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), (b), (c), and (d), Bill C-10 is a comprehensive bill that includes reforms that were previously proposed in nine bills introduced in the last session of Parliament.

Bill C-10 includes the following former bills: Bill C-4, Sébastien’s Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders), proposed to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act;

Bill C-5, the Keeping Canadians Safe Act, proposed to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act;

Bill C-16, known as the Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act, proposed Criminal Code amendments to prevent the use of conditional sentences for serious and violent offences;

Bill C-23B, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act, proposed to amend the Criminal Records Act to expand the period of ineligibility to apply for a record suspension, currently referred to as a pardon, and to make record suspensions unavailable for certain offences and for persons who have been convicted of more than three offences prosecuted by indictment;

Bill C-39, the Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act, proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to support victims of crime, and to address inmate accountability and responsibility and the management of offenders;

Bill C-54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, proposed Criminal Code amendments to better protect children against sexual abuse, including by increasing the penalties for these offences and creating two new offences aimed at certain conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child;

Bill C-56, the Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act, proposed to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits where it would protect vulnerable foreign nationals against exploitation, including sexual exploitation;

Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, proposed reforms to allow victims of terrorism to sue terrorists and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states;

Bill S-10, the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve targeting youth, or where other stated aggravating factors are present.

Pursuant to subsection 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act, the Minister of Justice is required to examine every government bill presented to the House of Commons in order to ascertain whether any of its provisions are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter, and to report to the House of Commons on any such inconsistency.

Each of the component bills that make up Bill C-10 were reviewed for consistency with the purposes and relevant provisions of the charter. Such reviews constitute legal advice and are subject to solicitor-client privilege. The Minister of Justice is confident that Bill C-10 is not inconsistent with the charter.

In response to (e), notices of constitutional challenge to provisions of the Criminal Code and other federal statutes are considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally the attorney general of the province where the challenge is brought, namely the attorney general that has prosecuted the offence, would respond to the challenge. The Attorney General of Canada determines on a case-by-case basis whether to intervene to defend the constitutional validity, particularly at the appellate level. Where the Attorney General of Canada does not intervene, our officials provide assistance as needed to the attorney general of the province to do so.

The Attorney General of Canada has sufficient capacity to defend the constitutional validity of the provisions of Bill C-10 and/or to assist the attorneys general of the provinces to do so.

In response to (f), the government does not intend to amend Bill C-10 in light of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in R. v. Smickle.

The Attorney General of Ontario has filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeal for Ontario

Question No. 462Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

With respect to the government’s filing in L. and M. v. Attorney General (Canada) and Attorney General (Quebec) regarding same-sex couples married in Canada but comprised of one or more non-residence spouses: (a) by what process was the filing reviewed, by which government employees, and on what dates; (b) did the Minister of Justice or his office, or any other agent or officer of the government, issue any directive with specific regard to this case, and, if so, what were the contents of the directives or memo; (c) has the government amended its filing; (d) if the government has amended its filing, in what way has it done so, and, if not, why not; (e) will the government withdraw its filing; (f) who was the highest-ranking official to have approved the filing and when did this occur; and (g) is it the government’s policy to make similar filings in cases of this nature?

Question No. 462Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General of Canada’s answer to the application in L and M v. Attorney General of Canada and Attorney General of Ontario was filed on June 29, 2011. The answers to the six specific questions posed are as follows.

In response to (a), the filing was reviewed by counsel in the family, children and youth section and the human rights law section at Justice Canada’s national headquarters, as well as by officials in the Ontario regional office, including their litigation committee at a meeting on June 15, 2011. The reviews took place from mid-April to mid-June of 2011.

In response to (b), no directive was issued with regard to this case by the Minister of Justice, his office or any other agent or officer of the Government of Canada. In response to (c), (d), and (e), the filing has not been amended. A preliminary motion challenging the applicants’ standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Divorce Act on the basis that their marriage was not legally valid in Canada was discontinued on January 17, 2012. On February 17, 2012, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-32, an Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act, which would change the law in Canada to allow non-residents who were married in Canada to access divorce where they are unable to do so in their country of residence because their Canadian marriage is not recognized.

In response to (f), the answer was reviewed and approved by the litigation committee of the Ontario regional office of Justice Canada. That committee comprises the senior litigators in the regional office and the regional director general. That approval was given on June 15, 2011.

In response to (g), on February 17, 2012, the government introduced Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act. This bill would fill the legislative gap left in the Civil Marriage Act by the previous government.