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House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Food InspectionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, we witnessed over the last couple of weeks an insurmountable number of new announcements from the Minister of Agriculture regarding the CFIA and CBSA, otherwise known as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency.

We have watched as the CFIA has actually declined in numbers in real terms when it comes to inspection services, as well decline in budget. The minister's response was to just send it over to CBSA. What happened at CBSA? They shrank that budget too; however, today we see another announcement from the minister saying that the government will actually put some money back in, and folks can use a sort of check-off system and look after their own food security and safety.

That is not good enough. Canadians expect that their food will be safe no matter where it comes from in the world. As we know, it comes from many places around the world. In fact, over 80% of the food we consume comes from places other than our country.

What we need to do is ensure that all our food, no matter who it is for, is safe at all times, and we need to make sure that we have a robust inspection system no matter where the food comes from.

Nagorno-Karabakh ConflictStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we commemorate the Armenian genocide tomorrow, I remind the House that it has been almost 18 years since the ceasefire in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh was reached, when the Bishkek protocol was signed on May 5, 1994. At the time of the signing, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe created the Minsk Group as a venue to broker a final, lasting and peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

I am proud that Canada has stood in steadfast support of the OSCE Minsk process and believe that dialogue through this process is the primary way to resolve the conflict. A balanced and objective approach on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and support to the regional and global peace and security are important.

We, as friends to both peoples, call upon all sides to peacefully continue the negotiation process through the Minsk Group and come to a mutually acceptable, solid and lasting solution.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, our nation was born of many different occasions, dates and events across the years that have formed the country we live in today. On April 17, Canadians celebrated one of the most significant milestones in our history, the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the patriation of our constitution.

Since 1982, our country and our national identity have been shaped by provisions of the charter that are now common in our day-to-day vocabulary. The charter sets out that we are equal regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, ensuring all Canadians are equal under the law. We saw the establishment of fundamental freedoms of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association.

An entire generation has come of age in an era when the values of fairness, compassion and equality are enshrined among our founding documents and are now ingrained in our character.

We look forward to the next 30 years, to decades of progress, fairness and protection for all Canadians.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians celebrated Earth Day. Canada's national heritage binds us together, and Earth Day highlights the importance of each individual taking personal action for protecting this precious gift.

Our government has also taken strong action to protect Canada's biodiversity and preserve its natural heritage. We have moved to protect an additional 150,000 square kilometres of parkland, a 54% increase to the existing lands and waters administered by Parks Canada. Also, we have established three new wildlife areas in Nunavut.

We will continue to move ahead on our commitment to engage Canadians in developing a national conservation plan, a coherent national framework for Canada's conservation efforts, and in budget 2012 we announced funding for the creation of Canada's first urban national park in the Rouge Valley in Ontario.

The Government of Canada congratulates Canadians who participate in Earth Day for their passion toward conservation and the long-term sustainability of Canada's environment.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise here today to denounce certain government MPs' attempts to criminalize abortion.

Of course, they know that their approach is extremely unpopular with women, who hate it when men try to tell them what to do with their bodies.

That is why these members are drawing inspiration from the Republican Party and using roundabout ways and bogus motions that are based on pseudo-science.

Let us be clear: this will not work. Canadian women have a right to access abortion and this backwards-thinking government cannot take that away from them.

Our party has always defended women's rights and we will continue to do so. It is unfortunate that we cannot say the same for this government, which has let Motion M-312, moved by the member for Kitchener Centre, in by the back door in order to attack women directly.

It is not enough to answer on behalf of the government that it has no intention of reopening the abortion debate because—here is a reality check—Motion M-312 has already opened it. We must close it immediately.

Holocaust Remembrance DayStatements By Members

April 23rd, 2012 / 2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, Holocaust Remembrance Day took place last week. It is up to all of us to remember the victims of that genocide, the millions of men, women and children killed brutally and mercilessly.

It also provides us with a moment to remember the soldiers who displayed uncommon courage and often made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom, because when those Canadian and allied forces liberated the death camps, they came face to face with unimaginable horrors. They saw first-hand the toll exacted by a terrible state-sponsored brutality.

That dark chapter of history serves as a constant reminder to us all to remain vigilant in opposing inhumanity and intolerance, wherever in the world they may occur, lest history repeat itself.

I hope all hon. members and all Canadians will join us in pledging never to forget.

Government ServicesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are increasingly aware of the negative impact of the Conservative budget on their lives. What exactly does “cuts to direct services” mean? It means making our borders more porous and less secure. It means less income for future retirees. It means slower employment insurance claims processing.

Why did the government choose to cut direct services to people to fix a deficit that it created by cutting corporate taxes?

Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government recently set out a path forward for economic growth for long-term competitiveness. We realize that we have to return to balanced budgets so that public services can remain affordable for Canadians. That is why we have announced some small reductions overall. Of the $280 billion the government will spend, there will be some $4 billion or $5 billion of reductions over the next three years.

However, we are protecting those programs that are most important to Canadians, programs like health care and education. That is why our economy is becoming more competitive. That is why we have seen the creation of nearly 700,000 net new jobs since the end of the recession.

Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance announced in December, without discussion or debate, a $31 billion reduction in the health care projected transfer. Do not talk to us about protecting health care.

The Conservatives are creating an incredible economic, social and ecological debt that future generations will have to bear, but Canadians are not taking it lying down. Yesterday I was with 250,000 other Canadians in Montreal who are saying no to the Conservatives' dismantling of our protection in matters of the environment. That is why we ask the government, why do Canadians have to bear all the environmental risks while the Conservatives' friends benefit from the subsidies and lax environmental enforcement?

Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to health care, no government has shown more support for doctors, nurses and hospitals than this government has shown. Every year since this Conservative government has been in power we have increased the transfer to provinces by 6%. That is an unparalleled level of commitment to health care in this country. We are very proud of that.

With respect to the environment, maybe the member could stand in his place and explain to Canadians why, when he was minister of the environment in Quebec, he cut his budget by $179 million. Maybe he could stand and tell us about that right here and right now.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, a $31 billion cut in health care, unannounced, no debate, no discussion--

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite are so cynical that they have taken it upon themselves to approve projects that experts have turned down. Now, if a project is bad for the environment and human health, all it needs to go ahead is a nod from a Conservative minister. There is a reason that a quarter of a million people rallied yesterday for Earth Day.

Why are the Conservatives undermining credible, independent environmental assessment? How far will they go to keep their polluting pals happy?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, every year since coming to power, this government has increased provincial and territorial transfers by 6%. According to the budget that the Minister of Finance introduced, we will do the same this year, next year and the year after that. That is a very good thing for the health system.

With respect to environmental assessments, what we are saying is one environmental assessment per project. I would like the member opposite to stand and say why he will not trust the Government of Quebec to do a proper environmental assessment. Why will he not respect the joint responsibilities the federal and provincial governments have in environmental assessments? What does he have to complain about in working with the provinces constructively?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are doing away with environmental assessment processes by making cuts to various departments and agencies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is no longer involved in the protection of the marine environment, and communities that depend on the fishery must rely on the advice of ministers—this government's ministers—rather than scientists. And that does not even include the elimination of the oil-spill response centre.

Why does the minister want to do away with the scientific dimension of environmental protection?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada's and our government's key objectives have not changed at all. We remain focused on providing Canadians with an environment that is clean, safe and sustainable.

However, like other departments and agencies, Environment Canada is doing its part to assist in deficit reduction. We will do this by streamlining our operations and by eliminating or reducing low-performing programs that do not contribute directly to the department's mandate.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the Minister of Natural Resources has passed along his speaking notes to the Minister of the Environment.

This week the world is gathering in Montreal for the International Polar Year 2012 Conference. In addition to top scientists from around the world, this year also features government babysitters assigned to follow Environment Canada scientists and record their conversations. Is this 1984 or 2012?

Why is the minister putting a gag order on Canadian scientists?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada will be sending between 30 and 40 scientists to the conference in Montreal. They will be involved in the presentation of papers and question and answer periods, which the media will attend.

There is nothing new in the email that was sent to attendees. It is established practice to coordinate media availability. In fact, many of our younger scientists seek advice from our departmental communications staff. Where we run into problems is when journalists try to lead scientists away from science and into policy matters. When it comes to policy, ministers address those issues.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, on page 27 of his recent report, the Auditor General graphically demonstrates how the government was keeping two sets of books on the F-35s, one for its own internal use and the other, with false totals, for use publicly. The government did not tell the truth about the costs or the lack of competition or the fact that it never had the contract it claimed to have.

Now that opposition parties have forced a parliamentary committee to hear this matter, will the government guarantee there will be no restrictions on witnesses to be called and no secret meetings behind closed doors?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it will not come as a surprise to the member for Wascana that I do not fully accept the premise of his question.

Committees are the masters of their own domain. The member knows that.

With respect to the F-35, let me be very clear. Canada has not signed a contract. We have not spent any money acquiring the F-35. We will not proceed with the purchase until the seven steps that we outlined are completed and developmental work is sufficiently advanced.

The government has clearly communicated the budget that we have to replace Canada's aging CF-18s. We will stay within that budget.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government mocked the Parliamentary Budget Officer, but now he has been vindicated by the Auditor General.

While Conservatives were calling the PBO's figures flawed, they knew full well their own totals were very close to his.

For that $9 billion allegedly frozen for airplane acquisition, what will Canada actually get? How many planes? Will they have engines? Will they have retarder parachutes and night vision? Can they land in the Arctic? Is pilot training covered? Are replacement planes, parts and new technology included? What exactly will Canada get?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I hope we will get a much better acquisition than when the Liberal Party bought used submarines. That was a disaster for the Canadian people.

What we will not do is go to a garage sale to buy equipment for the men and women in uniform. What we will do is follow the seven steps this government has laid out and ensure that those seven steps are followed so that we can provide our men and women in uniform with the best equipment to do the job the Canadian people and the Government of Canada ask of them.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the fighter jets. This government has made a mess of all military procurement since 2006. Whether we are talking about the F-35s or, more recently, armoured vehicles, whether we are talking about the Chinook helicopters—the price of which continues to skyrocket—search and rescue aircraft or military trucks, this government has completely botched all military procurement.

What exactly are the Minister of National Defence and his procurement officer doing?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a little rich for the Liberal Party to talk about the acquisition of equipment for the men and women in uniform. When the Liberals were in power we saw a decade of darkness. It is not a Conservative Party member who said that. That was said by General Rick Hillier, whom the Liberal Party appointed as Chief of the Defence Staff.

We are working diligently to ensure that we provide the men and women of the Canadian Forces with the equipment they need to get the job done. What we will not do is turn the clock back and go back to the dark days when the Liberals decimated our men and women in uniform and our armed forces. We will not do that.