"John Hawkins: Let me ask you one more question. You may not be able to answer, but give it your best shot. What do you think is going to happen if and when we get a bad Senate bill through and it goes into committee with the House Bill?
Hon. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canadians are shocked and appalled to hear reports today that indicate Iran is about to pass a law requiring non-Muslims to wear coloured badges identifying their religious beliefs. Jews would have to sew yellow strips of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges. This kind of state-run bigotry is both disgusting and frightening to Canadians and all citizens of the world who believe in tolerance and religious freedom.
What steps is the government taking to protest the actions of this rogue state?
Mr. Jason Kenney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is obviously deeply concerned about these reports. We have been unable at this point to independently verify the reports. Our officials are working diligently in Iran to establish independent verification of these deeply troubling reports.
We can say that should these reports turn out to be true, and we all hope they are not, this government will condemn in the strongest terms possible this kind of revisiting of the darkest period of the last century. If this turns out to be true, it is something that the entire civilized world must condemn.....
Ms. Monique Guay (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the government that the Auditor General said, and I quote, “We did not examine the effectiveness of the Canadian Firearms Program or its social implications”.The governments of Quebec and Ontario, police associations and victims' rights groups, not to mention 76% of Quebeckers, want the firearms registry to be maintained.
Is the Minister of Public Safety planning to abandon his dogmatic approach and, along with the vast majority of the population, recognize the usefulness of the firearms registry, and—
The Speaker: The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am sure that as taxpayers, Quebeckers—like all Canadians—do not want their money wasted. The firearms registry was a huge waste of money, a waste of over $1 billion dollars, according to the Auditor General.
That is why the government will focus on fighting organized crime and gun related crime. This is why we will keep the handgun registry and increase prison terms for such crimes.
Ms. Monique Guay (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the registry helps saves lives, and that is what matters.
Police forces consult the registry over 6,500 times a day, and they were the first to say that the registry is an essential tool for ensuring public safety.
The minister says he wants to improve safety on city streets, so why is he so dead set against a registry that, as everyone knows, helps meet this goal?
M. Jason Kenney (secrétaire parlementaire du premier ministre, PCC): Mr. Speaker, this government's priority is to protect our fellow citizens against crime, against violent crime, and against gun related crime.
The point of our public safety policy is not really to go after duck hunters who use long guns. That is why, instead of spending $1 billion on this registry, we will introduce a real policy against crimes committed with guns, especially handguns...
Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, but he must also recognize that this is Hitler's shadow stalking the earth, that this is the same regime in Iran that has denied the Holocaust and has state sponsored persecution of members of the Baha'i faith. Quite frankly, words are not enough.
I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs if, at the very least, he has called in the Iranian ambassador to Canada to express Canada's disgust over these actions in Iran.
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intent of the question, but to pre-emptively call in somebody and express dismay over an allegation would be nothing short of irresponsible. The Islamic fashion legislation has not become law and we are unaware of the specific content of the draft legislation.
Surely, as has been expressed by the parliamentary secretary, we would condemn in the strongest possible terms if in fact this were to happen, but we will be following this issue very closely and responding appropriately in a measured way.
Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada's response must be focused, clear, strong and unequivocal. I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will he bring the matter up at the United Nations Security Council? If this comes to pass, will he then call for an international ban on the purchase of Iranian oil?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if in fact this allegation and this legislation are verified, then certainly we will respond appropriately. Certainly we will take all measures through the United Nations and through other diplomatic means to express Canada's dismay, along with our international partners.
It would be nothing short of irresponsible to act precipitously, to do as the hon. member is suggesting, to condemn in the strongest possible terms, to follow all diplomatic means, based on one single solitary factor and that is to verify that it is true. The member knows that has to be the case.
* * *Public Works and Government Services
Mr. Steven Blaney (Lévis—Bellechasse, CPC): Mr. Speaker, what else does the Auditor General's report reveal? It reveals the Liberal's mismanagement and waste.
In 2002, the lease for the Montreal offices of the Economic Development Agency of Canada was up for renewal. The Minister followed the usual practice and signed a new lease in another building. The former secretary of state responsible for the agency complained to the current member for Wascana, who agreed to renew the old lease in a more expensive building, resulting in two leases for a single agency.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Public Works tell us the reasons for this interference?
Mr. James Moore (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am afraid I have bad news for the hon. member and for taxpayers.
In the last Liberal government, as a result of one letter from one Liberal minister across the table to another, the lease at Place Victoria was renewed. Professionals at the Department of Public Works did their job, but the Liberals ignored their counsel and wasted $4.6 million leasing two buildings. They leased two buildings when only one in fact was needed.
The Conservative government and the Department of Public Works will always get value for taxpayer dollars because we have learned, unlike the Liberals, how not to waste money.
70 leaves a lot more hard work ahead. One wonders why the politicians had their heads buried in the sand for years when it came to public safety. This takedown could have occurred years ago if the politicians had provided the necessary will and the resources.There are many more takedowns that will be needed to take back the streets and not just in the Toronto area. Law abiding citizens expect the politicians to make sure they are protected-unfortunately they pulled the old buck passing routine without being held accountable. This takedown was just one leg of a criminal justice system stool. Without the other legs getting the necessary resources will just mean that this merely turns into a photo op. Nobody wants that outcome.
The law mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear "standard Islamic garments" designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate "the influence of the infidel" on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress. It also envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public. The new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognize non-Muslims so that they can avoid shaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis (unclean).
"The only thing that might work is a physical barrier. The president offhandedly dismisses a wall as something that could never stop the "enormous pressure on our border.''
By what logic? Opponents pretend that these barriers can always be circumvented by, say, tunnels or clandestine entry by sea. Such arguments are transparently unserious. You're hardly going to get 500,000 illegals lining up outside a tunnel or on a pier. Such choke points are exactly how you would turn the current river of illegals into narrow streams -- which is all we need to turn the illegal immigration problem from out of control to eminently manageable."
"Australia, as you know, is an unapologetic friend and ally of the United States," Mr. Howard began.
"I have always taken the view and the majority of my fellow countrymen the same, that the United States has been a remarkable power for good in the world and that the decency and hope that power and purpose of the United States represents to the world is something that we should deeply appreciate," Mr. Howard said....
He added that the U.S. shares with Australia and Canada a belief in spreading democracy, individual liberty and free enterprise where the less fortunate are protected by a social safety net.
"I would have for those around the world who would want to see a reduced American role in the affairs of our globe, some quiet advice, and that is: Be careful what you wish for because a retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world.
"It would leave the world more exposed to terrorism and would leave a more fragile and indeed dangerous world."
"Terrorism will not be defeated by nuancing our foreign policy. Terrorism will not be defeated by rolling ourselves into a small ball, going into a corner and imagining that somehow or other we will escape notice," Mr. Howard said.
"Terrorism will only be defeated by a combination of strong intelligence, military action where appropriate, and, importantly, the spread of democracy, particularly among Islamic countries," he added, singling out the changes that have occurred in Indonesia, Australia's massive Pacific Ocean neighbour, which has the world's largest Muslim population..
Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government cannot appear to distinguish between an amnesty to get people to stop breaking the law and an amnesty which invites people to break the law, which is what the government is doing.
Now, the essential point is that the government may not agree with the law. That is its prerogative, but how can the government announce an amnesty and suspend the rule of law? How can it tell prosecutors not to enforce the law?
In fact, I would ask the minister, has he asked the Canada Firearms Centre or asked federal police not to lay charges and not to enforce the law? +-
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, we are taking our lead on the amnesty from the previous government which allowed time for people to register because the government had not put in place a system that could allow people to comply fully with the law.
We are keeping the handgun registry, keeping all the provisions for safety, keeping the registry for prohibitive and restrictive weapons, and individuals must still follow the regulations on storing firearms and also on taking the safety course. In terms of support for the long gun registry, I like what one federal Liberal MP said when he was a cabinet minister, he said--.............
Hon. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a very important element of the national gun registry is located in my riding of Miramichi. It consists of nearly 200 highly skilled employees, mainly women, who serve Canadians in both official languages. Yesterday's announcement certainly causes great concern for the future of their employment with the Government of Canada.
Could the Minister of Public Safety please inform those people, and this House, of their future as employees with the Government of Canada. +-
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we are transferring the firearms centre itself under the auspices of the RCMP. As we dismantle the long gun portion, which is the inefficient portion that has cost hundreds of millions of dollars, there will be some employees who may be affected. Anybody who is affected, who may in fact not still be at the firearms centre, will be offered other work.
For the benefit of members, because I did not attribute my quote, it was the member for Outremont who said:
The gun registry, it's a disaster, it's a living, breathing scandal, it has cost $1.2 billion...it's a mess, the system doesn't work.
We agree with the Liberals on that...
Hon. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his recognition that there will be 200 continued jobs in the riding of Miramichi. At least two of his colleagues in the front row of this House had promised that during the last election.
We certainly look forward to what happens. I hope that those employees will continue to have employment. They are good people. They worked well. The report that was referred to in the House yesterday is certainly no reflection on their work. +-
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that and I share the sympathy that the member has for hard-working public servants. I know he is especially sensitive to this because he also voted against this long gun registry. I appreciate that as well.
Also, we are encouraged to know that a Liberal leadership candidate, the member for Kings—Hants, in his view on the long gun registry has stated that we should be getting rid of the long gun registry and added that the billion dollars would have been better spent on health care or strengthening the RCMP.
We are going to be doing both of those: health care and the RCMP.....
Mr. Serge Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the governments of Quebec and Ontario, the police, the health sector, and representatives of victims of crime all see many benefits to society from the registration of all firearms.
If offering free gun registration would bring hunters on board, why does the minister not take that route instead of depriving us of the many benefits to be derived from the gun registry? +-
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, from coast to coast there are victims of crime who support us in eliminating the registry for long guns only.
I can assure the people of Quebec that we understand their concerns. We will redirect funding to certain initiatives such as suicide prevention for young people, for—... Mr. Serge Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister should realize that the system is effective. According to the coalition against the abolition of the gun registry, since 1991, gun-related deaths have decreased by 43% and the number of women killed by guns has decreased by 67%. However, homicide without guns has decreased by only 31% and armed robbery by 57%. I could go on at great length.
Free registration would make the hunters happy. Why not keep such a useful registry and make registration free for hunters? +-
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, again, it was the Auditor General who said the system was not working. She was the one who said it was ineffective.
I will give just one example. In 2003, there were 549 murders in Canada, including two that were committed with registered long guns. That is why we want to reassign funding to support the victims and the people who need such programs...
Citizenship and Immigration +-
Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The Prime Minister in statements to the media last Friday in Mississauga stated that he will not set targets for the number of new immigrants Canada will be letting in this year. This is wrong. Parliament and Canadians have a right to know.
The Liberal government was not afraid to set targets. Will the government reverse this outrageous decision? Why would it not set targets? What are the Conservatives trying to hide, a cut in immigration? +-
Hon. Monte Solberg (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is interesting the member would raise that, given that the Liberal Party set a target for immigration of 1% every year over the last 10 years. The Liberals missed that by a total of almost one million people.
I have to tell the hon. member across the way, the one thing we will not do is make a promise like that that we have no intention of keeping. +-
Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister is wrong in his facts again. In the past six years not only were the targets met each and every year, but they were exceeded four times.
The Prime Minister further stated that it was important to make sure applications were processed quickly. If the Conservatives are sincere about wanting to speed up processing times, they would not have cut the $700 million put in place by the previous government to do exactly that.
Will the government do the right thing and restore that $700 million? +-
Hon. Monte Solberg (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am sad to say that the member is absolutely wrong about his facts. He is ignorant of the portfolio and that is very unfortunate, given how he holds himself out as such an expert.