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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, this is just further proof that the NDP does not read bills carefully before voting against them. We are amending the Criminal Code to include the groups identified, such as women, and grant them protection under the Criminal Code.

We believe that prosecution under the Criminal Code is the best way to protect people. We are granting this protection to all Canadians. It is time for the opposition to get on board with us in order to protect Canadians.

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is the Internet that is quickly becoming a haven for all sorts of anonymous hateful acts. Gay and lesbian teens have been bullied to the point of suicide. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are rampant online, with neo-Nazi groups continuing to spread hate. In 2010 alone, police reported over 1,400 hate crimes in Canada. Yet, last night's repeal of an important piece of hate crime legislation gives the green light for these intolerant acts to continue.

Do the Conservatives have any proposals for protection against Internet hate crimes that could fill the void left by the passage of Bill C-304, which they like to applaud so vigorously? Anything that will not require a squad of lawyers and thousands—

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, bullying is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. In our view, Bill C-273 raises criminal law policy concerns which may end up creating more problems than solutions.

The courts have already interpreted criminal harassment in a provision of the Criminal Code to apply to behaviour committed via the Internet. The Senate is currently looking at the issue of cyberbullying, and we look forward to receiving its report. We should let the Senate continue its important work.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the Minister of National Revenue met with a senior official from the OECD regarding the global problem of offshore tax evasion. I understand that since 2006, CRA has audited thousands of cases, and through its aggressive efforts has identified more than $4 billion of unpaid taxes.

This is compared to just $174 million in the final year of the Liberals. Our government has taken this issue very seriously after it was largely ignored by the previous Liberal government.

Can the minister bring the House up to date on her discussions with the OECD?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Prince Edward—Hastings has great passion for accountability in government.

Mr. Saint-Amans is a leading expert from the OECD, and he acknowledged our important contributions and efforts on this issue. He noted Canada's excellent progress since 2009 with respect to negotiating tax information exchange agreements with other countries. We now have 89 tax treaties in force, a significant improvement over the last government.

CRA will continue to focus on aggressive audit efforts to find money that is hiding in offshore accounts. We look forward to the finance committee hearings on this issue.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Saskatchewan government has raised the same concerns that I have about Glencore's foreign takeover of Viterra. One issue is the adverse affect on competition in the farm input business, another is whether Glencore, with its checkered history, will keep its promises for a regional headquarters in Regina and $100 million in new investment.

When will Investment Canada rule on this takeover? Will explicit conditions be attached? Will they be made public, and will Glencore be required to post a bond to make its promises readily enforceable?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

June 7th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we knew that when we brought marketing freedom to western Canadian grain farmers that people would come from around the world to invest in western Canada. We welcome that investment.

Farmers are eagerly looking forward to this summer's crop harvest and delivering their crops across Canada to a variety of companies. They now have choice that they have never had in the past.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the report of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman that was released yesterday highlights the Conservatives' lack of transparency. According to the report, the Canada Revenue Agency's backlog of access to information requests has risen from 25% to nearly 40% of total requests since the Conservatives came to power. The Canada Revenue Agency received the most complaints of all government entities. The Conservatives' solution: $250 million in cuts.

How are the Conservatives going to correct this pathetic record?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the Office of the Information Commissioner noted that CRA has the largest volume, 1.1 million pages, requiring review in 2010-11. The CRA had a 46% increase in the number of ATIP requests compared to 2008-09.

It also noted the CRA's ATIP operations continue to be severely impacted by bulk requesters. For instance, two bulk requesters accounted for one-third of CRA's ATIP inventory in 2010-11 and 78% of the complaints. That is for just two people.

Public SafetyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has falsely claimed that the government's tough-on-crime bills would create a wave of new prisoners. One ridiculous guess was a $19-billion price tag, more prisons and huge rising costs. Obviously, it was wrong again. The government has announced the closure of prisons and safety for Canadians without the added cost to the taxpayer.

Could the Minister of Public Safety update the House on the current prison population?

Public SafetyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the prisoner influx predicted by the NDP and the Liberals simply has not materialized. We have always said that we are not creating new prisoners, merely stopping the revolving door of justice. The numbers show that we are right. Over the last year the prison population has only increased by 85. We are closing prisons that are costly and ineffective in order to protect taxpayer dollars.

Corrections union Ontario vice-president Jason Godan said today, “Is Kingston Penitentiary conducive to modern-day rehabilitation? Maybe not”. That is a big admission for a big union boss.

HealthOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, counterfeit products are becoming an increasingly dangerous problem for Canadians.

Today, we learned from a compelling report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce that one in three products poses a real risk to Canadians' health and safety. We are not talking just about jeans and purses. We are also talking about drugs that can contain uranium and lead.

What is the Conservatives' plan to address this serious problem? Why cut funding to relevant departments when Canadians' health and safety are at risk?

HealthOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of Canadians is a priority for our government. The department is putting a better process in place to ensure that products on the market are safe, efficient and reliable for all Canadians. We are making improvements on how Health Canada responds to reports concerning products that are on the market.

International Co-operationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives clearly cannot do enough for the Queen of England. After unveiling a $100,000 portrait, they are now making a big fuss about a trust with a solely English name, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

While they are making cuts to international aid and penalizing recognized humanitarian aid organizations, the Conservatives are putting $20 million into a Queen's trust.

Instead of piling on monarchy-related initiatives, why does the government not simply increase the existing international aid envelopes?

International Co-operationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, as we know, Canada is a democratic country with a parliamentary system, and under the Constitution, Canada's head of state is the Queen of England. Unlike the Bloc Québécois, we are not ashamed that the Queen is our head of state.

We know that the Bloc Québécois would like to destroy this country and make Quebec an independent country. That is not—

International Co-operationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

International Co-operationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley now has the floor for the Thursday question.

International Co-operationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

International Co-operationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville has to come to order.

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, what an exciting way to end question period. I encourage my friend's enthusiasm. We have not seen that kind of vigour in a while.

As we proceed through the budget implementation act, the more than 425-page omnibus Trojan horse bill that is only a budget bill in name, in title but not in effect, we now know there will close to 1,000 or more amendments preceding to this bill, a situation that could have been avoided if the government had listened to reason at the beginning of this process and actually divided the bill into its component parts so Canadians could understand it and so members of Parliament could do our work. This will occupy the House for some time, I believe at the beginning of next week.

The question for the government is this. What will follow, if possible, in the days to come?

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite as enthusiastic as the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, but I will try.

This morning, my hon. friend, the member for Edmonton—Leduc and chair of the hard-working Standing Committee on Finance reported to this House that Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, has passed the committee and been recommended for adoption by the House.

I am pleased that the Standing Committee on Finance followed the lead of the House with respect to the longest debate on a budget bill in the past two decades. The committee gave this bill the longest consideration for a budget bill in at least two decades. That is in addition to the subcommittee spending additional time to consider the responsible resource development clauses.

This very important legislation, our budget implementation legislation, economic action plan 2012, will help to secure vital economic growth for Canada in the short, medium and long term. Given the fragile world economy that is around us, this bill is clearly needed, so we must move forward. Therefore, I plan to start report stage on the bill Monday at noon.

In the interim, we will consider second reading of Bill C-24 this afternoon. This bill would implement our free trade agreement with Panama, which I signed when I was international trade minister, some 755 days ago. It is now time to get that bill passed.

Tomorrow, we will consider third reading of Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act, so the Senate will have an opportunity to review the bill before it must become law, within a few weeks' time.

Next week I plan to give priority to bills which have been reported back from committee. It goes without saying that we will debate Bill C-38, our budget implementation bill. I am given to understand that there is a lot of interest this time around in the process of report stage motion tabling, selection and grouping.

Additionally, we will finish third reading of Bill C-25, the pooled registered pension plans act, and Bill C-23, the Canada–Jordan economic growth and prosperity act.

The House will also finish third reading of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act. The bill is a vital tool to unlock the potential of our creative and digital economy. It is time that elected parliamentarians should have their say on its passage once and for all. I would like to see that vote happen no later than Monday, June 18.

If we have time remaining, the House will also debate second reading of Bill C-24, the Panama free trade act, if more time is necessary, as well as for Bill C-7, the Senate reform act, and Bill C-15, the strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act.

Bill C-38Points of OrderBusiness of the House

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the point of order that was raised earlier this week by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands concerning Bill C-38.

Simply stated, I wish to reiterate that we in the Liberal Party also have deep concerns about this legislation. That the government's argument for putting it forward in its current form is that it is all essential in order to help us stimulate our fragile economy is completely disingenuous and frankly very misleading.

For example, the government's plan to change the age for receiving old age security from 65 to 67 beginning in 2023 is hardly a critical budget decision that must be taken at this time and within this bill. I dare say most of us will not even be here 11 years from now.

Another example has to do with all of the changes to environmental and fisheries legislation. The government would have us believe that these changes have to happen right away to protect our fragile economy, but these laws will have serious repercussions and must be debated in the context of their own bills.

What has happened with Bill C-38 is quite astounding. This now infamous budget megabill has caused outrage from one end of the country to the other and the remarks of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands certainly mirror the concerns expressed by Canadians. Simply put, there is no common thread uniting all the elements of this massive bill. What is more, many of the elements are not even of a budgetary nature, even by the wildest stretch of the imagination. As such, Bill C-38 is not a legitimate omnibus bill.

We know that budget bills can be quite lengthy, but clearly, this government has brought the meaning of the term “omnibus” to an unprecedented level.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons can tell us that the bill does have a common thread—the budget—but I beg to differ. The government should not be using the budget as a catch-all to introduce everything including the kitchen sink.

For example, if we look at clause 52 of the bill, we will see that it enacts an entirely new piece of legislation called the Canadian environmental assessment act, 2012, within a single clause of a 753 clause bill. This clause only received a maximum of 15 minutes consideration at committee.

The rules and practices surrounding omnibus bills are in place for a reason. How can members of Parliament adequately study such a bill when its content is so wide ranging and disjointed. Dare I say it, perhaps that is what the members on the other side were counting on.

I must underline, in the strongest possible terms, the fact that legislation such as this makes it almost impossible to scrutinize properly. A budget bill dealing with financial measures and taxation is one thing. The hodgepodge of clauses impacting more than 60 pieces of federal legislation before us is a completely different proposition.

In conclusion, I truly hope that the government splits this bill into several parts, because the fact is that Canadians want several parts of Bill C-38 to be addressed separately. I trust that you will rule accordingly, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you for that.

Bill C-38Points of OrderBusiness of the House

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I receive the hon. member's further contributions on this point.

Questions on the Order PaperPoints of OrderBusiness of the House

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, on a different point of order, I rise in relation to a question on the order paper in my name, to which the government replied with an answer that was not only insufficient and incomplete, it was effectively a non-answer.

I do this in light of the recent ruling that you issued, Mr. Speaker, on the matter of a question raised by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie concerning the government's response to written Question No. 410.

My Question No. 588 related to the budget and asked in part:

(a) with how many groups and organizations did the Department of Finance consult on?

It then asked specifically how many were represented by women and and how many were led by women respecting the individuals, groups and organizations consulted by the Minister of Finance or Department of Finance in preparation of budget 2012.

The answer I received to these questions states that the department and minister sought, and I quote, “the input of countless individuals and groups of both genders”.

As you noted, Mr. Speaker, in your ruling on April 3, and I quote:

...order paper questions are a very important tool for members seeking detailed, lengthy or technical information that helps them carry out their duties.

While you note the limited power of the Speaker in these matters, and I appreciate that, you go on to observe that in the case of the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, the government indicated that it would table additional information. To quote your ruling:

The original response to Question No. 410 tells us that this is how the government intends to proceed in this case, just as we have recently seen the government provide such supplementary responses to other questions.

Mr. Speaker, the government has not indicated in any way that it will table any further information or further respond to my question. Therefore, the situation that I raise is distinguishable from the case brought forward by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Let me be very clear respecting the remedy I am seeking.

You have ruled, and O'Brien and Bosc agree, that quibbles over the content of responses do not rise to the level of a breach of privilege, and I am not referring to that.

That said, previous rulings of O'Brien and Bosc do note that the ministry's “failure” to answer a question, and this is what I am referring to here, is grounds for referral of the matter to a standing committee. As such, this point of order is to ask you to refer the government's failure to answer the question to the Standing Committee on Finance.

I want to be clear as to why this is a failure to respond. Simply put, this House cannot allow situations where the government puts whatever words it wants on a page and deems that an acceptable response regardless of the question. All hon. members would agree that there has to be some correlation between the question and the response.

The rules regarding your purview, Mr. Speaker, I understand are such—and you have ruled on this matter—that you will not engage as to matters of accuracy and completeness of response. I am not referring to the issue of accuracy or the completeness of response on the part of the government to my question. I am referring to the utter lack of any response to the question.

While we could quibble about whether the word “countless” is an appropriate response to the question of “how many” groups the Department of Finance consulted, there is no way anyone can argue that the word “countless”, even with “both genders” added, is in any way a response to the question of “How many of the groups were represented by women?”, and even more specifically, “How many of the groups were led by women?” There simply is no answer in what I received.

If this were allowed as a response, it would make a mockery of our written questions process.