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Results: 1 - 15 of 123
View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, before we start this debate, I have a few words for you. You are at the end of your term as Speaker of the House, and I would like to express how much fondness and respect we all have for you. Your rulings have left their mark on our country's history.
Mr. Speaker, you have taught us all, sometimes with a modest rebuke, sometimes with the sharp sting of focused argument, to understand, to respect and to cherish the rules of Canadian democracy, and for that your citizens will always hold you in highest honour.
This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, the democracy that you, Mr. Speaker, have served so well. I have to inform the House that the official opposition has lost confidence in the government.
The government no longer has the confidence of the official opposition.
Our motion asks the House to agree with the finding in the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented on March 21. This was a historic finding. It was the first time that a parliamentary committee has found the government in contempt.
Today, with this motion, we ask the House to do the same, to find the government in contempt and to withdraw the confidence of the House.
With this motion, we are calling on members of Parliament to condemn the government for its contempt of Parliament and to withdraw the confidence of the House. This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, but it is also an opportunity for us to confirm our commitment to parliamentary democracy and its fundamental principles.
What principles are we talking about? That the government has the obligation to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
The principle at stake in this debate goes to the heart of parliamentary democracy: the obligation of a government to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
We are the people's representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. Parliament does not issue blank cheques. For four months, the opposition has asked the government to tell the Canadian people the true cost of its budget plans. For four months, we demanded to know how much Canadian taxpayers were being asked to pay for fighter jets, prisons and corporate tax breaks. For four months. this House and the Canadian people were stonewalled by the government and they are being stonewalled still.
For four months, we have been trying to hold this government accountable. For four months, we demanded to know the real cost of the fighter jets, prisons and tax breaks for major corporations. For four months, we did not get a single answer, aside from the contempt and arrogance of this government. And today, still, we have no answers.
We were shocked, but we were not surprised. After all, this is the same government that shut down Parliament twice, the same government that was forced, by one of your rulings, to hand over documents to do with Afghan prisoners, and we are still waiting for those documents.
In the case of the Afghan documents, the government's excuse for withholding the truth was national security. In the case of the budget documents, it invented something about cabinet confidence, but actually it did not even bother with an excuse at all.
But you, Mr. Speaker, would have none of it. You, Mr. Speaker, held that the rules of our democracy require the government to answer the questions that Parliament wants answered. The matter was sent back to a committee for action and it came back with a finding of contempt. That is why we are where we are today. The House must decide whether the government has broken a basic rule of our democracy and therefore, whether it can remain in office.
For our part on this side of the House, there is no doubt. You, Mr. Speaker, have spoken, the committee has spoken, and now the House must speak with a clear voice. It must say that a government that breaks the rules and conceals facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office.
With one clear voice, the House must declare that a government that does not respect democracy cannot remain in power. We have had enough. If this vote results in an election, the Canadian people will have the opportunity to replace an arrogant government with one that respects democracy.
To those who say an election is unnecessary, we reply that we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that does not respect democracy with one that does, I cannot think of a more necessary election.
It is not just democracy that the House will be called upon to affirm this afternoon. The House should also affirm Canadians' hunger, nay their longing, for change. It is time to change Canada's direction. It is time to get us on the right path. After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough. Enough of the politics of fear. Enough of the politics of division. Enough of the politics of personal destruction.
Enough is enough. We need to look at the government's priorities. It wants to spend 1,000 times more on fighter jets than on helping students in CEGEP and university. We reject the government's priorities. It is offering less to seniors for an entire year than what it spent on one day of the G20. We say no to this kind of waste. The government wants to spend 1,000 times more on prisons than on preventing youth crime. Again, we say no. This government's priorities are not in line with the priorities of Canadian families. We have had it. Enough is enough.
The priorities of the government laid bare in that thin gruel that we saw earlier this week reveal a government out of touch and out of control. There is no credible plan to tackle the deficit because there are no numbers any reasonable person can believe in. There is no vision of how to sustain our health care system. There is not a word about affordable housing, not a word about child care, and nothing for the pressing needs of Canadian families in poverty.
Instead, we get jets, jails and giveaways to oil companies, insurance companies, and banks that are doing just fine, thank you very much.
So we need a change. We need to focus scarce resources where they really matter: early learning and child care; college and university education for all, especially for aboriginal and immigrant Canadians; energy efficiency and green jobs; family care for our loved ones in the home, and security and dignity in retirement. We need all of this plus a clear plan to clean up our country's finances and get us back to balance without adding to the tax burden on Canadian families.
These are the priorities of our people. These are the needs that we must serve. These are the priorities at home. However, let us not forget the priorities abroad. We have so much ground to catch up. We have a government that has lost our place in the world and lost our place at the Security Council of the United Nations.
We need a government that restores our honour, our credit, and our prestige on the international stage, a government that understands the deep and committed internationalism that dwells in the hearts of all Canadian citizens.
We need a government for the people, a government that is accountable to the people and that serves the people and democracy.
I want to conclude by saying a few words about democracy. Some members of this government have been charged with electoral fraud. A member of the Prime Minister's inner circle is accused of influence peddling. Enough is enough. People are fed up.
I return to where I started, to democracy, to the abuse of power. We have a government whose most senior members stand accused of electoral fraud. We have a Prime Minister who appointed, as his top adviser, someone who served prison time for stealing money from his clients, someone who now faces accusations of influence peddling, and is under an RCMP investigation.
Canadians look at that picture and they say, “We have had enough”. This House has had enough, enough of the abuse of power and enough of the bad economic choices.
We have a government with unique distinctions. We have a government with the largest deficit in Canadian history. It is the highest spending government in Canadian history. It is the most wasteful government in Canadian history. Finally, it is the first government in Canadian history to face a vote of contempt in this House.
This is a government and a Prime Minister that is out of touch and is out of control. It is time for a change.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all of the members to support our motion.
View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, as events have unfolded in Egypt, Canadians want to be sure their government is speaking up for democratic values, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, an end to Internet censorship and a clear path toward a democratic transition.
My question is for the Prime Minister. What exactly has the government been saying to the authorities in Egypt? Are we or are we not standing up for democratic values?
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2010-12-09 16:32 [p.7043]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor for preceding me in this debate, but it is with some sadness that I rise to speak here today on the motion moved by my hon. colleague from Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been enshrined in our Constitution for nearly 30 years, yet here we are still having to raise our voices to defend it. I find it extremely unfortunate that Canada, a country once recognized as a shining example of how to defend and exercise human rights, must now face censorship under the yoke of this outrageously undemocratic government. I especially object to this fear-mongering and blackmailing regime that is forcing the lifeblood of our society to choose between silence and survival.
The Canada to which I pledged my heartfelt loyalty and allegiance on April 17, 1982, is a Canada where freedom of expression and the right of dissent are intrinsic parts of our vibrant democracy. Coincidentally, I became a Canadian citizen the same day the Canadian Constitution was patriated, the same day the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enshrined in that Constitution, which is so fundamental to our democratic maturity.
This serendipity, this stupendous fact of my civic coming of age, has influenced and guided my whole and utter devotion to this country I call mine. As much as I have studied, read and learned about other democracies, none has ever reached for me the standard which I found so uniquely successful in Canada.
It saddens me to no end to stand in the House today to acknowledge the erosion of all that we have achieved as a country at the hands of a Prime Minister who has no other ambition but to exercise power for the sake of power. We do not see the slightest intention of offering Canadians the good governance for which our Constitution and the charter were the guiding principles.
We see no evidence of respect for the enormous effort it takes to reconcile the diversity of our differences while defending the most fundamental of human rights and freedoms. The bottom line is that all we see is a fanatical disregard for the principles of equality that took us so long to achieve.
It saddens me to stand here and defend the essence of Canada. Our charter sets us apart from other countries in the world. Many countries are democratic and have parliaments, presidents or prime ministers, but what sets us apart from them is our charter.
Afghanistan is supposedly a democracy. It just held elections and has a government, but without a charter that frames that government, there is not much in terms of human rights that could be rightly seen to be upheld.
Our charter is what guarantees rights and freedoms to our minorities. The Prime Minister says that we are in Afghanistan to help women and children benefit fully from their fundamental rights. However, here in Canada, he has no problem recklessly ignoring them. What is he doing to us?
It saddens me to no end that in 2010, after so many years of fighting to get recognition of the fact that we are all connected by our humanity, we are still here today debating the substance of our charter and the principles behind it. Instead of moving forward and raising the bar, this government is doing everything it can to set us back a few decades.
Fear is the new principle of governance, and the Conservatives know that the charter prevents them from building the fortress state that they have envisioned. The government has determined that Canadians are guilty until proven innocent. We have all become criminals hiding behind the charter.
It saddens me that more prisons and a tough-on-crime agenda are all that this government has to offer to Canadians.
It saddens me that it has come to this, that the government, the so-called Conservative Party, has set out to wedge our great country apart.
When the government that was duly elected by Canadians is the first to be found guilty of violating one of the freedoms entrenched in the Charter—freedom of thought, belief, opinion or expression—it becomes clear that our democracy is experiencing troubled times.
The charter protects and governs the right of all citizens to freely express their opinions. This also includes those who, in the name of accountability, ensure the proper governance of our institutions. Since January 2006, the Conservative government has not stopped dealing blows, each more vicious than the last, to the supervisory authorities Canada has put in place over the years. Here are a few examples.
Peter Tinsley, chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission from 2005-09, his contract not renewed because:
Too often, he said, political "horsetrading" and unelected staffers play key roles in hiring and firing watchdogs that serve at the whim of the government they are appointed to criticize.
The bottom line is that Mr. Tinsley became inconvenient when he started asking for documents that would allow him to do his job well.
Chief superintendent, Marty Cheliak, former head of the Canadian firearms program, was sent off to follow intensive French language courses, which was undeniably urgent, when his report on the effectiveness of the gun registry threatened to rain on Bill C-391's parade.
Linda Keen, former president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, was fired for acting on security concerns about the Chalk River nuclear reactor.
Paul Kennedy, former chair of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, did not have his contract renewed for reasons that remain highly suspicious.
Robert Marleau, former Information Commissioner of Canada, resigned after just two and a half years of service when he realized that the Conservatives were making his work practically impossible.
I could give a number of other examples of the government's shameless acts of censorship since 2006. However, I believe that the argument has been established and shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Conservatives blatantly despise the most fundamental principles of freedom of expression.
The motion put forward by my party today is a warning to Canadian citizens: the government of this Prime Minister sees the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as an obstacle in its quest to conquer and divide.
It is up to each of us to insist that the government respect the Charter and all the rights and freedoms entrenched therein.
View Marcel Proulx Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Marcel Proulx Profile
2010-10-04 14:22 [p.4699]
Mr. Speaker, at the same time, the Conservatives are trying to avoid an inquiry into their information censoring process.
The information commissioner is studying the possibility of illegal interference in eight departments, including the department of the former minister of Public Works.
Will the government shed some light on its information censoring process and make the emails, briefing notes and other Public Works documents fully public? They are relevant to this inquiry and currently being held back by the government.
View John Baird Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Baird Profile
2010-10-04 14:23 [p.4699]
Mr. Speaker, let me say to my friend opposite that this government has fought hard, this party, the Conservative Party, has fought hard to expand the access to information system because Canadians have an important right to know how their government operates and in whose interests it operates.
The now Minister of Natural Resources has asked the Information Commissioner to review this entire matter and we look forward to her independent judgment.
View Denis Coderre Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Denis Coderre Profile
2010-10-04 14:34 [p.4701]
Mr. Speaker, on June 3, the Minister of Natural Resources told a committee that ministers are personally responsible for the actions of their employees. Just imagine what happens when it is something that affects them personally.
My question is simple. Was the Minister of Natural Resources aware that his assistant, Sébastien Togneri, had an access to information request concerning asbestos, a delicate subject in his region, that he attempted to interfere with?
View John Baird Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Baird Profile
2010-10-04 14:35 [p.4701]
Mr. Speaker, it is this government and this party that fought very hard to expand the access to information system in this country.
We put literally dozens of new government agencies under that access to information law, and we are very proud of that.
It is very important that public servants make all ATIP decisions. Political staff should not attempt to override these decisions.
Mr. Togneri has offered his resignation. The minister has done the responsible thing and accepted it.
View Denis Coderre Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Denis Coderre Profile
2010-10-04 14:35 [p.4701]
Mr. Speaker, ministerial responsibility also consists of answering questions about his department.
It has been said that information is the cornerstone of a democracy and that without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, incompetent or corrupt governance can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy. Who said that? The current Prime Minister of Canada.
Will the Prime Minister heed his own words and ask for the resignation of the Minister of Natural Resources.
View John Baird Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Baird Profile
2010-10-04 14:36 [p.4701]
Mr. Speaker, those of us on this side of the House do not need any lectures on ethics and accountability from a member of the previous Liberal government.
The high standards that the Prime Minister has put in place for his ministers is appropriate and is important. The now Minister of Natural Resources has accepted the resignation of the staff member.
The whole of that matter has been referred to an independent Information Commissioner. All the files that will be required in the investigation have been forwarded by the department. We look forward to co-operating fully with that study.
View Claude Gravelle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Claude Gravelle Profile
2010-06-17 10:14 [p.3967]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-551, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act (committee members).
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to table my bill entitled, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act . I am pleased that this bill is being seconded by my colleague from Churchill.
Liberal and Conservative governments have consistently rubber-stamped foreign takeovers of Canadian companies without any transparency or accountability to the Canadian people. When parliamentarians seek details of these takeovers, they are told by the industry minister that they are not allowed.
This bill would change all that. It seeks to expand section 36 of the Investment Canada Act to include members of the Standing Committee on Industry. Amending section 36 in such a way would provide meaningful oversight by parliamentarians and would allow a multi-party review of foreign takeovers. This would provide greater public confidence in the process.
For too long, federal industry ministers have hidden behind section 36 of the Investment Canada Act to deny stakeholders and the public access to the terms of agreements between foreign companies and the federal government.
With this act, the Ministry of Industry would now have to co-operate with parliamentarians in the industry committee and that is a much needed improvement in the current act.
View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
The Chair is now prepared to make a statement regarding the question of privilege pertaining to documents on the treatment of Afghan detainees in response to interventions by the hon. member for St. John's East, the hon. government House leader, the hon. member for Wascana, the hon. member for Joliette, and the hon. member for Vancouver East.
As hon. members will recall, on April 27, 2010, the Chair provided the House with a detailed ruling on the questions of privilege raised concerning the Order of the House of December 10, 2009, pertaining to documents on the treatment of Afghan detainees. Having carefully considered all sides of this complex issue, I made the determination that there was, in fact, a prima facie question of privilege related to the failure of the government to produce the documents as required by the House Order.
However, rather than immediately proceeding to the next step for dealing with a question of privilege, as is normally the case, that is allowing a member to move a motion related to the matter, I opted to defer such action in favour of giving all parties two weeks to work together to reach a compromise.
On Tuesday, May 11, following a request from all parties, an extension to Friday, May 14 was granted.
On May 14, the Minister of Justice announced that an agreement in principle had been reached between the parties and proceeded to table the agreement. In doing so he stated:
All parties agree that the details of this proposal will be further outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed by all party leaders.
Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to table that, in both official languages, and indicate to you that it is the agreement between the members that the memorandum of understanding would be in place by May 31, 2010.
This can be found in Debates, p. 2848.
On May 31, the Minister of Justice again rose in the House, this time to indicate that more time was required to finalize the memorandum of understanding. No date was given for the completion of discussions or for the tabling of a signed final document.
On June 15, the government House leader made a statement indicating that the government, together with the official opposition and the Bloc Québécois, had arrived at an agreement. Yesterday, that agreement, duly signed by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Bloc Québécois, was tabled in the House by the government House leader.
When, on April 27, 2010, the Chair enjoined the parties to find a solution to the impasse in which the House found itself at that time, I stated: “...the Chair believes that the House ought to make one further effort to arrive at an interest-based solution....”
Later, in the same ruling, I expressed my hope for a compromise which prompted me to grant members additional time in which to find a resolution to the imbroglio.
The memorandum of understanding tabled by the government House leader makes it apparent to the Chair that a resolution has indeed been found. A consensus has been reached between the government and two of the opposition parties. The Chair notes, in particular and most significantly, that the party whose motion gave rise to the House order of December 10, 2009, is a signatory to the agreement.
In considering this matter, the Chair has taken great care to assess whether the existence of this consensus satisfies the broad conditions that were imposed on the parties in the ruling of April 27.
I must stress that it is not for the Chair to examine the details of the agreement or to compare it to the agreement in principle tabled on May 14. I am responding to the interventions that have been made on behalf of an overwhelming majority of members who have stated that they are satisfied with the consensus agreement that has been tabled.
The Chair can only conclude, therefore, that the requirements of the ruling of April 27, 2010, have indeed been met and, accordingly, I will not call on the hon. member for St. John's East to move a motion at this time.
Instead, the Chair will allow time for the processes and mechanisms described in the agreement to be implemented. Should circumstances change, members will no doubt ensure that the Chair will again be seized of the matter, but for now I will consider the matter closed.
I wish to thank the parties for taking the time required to arrive at this understanding, which is in keeping with the best traditions of this place, and I thank the House for its attention.
I have another ruling.
View Jay Hill Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief but I did not want to let this opportunity pass. I apologize to all my colleagues in the other parties for not being able to give notice of this ministerial statement.
I would like to inform you, Mr. Speaker, and all members of Parliament that I am very pleased to announce that there has been an agreement reached after very extensive negotiations over the last number of weeks. We had some 16 meetings with a lot of give and take and good faith on the part of everybody involved in these negotiations.
We have an agreement with three of the parties that were involved in those negotiations that respect not only the Speaker's ruling but also the need to preserve national security. My understanding is that in very short order that agreement will be signed by the Prime Minister and the leaders of the official opposition and the Bloc Québécois. We look forward to moving ahead on this issue of the Afghan documents.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2010-06-15 10:03 [p.3837]
Mr. Speaker, I can confirm, as the government House leader has indicated, that an agreement has been arrived at involving the government, the official opposition and the Bloc Québécois.
This has been a very serious and difficult subject for Parliament over the course of the last many months, in fact a period of some two or three years. We are hopeful that the agreement that has been arrived at will bring the matter to a successful conclusion.
However, I need to tell the government that, from the point of view of the official opposition, we will continue to be alert and vigilant in the process. The process depends very much upon the honest behaviour of all parties going forward. We will expect to see that kind of behaviour and will call the government to account based upon the information that will now become available to members of Parliament.
We think the agreement maintains the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, which you described so eloquently, Mr. Speaker, in your ruling in April. It recognizes the right of members of Parliament to know, to have the information and to use that information to hold the government to account. The agreement eliminates any unilateral or arbitrary government control over information and, at the same time, it protects national security. We intend to operate under the terms of this agreement in good faith in pursuit of the public interest, and we expect all other parties to do the same.
I would add one caveat. Now that we have proceeded this far and can take some satisfaction in achieving this agreement, it will be important to get the process going forthwith. Parliament and Canadians have waited a long time for this step to be taken and the time for waiting has passed. We now must see the agreement brought to life immediately following the party leaders signing the documents in the next number of hours.
View Pierre Paquette Profile
BQ (QC)
View Pierre Paquette Profile
2010-06-15 10:06 [p.3837]
Mr. Speaker, after a month of negotiations and concessions by both sides, which is the very essence of any negotiation, as the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has announced and as you suggested, we have come to an agreement with the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, which we believe will enable Parliamentarians to access documents, while still protecting, as you said in your ruling the confidentiality of sensitive information and protecting our national security.
The Bloc thinks that this agreement is consistent with your ruling of April 27, 2010, and of the agreement in principle reached by the four parties on May 14, 2010. We must remember that this is a very serious issue, which is to enable Parliament to hold the government accountable on allegations of torture against Afghan detainees. It is a serious problem that required and will require the good faith of all those involved. We think that the agreement we came to this morning shows the good faith of the Liberals and the Conservatives.
We also believe that as a result of this agreement we will have access to the information we need to shed light on these allegations of torture. The Bloc firmly believes that this process will work well. The agreement contains a series of measures, for example, that the special committee of members of Parliament will be able to report back to the House as necessary. I am convinced that this process will enable Parliament to achieve its goal of getting to the bottom of the allegations of torture in Afghanistan. This is good news for democracy.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
2010-06-15 10:08 [p.3838]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the NDP.
Having heard the other parties, I would like to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that we in the NDP participated in this process and attended every meeting. We acted in good faith and put forward proposals on part of the negotiations.
However, Mr. Speaker, today our leader and our caucus came to the understanding that we could not sign this agreement that we heard about this morning because we believe there are significant flaws and problems, to an extent that we cannot sign on to this agreement.
I will say that at all times the NDP advocated a process that would protect legitimate national security concerns and the safety of our troops but we believe the process and the agreement that has been arrived at by the other three parties undermines the right of Parliament to hold the government accountable. That was central to your historic ruling, Mr. Speaker.
The committee that was set up was not even a parliamentary committee that will report back to Parliament. It is clear that there will not be full access to documents. The very fundamental issue of getting at the truth of what happened to the detainees in terms of torture and the Canadian government's involvement in that, we are very concerned that this agreement and this process that has been agreed to will not arrive at that truth. We therefore made a decision today that we could not participate in that agreement.
We will continue to do our work in this House to hold the government to account and to ensure the truth does come out.
Mr. Speaker, I know you are aware that in a short while the member for St. John's East will be rising in the House to present a motion. This will be happening in short order.
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