House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vote.

Topics

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, before November 4, 2015, Infrastructure Canada did not have a fully dedicated ministerial office. There was no office for the department's deputy minister either. Also, there was no office space for our employees.

This file is important to our government, which is why these positions were created. Accordingly, offices should be furnished for the minister, the deputy minister, and the employees. The department followed all the Treasury Board directives and that will always be the case.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

And now there is no money left over for infrastructure, Mr. Speaker.

Today the Quebec government pointed out the lack of infrastructure spending and the complicated process the Liberals have put in place. I guess Quebec did not get the memo that the only infrastructure money being spent is on posh Liberal cabinet ministers' offices. The infrastructure minister spent almost a half a million dollars on furniture to deck out sky palace 2.0, but there are empty offices and warehouses full of used furniture sitting collecting dust everywhere in the nation's capital.

Does the minister realize that he came to Ottawa to serve the taxpayers and not have the taxpayers serve him?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said. The minister was extremely clear on this. The minister and the deputy minister needed to be provided with their own offices. Why? We are introducing the biggest infrastructure plan in the history of Canada: $120 billion on infrastructure. We are investing in a greener Canada for our young people and our seniors. Together we are building the Canada of tomorrow.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

June 2nd, 2016 / 2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, millions of Chinese citizens, victims of widespread and well-documented human rights abuse, must wonder about the Prime Minister's fresh start with their communist government. We recall of course the Prime Minister's professed admiration for China's basic dictatorship. Yesterday, the Chinese foreign minister angrily refused to answer any questions at all about China's lamentable human rights record.

Is it not time for the Liberals to rethink and recalibrate their priorities on the China file?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we believe that engaging with China in a comprehensive way is the best option. Even when we do not see eye to eye with each other, we believe that dialogue is the most effective way forward. Having regular high-level interactions with China on a range of issues allows us to continue to have frank and honest conversations, and to make progress on difficult issues.

Canada consistently raises human rights concerns with the Chinese, as our foreign affairs minister did yesterday.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, diplomatic news conferences are usually the stuff of deflected questions and high-level platitudes. However, yesterday, the Chinese foreign minister furiously dressed down a journalist who dared ask about human rights abuse and the imprisonment of Canadian Kevin Garratt for unsubstantiated charges of spying. The Minister of Foreign Affairs stood by quietly and said that he raised these same issues behind closed doors.

Can the minister tell us if the Chinese foreign minister was as angry, condescending, and disingenuous in his denials there, and how the minister responded?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Mississauga Centre Ontario

Liberal

Omar Alghabra LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, on the one hand the opposition members do not want us to talk with China. On the other hand they are saying we are not talking enough with China.

This government will never abandon our Canadian citizens abroad. Unlike the previous government, we will always stand up for citizens abroad. Our officials and our minister have raised the Garratt case and will not stop until the Garratts return home safely.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, during a press conference yesterday a Canadian journalist was berated by the Chinese foreign minister for asking a question about human rights. While this was happening, the global affairs minister just stood by. Freedom of the press is an important value for Canadians, yet our minister stayed silent.

Will the government stand up for human rights and freedom of the press and join so many Canadians in criticizing the behaviour of the Chinese foreign minister?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was actually the inaugural meeting of the Canada-China foreign affairs ministers' dialogue, which is an important new platform for expanding high-level engagement between our two countries. These discussions will focus on advancing mutual interests in our bilateral relationship, as well as global peace and security, and of course human rights. Asia is a critical region of the world. Canada is an Asia-Pacific country. This is an excellent beginning for discussing how to expand our strategic partnerships for the benefit of all Canadians.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia is currently arming Yemeni forces. These forces, led by General Mohsen, are accused of violating human rights and recruiting child soldiers. We have no guarantee that Canada's armoured vehicles will not end up in the hands of this general, but the government continues to turn a blind eye.

Why are the Liberals rejecting our proposal to create a committee to study arms exports?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, Canada has some of the strongest export controls for military and strategic goods in the world.

We committed to ensuring that Canada will become a party to the arms trade treaty, and that will be an important component of our increased rigour and transparency on export controls.

Furthermore, the government takes every opportunity to raise critical issues with senior Saudi officials with respect to humanitarian issues, consular issues, and human rights, as the minister did in his visit to the region last week.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 2010, the Conservative government of the time closed several prison farms throughout the country, without doing proper consultation into the usefulness and viability of providing essential skills for inmates.

In my riding of Kingston and the Islands two prison farms were closed in Collins Bay and Joyceville, without proper consultation of the public and to widespread concern from the public.

My question is for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Can the minister provide some input into whether or not the government will continue along the same path, or reverse that decision of the previous government?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the short answer is yes.

We are launching a feasibility study on restoring prison farms in the Kingston area. This process will allow citizens, business leaders, and other stakeholders to share their visions for what the program could look like. It will allow the government to review the costs and efficacy of reinstatement.

An effective criminal justice system is built on evidence-based policies that promote public safety and the reintegration of offenders. I thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for contributing to that goal.

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner has ruled that the new Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard cannot have any dealings with the Irving family.

However, Irving shipyards is a major supplier to the Canadian Coast Guard. Irving is undertaking major warranty work on several new Coast Guard patrol ships, a file that must be managed by the Coast Guard minister.

The Prime Minister has placed his new minister in an obvious and unavoidable conflict of interest. Will he realize the situation is unacceptable and appoint a new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans today?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect our government and its minister to be held to a high standard of ethics.

The minister already raised this issue with the deputy minister and the department. The commissioner's recommendations will be followed to the letter. In the meantime, the minister will fully comply with the rules already established by the commissioner. The minister has already contacted the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for advice, and her recommendations will be followed to the letter.

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, we think the Coast Guard minister should be able to deal with Coast Guard files.

The Ethics Commissioner has said that the new Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard must not have direct dealings with the Irving family, their associates, or business interests.

James D. Irving is on the board of directors of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, which deals with declining salmon stocks in Atlantic Canada, another file that has to be managed by the fisheries minister.

Why did the Prime Minister appoint a Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard with so many clear conflicts, and when will he replace him?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, the minister took the initiative of informing the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of his friendship with Mr. Irving and asking her for advice.

The commissioner recommended that the minister's staff use screening measures. The minister will recuse himself from any discussions or decisions involving Mr. Irving and his companies. The minister is following and will always follow the advice and recommendations of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to a decision by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Leader of the Government in the House cannot have professional relations with the Irvings.

Since the Irving shipyard is one of the Coast Guard's largest suppliers, his appointment as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard is very surprising.

Under the circumstances, how will the new minister be able to claim that he is able to do his job effectively when his hands are tied behind his back?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, as I said, our government and ministers will always demonstrate high ethical standards. The minister has already raised this issue with the commissioner, the deputy minister and our department.

The minister will always follow to the letter the recommendations made by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. That is what the minister pledged to do, and that is what he will do in the future.

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, my government colleague can stand up and claim there is no problem, but that is just not the truth.

Anyone who thinks the minister can do his job properly when his personal ties prevent him from talking to the Irvings is dreaming. Not only do the Irvings own the shipyard, but a member of the family is on the board of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, another file that falls under the Minister of Fisheries' jurisdiction.

The Prime Minister must do what needs to be done and choose a different minister.

When will he do so?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, once again, as I said, the minister took the initiative to inform the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of his friendship with Mr. Irving and seek guidance.

The commissioner recommended screening measures for the minister's office, and the minister will recuse himself from any discussion or decision involving Mr. Irving and his businesses.

Once again, the minister is adhering and will continue to adhere to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's recommendations. That is how we do it on this side of the House. We will continue to adhere to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's recommendations.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, a clear priority for the FCM meeting this week is the challenge faced by Canadian municipalities in mitigating climate impact infrastructure.

Just this week the commissioner for the environment reprimanded the government for failing to ensure that federal infrastructure programs directed at mitigating environmental and climate impacts to cities actually deliver results. Equally troubling, she raised concerns with the dwindling gas tax revenues, a significant source of municipal roads, housing, and infrastructure.

What concrete measures is the government taking to ensure our cities are sustainable?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, for a number of years the national disaster mitigation program and the mitigation aspects of the disaster financial assistance arrangements have not been fully utilized by previous governments. That is why in our campaign platform the Prime Minister included the specific undertaking that we would examine those very programs and determine how to improve the uptake. In addition to that, we have added $20 billion in green infrastructure funding that can assist directly with those mitigation measures.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are incapable of making funding available for infrastructure projects in Quebec.

The Quebec minister responsible for Canadian relations is complaining that federal officials are constantly imposing new conditions for project approval, to the point where the Government of Quebec does not think it will get any federal funding before 2017. This is so problematic that the first ministers now must get involved.

Why is it taking so long for funds earmarked for infrastructure projects in Quebec to be approved?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, we are working closely with our partners in Quebec to fund the infrastructure projects that Quebeckers need.

Since we became government, we have already made six announcements with Quebec worth over $36 million, and none of that money would have gone anywhere under the previous government, although it is moving quickly under our leadership.

Better yet, we have a few more announcements to make with Quebec over the next few weeks. We are working closely with our counterpart, the finance minister, Carlos Leitão, on new funding, and we hope to finalize an agreement very soon.

Consultation, partnership, and action are the way to get things done.