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House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was person.

Topics

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, were the members opposite laughing when their own government contracted Ekos to the tune of $10 million in research?

In just the seven ridings it has examined, Ekos said that up to 50,000 non-Conservative voters were targeted by this widespread fraud. When will that disgraced government stop its ethically corrupt denials and excuses and call a royal commission?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the polling firm mentioned by the member has a startling record in the last number of months. We do not comment on polls, but I think its research speaks for itself. Specifically, one need look no further than the election.

However, I would point to the comments of the Chief Electoral Officer who said, “I find it troubling, all of the sweeping allegations of wrongdoing without evidence to support it”. We know the Liberals did make some illegal robocalls in the last election. They were caught doing that: illegal calls, phony numbers, phony messages. That is what the Liberals did.

We also know they have made these phony allegations, sweeping allegations with no evidence to support it. That is what the member has done. She is troubling the Chief Electoral Officer by doing it.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages confirmed our fears about the closure of the Quebec City rescue centre. Personnel in Halifax and Trenton will not provide 24/7 bilingual service. The staff will not be able to cover the large number of French-language distress calls. Bilingual capacity is scandalously inadequate. The language of work will continue to be English. Bilingual staff will have to translate everything into English.

Will the minister change his mind about this poorly conceived, dangerous plan?

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, again, the member opposite is wrong. As I stated many times before, the change does not affect the availability of search and rescue resources. Nor does it affect the availability of officially bilingual personnel in those locations.

We in fact have delayed the transfer of the Quebec office to Trenton to such time as we have the bilingual capacity to ensure the safety of mariners.

Railway TransportationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the 1990s, Canada has lost 10,000 kilometres of railway tracks, and the Liberals and the Conservatives are both responsible.

After cutting a third of VIA Rail's funding earlier this year, the latest Conservative budget chopped another $20 million a year from VIA Rail.

While the rest of the world is encouraging trains and the use of them, the Conservative government is starving the Canadian rail service to death. Why?

Railway TransportationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in the preface to her question, the member made statements that are all wrong.

The last phase of Canada's economic action plan changed funding levels for previously planned infrastructure programs of known duration. We have invested $72 million in additional funding over five years, with another $15 million per year to ensure rail transportation safety in Canada. We will keep going. We have invested $923 million in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor to enhance VIA Rail services. That party voted against it. They do not have a leg to stand on.

Railway TransportationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the eighties, Conservatives deregulated the rail industry and rural communities suffered.

In the nineties, Liberals sold CN and the service suffered again. With CN controlling the tracks, VIA Rail's service to Canadians also suffered.

With those out-of-touch Conservatives, who claim trains are only for the elite, rail services are again under attack.

Will the minister promise not to sell off any part of VIA Rail, now or later, yes or no?

Railway TransportationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we do not cut. That is aim of the economic action plan. We changed the numbers and we did not cut that.

My colleague is referring to the cut. We invested $923 million in VIA Rail in 2009 through the economic action plan. Surprisingly the NDP did not support this investment.

We will continue to support Canadian railways.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has it priorities backward. By recklessly cutting $143 million to the CBSA budget, the government will cost business and weaken border safety.

Instead of encouraging trade and tackling organized crime, the government has decided to give a break to smugglers. How much is the government going to save by allowing more illegal guns and drugs into Canada?

Why is the government turning its back on the public safety of Canadians for ideological cuts? Where is the logic in this?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I find it surprising that the member would be criticizing the decisions of the government when his party voted against increases to the CBSA. Our government increased front-line officers by 26% since we have come into office.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we voted against it because it was a bad budget that did not serve Canadians. That is what we voted against.

Canadians do not want cuts to front-line services that are designed to ensure public safety, but the Conservatives are not listening. Not only have they cut border guards, they are also cutting one-quarter of Canada's sniffer dogs. Taking away this effective detection will make smuggling easier. All of this as the minister authorized himself a lavish executive retreat in Montreal last week, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

How does the minister justify this spending when the government is cutting so much that even the dogs are getting pink slips?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, our government has increased front-line border officer positions by 26% since coming into office.

It strikes me as somewhat unusual that the member is concerned about drugs coming into our country when he consistently votes in favour of laws that would not increase the drug penalties against those individuals. There is an individual who does not walk the walk when he is asked to.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has long called for democratic reform in Burma. We have over the years imposed some of the world's toughest sanctions against Burma and its military leaders.

Our government has followed events closely, and in March the Minister of Foreign Affairs was the first Canadian foreign minister to ever visit Burma and see first-hand progress.

Would the minister please update the House on the steps Canada is taking to support democratic reform efforts in Burma?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased with the reforms taking place in Burma. The slow transition to democracy has been awaited for a long time. We are pleased with the by-election that took place on April 1.

Today I am pleased to announce the suspension of our sanctions against Burma to signal our support for the reforms. We will watch the situation very closely and if any reform is abandoned, we will certainly change course.

We want to work with the Burmese government, with the Burmese parliament and with Aung San Suu Kyi on democratic development to ensure the people of Burma can enjoy the same freedoms that we are blessed to enjoy in Canada.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday when asked why the government sent meddling overseers to the International Polar Year Conference, the minister said that muzzling scientists was “established practice”, but scientists disagree. A senior Environment Canada expert called the new media guidelines unethical and enormously embarrassing to our country on the world stage.

Will the minister explain how interfering in media access to our scientists fits in with the government's so-called open government approach?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that is an outrageous misquote.

We at Environment Canada are very proud of our scientists. We make them available for many hundreds of interviews every year and they are available even today in Montreal at the polar conference.

My friend should know that communications management is a widely respected and essential tool of any large organization. Our scientists are free to address questions regarding science. My friend should remember that when it comes to policy issues, ministers speak for the department.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government is cutting budgets and firing scientists. It lacks openness.

Every week, more and more researchers are receiving layoff notices. In this context, overseers and Conservative propagandists are being sent to record every word uttered by our scientists during the IPY 2012 conference. This is an act of intimidation designed to censor our experts.

Is the minister so afraid of the facts that he wants to do away with the scientific dimension of environmental protection in the Arctic?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the premise of that question is false.

Our scientists in Montreal at the polar conference are spreading the good news of the policies of our government, both with regard to mitigation of climate change within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as outside, with a number of like-minded countries, to address short-lived climate pollutants.

Of course, my colleague should know of the significant investment our government has made in adaptation in the Canadian Arctic.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

April 24th, 2012 / 2:50 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are outraged at the Conservatives' take on fisheries and the environment.

They are muzzling scientists, they have closed the west coast oil spill response centre and today the minister announced plans to gut fisheries habitat protection. It seems there is no limit on what they will do to help their big business friends avoid environmental responsibility.

Does the minister not understand that selling out fish habitat is short-sighted and will damage both the fishery and our economy?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his totally inaccurate question.

The current fisheries policy goes well beyond what is necessary to protect fish and fish habitat. I have been saying that for some time now.

Our government is committed to protecting Canada's commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries. The changes I announced earlier today will move the current regime from an indiscriminate one that treats farmers' fields and drainage ditches the same as major projects to one that actually protects Canada's fisheries from real threats, such as aquatic invasive species and habitat destruction.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, habitat must be protected in order to protect the fishery. The protection of fish habitat is fundamental to ensuring the health of our ecosystems and the fishery. Scientists, people who work in the fishery, anglers and even two former Progressive Conservative fisheries ministers all agree: the Conservatives' plans to protect fish habitat are a joke.

Why are the Conservatives putting our fishery at risk? Is it so that their friends in big business do not have to obey environmental rules?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member opposite for his question.

Certainly the changes I announced today will enhance habitat protection. There is no question about that.

We should not be in the fields of farmers. For example, the long-running Saskatchewan jamboree was nearly cancelled after newly flooded fields were declared fish habitat, and in Richelieu, the application of rules blocked a farmer from draining his flooded property.

That is not protecting habitat. We will protect habitat.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 2008 we saw how the listeria outbreak targeted children, seniors and other at-risk segments of the population, so Canadians deserve a straight answer when it comes to food safety.

In the wake of significant cuts to CFIA's food inspection, will the minister confirm that food inspection staff are being informed they will eliminate the program to pre-clear and track high-risk products like meat, that they will suspend key elements of the consumer protection program, and that food inspectors will move toward industry policing itself?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, what an alarming question. There was a report on OECD countries that actually listed Canada's food safety system as superior.

Our cost-saving measures will not reduce food safety. In fact, in our last budget, the one we just voted on recently, we increased funding for food safety by $50 million.

What did the hon. member and his colleagues do? They voted against that increase in funding for food safety.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, slashing both food safety measures and jobs, Conservatives are cutting vehicle washing stations at Marine Atlantic ferry terminals in Newfoundland. These washing stations exist to prevent potato wart and potato cyst nematode-infected soil from being transported to other provinces.

The government says drivers will be responsible for removing the contaminated soil, but without the washing stations there is nowhere to wash away the contaminants.

Why is the government putting at risk a multi-billion dollar industry, in particular the potato industry in P.E.I. and New Brunswick?