This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #212 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizenship.

Topics

Government ServicesOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' mismanagement of the economy is having a real impact on all Canadians. Whether it be the closing of immigration and Service Canada offices or unacceptably long telephone wait times to discuss income taxes, all Canadians are being hurt by these Conservative decisions. Now we hear that regional post offices may be closing. Even more Canadians will be paying the price.

Why must so many people suffer because of the Conservatives' financial incompetence?

Government ServicesOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians want our government's top priority to be the economy. That is why, 18 months ago, Canadians elected our government, a majority government that has made the economy its main concern.

And we have already had some success: 900,000 net new jobs have been created, at the lowest point of the recession. Our government is focusing on the economy to provide Canadians with the services they need. We will continue focusing on the economy and on reducing taxes in our next budget. In that way, we will be able to have a strong economy, which is necessary in order to provide services, where people need them, in the regions.

Canada Post CorporationOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the minister forgot to mention rural post offices. Whether it is the closing of immigration offices, Service Canada offices, or unacceptable wait times people face to try to talk to someone on the phone at Revenue Canada, Canadians are being punished by Conservative economic mismanagement.

We now learn that rural post offices in communities like Bayfield, New Brunswick, which I represent—the minister would know it well; it is close to the Confederation Bridge, which goes from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island—are now threatened by further cuts from the Conservative government.

Will the minister stand and say that they will maintain Jean Chrétien's moratorium of 1994—

Canada Post CorporationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Canada Post CorporationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we, of course, understand the importance of having a strong economy. It is so we can have those essential services on which Canadians rely, but there are two important pieces of information here that my colleague is neglecting to mention in the House.

First of all, usage of the post offices is down by 20%, just in very recent years. On top of that, Canada Post, just last year, lost $250 million. These are services where there is a differing relationship between Canadians and the service over time. We want to make sure the service is there for Canadians when and where they need it, but we also want to make sure that service is done in a way that is reflective of the needs of the regions and is maintained at a level that is, of course, corresponding to demand.

Canada Post CorporationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, we are hearing from the minister the government's favourite line: Blame somebody else. The fact of the matter is that Canada Post is taking its lead from the government. It is piling up debt, running deficits and now cutting services.

Instead of ministerial spin, will the minister just admit that the government is discussing closing rural post offices? Will the post office be in Hunter River? Will it be in Cavendish, the alleged address of Senator Duffy, or maybe will the one to be cut be in Bonshaw?

Why should Canadians who depend on Canada Post pay for the financial incompetence of the government with closed rural post offices?

Canada Post CorporationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, the only incompetence that is present is the logic behind that question. Our government is committed to universal, effective, economic and reliable postal service for all Canadians. That is why we introduced the new Canadian postal service charter. We are protecting rural mail delivery by banning the closure of rural post offices.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked directly whether the government had been asked to extend the C-17 deployment in Mali. He replied, “Not at this time”. Then yesterday, the Minister of National Defence told reporters that in fact Canada had received such a request “a few days ago”. Not consulting properly before announcing decisions is a worrying tendency by the government.

I have a very simple question. Why did the minister fail to inform the committee about this request?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in response to direct requests from the French government, Canada has provided heavy lift aircraft and we have extended the support until March 15. Parliamentary hearings have been taking place where some witnesses have suggested that there be a Canadian combat mission. Let me be very clear that this government is not considering a combat mission and neither would it train Malian forces.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are just asking for a little communication on this side.

Over 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war and 400,000 are living in refugee camps. As war rages, Syrian Canadians have asked the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism for a meeting hundreds of times, but the minister has stonewalled them. None of us in the House would want our families left in these conditions.

It is a simple request. Will the minister meet with representatives from the Syrian Canadian community?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I do not think we have to look too far down the list of things the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has committed to on a weekly basis. Every single weekend he is out and meeting with people in communities at all ends of this country. If a meeting is required and it needs to happen, there is no other minister who is prepared to sit down, listen and work with those in need and who in fact need to sit down with him.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the situation in Syria is worsening every day.

Many Syrians have even risked their lives to escape Syria and are now spending the winter in overcrowded refugee camps. Canadians of Syrian origin are concerned that members of their family are caught up in this conflict.

The government agreed to expedite the reunification of Syrian families weeks ago.

Why have no real measures yet been taken to address this matter?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to talk about the file in respect to immigration, let us look at Bill C-31 in terms of the refugee reforms in this country, or Bill C-43, the faster removal of foreign criminals act. We can look at the work that has been done within this ministry time and time again to get backlogs down to ensure that those who have high skills and need to work in this country are going to get here on a much faster basis. All of those backlogs are down. We are doing what is right for the Canadian economy in terms of how we are focused on immigration and we are going to continue to do that.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are trying to downplay the Senate expenses scandal, but Senator Wallin's $350,000 in travel expenses would be enough to pay old age security for some 50 Canadians.

Of the entire group of unelected and illegitimate senators, she is the one who wastes the most money on travel “other” than between her pseudo-residence and Ottawa.

Will the Conservatives continue to defend the $25,000 she took from taxpayers to campaign in 2011?

Do they know what they are? They are just a bunch of Liberals.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk about elections because we have a bill that provides for elections to select senators.

Unfortunately, the NDP is opposed to this plan. At every opportunity, it tries to stop our plan to democratize the Senate. If the NDP is serious about reform, let it support our bill for real Senate reform.

The SenateOral Questions

February 15th, 2013 / 11:30 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives may continue defending their senator friends and their indecent privileges. We in the NDP will continue defending Canadians.

The situation has become so serious that even a Conservative senator is calling for a referendum on the future of the Senate. Senator Segal says he has too much power and no legitimacy.

It is hard not to come around to the NDP's arguments when you see the repeated abuses.

What will the government do to stop this annual waste of $90 million?

The SenateOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says the NDP is on the side of Canadians. However, it will not even let Canadians have a say in who represents them in the Senate.

We have legislation before this House that it has opposed at every opportunity, to let Canadians pick who represents them in the Senate. Yet, the NDP has ensured it does not pass and does not get adopted.

I call upon the NDP, if it is serious about respecting Canadians, if it is serious about reforms, if it is serious about seeing a better Senate, to support our reform proposals to democratize and deliver a truly accountable Senate, one that Canadians choose.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again the Conservatives will continue to defend their privileged Senate friends, and we will continue to defend all Canadian taxpayers.

A few days ago, Conservative senators stated categorically that they would not make public reports on the excessive expenses of some senators in the so-called upper house. However, they have ultimately changed their minds to avoid disaster.

Will the government ensure that the Senate tables all previous reports on spending abuses, particularly those of Senator Wallin?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the government expects that the results of the reviews that are taking place, and the audits, will of course be disclosed publicly.

However, the question is why the NDP stands here and postures that it is defending Canadians when it does not even trust Canadians to have a say in who represents them in the Senate. It has a bogus plan that it knows it cannot pass. The last time it had an opportunity, when it was in coalition discussions, it was planning who to appoint to the Senate.

We have been appointing people who have been elected. We have legislation to get more people elected to the Senate, to give Canadians a say in who represents them and to deliver a truly accountable Senate, but the NDP stands against it every step of the way.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives defend the privileges of their unelected and unaccountable senators, we in the NDP will defend taxpayers.

The most recent senator to abuse the system is Senator Patterson, who is supposed to represent Nunavut. According to media reports, he in fact appears to live in Vancouver. He explained the situation by saying, and I quote, “This is a complex matter with many facets.”

Did the Conservatives know this senator was not living in Nunavut? Will they make public the previous expense review reports on their senators? A little accountability and transparency, please.

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, apparently the NDP does not know too much about Nunavut. If they did, they would know that Senator Patterson is actually a former territorial premier; that he fought to establish the creation of Nunavut; that he represented, as an MLA, the constituency of Iqaluit and that he has a residence in Iqaluit. This is what the NDP thinks is unacceptable.

What we think is unacceptable is the NDP effort to resist reform that would deliver a truly democratized, accountable and reformed Senate. It has resisted every step of the way. It should instead support our reasonable practical reforms to let Canadians choose who is representing them in the Senate so that they are truly accountable to Canadians.

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, to quote Senator Hugh Segal, “The reason you get collective judgment about all senators is because...the body itself does not have core legitimacy”.

Four out of five senators under investigation were appointed by the current Prime Minister. Four out of five dentists will tell us that rinsing will not get that bad taste out of our mouth.

Why are Conservatives defending a $90 million institution that even senators are calling illegitimate? When will they get our money back?

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, there is right now only one proposal before this House of Commons to reform the Senate. In fact, in the last three Parliaments there has only been one proposal, a proposal from the Conservative Party of Canada.

The NDP has simply resisted that effort to democratize the Senate, every step of the way. If it wants to know why we have an unelected Senate that is not as accountable as it should be, they are the reason. They have blocked an elected Senate. They have blocked an accountable Senate.

EthicsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has appointed more senators than Brian Mulroney. That is the Conservatives' record.

I guess senator Dennis Patterson forgot to read Mike Duffy's book, “A Quick Exit Through Kitchens for Dummies”, because he was cornered in a room with no exits. When asked point blank where he lived, he replied, “It is a complex matter with many facets”.

How many more complex senators is the Prime Minister hiding and when will he get our money back?